Coke or Pepsi? History of a Global Sugar Addiction

The Cola Wars Documentary

History Channel 1990

Film Review

Coca Cola was first produced in 1886, when cocaine, morphine and alcohol were common patent medicine ingredients. The immediate predecessor to Coke was a concoction produced by Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton called French Wine Cola, containing cocaine, alcohol and caffeine. When Atlanta outlawed alcohol sales In 1885, Pemberton left the patent medicine business to produce his renamed Coca Cola for the increasingly popular soda fountain trade. His first version combined cocaine with kola nut extract (a stimulant).

Pemberton, a cocaine addict, sold the company to another pharmacist Asa Kandler shortly before his death in 1889. Kandler added more sugar to disguise the medicinal taste and citric acid to disguise the excessive sweetness. In 1916, he began bottling it as well as dispensing syrup to soda foundations.

Pepsi Cola, Coke’s arch rival, was also invented by a pharmacist in Newburn, North Carolina in 1898. It’s name was deliberately deceptive, as it never contained either pepsin (an aid to digestion) nor kola nut extract.

During World War II, Coca Cola gained the upper hand by making an agreement with the US government to be the exclusive soft drink provider to US troops stationed in Europe and the Pacific. The agreement also exempted from the sugar ration, which virtually crippled Pepsi Cola.

In 1985, after Coke made the disastrous misstep of secretly changing the coke formula to make it taste more like Pepsi, the company faced a massive backlash from Coke drinkers, briefly making Pepsi the number one soft drink in the world. Three months later they re-introduced the original formula as “Classic Coke.”

 

The 1972 US Coup Against Australia

Hot Money and the Politics of Debt

RT Naylor

McGill-Queens University Press (2004)

Book Review

Hot Money is about the trillions of dollars of global financial activity that is never recorded in official economic statistics. Corporate money laundering of illegal narcotics profits is the form of “hot money” that gets the most publicity. However according to Naylor, it accounts for a relatively small proportion of “hot money” percolating through offshore banks and dummy corporations.

Most “hot money” starts out as funds generated via “legitimate” business which rich elites sebd offshore to avoid taxes or in anticipation of economic calamity or regime change. All the world’s most ruthless dictators stashed funds in Swiss banks or similar financial havens prior to being deposed.

A sizeable chunk of hot money is generated from other illegal enterprises, such as gun running, illegal arms deals, prostitution, phony charities and religious groups (eg Reverend Moon’s Unification Church and L Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology) and government agencies (eg CIA) who use “hot money” to finance coups and insurgencies.

For me, the high point of Hot Money  is the excellent history Naylor provides of the CIA role in the world heroin and cocaine trade, especially their move to make Afghanistan the major global supplier of heroin.

Nalylor also provides a detailed history about the role of the Vatican Bank as a “hot money” center, the rise and fall of Propaganda Due (P2), a secret collaboration between the CIA, Mafia and right wing Masonic lodges that infiltrated all aspects of Italian public life in the 1970s; the role of Nazi war criminals Klaus Barbie and Josef Mengele in setting up Latin American death squads and cocaine networks; the rise and fall of the two biggest CIA banks, Australia’s Nugan Hand Bank and the Bank of Commerce and Credit International;  and the importance of “hot money” in the Iran Contra scandal, in which the Reagan administration illegally sold weapons to Iran to finance the Contra war against Nicaragua.

The most shocking chapter describes the role of the Nugan Hand Bank in funding a bloodless coup US Naval Intelligence carried out against Australia in 1972 – to remove a prime minister whose political views were inconsistent with US interests. Most Americans are totally unaware of this heinous attack against a close US ally. I’ve only learned of it since moving to New Zealand (Australia is New Zealand’s closest neighbor).

CIA Cocaine Trafficking, Bill Clinton and the Mena Airport

The Mena Connection

Directed by Terry Reed (1985)

Film Review

The Mena Connection establishes unequivocally that both Vice-president George H. W. Bush and Governor Bill Clinton had direct involvement in the CIA’s cocaine smuggling operation at Arkansas’ Mena Airport during the 1980s. Aircraft loaded with illegal weapons for the Contras in Honduras returned to Mena with tons of Columbia cocaine used to finance the operation. Reprising documentary evidence Reed presents in his 1994 bestselling book, Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA , the film also establishes that Clinton also deliberately obstructed investigations into Mena by local and federal prosecutors and the IRS.

Half the documentary is devoted to exposes a local Arkansas TV reporter and a WMAQ (Chicago) reporter did on cocaine smuggling at Mena during the congressional investigation into Iran Contra.* The other half consists of lengthy interviews with whistleblower Terry Reed and his wife Janis.

An experienced Vietnam War pilot, in 1983 Oliver North recruited Reed to participate in The Enterprise, a CIA operation to assemble and deliver untraceable weapons to Contra rebels fighting to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Reed also trained Contra pilots in “night flying” – landing without runway lights – on a remote mountainous airstrip eleven miles from Mena.

According to Reed, the CIA shut down the Mena operation shortly Iran Contra scandal broke in 1986, shortly after movingthe guns-for-cocaine operation to Mexico. Soon after Reed moved his family to Guadalajara, his CIA control order him to participate in the cocaine smuggling side of the operation. Things got nasty when he refused to comply and submitted his resignation. The Department of Justice attempted to frame him and his wife for drug smuggling.

They spent the next two years fighting the conviction. Following their 1991 acquittal, Reed filed suit against Arkansas law enforcement and Clinton administration officials who had framed him. Both Reed and Arkansas Congressman Bill Alexander, whose efforts to obtain a General Accounting Office investigation into Mena were blocked by the CIA, believed the lawsuit would lead to Clinton’s impeachment.

In a roundabout way it did. Owing to CIA interference, it proved impossible to impeach Clinton for cocaine smuggling or money laundering. Ultimately the only charge Congress could make stick was lying under oath about a sexual affair with a White House intern.


*The Iran Contra Affair was a political scandal in which senior Reagan administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran (an enemy state) to secure funding for CIA-sponsored Contras in Nicaragua.

An Insider’s View of Drug Smuggling

smuggler

Smuggler: Roger Reaves a Memoir

by Roger Reaves

Marrie J Reaves Publishing (2016)

Book Review

Smuggler is an extremely unusual memoir by a 73 year old American who is currently serving a life sentence in Australia for drug smuggling. Written over fifteen years, it’s a highly detailed, journal-like memoir painting the author’s journey from excruciating rural poverty to high rolling international drug smuggler.

The reader comes away with the clear sense that despite government efforts to portray Reaves as a dangerous blood thirsty king pin, he was actually a lowly middleman who was regularly cheated and manipulated by the real king pins who engaged his services. While Reeves was highly successful (bringing in millions a month) during the first decade and a half of his career, a pattern emerged in which his clients routinely weasled out of paying him, shortchanged him on the quanity and/or quality of drugs they asked him to traffic, and/or provided him with mechanically faulty and dangerous aircraft and boats. Towards the end of his career, some were actively colluding with the DEA and FBI to entrap him.

Owing to the illegal nature of marijuana and cocaine trafficking a person has no comeback – except murder or serious physical injury – if a colleague cheats them. As the highly personal memoir makes clear, it wasn’t in Reaves’s nature to engage in lethal retaliation. This, perhaps, explains his failure to rise to the ranks of vicious psychopaths like Pablo Escobar.

For me the most interesting part of the book is the section where Reaves talks about his relationship with Barry Seal and the guaranteed “no-interception” cocaine delivery operation he had going at the Mena Airport – with the active approval and support of Arkansas governor Bill Clinton and Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush.

According to Reaves, there were only two delivery points in the US where traffickers could unload a shipment with absolute guarantee that neither Customs nor the DEA would bust them. Mena was one of them.

Reaves believes strongly that the War on Drugs is a racket perpetuated mainly for the benefit of Wall Street and illegal CIA military interventions. He advocates for the US and its allies to follow the example of Portugal, which has decriminalized all drugs. In Portugal, where possession of three grams of any drug is treated as a spot fine, crime rates have plummeted since the policy was implement in 2001 (see The Cato Institute and the Drug War).

CIA Drug Trafficking on Prime Time TV

Kill the Messenger: Montel Williams with Mike Levine & Gary Webb

(1996)

Film Review

This film is a historic 1996 talk show featuring late San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb, DEA whistleblower Michael Levine and Lance Cole, special council for the Kerry Committee (the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations), and Black Congressional Caucus member Charles Rangel. For balance, a CIA troll from the right wing lobby group Accuracy in the Media also appears.

The show first aired months after Webb’s “Dark Alliance” expose first appeared in the Mercury News. This series was based on extensive documentary evidence that CIA operatives who armed and trained the Contras who tried to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government smuggled tons of cocaine into US for inner cities.

The show begins with a recorded interview with Freeway Ricky Ross (from prison) revealing that he sourced the cocaine he distributed to inner city gangs from CIA operative Oscar Blandon.

Six years later Webb would mysteriously “suicide” by shooting himself twice* in the face with a shotgun (see Webb Murdered?).

His life is recounted in the 2014 film Shoot the Messenger.


*Twice?????

Columbia: the Israel of Latin America

The Colombia Connection
Directed by Pablo Naverette (2012)

Film Review

The Colombia Connection is a Press TV documentary about the complex military alliance between the US and Colombia, which one local trade unionist describes as “the Israel” of Latin America.

The US has played a substantive role in funding and training Colombia’s military and intelligence service since the late forties. US advisers are strongly implicated in the assassination of reformist presidential candidate Jorge Gaitan in 1948 and the 1948-53 reign of terror (La Violencia) responsible for the murders of tens of thousands of civilians.

After World War II, Columbia joined other Latin American countries whose corrupted leaders colluded with the US government to drive peasants off their land for the benefit of US corporations. Liberal opposition leaders, trade unionists, human rights groups, judges, journalists and elected officials who opposed this process were violently suppressed via targeted assassination, forced disappearance and torture.

The US assisted in this process through the US Army School of the Americas, which operated in Panama between 1946 and 1984, when it was relocated to Fort Benning Georgia. The specific role of the School of the Americas is to train the paramilitary death squads of right wing Latin American governments in torture and other terror techniques. Convinced they had no legal or peaceful option for reclaiming their stolen land, poor Colombians began joining guerilla groups in large groups, with the FARC and the ELN (both formed in 1964) being the largest.

In 1998, starting with the election of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, numerous Latin American countries (Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Ecuador), began electing left of center governments. In response, in 2000 Bill Clinton launched Plan Colombia, which substantially increased direct US military involvement with the construction of seven military bases.

At present, US military aid to Columbia is the third largest ($7.5 billion between 2000 and 2010), after Israel and Egypt. The pretext is that US forces are helping the Colombian government eradicate cocaine production. However leaked Wikileaks cables indicate their real purpose is to attack rebel strongholds.

One example involves a Colombian paramilitary force the US secretly dispatched to Venezuela to try to assassinate Hugo Chavez.

Part 3 touches on candidate Obama’s promises to reign in Columbia’s human rights abuses by cutting military aid – as well as his 180 degree reversal the moment he took office.

How the CIA Used LSD to Destroy the New Left

drugs-as-weapons

Drugs as Weapons Against Us: The CIA’s Murderous Targeting of SDS, Panthers, Hendrix, Lennon, Cobain, Tupac and Other Activists

by John L Potash

Trine Day LLC (2015)

Book Review

Drugs as Weapons Against Us is a virtual encyclopedia of the global drug trade. Author John L Potash devotes special attention to the long involvement of the British and US government in illegal trafficking – for the political and financial benefit of the elite families who control these governments. Most of the book focuses on MKUltra, the top secret CIA program devoted to developing and experimenting with mind altering drugs such as LSD, MDA (an ecstasy precursor), STP, PCP and scopolamine.

Although CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MK-Ultra records destroyed in the mid-seventies, 30,000 pages of documents were preserved in the CIA Finance Department. Meticulously researched and footnoted, Drugs as Weapons relies on an extensive variety of sources, including the 30,000 pages, FOIA releases, police files, whistleblower statements, media and alternative media investigations and other prominent researchers such as Peter Dale Scott, Alfred, McCoy, Alex Constantine, Catherine Austin Fitts, and the late Gary Webb and Michael Rupert.

Using MKUltra to Target Leftists and Radical Pop Stars

As the title suggests, Potash is mainly interested in the CIA’s use of LSD (with the help of British intelligence, which ran a parallel MKUltra program at the Tavistock Clinic) to “neutralize” leftists and activist pop stars, such as Paul Robeson, Mick Jagger, Abbie Hoffman, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix.*

Like many activists, I am well aware of the CIA’s historic role in heroin trafficking in Southeast Asia and in cocaine trafficking in Latin America. However prior to reading Drugs as Weapons, I was totally unaware they were also responsible for most of the LSD produced between 1955 and 1973 – for the specific purpose of “neutralizing” the New Left in Berkeley, at Columbia University and elsewhere. This particular MKUltra project was conceived in response to a 1962 Rand Corporation study recommending that getting left wing leaders hooked on LSD could “cause them to resign or become inactive.”

The Haight Ashbury was a CIA Invention

I was particularly horrified to learn about the LSD distribution network MKUltra agents set up in the Haight Ashbury to lure Berkeley students away from the nationally influential Free Speech movement. The latter, originally formed in 1957 to protest the anti-democratic activities of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s House on Un-American Activities Committee, went on to inspire the national anti-Vietnam War Movement.

In addition to various MKUltra scientists and agents, the CIA also relied on a number of high profile personalities – LSD guru Timothy Leary (an admitted CIA asset), author Ken Kesey (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), and Grateful Dead band members – to promote and distribute LSD as an alternative to organizing against the Vietnam War.

How the Opium Trade Created America’s First Millionaires

Potash begins his book with important historical background on the origins of the global drug trade, which he traces back to 1500 and which European elites relied on heavily to finance imperial expansion and colonization. He also recounts the history of important Wall Street families – the Cabots, Cushings, Bushes, Astors, Russells, Pierponts (JP Morgan’s family) – who all owe their immense wealth to the opium trade the British involuntarily forced on China via the Opium Wars. The investment of these families in illegal drug trafficking continues to the present day, as evidenced by the involvement of all major US banks in multibillion dollar drug money laundering.

The Russell family, who would go on to found Yale and the Skull and Bones Society, openly used a skull and bones pirate flag on their opium trading ships.

The Vietnam War: Protecting Wall Street Drug Interests

Potash also carefully details the special relationship between these Wall Street families and the intelligence agency they founded during World War II (the OSS, which became the CIA in 1947) to protect their special interests. This comes out really clearly in the chapter in which Potash traces the origins of the Vietnam War. He makes a really strong case that this war (which began in the late fifties as a CIA intervention) stemmed directly from CIA determination to protect Golden Triangle opium production from efforts by nationalist leaders in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam to eradicate it.

One of Mao’s first acts after winning control of China was to destroy the country’s vast opium network. With the support of the CIA, the nationalist Chinese generals who had controlled it moved their networks into Burma, Laos and Thailand.

The Link Between CIA-backed Nazi War Criminals and Colombian Cocaine

In a similar vein, the CIA assisted Klaus Barbie and other Nazi war criminals it smuggled out of Germany in setting up a cocaine production and distribution network in Colombia and later the Afghan Mujaheddin in turning their country into the world’s largest producer of heroin.

Potash makes a compelling case that the proximate cause for the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in October 2001 was the Taliban’s successful eradication of opium production earlier that year.


*The cases of radical pop stars and activists targeted with LSD and other drugs (in many cases along with witnesses and key investigators) Potash examines include

  • Paul Robeson – African American singer whose career was destroyed when he was involuntarily dosed with LSD and committed for two years to a psychiatric hospital, where he received 54 electroconvulsive treatments,
  • Richard Wright – African American writer involuntarily dosed with LSD who later died under extremely suspicious circumstances.
  • Elvis Presley – became addicted to amphetamines and narcotics after covert intelligence officer became his manager.
  • Mama Cass Elliott – died under mysterious circumstances at age 32 after starting to date an international drug smuggler with suspected intelligence links.
  • Abbie Hoffman –introduced to LSD by roommate who worked for Army Intelligence research LSD effects on unconsenting GIs.
  • Mick Jagger – involuntarily dosed with LSD and subject to numerous drug frame-ups and two unsuccessful Hell’s Angels (working closely with US intelligence) assassination attempts.
  • Brian Jones – subject to numerous drug frame-ups and intense phone harassment and stalking prior to 1969 murder (which police covered up as “accidental” drowning).
  • Jimi Hendrix – intelligence-linked manager strongly implicated in death related to involuntary drugging.
  • Janis Joplin – introduced to amphetamines and heroine via intelligence-linked boyfriend, died after “friend” slipped her a bolus of pure CIA heroin.
  • John Lennon – involuntarily dosed with LSD and framed on bogus cannabis charge. Lennon’s alleged assassin Mark Chapman had strong intelligence links and appeared to be under influence of scopolamine.
  • Bob Marley – involuntarily injected with the cancer-causing chemical methlychoanthine (via a copper wire hidden in boots gifted to him by CIA asset Carl Colby) and subsequently died of fibrosarcoma.
  • Kurt Cobain – involved in heavy drug use by his wife Courtney Love, who had shadowy underworld and intelligence connections. Cobain allegedly shot himself in the head with a shotgun after consuming so much heroin he would have lost consciousness before he could pull the trigger.
  • Huey Newton – initiated into heavy cocaine use by girlfriend/undercover agent. Witnesses maintain he was shot after a failed attempt to kidnap him, discrediting police disinformation about “a drug deal gone bad.”
  • Tupac Shakur – multiple assassination attempts and police frame ups. Coerced, as part of a bail agreement, into signing with Death Row records (see The FBI War on Rap). The latter was run by Los Angeles police intelligence unit and heavily involved in drug and gun trafficking. Killed in drive-by shooting instigated by US intelligence.
  • Eminem – initiated into heavy drug use via undercover intelligence “friends” after helping Afeni Shakur (following Tupac’s assassination) to record many of Tupac’s songs.

Originally published in Dissident Voice