Strength of the Pack: The Personalities, Politics, and Espionage
Intrigues That Shaped the DEA
by Douglas Valentine
by Douglas Valentine: Antiwar
Reporting On the National Security State
Strength of the Pack
(TrineDay, 2009) documents the secret history of federal drug law
enforcement from the formation of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous
Drugs in 1968, through the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration
in 1973, until the present time.
to date have focused on individual aspects of federal drug law enforcement,
but no book to date has plumbed as deeply or taken as comprehensive
a view as this one.
of the Pack builds on the characters, themes, and action introduced
Strength of the Wolf (New York, Verso, 2004), and develops
the theory that federal drug law enforcement is essentially a function
of "national security" in its broadest sense: not just
defending America from foreign enemies, but preserving traditional
values of race, class and gender at home, while expanding American
economic and military influence abroad.
The book documents
the unfolding of this unstated policy, and analyzes its impact not
only on federal drug law enforcement, but on American society as
of the Pack is based largely on interviews with former federal
narcotics agents, as well as the influential politicians and government
bureaucrats they worked with. Many of these sources have never spoken
publicly before. The information and insights these people provide
is set within the context of existing literary sources on the subject.
The author has refined the book by focusing only on the most important
people and events. Taken together, Strength of the Wolf and
Strength of the Pack represent a new chapter in American
history; they introduce a host of fabulous characters, and an abundance
of new and historically significant information.
an accessible style, The Strength of the Pack tells how and
why the Nixon Administration expanded federal drug law enforcement
operations at home and abroad. Major successes and failures are
examined. One failing was the self-destructive competitiveness among
agencies. There was also a failure to properly address corruption
and racism within the ranks. Most important was the inability to
prevent the Central Intelligence Agency from commandeering federal
drug law enforcement's internal security and intelligence functions,
and using them for national security purposes.
of the Pack tells how, amid the Watergate scandal, the Nixon
Administration created the Drug Enforcement Administration as a
super-agency that would combine all existing anti-narcotic organizations
in a concerted effort to solve America’s burgeoning drug problem.
The Strength of the Pack reveals the personality conflicts,
management problems and corruption that rendered the DEA ineffective
in its early years. By 1975, the press, the Senate, the Justice
Department, the FBI, and the DEA's besieged Internal Security Division
were investigating the DEA. The author, notably, has spoken at length
with the key players in this drama, which represents the turning
point in the history of federal drug law enforcement, and is presented
in its entirety for the first time in the book.
The DEA was
paralyzed, a mere two years after its creation, at the height of
America’s drug problem. The Strength of the Pack carefully
describes how the government attempted, through a number of reorganizations
– including the replacement of the DEA's executive staff by FBI
agents in 1980 – to correct its mistakes and more successfully prosecute
the war on drugs. The book follows this drama, with all its recurring
themes, through the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton Administrations, and
it describes how each successive administration undercut it own
attempts at reform by using the DEA for selfish political purposes.
Most importantly, it tells how the CIA’s influence steadily grew,
along with that of the military’s, until federal drug law enforcement
entered its final and current stage of "narco-terrorism."
of the Pack achieves its goal of telling new history
in a manner that is both academically sound and compelling. It weaves
together the most important characters and cases, with the political,
bureaucratic, and espionage-related issues that shaped the destiny
of federal drug law enforcement. The book follows the DEA as it
spread around the world, but it never strays from the personal dramas
that unfolded within the organization. The revelations in the book
are profound, including evidence that U.S. government protects and
supports, as unstated policy through its clandestine intelligence
agency, the CIA, some of the world’s most powerful drug cartels.
The book is
a major breakthrough in this era of government secrecy, and corporate
media self-censorship. Its purpose is to acquaint the American public
with an important segment of its history that has hitherto been
buried; and by revealing this history, to restore to the American
people a portion of their rightful heritage – the substance of self-knowledge.
Many of the
people interviewed for the book have provided vintage photographs.
The Strength of the Pack is fertile ground for documentary
or theatrical film.
February 15, 2010
Valentine [send him mail]
the author of four previously published books: The Hotel Tacloban
(Lawrence Hill, 1984), The
Phoenix Program, (William Morrow, 1990), TDY
(iUniverse.com, 2000), and The
Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs
(Verso, 2004). His latest book is The
Strength of the Pack (TrineDay, 2009). For more information
about the author and his works, please visit his websites at www.douglasvalentine.com
© 2010 Douglas Valentine