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The Big White Lie: The CIA and the Cocaine/Crack Epidemic Hardcover – October 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Pr; 1st edition (October 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156025064X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560250647
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #305,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a shocking expose, Michael Levine--former undercover agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and author of the 1990 nonfiction bestseller Deep Cover --rips the lid off the sewer of what he argues is America's phony "war on drugs." Levine, writing with his wife, charges that the CIA and the Pentagon have for decades protected and supported the world's biggest drug dealers, and that the U.S. government has allowed top-level dealers and criminals to escape punishment. This first-person account reads like an edge-of-the-seat thriller--complete with reconstructed conversations. Levine recounts his deep-cover assignments, particularly Operation Hun, which resulted in prison terms for key players in Colombia's cocaine industry and for Bolivia's drug-pushing minister of the interior, Luis Arce-Gomez. Many high-level traffickers went free, however, and Levine berates the U.S. government for failing to investigate or prosecute them, blaming this failure on the CIA and other federal agencies' policy of courting criminals in order to gain information, win influence and fund further U.S. covert operations. Levine also tells how Bolivia's booming cocaine industry was protected by paramilitary goons led by Klaus Altmann, "a/k/a Klaus Barbie, a fugitive Nazi war criminal and long-time CIA asset." Revealing the personal motivation that fuels his story, Levine writes about his brother, a heroin addict who committed suicide, and about his own daughter's struggle with drug addiction. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Reading more like a novel than serious nonfiction, The Big White Lie tells a former Drug Enforcement Administration undercover agent's story of dealing with cocaine traffickers in both the U.S. and South America. Levine, who has written two previous books on similar subjects, admits to considerable disenchantment with the "suits" running the DEA and to family involvement with drugs (a couple of fatal addictions), a combination that could hamper his objectivity. He was, nevertheless, involved with some major drug operations in which one U.S. government agency (the DEA) was trying to ensnare drug dealers while another (the CIA) was using the same people as sources: a delicate game that Levine found not only offensive, but also unplayable. While often a good read with numerous unsavory but believable characters and rich reconstructed dialogue, the book seems more a kvetch than a well-documented expos{‚}e; an introduction or some endorsements from objective experts would enhance its authoritativeness. Connie Goddard

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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It's a book every American needs to read.
Irwin A. Weisberg
It's an extremely important, very well written book.
Coolfire
Which in turn makes you just want to read on and on.
den col

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
Michael Levine is a former DEA agent who, throughout the 1980's, worked to uncover, expose and convict many of the leading suppliers of cocaine to the United States. Unfortunately for Levine, many of the most powerful cocaine dealers proved to be CIA assets, supported and even bankrolled by the American government in pursuit of shadowy foreign policy objectives. Levine's diligence in fighting the so-called "drugs war" brought him the ruination of his reputation within the DEA and ultimately the destruction of his career. The cynicism that Levine exposes within the highest levels of American government is breathtaking - and profoundly depressing.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Graham H. Seibert TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Note that this review is 4 years after publication... four years of silence.
A book that tears the mask off the fraudulent "War on Drugs". It exposes the growth of the war from two (highly mutually destructive) agencies in 1971 (Customs and DEA) to 55 and counting. It describes very extensive, high-volume CIA involvement in smuggling itself to obtain unaccountable funding.
It documents the cost of the fraudulent war. In dollars misspent, in innocent lives lost through raids gone amok and witnesses silenced, in the credibility of government agencies and the news media, and in the harm resulting from the 5-fold increase (his figures) in drug usage during the time $1 trillion has been wasted in the fight.
Recommend finding this book used or in a library, or reading Levine's chapter in "Into the Buzzsaw" by Kristina Borjesson.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Pax Romana on August 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
The first sign of corruption in a society ... is that the end justifies the means. ~Georges Beranos, "Why Freedom?" (1955)

When you finish going through this book, you will gain a new perspective on the drugs war, and some of the root causes of the drugs problem in United States.

"Look Mike, our country has many diverse interests and you're one man in one little corner of the world. There are a lot of people a lot smarter than you and I involved in this business who might know a few things we don't. So just because an action might seem right doesn't mean it is; and even if it's the right thing to do, sometimes it's not the healthiest."

...

He was silent for a long moment. "Mike, don't ever forget a peanut butter sandwich."
"You're kidding."
"No, I'm not. I'm telling you this because I like you."

...

"Bario was one of the best and most committed undercover agents in DEA; he had done some of the agency's highest-level deep cover work. He was also a friend of mine. A year earlier he had been arrested for smuggling heroin from his post of duty in Mexico. While in jail in a Texas border town awaiting a removal hearing, he took a bite of a peanut butter sandwich and went into convulsions, and then a deep coma. He died a month later. He wife was told by the prison warden that strychnine had been found in his blood. The official autopsy report listed the cause of death as asphyxiation -- he choked on a peanut butter sandwich.
Many of Bario's fellow agents were aware that he was involved in cases that overlapped CIA interests.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Mike Levine is a good writer. Add that to the fact that he was one of the best undercover agents in American history and you've got the equation for a great book. I had to stop myself a number of times to remember that this is NON-Fiction. The bumbling and deception that goes on at the higher levels of our Criminal Justice system would be laughable had this been a work of fiction. There is just too much detail here for it NOT to be true. This book, coupled with Levine's other book "Deep Cover" show you how the people in power manipulate the media to show the public the reality they want them to see. In light of the Iraq war "intelligence" misinformation, we can see that nothing has changed. In fact, the stakes have gotten higher.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
I rank this book with "Dark Alliance" and "C.I.A.: Cocaine In America" as the most telling indictment of America's pseudo-war on drugs. Unlike most suthors who pontificate solutions from ivory towers and exhort stratagem with quill pens, Mr. Levine, not unlike Mr. VesBucci, for that matter, advises from hard-fought experience.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By bcigi on June 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well, you could imagine that the subject of this book is rather sensitive and controversial -- the author alleges no less than overt CIA complicity in freeing several members of the "Roberto Suarez" cartel of Bolivia, whom he brought to justice, after which (so he alleges) the CIA assisted the cartel's strongmen (corrupt officers of the Bolivian military) in overthrowing Bolivia's civilian government and installing another Operation-Condor military dictatorship (like those of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil at the same time). This coup (one of the bloodiest in Bolivian history) has since become known by mainstream historians as the notorious "Cocaine Coup" due to the obvious drug links of the military dictatorship -- but CIA involvement has only been scantly explored. Levine's investigation, along with this book, is the primary source for allegations of CIA culpability, and there has been corroboration (explored in Peter Dale Scott's masterful book "Cocaine Politics") in several other cases, such as the defection of Roberto Suarez's son from the cartel, when the son of the drug lord claimed that the cartel's processing plants were operated by CIA men and invited the press to see for themselves; on another occasion, Col. Oliver North himself was reportedly sighted at a Suarez cartel lab.

Levine painstakingly outlines the deep cover operation that he participated in, in Bolivia -- these operations, where a DEA agent goes undercover in a foreign country, are very sensitive and very dangerous, he explains, as being uncovered almost certainly means death for the undercover agent, as happened with DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena in Mexico during the 80s.
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