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Meese, CIA Held to Be Blocking Drugs Inquiry

May 29, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House select committee on narcotics said Thursday that he is trying to learn whether there is a link between contra supply flights and drug smuggling but contended the Justice Department and CIA are stonewalling his panel.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), the chairman, commented after Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III refused to allow Drug Enforcement Agency officials to participate in a private briefing for his committee. The CIA also declined an invitation to attend, but the U.S. Customs Service sent four representatives.

Rangel said the customs officials were "slow in getting us the specific information we requested on flights and personnel. We gave them names."

Hearing Threatened

The lawmaker threatened to hold a public hearing on the issue and promised to subpoena government witnesses, if necessary, to learn whether crews that resupplied the Nicaraguan rebels also flew drugs into the United States.

"I am shocked and dismayed that Atty. Gen. Meese would have the DEA gagged . . . " Rangel said after the briefing. "We are being stonewalled by the DEA and the CIA."

News stories have reported that supply missions backed by the CIA used planes and pilots with drug-smuggling histories.

This was also suggested in testimony and documents provided by former State Department consultant Robert W. Owen to the joint House-Senate hearings into the Iran-contra affair. Owen, who served as liaison between White House aide Oliver L. North and the private supply network, said that one plane acquired by the CIA had previously been used in drug flights.

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