August 19, 2019
BANGOR DAILY NEWS (BANGOR, MAINE

Fact or fable? Theories on drugs, politics fly

It seems I once had dinner with one of the most evil men in history.

Recent history, at least.

His name is John Hull.

The San Jose Mercury News claims Hull, an Indiana farmer with holdings in Costa Rica, was one of those conspiring with Oliver North, the Contras and the CIA to wage genocide against inner-city black youths by getting them hooked on crack cocaine. The California newspaper’s Web site detailing that claim is the hottest stop on the Internet. Black members of Congress say they’ll seek billions of dollars in federal restitution for the mothers of crack babies, victims of drive-by shootings and other drug-related ravages to their communities if the story is true.

Racial genocide isn’t Hull’s only alleged crime.

During the mid-1980s, the Christic Institute filed a $23 million lawsuit alleging that Hull planted a bomb at Contra leader Eden Pastora’s press conference, killing several journalists. The Christic Institute first gained fame championing Karen Silkwood’s anti-nuclear claims.

This man supposedly murders journalists, I said to myself, as I trekked with three other reporters through the rain forest to Hull’s 19,000-acre ranch in Muelle, Costa Rica.

Talk about stupidity.

He was a tough old nut.

Over dinner, Hull read a poem he had written that fondly talked about “hanging” all of Nicaragua’s Sandinista leaders and their U.S. supporters from telephone poles along the highway when the Contra army marched into Managua. But he denied the allegations of drug-running made against him during Senate hearings led by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

Subsequent events proved that Hull had nothing to do with the murder of journalists. That bomber turned out to be an Argentine terrorist hired by the Sandinistas to take out Pastora. A federal judge threw out the Christic Institute’s lawsuit tying Hull to that crime, and imposed such a large fine on the advocacy group it went bankrupt.

There isn’t much doubt in my mind, though, that some of the Contras dealt in drugs. Steven Carr, one of Hull’s mercenaries, told of helping load a Contra plane with cocaine. Carr died of a drug overdose in Los Angeles, Calif., waiting for a subpoena to testify before Congress.

Most of the San Jose Mercury drug series is a rehash of Kerry’s drugs and Contras probe, plus the discredited Christic allegations. There is no hard evidence of a government plot to flood the inner cities with crack cocaine, other than statements by a convicted drug dealer and a few Iran-Contra documents that express concern about the Contras’ dalliance with cocaine.

Independent counsel Lawrence Walsh spent three years and $40 million probing every aspect of the Iran-Contra scandal and turned up nothing about government agencies going into the drug smuggling business.

You don’t have to go back 10 years to Central America to figure out that drugs are a national problem. This newspaper on Thursday quoted law enforcement officials as saying marijuana sales may generate as much in illegal profits as any of Maine’s legitimate agricultural industries. A state-financed survey found that 32 percent of 12th-graders smoke marijuana regularly. If those kids keep going down that road, they’ve vastly increased the odds they’ll never hold down a good job, or lead productive adult lives.

Go to the presidential campaign.

Bob Dole charges Bill Clinton has been AWOL in the war against drugs. He says the White House is withholding an FBI document that concurs with that assessment. Clinton could counter by blaming Ronald Reagan and Ollie North for America’s drug scourge.

I doubt he will.

Clinton-haters have a cocaine conspiracy of their own waiting to be sprung on voters. The Nation, a left-wing magazine that debunks all U.S. presidents as tools of a corrupt society, has alleged that then-Gov. Bill Clinton covered up and may have profited from a Contra-connected cocaine-smuggling operation based at Mena airport in remote Arkansas.

Barry Seal, a major drug dealer who later became an informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency, supposedly ran the undertaking. It was his airplane, which was based at Mena, that was shot down over Nicaragua in 1986 while ferrying a shipment of arms to the Contras. American Eugene Hasenfus survived the crash. That was the incident that finally blew the cover off North’s “secret network.” According to The Nation, Arkansas became a free trade zone for illegal drugs during Clinton’s years as governor.

If that were true, Seal took his secrets to the grave. He was murdered in 1987. Seal’s cocaine pipeline allegedly sent its drug and money tentacles into Arkansas’ political elite. Dan Lasater, a big Clinton financial backer and state bond dealer, went to jail for selling cocaine. It was Lasater who hooked the president’s brother, Roger, on illegal drugs.

The Mena drug conspiracy tale, like the Mercury News series, is burning up the Internet. I got 1,483 entries when I programmed my Web crawler to search for “Mena.”

There’s probably a little truth and a whole lot of fiction in both of those popular underground fables. Millions of Americans, it seems, would rather blame distant demons for the nation’s growing addiction to illegal drugs than confront the problem within their own families, or communities.

— COPLIN PLANTATION


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