As usual, the LA Times is way ahead of the East Coast in describing hostilities in J-Lo Bremer's 'post-hostile" Iraq. The story, by Michael Slackman, is full of information -- that magic missing ingredient in most of the stories about Iraq! As LI has pointed out like a maniac, we live in a situation in which major newspapers -- the USA Today, the NYT, the Wash Post -- can't seem to agree on how many American casualties have occured in the last week. This is a little astonishing, and says something about the shadow of amnesia that has so quickly fallen over what is happening in Iraq. The LAT says that "about 40" American deaths, from accidents and hostile fire, have occured since Bush's infamous declaration that hostilities are at an end. That compares with 100 deaths while hostilities were going on.

LI also points you, today, to a nice little piece about Ollie North's drug trafficking record. Apparently -- ah, the bizarro aspects of the All American heart! -- North had been hired to give a guest lecture at a major Salvation Army event. The Salvation Army? The author of the piece, Celerino Castillo 3rd, a former DEA agent, and others naturally protested. The Salvation Army is not the Salvation Death Squad was the burden of their song -- justly. Castillo is releasing info that has been reclassified, conveniently enough, by the Bush administration -- information on that slander on America's name, the contra -coke connection.

LI posted a little astonished reaction to Mark Bowden's book on Pablo Escobar a couple of days ago. One of the truly egregiously stupid bits in the book was the implication that the Sandinistas were in it with Escobar, channeling that cocaine into sweet little American noses. As anybody who remembers that period knows, that is a laughably grotesque mistatement of the lay of the land. Bowden's "pro-democracy" Contras were financed, in part, through drug deals. As any drug dealer from the time knew, it definitely helped having the CIA helping squash your indictment. That's the simple fact. Here's a graf from Castillo's piece:

"Several years ago, the extreme right arm of the Christian Coalition selected to support Oliver North for U.S. Senate. Their support backfired and North became one of two Republicans who lost the elections that year. During North�s campaign, I traveled to Virginia, went out to the �grassroots� communities and educated them on who Oliver North really was. I went as far as challenging North for a debate. Of course, he refused. My first question would had been: Why did you campaign to obtain the release of Honduran army general Jose Bueso-Rosa from a federal prison, after his arrest for smuggling 763 pounds of cocaine and for murder? Bueso-Rosa�s partner in the venture was international arms dealer Felix Latchinian, who in turn was an ex-business partner of CIA agent (Cubano) Felix Rodriguez. During the 70s and 80s, Felix Rodriguez was tied to several terrorist organizations who terrorize both the United States and Latin America. Felix Rodriguez, also known as Max Gomez, was in charge of the Contra�s supply network in El Salvador, which was also involved in drug trafficking. If this sounds complicated just remember that all this drug trafficking was paid for with your taxpayer dollars."

From the Wilderness, a group ardently pursuing the Contra-Coke connection, cites the CIA report that was issued, with minimum fanfare, on the same day the House voted to impeach Clinton -- a great day to release a report that basically confirms the paranoid lefty belief in the CIA's complicity in drug-running.

"As reported by Associated Press, the report, "portrays the spy agency as reluctant to inform Congress or law enforcement of suspected drug activity by Nicaraguan Contra forces." The AP story continued to say that, "In classified briefings on Capitol Hill, CIA officials typically acknowledged only one major case of narcotics involvement by an anti-Sandinista group - the so called ADREN [sic] 15th of September group, which was disbanded in 1982. But the newly declassified report links to drug allegations 58 other individuals belonging to various Contra groups."A telling passage of the CIA report itself states that "In six cases CIA knowledge of allegations or information indicating that organizations or individuals had been involved in drug trafficking did not deter their use by CIA. In at least two of those cases, CIA did not act to verify drug trafficking allegations or information even when it had the opportunity to do so."In an apparent confirmation of Gary Webb's Dark Alliance series The New York Times, in a brief story, picked out a paragraph from the report which acknowledged that Contra leaders in California and the Bay area specifically planned to deal drugs to raise money for the Contras."

The From the Wilderness people are trippy with info. Here they are howling at Ollie North's scent again:

"In another section [of the CIA report] on major trafficker Moises Nunez, who was being investigated for shipment of hundreds of kilos of cocaine through firms named Frigorificos de Puntarenas and Ocean Hunter (also NHAO contractors), the CIA lays out North yet again. They describe how cocaine was reportedly received at air strips owned by John Hull in Costa Rica and taken to ships owned by these two firms. The CIA report then states, "On March 25, 1987, CIA questioned Nunez about narcotics trafficking allegations against him."Nunez revealed that since 1985, he had engaged in a clandestine relationship with the National Security Council (NSC). Nunez refused to elaborate on the nature of these actions, but indicated it was difficult to answer questions relating to his involvement in narcotics trafficking because of the specific tasks he had performed at the direction of the NSC (emphasis mine). Nunez refused to identify the NSC officials with whom he had been involved."

Oliver North was the point man at NSC for all Contra support activities."

Oh, and one more irony, just for those who collect them. The name of Ollie North's inhouse death squad assistance bureau, at the NSC, was: The Nicaraguan Humanitarian Assistance Office.