In August 1996, the San Jose Mercury Newspublished a three-part series in which reporter Gary Webb—who committed suicide last December—connected the CIA to California's crack-cocaine epidemic of the 1980s. One of the key players in Webb's "Dark Alliance" was ex-Laguna Beach cop Ron Lister, whose Mission Viejo home was raided by police in October 1986 as part of a massive operation targeting Southern California crack-cocaine sales. Lister, who besides smuggling cocaine pitched security contracts to the military in El Salvador and sold weapons to the Nicaraguan contras, famously told police that the CIA wouldn't be happy about the raid. Then he threatened to contact his agency handler, Scott Weekly.
The CIA swore in court it had no tie to Lister and has always denied ever employing Scott Weekly. A 1998 CIA Inspector General report found "no evidence" linking Weekly, a Vietnam War veteran and right-wing mercenary, to the agency. But in a just-aired Canal Plus documentary on the French television show 90Minutes,Milton Bearden, who supervised the CIA's covert war in Afghanistan, says otherwise. While not mentioning Weekly by name, Bearden confirmed that the CIA was behind a bizarre training operation for Afghan mujahedin fighters in the Nevada desert in early 1986. Besides violating the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, the top-secret training resulted in Weekly's later conviction for smuggling plastic explosives onto commercial jetliners.
As the Weeklyfirst reported in December 1996, courtroom records show the explosives were used in a covert operation aimed at uniting the leaders of various Afghan rebel factions by providing them with lessons in explosives. At Weekly's re-sentencing hearing, he and Gritz testified they carried out the operation in the Nevada desert and had the permission of a U.S. Army colonel named Nestor Pio, a Bay of Pigs veteran who then worked with Oliver North's National Security Council. Gritz and Weekly also said they were paid by Osman Kalderim, who worked for Stanford Technology, a private company established by two of North's Iran-Contra associates, Richard Secord and Albert Hakim, to help arm the contras.
Following that testimony, a federal judge released Weekly from custody and sentenced him to time served. "The CIA could have been involved in that Bo Gritz thing," Bearden says in the French documentary that aired April 25. He was apparently unaware that he was acknowledging agency involvement in an illegal covert operation. "If we did some romantic training in the Nevada desert with a few Afghans . . . I'm aware of that. I know about that. There's something like that. But it doesn't matter."
Bearden's statement was the first confirmation that Weekly was an agency operative. And it runs contrary to the CIA's oft-repeated assertion that it had no ties whatsoever to Weekly.