- Paperback: 418 pages
- Publisher: Verso (November 17, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1859842585
- ISBN-13: 978-1859842584
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 43 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press
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Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair take the revelations of the links between the Central Intelligence Agency, the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Los Angeles crack market that journalist Gary Webb exposed in 1996--revelations that are the basis of Webb's book Dark Alliance--and use them as a springboard for a tale of the U.S. government's involvement with the illegal drug trade that extends much further back than Webb's tale.
The specific revelations are not, perhaps, entirely new; many know, for example, that even before there was a CIA, the WWII-era Office of Strategic Services enlisted the aid of gangster "Lucky" Luciano in arranging support among the Sicilian Mafia for the American invasion of Italy, or that the CIA was actively involved in the Southeast Asian opium trade during the Vietnam War. But Cockburn and St. Clair persuasively argue that the traditional explanation for such events--"rogue elements"--is deliberately misleading, and that the mainstream "liberal" press plays an active role in this obfuscation (noting, for example, that Webb's three biggest attackers were the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post). By providing an overarching narrative rather than treating these incidents as isolated, the authors present a damning indictment of the CIA--but one that fully admits that the agency was not acting on its own, but was merely fulfilling the mandates of the American government. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Cockburn and St. Clair present a litany of CIA misdeeds, from the recruitment of Nazi scientists after WWII to the arming of opium traffickers in Afghanistan. All of this is extremely well documented ... A chilling history that many will take issue with of what the CIA has been up to in the past 50 years.”—KIRKUS
“A solid, pitiless piece of muckraking, ... Cockburn and St. Clair raise troubling questions about the role of a largely secretive government agency in a democratic society.”—San Diego Union Tribune
“A probing examination of the CIA’s chilling history of coddling major drug traffickers, gangsters and Nazi psychopaths.”—Philadelphia Tribune
“A convincing, well-researched, comprehensive condemnation of the CIA.”—Maximum Rock 'N Roll
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Top customer reviews
The book contains accounts of the US government complicity in drug trade, state terror, torture, genocide and mass murder. Even its own citizens have been subjected to terrible crimes through grotesque biological, radiological and chemical experimentation. The book details many such cases and describe how politicians and the so-called "respectable" press often deliberately look the other way.
The book is also highly readable. The authors are good narrators and the absurdity of the subject matter comes through clearly. It does not contain much original research, but it does collect scattered and willfully-forgotten knowledge that is very valuable. Frankly, I know of no books which describes as many grotesque and absurd high crimes by various US administrations and institutions. It clearly shows that these actions are not performed for the sake of the US citizenry, which are among the victims of this book.
A highly recommended book.
Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair's "Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press" jumps off from here. Wisely, Cockburn and St. Clair do not make Webb's story the core of their book; Webb's own book does that job admirably. What they do contribute to this story is a devastating account of the shameful way that the mainstream press, led by former intelligence officer Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, turned on Webb in an effort to discredit him and his story. Cockburn and St. Clair repeatedly expose the flaws in mainstream efforts to "debunk" the Dark Alliance series, and catch many reporters acting as little more than flacks for the CIA, often writing stories that said little more than "we know Webb's story is false because the CIA told us so."
But the core of "Whiteout" has a more historical perspective, as the authors set out to review the underside of the history of the CIA and its precursor, the OSS. And an ugly picture it is, too, as we see these agencies:
-recruiting the Mafia to assassinate foreign leaders.
-recruiting Nazi scientists to conduct experiments (often on blacks) in torture and mind control.
-helping war criminal Klaus Barbie escape Europe, and justice, to become a South American drug lord, arms dealer and apparent CIA operative.
-allying with the opium and heroin traders of Southeast Asia.
Working with drug dealers and other criminal elements is so common for the CIA that it would appear from this account to have been standard Agency procedure.
"Whiteout" is a well-written and well-researched book. Helpfully, the authors end each chapter with an annotated guide to further reading on the subject.
"Whiteout" is not pleasant reading; I could only take so much at a time before having to put it aside for the day. But it is necessary reading. In a democratic society, an agency such as the CIA, if it must exist, must be under constant scrutiny or it will lapse into lawlessness (the same is true of law enforcement agencies). It is clear that the mainstream media are not going to provide such scrutiny, so we must turn to independent journalists like Cockburn and St. Clair and others like them for the accurate information we need.