The Last CIA Whistleblower: Drug Trafficking, Training Terrorists, and the U.S. Government





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Published on Jun 22, 2012

The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia is a major, nonfiction book on heroin trafficking—specifically in Southeast Asia from before World War II up to (and including) the Vietnam War. Published in 1972, the book was the product of eighteen months of research and at least one trip to Laos by Alfred W. McCoy who was the principal author and who wrote Politics of Heroin while seeking a PhD in Southeast Asian history at Yale University. Cathleen B. Read, co-author and graduate student, also spent time there during the war.

Its most groundbreaking feature was its documentation of CIA complicity and aid to the Southeast Asian opium/heroin trade; along with McCoy's Congressional testimony, its initially controversial thesis has gained a degree of mainstream acceptance. The central idea is that at the time, the vast majority of heroin produced was produced in the Golden Triangle, from which: "It is transported in the planes, vehicles, and other conveyances supplied by the United States. The profit from the trade has been going into the pockets of some of our best friends in Southeast Asia. The charge concludes with the statement that the traffic is being carried on with the indifference if not the closed-eye compliance of some American officials and there is no likelihood of its being shut down in the foreseeable future."

Air America, which was covertly owned and operated by the CIA, was used for this transport, in particular. At the same time, the heroin supply was partly responsible for the parlous state of US Army morale in Vietnam: "By mid 1971 Army medical officers were estimating that about 10 to 15 per cent... of the lower ranking enlisted men serving in Vietnam were heroin users."

Having interviewed Maurice Belleux, former head of the French SDECE intelligence agency, Mc Coy also uncovered parts of the French Connection scheme, as the French military agency had financed all of its covert operations, during the First Indochina War, from its control of the Indochina drug trade.


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