WASHINGTON -- Rep. Maxine Waters should have been wearing red. The woman was that hot -- as in burning up angry.
But her purple outfit would have to do, as she minced no words in telling the group of students standing near a pool within a block of the U.S. Capitol about the allegations that the CIA funded a group of Nicaraguan contras who flooded her southern Los Angeles district with crack cocaine.
Some -- but, significantly, not very many -- have called for a congressional investigation into the allegations. But Waters clearly was not inclined to waste her time -- or anyone else's -- on such pussyfooting.
"We can indict and convict the criminals for introducing the large amounts of cocaine that was turned into crack in South Central L.A.," the congresswoman thundered. "Cocaine was not a real factor in minority communities. It was the drug of choice of the rich and famous."
Sounds like a woman after my own heart. The time for investigating is over. Senate and House committees already have conducted investigations. This story has been in the news for years now. It didn't start with Gary Webb's series in the San Jose Mercury. A Los Angeles Times story Oct. 24, 1990, by Victor Merina told of a court motion filed by a lawyer for six L.A. County deputy sheriffs who said they had discovered evidence of a link between the CIA and drug dealers as far back as 1986.
It's time now, as Waters has indicated, for some indictments, trials and convictions.
"The harder we try, more crack-addicted babies are being born," Waters continued. "Somebody's got to pay for this." And Waters made it clear that she didn't want to hear the excuses already being offered for the CIA: that the intelligence organization only backed the contra group and knew nothing about the drug dealing.
"[The CIA] is just as guilty as if it delivered the kilos themselves," said Waters, adding that she had copies of notations in former Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North's diary indicating he knew planes were delivering drugs to the United States.
Waters made her appeal Friday to a student gathering organized by the Howard University chapter of the Black Law Students Association. Only about 50 to 75 people showed up, the students and a smattering of leftists. But ultimately the odds of whether any CIA operatives will be convicted for drug trafficking will be determined by us, Mr. and Ms. Joe and Jane Average American. If history is any indication, that means no convictions, no matter the evidence, will be forthcoming.
The CIA is counting on us, Mr. and Ms. Joe and Jane Average American, to be selective in our moral outrage. That's why the allegation of CIA drug involvement has been around for nearly 10 years and nothing's been done about it. We have other villains to scorn. For Mr. and Ms. Joe and Jane Conservative Average American, it's Bill Clinton -- which probably is justified. For Mr. and Ms. Joe and Jane Liberal Average American, it's Newt Gingrich -- which probably is not justified.
Both liberal and conservative Average Americans have the same villains. Louis Farrakhan and his anti-Semitism are considered far worse than alleged CIA drug trafficking that introduced crack not only to Los Angeles, but to smaller Pennsylvania cities like Lancaster, Harrisburg and Johnstown, which before the crack explosion were relatively peaceful. Entire communities have turned into killing fields as a result of the crack epidemic.
Then there's O. J. Simpson, whose acquittal of murder charges shocked and outraged Mr. and Ms. Joe and Jane Average American. Mind you, many of the same folks who refuse to speak out against alleged CIA drug trafficking -- it's only an allegation, they tell us -- are quick to tag O. J. Simpson with the label of murderer, even though he was legally acquitted.
It seems to me that a murder charge is also an allegation. But it's easier to get angry at O. J. than the CIA. After all, if the CIA is guilty of drug trafficking, if it did indeed fuel the crack epidemic that has seen dozens of little children caught in drug dealer cross fires, that means we, Mr. and Ms. Joe and Jane Average American, are just as guilty. Our tax dollars helped spread the epidemic -- and the crime wave that followed in its wake.
Both Democrats and Republicans have boasted to the American public that they will get tough on crime. As long as there's a class of criminals both parties fear to touch, they need to squelch their macho attitudes and shut the hell up.
Pub Date: 10/02/96