5. CONTINUED MEDIA BLACKOUT OF DRUG WAR FRAUD
While the fire and brimstone of drug war rhetoric continues to
saturate the mainstream press, high-ranking drug war insiders continue to come
forward in attempts to expose the "war" for what it really is: a battle
for the hearts, minds, and tax dollars of the American public. And the media continue
to be the government's apparently willing ally in this war.
The latest to
"go public" is Michael Levine, who recently retired from the DEA after
25 years as a leading undercover agent for various law enforcement agencies. Over
the course of his career, Levine has personally accounted for at least 3,000 people
serving a total of 15,000 years in jail, as well as several tons of various illegal
substances seized. Upon his retirement Levine published a critical expose of the
DEA in which he thoroughly documents his journey from true believer to drug war
Levine documents numerous instances of CIA involvement in the drug
trade, State Department intervention, and DEA cooperation with both parties. Levine's
story closely parallels that of Richard Gregorie whose defection from the Attorney
General's office was the fourth ranked "censored" story of 1989.
According to Levine, "the only thing we know with certainty is
that the drug war is not for real. The drug economy in the United States
is as much as $200 billion a year, and it is being used to finance political
operations, pay international debts -- all sorts of things." While
not being completely frozen out by the media, not one DEA or other government
official would appear to respond to his charges.
Levine's appearance on The MacNeil/Lehrer show was significant
because Terrence Burke (the acting DEA chief), when asked by Lehrer, agreed with
Levine that "we (the U.S.), have consistently chosen drugs over communism,"
but Burke only agreed to appear on the show after the Levine interview (which
was taped) and with the proviso that he would not discuss any of the charges made
in the book.
Another strange media non-event was the proposed "60 Minutes"
segment on "the drug war fraud". On January 24, "60 Minutes"
producer Gail Eisen called Levine and explained that executive producer Don Hewitt
had ordered a "crash production" for a segment on his experience with
the DEA. Levine gave "60 Minutes" extensive documentation and he was
instructed to get his passport in order to do on location shooting in Panama.
He then received a phone call informing him that "60 Minutes" had suddenly
and inexplicably dropped the piece.
"The whole drug war is a media
war," says Levine, "It's a psychological war, aimed at convincing America
through the press that our government is seriously trying to deal with the drug
problem when they're not."
SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER: DENISE MUSSETTER
SOURCE: EXTRA!, 130 West 25th St., New York, NY 10001
DATE: July/August 1990
TITLE: "Ex-DEA Agent Calls Drug War a Fraud"
AUTHOR: Martin A. Lee
SOURCE: THE HUMANIST, 7 Harwood Drive, PO Box 146, Amherst, NY 14226-0146
DATE: September/October 1990
TITLE: "A Funny, Dirty Little Drug War"
AUTHOR: Rick Szykowny
COMMENTS: Investigative journalist Martin A. Lee, co-author
of "Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media,"
felt the "drug war" issue received minimal exposure. "Charges
by Michael Levine, a 25-year veteran of the Drug Enforcement Administration,
that the drug war is a fraud, got very little coverage in mainstream
U.S. news media -- this at a time when the so-called drug war was perhaps
the biggest ongoing news story in the U.S. press." Lee said that
his interview with Levine was reprinted in a handful of alternative
weeklies, but no mainstream news outlet picked up his charges and explored
the serious issues he raised. Rick Szykowny, author of the article in
The Humanist, said that the media coverage of the drug war amounted
to a propaganda exercise, as the media focused on the Bush Administration's
self-serving pronouncement and rigorously avoided any analysis of either
the systemic social and cultural causes of drug use (and abuse) in this
country or the political aspects of the "war on drugs". Szykowny
also suggested that "The Bush Administration is the most obvious
beneficiary of the mass-media's uncritical coverage of the drug war
-- as were the Reagan and Nixon administrations before it. The Drug
War is the kind of issue that lends itself quite handily to cynical
political manipulation. By declaring "war" on drug abuse --
essentially a thorny social (non-military) problem -- the Bush administration
was able to achieve a number of things. It could foment a kind of crisis
mentality in the general public, to the point where the average American
supported the suspension of constitu-tionally protected civil liberties
in order to wage that war. It could divert the attention of the American
public (and mass media) from far more substantial political issues --
and from the fact that the United States government has cynically colluded
with international drug traffickers when it has served the interests
of 'national security.' The Bush Administration was also able to intervene
in the internal affairs of South American nations under the pretext
of 'going to the source,' and even invaded Panama to (allegedly) bring
Manuel Noriega to trial on drug trafficking charges."