CIA Director John M. Deutch traveled to Capitol Hill on Thursday to personally assure members of the Congressional Black Caucus that an independent investigator will pursue allegations that the CIA was instrumental in introducing crack cocaine into black communities in the 1980s.
The meeting, which lasted nearly an hour, seemed to satisfy members of the caucus. They said they have been receiving thousands of phone calls and faxes from their constituents on the issue since it was raised in a newspaper series last month.
“His willingness and openness seem to be pointing in the right direction,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne, D-N.J., chairman of the caucus, as he emerged from the meeting in his office with Deutch and about a dozen caucus members. “But this is just a first step.”
Deutch, who has strongly denied the allegations, repeated an earlier, written pledge that the CIA’s inspector general would perform a full investigation and promised the inquiry will receive his full cooperation and access to agency records, according to caucus members.
The black caucus last week called for a congressional investigation after articles appeared in the San Jose Mercury News. The caucus also has asked Attorney General Janet Reno to launch a probe.
The Mercury News said huge quantities of low-cost cocaine were smuggled into the United States and sold to inner-city blacks in Los Angeles to help raise money for the U.S.backed Nicaraguan contra rebels.