Judicial Watch Sues CIA for Inspector General’s Report on Mena, Arkansas, Airport Drug, Arms Smuggling Allegations
JUNE 25, 2019
(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the CIA seeking the CIA Inspector General’s November 1996 report related to a drug-running, arms smuggling and intelligence operation involving Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport in Arkansas.
The airfield in Mena was alleged to have been used in the 1980s by the CIA during the Reagan administration to smuggle arms to rebels in Nicaragua. A central figure in the operation was Barry Seal, a pilot and drug smuggler for Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel who became an undercover agent and informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
In November 1996, then-CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz absolved the CIA of involvement in the operation.
Hitz at the time said that “no evidence has been found to indicate that the CIA or anyone acting on its behalf participated in, or otherwise had knowledge of, any illegal or improper activities in Mena, Arkansas or the area north of Mena known as Nella, Arkansas.”
Judicial Watch sued the CIA in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia after the agency failed to respond to a June 29, 2018, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. Central Intelligence Agency (No. 1:19-cv-00672)). Judicial Watch seeks:
The CIA Inspector General’s report issued in November 1996 relating to a drug-running, money laundering and intelligence gathering operation involving an airport in Mena, Arkansas.
Judicial Watch chief investigative reporter Micah Morrison has written extensively on the activities surrounding the Mena airport. In an October 18, 1994, editorial feature for The Wall Street Journal titled “The Mena Coverup” Morrison wrote: “What do Bill Clinton and Oliver North have in common, along with the Arkansas State Police and the Central Intelligence Agency? All probably wish they had never heard of Mena.”
Morrison noted that Seal, who by 1984 was a DEA informant, “flew at least one sting operation to Nicaragua for the CIA.” Seal was murdered in 1986 by Colombian hitmen in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“The CIA has for over 20 years stonewalled the release of information now sought by Judicial Watch on the Mena Airport controversy,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.