The 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.
Many books 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.
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The Strength of the Pack builds on the characters, themes, and action introduced in The 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 well.
The Strength 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.
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Written in 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.
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Strength 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."
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The Strength 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.