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August 8, 1996

San Francisco Buyers' Club Raided, Closed By State Authorities

August 5, 1996, San Francisco, CA: San Francisco Superior Court Judge William Cahill granted a temporary injunction on August 5 to close down the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club. The club - the largest of approximately 30 underground clubs located across the nation that supplies marijuana as a therapeutic agent to patients who possess a doctor's recommendation - provided relief for an estimated 11,000 seriously ill patients throughout the bay area.

The injunction was granted following a raid by state narcotics agents one day earlier. The early morning raid - which occurred without the cooperation of local law enforcement or District Attorney Terence Hallinan - was ordered by state Attorney General Dan Lungren, an outspoken opponent of this year's state ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for medical use (Proposition 215). According to newspaper and eye-witness accounts, the raid took place at 7:30 a.m., a time when the club was not serving clients. Armed with a search warrant, nearly 100 gun-toting agents broke down the club's front door and seized medical records, at least two computers, 40 pounds of marijuana, some documents pertaining to Proposition 215, and an undisclosed amount of cash. In addition, five other locations associated with the club personnel were raided. A spokesman for the state Justice Department, Steve Telliano, said that no arrests were made during the morning sweeps, but acknowledged that charges may be filed against some of the club's organizers at a later date.

Many San Francisco leaders expressed both shock and outrage at the actions of the state narcotics officers. District Attorney Hallinan denounced the raid as a political act by Lungren, who has been mentioned as a Republican candidate for Vice-President. San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessy said that he will refuse to enforce the injunction and Mayor Willie Brown stated that he was "dismayed by the Gestapo tactics displayed by [the attorney general.]" In addition, several members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, led by Tom Ammiano, expressed support for the legalization of medicinal marijuana and requested hearings into the raid. Also, the board passed a resolution calling on the Department of Health to draw up a public health state of emergency declaration for medical marijuana. Some proponents believe that this measure could eventually pave the way for the suspension of laws against medical marijuana in San Francisco.

"I feel really angry at the way [the attorney general's office] did it," Ammiano told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's the worst kind of political opportunism. We could have worked with them. Instead, they chose these storm-trooper tactics."

The decision to close the San Francisco Buyers' Club was granted by Judge Cahill based on affidavits from narcotics officials that the club had sold marijuana for non-medical purposes to undercover agents. In a tape released to the media, club founder Dennis Peron was shown selling a quantity of marijuana to an undercover agent for what were alleged to be non-medical purposes. The agent was posing as an AIDS patient who wished to provide marijuana to fellow patients in a neighboring county. Evidence substantiating additional allegations of misconduct against the club, such as the charge that club staffers sometimes sold marijuana in excess of that required for personal use, was not presented during the hearing.

"Judge Cahill ordered the club closed, but you cannot close the spirit of the club," announced Dennis Peron to a crowd of approximately 800 demonstrators who attended a candlelight march later that evening. "We'll stay open as [the] headquarters for Proposition 215."

The big question now looming for activists on both sides of the medical marijuana issue is how the raid and subsequent shut-down of the Cannabis Buyers' Club will effect California voter's sentiments in November. While some Californians speculate that the timing of the raid may have been motivated by political reasons, many marijuana activists forsee the raid as potentially being a catalyst to inspire voters to support Proposition 215. "The [actions of the attorney general] prove the need to pass Proposition 215," said California NORML Coordinator, Dale Gieringer, Ph.D. "[He] has made it plain that he not only opposes the medical use of marijuana, but is also intent on wasting taxpayer's money enforcing laws against it."

Phone calls concerning the status of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club should be directed to the following number: (415) 621-3986.

[A file containing dozens of news articles and press releases about the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club raid is posted in Portland NORML's Web pages at]

Buyers' Club Raid Spurs Resolution To Declare Medical Marijuana Emergency Issue To Be Examined At August 15 Hearing

August 5, 1996, San Francisco, CA: In the wake of a state raid on the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors - led by Tom Ammiano - has passed a resolution asking city health officials to declare a medical emergency allowing for patients to use marijuana as a medicine. Ammiano and others believe that state laws forbidding the use of marijuana may be circumvented by declaring an emergency. San Francisco already has such a program in place regarding needle exchange.

The city attorney's office told the San Francisco Chronicle that it has no legal opinion on the resolution at this time and Sandra R. Hernandez, the city's director of health, remained noncommital. State Justice Department spokesman Steve Telliano alleged that county supervisors lack the authority to declare medical emergencies with the intention of circumventing the law. He explained that the needle exchange program is "illegal" despite being sanctioned by the city.

The San Francisco Department of Health and the city attorney are set to examine the issue at an August 15 hearing.

For more information, please contact Dale Gieringer of California NORML at (415) 563-5858. For a copy of the resolution, please contact NORML at (202) 483-5500.

(Meanwhile) Oakland City Council Passes Resolution To Ensure Local Law Enforcement Do Not Arrest Medical Marijuana Users

July 30, 1996, Oakland, CA: The Oakland City Council has unanimously passed a resolution (#72881) establishing a working group to ensure that Oakland police officers adhere to the city's tolerant medical marijuana policy. Earlier this year, the council declared its desire "not to expend city resources in any investigation, detention, arrest, or prosecution arising out of alleged violations of state and federal law regarding the possession, cultivation, and/or distribution of marijuana for medical use."

"I believe that this marks the first time a legislative body at any level of government has established an official committee with the express purpose of ensuring that the police do not enforce marijuana laws," said Attorney Robert Raich of Oakland.

Specifically, the resolution states that a "working group shall consider legislative and administrative methods to ensure enforcement of and compliance with the city's medical marijuana policy."

The passage of the resolution occurred just days prior to a state raid on the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers' Club. A similar yet far smaller club currently operates in Oakland and has been endorsed by local officials.

For more information on the Oakland City Council resolution, please contact Attorney Robert A. Raich at (510) 420-1137. For more information on the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Club, please contact Jeff Jones at (510) 832-5346.



Regional and other news

Body Count

Seven of the 15 felons sentenced by Multnomah County courts in the most recent week received jail or prison terms for controlled-substance violations, according to the "Portland" zoned section of
The Oregonian, delivered to subscribers in the central metropolitan area. (Aug. 8, 1996, p. 9, 3M-MP-SE). That makes the body count so far this year 224 out of 414, or 54.10 percent.

'Measure May Put Bonds In A Bind'

According to an Aug. 6 Oregonian article, "A November ballot measure that would require a majority of registered voters - not just those voting - to approve any tax measure could shut down public investments in schools, fire stations, libraries and jails" (pp. B1 & B8).

Taxpayers and patrons of local mass media still have not been told that the $79 million in new-jail bonds they voted for in a record-low turnout May 21 will really cost them about $208.5 million over 30 years. (See "What Multnomah County Voters Bought - But Weren't Sold" in the June 6, 1996 Portland NORML news release at This could be a good chance to rectify that error.

'Golden Harvest'

Another article in the business section of The Sunday Oregonian Aug. 4 reports: "In Oregon, the value of the wheat crop has more than doubled from $157.8 million in 1990 to an estimated $328 million this year. [Based on Aug. 1 market price of $4.78 a bushel.] That makes wheat a standout of the state's $2.2 billion agricultural industry, second only to nursery crops in total revenue. ... Source: Oregon Agriculture Statistics, 7/96" (pp. F1 & F12).

The article did not mention the estimated value of Oregon's nursery crops, but the editor has been doing a little research lately that seems to suggest it is probably less than the value of Oregon marijuana production - $2 billion to $2.3 billion in 1992, according to the last DEA estimate from which it's possible to deduce a dollar figure.

Fortunately for the sake of this discussion, 1992 is apparently the latest year for which the Oregon Department of Agriculture currently has information posted in its Web pages. The summary of 1992 and 1987 state agricultural statistics there shows the [total] "Market value of agricultural products sold" that year as $1,000 x $2,292 973 = $2.29 billion. (The same Web page lists the value of agricultural products sold in 1987 as $1.84 billion.)

A World Wide Web page still under construction at will attempt to explain the methodology that used to go into the DEA's estimates, as well national NORML's counter-estimates, which were reportedly much lower than the DEA's. Former Director of National NORML Jon Gettman, who calculated the official NORML estimates through 1992, is cooperating in the effort, which should be more or less completed in the next week or two.

Even if the actual value of Oregon's domestic marijuana cultivation amounted to just $1 billion, how many billions of dollars in courts and prison cells would taxpayers still need to fork over to quash it?

Well, how much would it cost to lock up all the Oregonians it takes to produce $328 million in wheat? Think about it.

Kushner Resigns

After 16 years, Jeff Kushner abruptly resigned recently as head of the prohibitionist Oregon Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs. According to reports in Willamette Week and The Oregonian, Kushner was attending a conference in Maryland at the time of his resignation, which becomes effective in early September.

Although Oregon's privacy laws won't protect a mother who confides to her doctor that she smoked a joint to quell her morning sickness, they will protect the taxpayers from learning the reasons for Kushner's resignation. Presumably Kushner will be able to find gainful employment elsewhere. (Hey, according to the television ads by a local career college, the demand for prison guards will increase 40 percent in the next few years....)

Kushner's office was responsible for the pseudo-scientific "Oregon Household Telephone Survey and Treatment Needs of Oregon's Adult Populaton," and "Societal Outcomes & Cost Savings of Drug & Alcohol Treatment in the State of Oregon," both of which were critiqued in the June 20 Portland NORML news release at However, the first mention of Kushner in Portland NORML's Web pages is from almost 10 years ago. It involves an Oregonian report from Oct. 19, 1986, titled "Forum speakers rail against drug use, marijuana initiative," about a rally against the Oregon Marijuana Initiative. The article, at, explicitly states that the Oregon Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs co-sponsored the rally, while also quoting Kushner saying that he is speaking as an individual and not as a representative of the state, which would have been (and was) a violation of state election laws ORS 260.432 (1) & (2).

City Nightclub Update

As reported in the July 18 Portland NORML news release, the city of Portland wants to shut down the gay-oriented, all-ages City Nightclub without a trial on the grounds that the owner has allegedly let the alcohol-free space become a drug house - which the owner, Lanny Swerdlow, strongly denies. Reportedly a judge was about to make a summary ruling July 12 based solely on police testimony, but according to Swerdlow, a jury is now scheduled to rule on the matter in mid-September, and the case will probably be put over until October or November. Swerdlow hopes to address the Portland city council about the issue on Aug. 21, and invites anyone who would like to discuss the City Nightclub's problems and how to fight city hall to call him at (503) 283-3906.

Open Season On Oregon Drug Traffickers - Oops, Great-Grandfathers

The proclivity of Oregon law-enforcement officials to shoot drug suspects first and ask questions later, officially sanctioned by district attorneys who stack the evidence presented subsequently to grand juries, has led to two more deaths in the latest week.

"Salem police kill man in raid," from the Salem Statesman Journal of Aug. 3, 1996 (posted at, reports that the latest collateral casualty in the war was a 63-year-old great-grandfather, a former policeman in Mexico, hard-of-hearing, spoke no English, was just fixing breakfast and was not suspected of any drug activity. The man's lifelong friend, who witnessed the killing, denied police charges that his friend was armed with a knife and charged at police.

"Medford police kill drug suspect," published in The Oregonian on Aug. 6, 1996 (and reposted at, reported yet another cold-blooded execution of an unarmed drug suspect, this time a supposed meth dealer. The killers, for all their efforts, collected just "a small amount of suspected drugs in the [victim's] motel room."

"Sheriff's office looks at events in inmate death," in the Aug. 1 Oregonian, also reported that "Clara Catherine Neal, 20, died in her cell July 23, one day after she was booked into jail on a probation violation for possessing controlled substances. ... One inmate had complained to authorities that a jail sergeant had mimicked the woman's moans and wails before the woman died, according to the report on the death. ... Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Noelle said it appeared proper procedures were followed in responding to Neal's cries" (p. D3).

Can anyone report any instance where a drug user or trafficker in Oregon, particularly a marijuana user or trafficker, has ever killed or even seriously wounded a law-enforcement official in connection with such use or such trafficking? The editor will gladly note here any credible reports he receives from readers. None comes to mind, but there must be some reason Gov. John Kitzhaber incited the current wave of lynch-mob justice by siccing the Oregon National Guard and its military arsenal on illegal-drug traffickers. (See "Vehicles Built for All Terrain in Drug Raids" from the Statesman Journal of March 1, 1996, posted at

At least a half-dozen other people have also been killed in Oregon by drug-law enforcement in the past year, including one innocent bystander whose car was plowed into by a drug suspect during a high-speed chase. The news articles on several of these cases are linked to Portland NORML's "All Politics Is Local" page at The way things are going, it won't be long before the body count from this aspect of the war on drugs rivals that from illegal drugs themselves - 183 in 1995, by the way, not one of them associated with marijuana.

Oregon FAMM Meeting September 3

According to the Drug Reform Coordination Network's new "Reformer's Calendar," the Oregon chapter of Families Against Mandatory Minimums will meet at an unspecified time Sept. 3 in Portland. For more information call Andrea Strong at (606) 746-FAMM or Lorraine Heller at (503) 292-5364. Oregon FAMM meets on the first Tuesday of each month. For more details about FAMM and its opposition to the war on some drugs, point your Web browser to

The folks at DRCNet write:

If you know of an event coming up, please let us know by sending the information to: DRCNet, 4455 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite B-500, Washington, DC 20008-2302, (202) 362-0030 (voice), (202) 362-0032 (fax), e-mail (Please note that our Internet server is temporarily down, hence our Web sites and organizational e-mail are currently inaccessible. We are hoping service will be restored later this week. In the meantime, please send correspondence to

Oregon Forfeiture Case Drops The Ball?

According to Article 1, Section 25 of the Oregon Constitution (recently posted in Portland NORML's Web pages at, "No conviction shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture of estate."

Does anyone know if this clause has ever been cited in an Oregon forfeiture case? The ensuing Oregon Court of Appeals news would seem to suggest not, but the editor would be pleased to inform others of any legal history explaining why the Oregon Constitution does not protect against property (estate) forfeitures like it says.

Oregon Ct. of Appeals news for Aug. 7, '96

Oregon Supreme Court News
Willamette Law Online
Willamette University College of Law
Salem, Oregon

On August 7, 1996,

The Court of Appeals issued these opinions and provides the summaries below for publication.

.... Umatilla County v. $18.005 in U.S. Currency, (Umatilla)

Umatilla County, a political subdivision of the State of Oregon, Respondent, v. $18.005 in U.S. Currency, Defendant, and Cherri Ann Harris, Appellant, Armstrong, J.

Claimant appealed from a judgment forfeiting $18,005 that was seized when police officers discovered a marijuana-growing operation and methamphetamine at claimant's residence. Claimant argued that, because she had already been punished under the criminal law for the conduct on which the forfeiture action was based, the forfeiture constituted a second punishment in violation of Article I, section 12, of the Oregon Constitution and the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because claimant made no argument under the Oregon Constitution that was separate from the argument she made under the Federal Constitution, the court did not address her state constitutional claim. In United States v. Ursery, the United States Supreme Court held that in rem civil forfeitures do not constitute punishment for purposes of the federal double jeopardy clause. In rem civil forfeitures also do not require the same protections guaranteed a criminal defendant under the Sixth Amendment.

The forfeiture was proper.

Two California Medical Societies Endorse Proposition 215

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The San Francisco Medical Society endorsed a controversial ballot initiative Thursday to legalize marijuana for medical uses.

The group, which represents about 2,200 doctors in San Francisco, announced its support for Proposition 215 just four days after state law enforcement closed down San Francisco's Cannabis Buyer's Club, which provided marijuana to people with AIDS, cancer and other diseases.

Additionally, the California Academy of Family Physicians, representing about 7,500 doctors, joined the society in its endorsement Wednesday.

The initiative would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana and enable patients to pick it up at the drug store along with other legal medicines.

However, Gov. Pete Wilson and California Attorney General Dan Lungren oppose the initiative because they believe it would make it easier for healthy people to obtain and abuse marijuana.

San Francisco Medical Society President Dr. Toni J. Brayer said the society based its decision on the results of an opinion poll of doctors who treat AIDS and cancer patients as well as drug addicts.

The doctors surveyed reportedly told the society that they believed legalizing marijuana was a good idea because it was a useful drug for some patients despite the moderate risk of addiction.

"This initiative is an important will protect our patients," Brayer said. "What we want to do as physicians is to relieve pain and suffering."

Since marijuana is an illegal drug in the United States, doctors have not been able to legally prescribe or scientifically test it, but sick people who have used the drug testify that it restores their appetite.

The society is also urging clinical testing of the drug, so that scientific data may be generated on its effectiveness in treating sick people.

Republicans For Proposition 215

Now online at

'Why Sick Seek Marijuana As Medicine'

San Jose Mercury News editorial, August 9, 1996

by Loretta Green

There are days when Karen Thompson's 15-year old son is so sick from chemotherapy he is on his knees with his head on the open toilet. Then he takes two puffs from a marijuana cigarette and relief is almost immediate.

Two puffs and he can operate normally - go to school, hold down a job, have friends.

But marijuana is illegal and state Proposition 215, which will give voters a chance November 5 to approve its use and cultivation for medicinal purposes, is in disfavor in some camps.

One can only wonder what these protesters would say if they saw young Thompson and others who are trying to have a life without continuous suffering. How would they feel about their child vomiting 40 and 50 times, as Thompson says her son has done on his worst days? How silly it is to deny a puff of this drug as medicine.

During the past year and a half, the San Jose parents have risked everything - their professions, their reputations, their freedom - to purchase marijuana form the Cannabis Buyers' Club to give their son relief from the ravages of his treatment for Crohn's disease. Now state agents have raided the San Francisco club and taken the marijuana.

Thompson is worried. Their son (she has requested that his name not be used) suffers an especially vicious form of Crohn's. Chemotherapy, which causes him severe nausea, is the treatment for his form of the incurable intestinal disease. Along with the diarrhea, cramping and severe pain that Crohn's patients suffer, young Thompson has had pancreatitis and has sometimes been near death, his mother said.

Her decision to permit his use of the drug caused soul-searching on the part of the couple, married 20 years. Her husband, an employee at a computer company, and Karen, a diagnostic imaging and radiology supervisor at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, say they are not drug users.

And she has never seen their son "stoned," she said. Thompson is convinced that she is not doing something wrong - it is the law that is wrong.

She describes the club's founder Dennis Peron as a man who has risked everything, too.

"He is a warm, compassionate, soft-hearted human being. I don't know what we would have done without him. I think our family would have been destroyed."

They turned to marijuana as a last resort, because prescription drugs for nausea did not work, she said. They tried many, including a synthesized prescription derivative of marijuana that costs $180 for 50 pills.

Further, it is impossible to swallow and keep down a pill when vomiting repeatedly and prescription nausea drugs wipe her son out, so he is unable to function.

Even with marijuana, life is not simple for him. He has run from the classroom and vomited in the bushes, and been suspended for sneaking a couple of puffs to control the nausea. Karen Thompson says she understands that the school must have rules, but if the proposition passed, he could go to the nurse's office for a medicinal puff.

She worries about the effects of marijuana on her son's body, yet "legal" Prednisone depleted 47 percent of his bone mass.

What is left for the couple now is the street, she says. The club was a clean, safe environment, with strict admission rules. It was full of sick people trying to do the very best they could.

'Long Vistas Of Hemp, But No High In Sight'

BISHOP'S STORTFORD, England, Aug 6 (Reuter) - If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise.

Thousands of acres of England's green and pleasant land are being sown with hemp, commonly known as cannabis, for use, not as a drug, but as an industrial crop.

Monitored by the government and confined to secluded areas of the country, the hemp grows up to 15 feet (five metres) high before it is harvested in the late summer months and sold to paper manufacturers, textile companies and providers of horse bedding.

"Our vision is on a par with the biotech companies and the invention of the jet engine as we develop this natural fibre and take it to other markets," said Ian Low, Managing Director of Hemcore, Britain's leading hemp company.

Low was speaking at an "open day" on hemp organised by his company in this small town northeast of London.

Industrial hemp, unlike traditional marijuana, can be grown legally, with some 12 types of seed approved by the European Union. The psycho-active ingredient in the strains is present in such small amounts that it is almost impossible to get a high from the crop.

Hemcore is promoting the legalised hemp fibre as "the perfect, natural, sustainable, renewable resource" that should appeal to environmentally conscious companies.

Adidas, the global sportswear company, plans to launch a new sport shoe later this year called 'The Hemp'.

It marks the first stage of a return by big organisations to a crop that has been neglected for almost 50 years.

Perhaps the biggest potential for this new cash crop is in the paper market, where deforestation has forced paper companies to re-evaluate their sources for the next century.

Kurt Coster, Manager of New Business Development at International Paper in New York, said: "We've been on a wood economy for making paper in the United States for 100 years and we're starting to rethink on purpose-grown natural fibres."

Coster said economics were clearly moving in favour of purpose-grown natural fibres: his research shows fibres like hemp can produce two to four times more volume per acre per year than southern pine, the standard wood grown for paper in the United States.

Despite the fact that two drafts of the U.S. Constitution were written on hemp paper, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency discourages even small, experimental crop farming.

"The American people get very concerned about what we're doing in the sense that internal pressure might get put on them to grow hemp," said a spokesman for the Drug Board at Britain's Home Office, or interior ministry.

Home Office licences for hemp have doubled since 1993, when farmers were first permitted to grow the crop.

The process for would-be hemp growers is straightforward. They just have to provide details of a seed supplier, a discreet location and a growing period.

About 80-90 licences will be granted this year at 480 pounds ($748) per harvest, with 90 percent of the applications through Hemcore.

In western England, some beef farmers have turned to hemp to help them get over this year's BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), or mad cow disease, crisis, which has hit beef consumption hard and rocked the industry.

Attracted by one of the highest EU subsidies for any cash crop at 245 pounds per acre, more and more farmers are becoming hemp enthusiasts.

"It's the most fascinating crop a farmer can grow because it needs no chemicals and it smothers the weeds and doesn't get any diseases," Scott Findlay, a British farmer with the federation of hemp growers, said.

Car makers are also testing hemp products.

"We are experimenting with hemp but there are some questions about the price of the material and its long-term quality," a BMW spokesman in Munich said.

BMW said it needed more information about production procedures for refining hemp fibres before it could decide whether or not to incorporate it into its new models.

John Hobson, general manager at Hemcore, is confident.

"We see hemp as partly replacing fibreglass in the door panels and the roof lining," he said. "Car companies are under increasing pressure to meet European Commission criteria for 70 percent of a car's parts to be made from recyclable material by the year 2000."

Minnesota Court Overturns Drug Conviction - Search Of Purse Ruled Improper

The Star Tribune, circa Aug. 10, 1996
By John McIntyre

A 22-year-old woman drives up to the house in Isanti, Minn., that she shares with her mother to discover that police are there searching for drugs. Officers confiscate her purse, find drugs, and she's eventually convicted of possession.

A clear case of justice served? The Minnesota Supreme Court didn't think so.

In a 4-3 ruling filed Thursday, the court overturned Andrea Wynne's conviction and said the search of her purse was an unconstitutional violation of her privacy.

When it comes to searches, a shoulder purse is so closely associated with the person that it is "included within the concept of one's person," the court wrote.

Police went to the home of Joy Wynne, Andrea Wynne's mother, on October 18, 1993, with a warrant authorizing them to look for evidence of a drug operation on her property and to search Joy Wynne and others who were there.

The ruling, which reverses the state Court of Appeals, said the warrant shouldn't have extended to Andrea Wynne and her purse.

Police brought the purse into the ho use, so it wasn't there when the search started, the court wrote. Moreover, police hadn't provided evidence to suggest that anyone on the property besides Joy Wynne might be doing something illegal.

The court also rejected the argument that police were justified in searching the purse to make sure Wynne wasn't armed. The officers had control of the purse.

Writing for the dissenters, Justice Paul Anderson said officers had a "reasonable articulable suspicion" that a person coming into a possible drug operation might be armed.

They found the drugs legitimately during that justifiable search, he wrote.

Incoming plane

CIA Probes Mena Airport Drug, Arms Allegations

The Washington Post, August 7, 1996

CIA probes drug, arms claims
Allegations of illegal shipments at Arkansas airstrip to be pursued

WASHINGTON - The CIA's inspector general is investigating claims that U.S. intelligence agencies were involved in illegal arms shipments and drug smuggling at an isolated airstrip in Mena, Ark., during the years Bill Clinton was governor.

A representative for the CIA said Inspector General Frederick Hitz is preparing a report on allegations that the CIA was involved in arms shipments from Mena to the Nicaraguan rebels during the 1980s, and that pilots hired by the agency brought back large shipments of cocaine.

CIA official Mark Mansfield said the inspector general would report on possible contracts between the agency and Arkansas state officials during the 1980s. His report also will deal with allegations that the CIA attempted to influence or curtail law enforcement investigations of the airstrip.

Hitz was asked to investigate the Mena airport by CIA director John Deutch, who was acting on a request from House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach, R-Iowa. Leach's panel is looking into the possible laundering of drug money generated at Mena.

Leach's Banking Committee staff has been looking at a variety of claims about Mena emanating from a collection of Arkansas law enforcement officials and various figures operating in the shadowy netherworld on contract with intelligence agencies. One congressional investigator likened sorting through the allegations to being trapped in "a hall of mirrors."

Congressional sources said Leach made the request to the CIA about six months ago and expects a report from Hitz in late summer or early fall.

The latest claims are contained in "Boy Clinton," a book by American Spectator Editor R. Emmett Tyrrell published this week. In it, Tyrrell asserts that Clinton knew about CIA operations and cocaine smuggling at Mena. He cites as sources Arkansas state troopers, including one on the governor's security detail who says he was also a contract employee for the CIA during the mid-1980s and informed Clinton of what was going on at Mena.

Clinton has said he had nothing to do with any activities at Mena. "Mena is the darkest backwater of the right-wing conspiracy industry," said White House official Mark Fabiani. "The allegations are as bizarre as they are false."

[End quote]

Contrary to assertions here a few weeks ago, the editor, having read more, is now inclined to admit there is a significant amount of "conspiracy" material in the "Wormscan Files," the 2.6-megabyte compendium of news articles on police corruption linked at Several readily identifiable files contain so much documentation on government-sponsored drug smuggling at Mena airport that it's a little hard to consider them unfounded allegations at this point. But that's the problem with conspiracies - even if a researcher can cite evidence enough to sway a court, the mass media and the public don't want to hear about it, and neither do the courts for that matter.



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