What do the Mena, Arkansas, and Fire Lakes, Nevada, airfields have in common? The answer is they were both secure facilities run by the highly classified National Programs Office (NPO). Other facilities were located at Joppa, Missouri, and Iron Mountain, Texas.
President Ronald Reagan appointed Oliver North as the secret head of this secret organization, and sometime in 1983, the NPO, which is organizationally part of the National Security Agency (NSA), became the effective administrator of a covert plan called Operation Black Eagle.
Operation Black Eagle became a network of 5000 people who made possible the export of arms in the direction of Central America, and the import of drugs from the same direction. According to Navy Lt. Commander Alexander Martin (ret.), he, as an assistant to Major General Richard Secord, worked closely with Oliver North, Richard Secord, Felix Rodriquez, and Jeb Bush (son of Vice-President Bush) in the operation. Different aspects of Black Eagle were consolidated under the office of the Vice President.
Martin himself admits to setting up fraudulent paper "investment projects" through which the wealthy could donate money to the Contra cause. They would "invest" in projects that didn't exist, and write off the investment on a two-for-one basis.
But it is estimated that only 3 (three) percent of the money actually found its way into the hands of the Contras. The rest of the money was diverted to other purposes, and some of it still exists, stashed away in hidden bank accounts in the U.S. and around the world.
For the next several years the importation of drugs into the U.S. was largely a U.S. government monopoly, with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) acting as the government's enforcer to eliminate any private competition.
Not everyone who participated in the operation knew the full picture, nor did they approve of what was going on. I talked to two pilots who used to fly in and out of Mena airport, among other places.
Pilot A was appalled when he found out he was transporting cocaine. Among other things, this was totally contradictory to an apparent "war on drugs". Later on he grew more cynical, as he came to realize that the "war on drugs" was precisely what made the whole operation so profitable, as well as serving as a broad strategy for social control. Later on he was offered a job transporting cocaine by the producers themselves.
"It was good money. They would pay a $100,000 a flight. They would send out maybe eight planes at a time, and if only two of them got shot down, the operation would still be profitable. So there was some risk involved."
But he turned the job down. "You can't do business with those people," he said. "I was used to working in an environment where if you got into trouble, you kept your mouth shut. But in that environment if anyone got into trouble, they would inform on anyone and blab about anything they knew about. That was the risk I couldn't take."
Pilot B let everyone know in no uncertain terms that he wasn't transporting any drugs, anywhere, at any time. "They were quite upset with me for not going along." One day as he was about to fly out of Mena in the direction of Florida, he became suspicious of the "equipment" cargo he was transporting. He feared that not only was the cargo really cocaine, but also that he was being set up to be busted because of his unpopular view of things. He started prying into one of the wooden crates but was warned off by Uzi-carrying guards. So he took off, dumping the entire cargo (which was cocaine) all over the runway in the process, leaving a white cloud behind him. He headed East and didn't stop till he arrived at CIA headquarters to scream at Bill Casey.
"They still complain about the millions of dollars I cost them," he says, unrepentantly.
Operation Black Eagle was the basis for the diversion that became known as the "Iran-Contra" affair, a term invented by Attorney General Ed Meese, and obediently repeated ad nauseam by the news media. The exposure of the sale of TOW missiles to Iran, which no one really cared about, was intended to divert the attention of reporters toward the Middle East and away from the official government importation of drugs into secured NPO facilities.
In addition to facilities such as Mena and Fire Lakes which were guarded by the Wackenhut Corporation, the operation involved sophisticated electronics developed by NSA contractor E-Systems of Dallas, Texas, to create electronic "holes" which would allow planes to cross U.S. borders without tripping NORAD's Early Warning System. Or, if need be, to hide a flight path from U.S. spy satellites.
The monetary logistics of this operation were overseen in part by Vince Foster of the Rose Law Firm, using the financial software resources of Systematics, Jackson Stephen's Little Rock software company. Vince Foster's "NSA connection" involved an extensive knowledge of the NPO's management of the flow of men and materials, money and drugs.
Today no one wants Operation Black Eagle exposed or talked about. And that's one of the reasons investigations into the death of Vince Foster have been quashed on every side. You might call it a massive outbreak of National Insecurity.
[to be continued]