A couple of excellent television series released this summer are looking at how closely the CIA has been involved with Latin American drug routes, criminal gangs and the agency’s missteps that resulted in the dumping of obscene amounts of drugs into the United States and the obscenely high number of Americans behind bars.
One, a four-part documentary series on the History Channel, is America’s War on Drugs, which premiered this summer.
The show digs into the “the entire catalog of ideologies and interests animating American drug policy dating back to the 1960s,” per InsightCrime.
This is an issue that many are justifiably concerned about these days as the current White House seeks to renewthe miserably ineffective and unsuccessful drug war.
Although the War on Drugs began under President Nixon in 1971 and served as legal cover for destroying the anti-war left and black power movement, the History Channel’s six-hour series begins in the early 1960s when the Mafia and CIA colluded to get rid of Fidel Castro.
America’s War on Drugs is not only a profound look at an important moment in American history, it is the first time U.S. television has ever delved into one of the most important issues that has intensely affected the social fabric of the country for the past 50 years—and continues to do so today.
What comes out over the course of show is that the War on Drugs started out as a sham and continues to be a sham, beginning with the fact that the federal government has engaged in a succession of alliances of convenience with some of the world’s biggest drug cartels.
While the U.S. incarceration rate quintupled since Richard Nixon, major drug dealers have nearly always enjoyed protection from the highest levels of power in this country, with few exceptions.
The Intercept found it interesting that this show saw the light of day, although pointed out that much of the information in it has been available to anyone with “curiosity and a library card.”
“Yet somehow, despite the fact the U.S. has no formal system of censorship, this monumental scandal has never before been presented in a comprehensive way in the medium where most Americans get their information: TV,” the Intercept noted. “That’s why America’s War on Drugs is a genuine milestone.”
America’s War on Drugs also examines the long-simmering accusations of the CIA’s role in flooding the country’s inner cities with crack cocaine, ushering in the devastating 1980s epidemic.
The second dramatic series Snowfall, released on FX this summer, looks at that epidemic in Los Angeles. The first season weaves together three occasionally overlapping storylines, following characters that are apparently inspired by real-life figures.
Between these two hard-hitting TV series, the takeaway is hard to dispute: The CIA cultivated unholy relationships with criminal drug gangs that flooded U.S. cities with cocaine in the 1980s.
There is simply too much reporting, from too many sources to pass it off as a conspiracy theory.
What’s clear, according to InsightCrime, “through this thicket of intersecting stories is that the American policy has often been made out of fear—not necessarily manufactured, but often misplaced. Fear of communism, of terrorism, of crime in the streets.”