The Senate Intelligence Committee held its second hearing on charges that the CIA helped facilitate the rise of crack cocaine use in Los Angeles because Nicaraguan drug dealers were funneling the profits of their drug trade to Anti-Sandinista Contra forces. The charges first surfaced last summer in a series of investigative reports published by the San Jose Mercury News that there may have been a connection between the CIA and the sale of cocaine in Los Angeles to fund the Nicaraguan war. Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania presided over the hearing/inquiry. This second hearing focused on the testimony of the two Contra leaders, Adolfo Calero and Eden Pastora with regards to whether either man knew of CIA involvement and their familiarity with the key individuals identified in the investigation. In addition to Specter, the hearing was presided over by Alabama Senator Richard Shelby and an unexpected invitation by Specter for Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters to begin the questioning. Waters probed Calero about his affiliations, as a businessman, former head of a division of Coca Cola in Nicaragua and the political and military head of the FDN army. She asked if he knew Norwin Meneses (a known Nicaraguan narcotics kingpin) and members of the U.S. Embassy who may have been affiliated with the CIA. She also asked about his role in transferring funds on behalf of US Embassy officials to certain Nicaraguan organizations. Martha Honey, author of Hostile Acts: The US Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s, and the director of the Peace and Security Program at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC, offered her assessment of the hearing and believed that the right questions weren’t asked and that the background work had not been done. Dennis Bernstein, Pacifica Correspondent, cautioned that it is important to look closely at the composition of the committee and questioned whether there is a cover-up involved. The excerpts also include vocal audience frustration, from a predominately African-American audience, with the nature of the proceedings.
Subjects: drug war, crack, cocaine, Arlen Specter