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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 LLCCopyright © 2015 John L. Potash
All rights reserved.
Opium Traders Achieve Global Predominance
As early as 3400 b.c., the Sumerians used the opium poppy, which they called the "joy plant," for its euphoric effects. In The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, University of Wisconsin Professor Alfred McCoy explains that most opium, and its derivative heroin, still comes from poppies grown in the northern section of former Sumerian lands and adjoining territories. Today, this includes a narrow 4,500-mile stretch of mountains extending along the southern tier of Asia, from Turkey through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan to India, an area known as the "Golden Crescent." That same stretch of mountains then extends to the world's second largest area of poppy cultivation in the "Golden Triangle," where Myanmar (formerly Burma), Thailand and Laos come together adjacent to Vietnam.
From as early as 1500 a.d., opium and other drugs played a crucial role in the rise of industrialized powers. Professor Carl Trocki, of Queensland University, Australia, provided this summary of the opium trade:
Accumulations of wealth created by a succession of historic drug trades have been among the primary foundations of global capitalism and the modern nation-state itself. Indeed, it may be argued that the entire rise of the west, from 1500 to 1900, depended on a series of drug trades.
Professor Peter Dale Scott of the University of California at Berkeley concurred:
All empires since the Renaissance have been driven by the search for foreign resources, and nearly all, including the British, the French, and the Dutch, used drugs as a cheap way to pay for overseas expansion.
Access to an abundance of opium poppies by Western industrialized countries brought centuries of problems to the East, particularly in China. There, in the early 1500s, the Chinese had only used opium medicinally and in oral form. During this time the Portuguese fleet initiated the smoking of opium in China, discovering that the effects of smoking opium were instantaneous. The Chinese, however, considered the practice barbaric and subversive.
In the early 1700s, the Dutch took over trade with China and the islands of Southeast Asia, while popularizing the use of a tobacco pipe for opium smoking. In 1729, the Emperor Yung Cheng issued an edict prohibiting the smoking of opium and its domestic sale, except under license for use as a medicine.
By 1750, the British East India Company had taken control of several opium-growing regions of India, and by the 1790s had developed a monopoly on the opium trade. China's new emperor, Kia King, then banned opium completely. This failed to stop the British East India Company from increasing their smuggling and sale of opium in China, which grew from 15 tons a year in the earlier 1700s to 3,200 tons a year by 1850.
American University Professor Clarence Lusane argued that once Britain had developed its empire, it used opium as an important new political tool for conquest. The British, he wrote, used opium to help addict and control the Chinese people en masse, increasing British profits in China and allowing them easier access to China's resources.
Statements of high-level Chinese officials support this argument. In 1836, mandarin Hsu Nai-tsi, vice president of the Sacrificial Court, informed the emperor that opium, originally ranked among the medicines, was now being inhaled. Hsu called the practice "destructive ... injurious," and despite its ban in 1799, the foreign "barbarian merchants" helped it "spread throughout the entire empire." Mandarin Chun Tsu, a member of the Board of Rites, found that within the Chinese army, "a great number of the soldiers were [opium] smokers; so that, although their numerical force was large there was hardly any force found among them." Chu proclaimed the Chinese needed to oppose the "covetous and ambitious schemes" of the British with their opium sales.
By 1839, the British East India Company's shipments of opium to China reached 1,400 tons per year. The Chinese premier tried to outlaw foreign ships from bringing opium into Chinese ports for sale. Chinese officials confiscated 15,000 chests containing 95 tons of opium from foreign merchants, including 10 tons from the American firm Russell & Co. They dissolved the opium in a trench of water with salt and lime.
Unwilling to lose the political power opium had given it, Britain attacked China in the first Opium War, which lasted three years until 1842. China then signed a peace treaty giving Hong Kong to Britain. China kept opium illegal, but stopped confiscations. However, when Chinese officials tried to enforce the prohibition of British opium sales, tensions led to the second Opium War (1856-1858). Once more China lost and had to comply with British demands to legalize the opium trade.
In 1865, Scotsman Thomas Sutherland started the Hongkong Shanghai Banking Company (later HSBC). A senior Chinese government official had issued a warrant for future HSBC board member Thomas Dent in 1839, to close his opium warehouses. This helped spark the first Opium War. France's Le Monde Diplomatique said that "HSBC's first wealth came from opium from India, and later Yunan in China." Yunan is in the Golden Triangle area. The first Opium War forced China to cede Shanghai to Western powers, transforming it from a fishing village to China's largest, most modern city with a network of opium smoking dens. Prof. Alfred McCoy would eventually call Hong Kong "Asia's heroin laboratory," and HSBC would become the world's second largest bank.
By 1900 China had an estimated thirteen million opium addicts. Six years later, 27% of all adult males in China smoked opium. This astounding rate of addiction has never since been equaled. Other Asian countries developed similar public addiction issues when forced to participate in the drug trade by European powers. Corrupt, foreign-supported leaders in these countries may have also been motivated to make money on the side through taxing opium sales.
However, the opium-trafficking families of the U.S. and Europe made the most money, as they bought most of the 35,000 metric tons of raw opium being produced in 1906 and sold it at a premium once it was processed. This was 85% of the world opium production that year and more than four times as much from any other single source in history. Most of this opium production took place in southern China, adjoining the area considered the Golden Triangle of opium production in Laos, Thailand, Burma (now Myanmar) and Vietnam.
British rulers appeared to also use opium against British citizens who struggled to better their living conditions. Famous British resident Karl Marx coined the term "opiate of the masses" about opium abuse and addiction keeping people politically asleep. The timing of the ill effects of the industrial revolution — worker displacement, starvation and rioting in the early 1800s — suggests that British rulers promoted opiates to help quell the masses of poor and struggling workers, many of whom joined protests.
After a particularly turbulent eight years of rioting and protest, in 1819 British Parliament passed the Six Acts, turning Britain into a police state. These acts prevented public meetings, restricted newspapers, sped up the judicial process and restricted access to firearms. Within ten years, street patrols of police were introduced. In 1827, the first commercial batches of the opium derivative morphine were produced.
Opium distribution for medicinal and recreational use in industrialized European countries led to problems among their own poor and working classes. Professor Lusane cited Karl Marx in Capital, which stated that in 1861, 26 percent of deaths among English children resulted from their working-class parents treating the children's ailments with opiate medicines. As Prof. Al McCoy also reported, mass addiction to opium became a significant feature of the late 1800s in England.
U.S., British Traffic Opium As Workers Organize
Starting in the 1700s, the British East India Company acquired a number of partners among American families from New England. The opium merchants' power and loyalty extended to their American partners, and the American anglophiles showed their continued commitment to Britain by becoming part of the reported 15% of Americans who fought for the British as Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War.
In his book, Pipe Dream Blues: Racism and the War on Drugs, Professor Clarence Lusane argues that British aristocracy and many of America's wealthiest families used alcohol and drugs as weapons, not only in the East, but also in Africa and in the Americas, with New England families dominating the rum trade. Lusane notes that prior to European influence, Africans traditionally drank only palm wine. Other intoxicants were used medicinally and in moderation. European traders introduced rum, tobacco and opium to Africa for economic gain, swindling African traders when gathering captured slaves, and also introduced rum in the Americas to lead a large percentage of Native Americans into dysfunction.
The American families smuggling opium into China alongside the British included the prominent Russell family of Connecticut. The Russells intermarried with other rich families, including the Pierponts, the family that later spawned tycoon Julius Pierpont "J.P." Morgan. Over a half-dozen of the richest families, including the Cabots, Cushings, Astors, and Perkinses, gained huge wealth in the opium trade and went on to attain positions of power in the U.S. In just one single year (1840) these New Englanders brought 24,000 pounds of opium into the U.S.
The Russell family helped found Yale University, and in 1833, one of the Russells founded Yale's elite secret society, Skull and Bones. A member of the Cabot opium-trafficking family founded Harvard's Porcellian Club, called the Porc or Pig Club by critics. The Russell Company unabashedly used the skull-and-bones pirate symbol in its international opium shipping. In 1856, a Skull and Bonesman, Daniel Coit Gilman, co-incorporated the Russell Trust Association, the opium-trafficking Russell family's fund, which then started bestowing money to Skull and Bones members. The Russell Trust reportedly granted each Skull and Bonesman $15,000, the equivalent of $255,000 in 2010 dollars, upon their graduation. In time, many of these Bonesmen rose to the ranks of the most powerful people in the world.
In 1874, a British chemist turned the opium derivative, morphine, into heroin. By 1898, the Bayer Company of Germany introduced heroin as a commercial product. Bayer introduced its milder pain reliever, aspirin, one year later. Both drugs were mass-marketed on a similar scale, with heroin being touted as a "non-addictive" cure for adult ailments and infant respiratory diseases. Other companies followed suit and mass marketed heroin throughout Europe and America, with the American Medical Association's approval of heroin as a non-addictive morphine substitute.
The next thirty years were a time of great political upheaval in the United States. Socialist and anarchist newspapers thrived both in the cities, particularly among recent immigrants, and in the rural areas where homegrown leftist activists gained a readership. This widespread radical leftist political activism came on the heels of the American Industrial Revolution, which followed a few decades after Europe's Industrial Revolution.
In the European countries, the newly rich industrialists stood in opposition to the old money of the royal families. Columbia University sociologists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven described how these European industrialists and royal families competed for the workers' allegiance. This gave the workers more leverage to gain concessions, such as better workplace conditions and national health care.
Piven and Cloward noted the marked difference between European and American labor history. When the industrialists rose up in the U.S. after the 1860s Civil War, there was no aristocracy standing in opposition to them. As workers in the factories tried to organize for better wages and conditions, the industrialists initially used violence against them, but soon employed more sophisticated strategies.
The opium-trafficking families ramped up their importation of drugs by the end of the 1800s. Companies marketed much of the imported opium and its first derivative, morphine, in medicines. But at least a quarter of imported opium was intended for smoking. By 1900 over 1% of the U.S. population was addicted to opium. Addiction to opium, particularly heroin, rose "at alarming rates" in 1903, in parallel with a rise of worker activism.
During this time period, women organized for the right to vote. In the 1870s, police arrested Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth for their efforts in this cause. In 1890, the National American Woman Suffrage Association was created to promote women's voting rights. Many of these activist women also fought for anti-lynching laws and formed groups fighting for better working conditions. By the 1890s and early 1900s women made up two-thirds to three-quarters of opium addicts.
Opium Profiteers Buy Media, Push War
Yale University Professor David Musto wrote that opiate addiction reached its peak in the early 1900s, rising to a level never since equaled in this country. The opiate-addict population nearly doubled the rate of addiction today. It is unknown how many only "abused" opiates without developing a full-fledged addiction. Abuse alone could generally be enough to fill up users' free time and disincline their political and social activism.
At the turn of the century, cocaine addiction became almost as widespread as opiate addiction. This appeared to have its genesis in 1886 when, during the early stages of the Progressive Movement, the Georgia counties of Atlanta and Fulton passed alcohol prohibition legislation. In response, a Georgia pharmacist, John Pemberton, developed Coca-Cola, a non-alcoholic version of French Wine Coca. He developed the original formula for Coca-Cola, containing 2.5 mg of cocaine per 3.3 ounces of fluid. The syrup had 5 ounces of coca leaf per gallon of syrup, an addictive amount for those with the susceptibility. This formula was sold as a headache cure and stimulant.
A wealthy Atlanta pharmacist, Asa Candler, bought exclusive rights to the Coca-Cola formula and incorporated Coca-Cola in 1892. Manufacturers sold cocaine in a wide range of patent medicines, tonics, elixirs and fluid extracts at that time. Asa Candler and his wealthy investors put massive amounts of money into advertising his new drink for sale in popular drug-store fountains all over the U.S. and Canada. It soon became America's most popular drink.
By 1902, cocaine-related products provided many ways to access the drug on a daily basis. This led to an estimated 200,000 cocaine addicts in the United States. Between 1900 and 1907, U.S. coca leaf imports tripled. Hundreds of early Hollywood silent films depicted scenes of drug use and trafficking.
Meanwhile, leftist workers organizing for better work conditions gained help from investigative magazines that exposed corrupt companies. Together, these organizers and writers helped bring the reform-minded president Theodore Roosevelt into office in 1901. Roosevelt, who also founded the Progressive Party in 1912, helped gain the passage of anti-trust laws to break up the robber barons' monopolies over certain industries. When these tycoons bought out all their competition in an industry, they could raise prices as high as they liked. During the Roosevelt administration, many laws and regulations were instituted to give the average American a "Square Deal," or a chance to make a fair living without getting robbed by the rich.
Professor Musto detailed how the Progressive Movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s brought about "federal laws ... improving the nation's morals and resisting the selfish actions of the rich and powerful." Most pertinently, it led to the prohibition of opium for non-medicinal purposes by 1914, and the more problematic prohibition of alcohol a few years later.
In seeming reaction to these progressive political developments, the Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan families bought out all the top investigative magazines that contributed to American political reform. By 1915, J.P. Morgan also bought out the major newspapers. The Congressional Record revealed that in 1915, J.P. Morgan's "'steel, shipbuilding and powder interests' had purchased control of twenty-five great newspapers ... to control generally the policy of the daily press of the United States."
Control of the media aided the Rockefellers, the J.P. Morgan family, and their fellow intermarried, wealthy families. In 1917, they swayed public opinion and influenced the United States to aid England in World War I. While tens of thousands of Americans died after the U.S. entered the war, these wealthy families made huge profits from moneylending, steel manufacturing for armaments, and oil sales for trucks, tanks, railroads and airplanes.
Excerpted from Drugs as Weapons Against Us by John L. Potash. Copyright © 2015 John L. Potash. Excerpted by permission of Trine Day LLC.
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Table of Contents
Opium Traders Achieve Global Predominance,
How the CIA Used LSD as a Weapon,
CIA Drug War on Asian & African Leaders,
CIA Drug Targets: Paul Robeson, Writers, Elvis,
MK-Ultra East? Civil Rights, LSD and Leary,
MK-Ultra West? Berkeley Protests, Kesey & Owsley,
Opium's Golden Triangle & Vietnam War-Era Assassinations,
CIA Acid Fests Counter Protests,
Dentist Doses Beatles; Rolling Stones Framed,
Acid Damages Anti-War Left: SDS & Yippies,
Acid, Bombings Impair Weatherman Leaders,
CIA Traffics Acid; Leary & Panthers; Woodstock,
Intelligence Targeting of the Rolling Stones & Other Bands,
U.S. Intelligence Targets Joplin & Hendrix,
The Assassination of John Lennon,
Nazis & CIA Drug-Trafficking War on Latin American Leftists,
FBI Targets Black Panthers & Young Lords,
Drugs and Murder of Jamaica's Bob Marley,
Drugs & CIA Targeting of Newton, Shakurs & Other Panthers,
U.S. Intelligence Drug Trafficking: Cocaine & Heroin,
Kurt Cobain's Death: Love, Heroin & Police Cover-Up,
Courtney Love: Drugs and Death,
Police Attacks on Tupac Shakur and Activist Gangs,
Spy Targets & Tupac: Weed Promotion, Rap War & Gangs,
Rap Targeting and Ecstasy: Eminem & Wu Tang; POCC,
CIA, MAPS & Heffter; Embalming The Dead,
International Drug Wars; Occupy Wall Street,
There and Back Again,