________________________________________________________________________ CIA clears itself of role in crack cocaine Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net Copyright ) 1997 The Associated Press SAN JOSE, Calif. (December 18, 1997 06:36 a.m. EST http://www.nando.net) -- The CIA spent a year and interviewed several hundred people before concluding it had no link to crack cocaine sales in the United States, the San Jose Mercury News reported Thursday. Former CIA Director John Deutch ordered the inquiry after an August 1996 series in the California newspaper. The series concluded that a San Francisco Bay area drug ring sold cocaine in South Central Los Angeles, then funneled profits to the Contras for the better part of a decade. The series traced the drugs to dealers who were also leaders of a CIA-run guerrilla army in Nicaragua. The reports generated widespread anger in the black community toward the CIA, as well as numerous federal investigations into whether the CIA took part in or countenanced the selling of crack cocaine to raise money for Contras. The investigations never found that the CIA had any link to drug dealing. Several newspapers also disputed the Mercury News report. Some former intelligence officers questioned the agency's effort, the Los Angeles Times reported. "Their interview with me was simply to go through the motions of touching all the bases," the Times quoted former CIA officer Donald H. Winters as saying. "They started off by saying they had no substantive evidence that any of the allegations in the San Jose article had any basis." Unidentified sources close to the CIA investigation said it was the agency's most extensive internal investigation, including several hundred interviews and the review of 200,000 pages of documents, the Mercury News said. It was not clear whether or when the public would see any of the CIA report. In an open letter to readers in May, the newspaper's executive editor, Jerry Ceppos, admitted the series had shortcomings. Reporter Gary Webb, who researched and wrote the series, was transferred to a smaller bureau 10 months after the series was published. He resigned from the newspaper last week.
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