As the U.S. “War on Drugs” begins to look more and more like a losing battle, a number of stories are beginning to come in from the field that tell of conflicting priorities and closed-door deals.
One of the most extraordinary stories is about Richard Gregorie who was one of the nation’s most successful Mafia prosecutors when he was sent to Miami with orders to go after the top people in the cocaine business.
He did that for eight years and became the top federal narcotics prosecutor in Miami before quitting in January, 1989, after State Department officials repeatedly interfered in his investigations.
Gregorie had become something of a local hero after making cases against big-time cocaine bosses and drug-corrupted officials from Miami to Medellin. But as Gregorie began penetrating the higher levels of the cocaine business, he began to target foreign officials of supposedly friendly nations, including General Manuel Noriega of Panama while State Department officials were still courting the dictator.
Gregorie’s elaborate, undercover sting operations began to concern intelligence and State Department officials and he was soon told to stay away from certain sensitive areas. “I feel a lot like the soldiers in Vietnam felt. We are not being allowed to win this war,” said Gregorie. “I give an ‘F’ to the State Department and I give an F to our foreign policy people.”
Gregorie’s operations were subsequently stopped at the request of the State Department and he quit in protest. A free lance journalist subsequently was assigned by an editor at ?he New York Times Magazine to do a profile of Richard Gregorie. After two months of interviews, research, and writing, the author submitted the article; it was killed by a deputy or senior editor. The author said the article was not “censored” but rather was killed for literary or technical reasons.
Meanwhile Gregorie’s charges were validated by the findings of a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations which concluded that foreign policy interests were permitted to sidetrack, disrupt, and undercut the war on drugs.
Committee investigators also said that their inquiry was hindered by uncooperative federal officials, while committee chair John Kerry disclosed that Lawrence E. Walsh, the independent counsel investigating the Iran-contra affairs, was investigating allegations that Reagan administration officials sought to obstruct the committee’s investigation.
The report itself quotes Jeffrey Feldman, a former U.S. attorney in Miami, as having said that justice department officials told him that representatives of the department, Drug Enforcement Administration, and FBI met in 1986 “to discuss how Senator Kerry’s efforts” to push for hearings “could be undermined.”
Considering that the mass media have been the primary vehicle for the administration’s “war on drugs,” it is ironic that these seemingly contradictory stories were virtually ignored by the same mainstream press.
SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER: JOHN GILLES
SOURCE: RICHARD GREGORIE (personal phone call), DATE: 10/10/89
SOURCE: NBC NIGHTLY NEWS 4001 Nebraska Avenue Washington, D.C. 20016, DATE: 2/22/89
NBC-TV News: BRIAN ROSS, IRA SILVERMAN, GARRICK UTLEY
SOURCE: SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE (NEW YORK TIMES SERVICE) 901 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103, DATE: 4/15/89
TITLE: “POLICY REPORTEDLY UNDERCUT DRUG WAR”
SOURCE: DAVID HAWARD BAIN (personal letter), DATE: 12/1/89
COMMENTS: Richard Gregorie, former federal narcotics prosecutor now in private law practice in Miami, Florida, said he was surprised when a New York Times Magazine article wasn’t published after lengthy interviews with the author, David Haward Bain. Bain, the free lance author who had been assigned by the Times to do a profile of Gregorie, said the article was killed for literary or technical reasons and not because of censorship. Bain said he spent a week in Miami interviewing Gregorie and many of his associates and several additional weeks of phone calls to other professionals and politicians around the country. He concluded “Not publishing this profile has been a deep disappointment for me, but there is no one to blame, only events. That’s the news. What I regret even more, though, is having lost the chance to trumpet the story of a genuine American hero, Dick Gregorie. It is a shame the government, his former employer, did not listen to him –just as it is a shame that we citizens do not have him protecting our interests as he did for seventeen years.”