Targeted for CIA Cocaine
It Can Be Proven
Michael C. Ruppert
(пїЅ 1999 From The Wilderness
Publications and Michael C. Ruppert at www.copvcia.com.
All Rights Reserved. Permission to reprint for educational
purposes only to paid subscribers of From The Wilderness
with direct sourcing as indicated in the Master Copyright.
Any reprint for resale will be vigorously prosecuted.)
For a long time, many
people have believed that African-Americans were targeted
by the Central Intelligence Agency to receive the cocaine
which decimated black communities in the 1980s. It was,
until now, widely accepted that the case could not be
proven because of two fallacious straw obstacles to that
proof. Both lie smack dab in the misuse of the word "crack"
and that is why, in my lectures, I have strenuously objected
to the term "CIA crack".
First, it cannot and
probably never will be established that CIA had anything
to do with the first creation of crack cocaine. Chemically,
that problem could have been solved as a test question
for anyone with a BS in chemistry. The answer: add water
and baking soda to cocaine hydrochloride powder and cook
on a stove. A study of the literature (including articles
I wrote 14 years ago for The U.S. Journal of Drug and
Alcohol Dependence), as opposed to, for example, that
pertaining to LSD, shows no CIA involvement whatever in
the genesis of crack cocaine. Also, there has never been
any evidence provided that CIA facilitated the transport
or sale of crack itself. What is beyond doubt is that
CIA was directly responsible for the importation of tons
of powdered cocaine into the U.S.
and the protected delivery of that cocaine into the inner
Another obstacle has
been the fact that CIA imported so much cocaine that,
even if every black man, woman and child in the country
had been using it, they could not have used all of what
CIA brought in. Ricky Ross, the celebrated dealer of Gary
Webb's Dark Alliance, sold approximately four tons of
cocaine during his roughly five years in business. Yet
one CIA ring, that of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo and
Rafael Caro-Quintero, was moving four tons a month. And
that was only a fraction of the total CIA operation.
Leaving the unsupportable
arguments aside, is there a supportable case that CIA
directly intended for African-Americans to receive the
cocaine which it knew would be turned into crack cocaine
and which it knew would prove so addictive as to destroy
entire communities? The answer is absolutely, yes.
And the key to proving
that CIA intended for blacks to receive the drugs which
virtually destroyed their communities lies in the twofold
approach, of proving that they brought the drugs in and
interfered with law enforcement - AND that, by virtue
of CIA's relationships with the academic and medical communities,
they knew exactly what the end result would be. Knowing
that, we then have a mountain of proof, especially since
the release of volume II of the CIA's Inspector General's
Report (10/98) that the CIA specifically intended and
achieved a desired result.
For anyone not familiar
with the ways in which CIA studies and manipulates emerging
social and political trends I cannot encourage strongly
enough a reading of The Secret Team by L. Fletcher Prouty,
Col., USAF (ret.).
This article is a
start, a beginning on the painful work that needs to be
done to build a class-action lawsuit. Such a suit, by
necessity, will have to include room for all the whites,
Asians and Latinos who also fell prey to cocaine addiction.
But this article should convince any reader that the argument
is solid - and winnable. I thank Gary Webb and Orange
County Weekly reporter Nick Schou for giving me the missing
pieces I had waited nineteen years to find.
The Dark Alliance
The Straight Dope- Between The Rock and a Hard
Place by Michael C. Ruppert,
The LA WEEKLY, March 8-14, 1985 (referenced as Ruppert
- Rock Cocaine Hits
L.A. by Michael
C. Ruppert, The U.S. Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence,
February, 1985 (referenced as Ruppert 2).
- U.S. Drug Experts
Cancel S.A. Trip, by Michael C. Ruppert, The U.S. Journal
of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, November, 1984 (referenced
as Ruppert 3).
- Thy Will Be Done,
The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism
in the Age of Oil. - Gerard Colby, Harper Collins, 1995
(Referenced as Colby).
- The Secret Team
(3rd Edition), L. Fletcher Prouty (1973, 1992, 1997).
This book has been erased even from the Library of Congress.
To my knowledge it is available only on the Internet at
(referenced as Prouty).
As a budding LAPD
narcotics investigator I was selected in 1976 to attend
a two-week DEA training school in Las
Vegas. The diploma I received from
that school, approximately 30% larger than the one I received
from UCLA, hangs above my desk to this day. At that school
I was given the official position of the DEA and the government,
which was that cocaine was less addictive and less harmful
than marijuana. I had only made one arrest for cocaine,
a heroin addict who liked speed balls (heroin and cocaine
mixed), and I had seen it less than a half dozen times
in my life.
One of those times
was right after my fiancпїЅe Nordica D'Orsay, a CIA agent,
had broken her ankle in the summer of 1976. Before I could
take her to the emergency room she had to make some urgent
calls from a pay phone equipped with the then new touch-tone
technology. Our home phone was monitored, she said. Having
broken both ankle bones she was in severe pain. She went
into her purse and produced a paper bindle filled with
a white crystalline powder. She rolled a dollar bill and
snorted the powder. Her people, she said, recommended
it to treat pain when an agent was wounded or over-tired
and needed extra strength. Once she ingested what was
in the bindle we delayed for about an hour while she made
the urgent phone calls from a gas station. Only then was
I permitted to take her to the hospital. Her ankle had
swollen to the size of a grapefruit. She came out five
hours later with a cast from her toes to her crotch. Who
was I to question the CIA?
That was the only
time I was ever aware of her in physical possession of
cocaine. But it was not the only time she ever talked
In 1979 Congress held
rushed hearings into the perils of cocaine and was told,
time and again by expert after expert that cocaine was
not a problem because it was not seriously addictive,
too expensive and not easy to find. The hearings, chaired
by Republican Congressman Tennyson Guyer in the House
Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control did not
live up to Guyer's hopes of finding a devil in the drug
witness trooped up to the microphone to tell Congress
that cocaine was not only a relatively safe drug, but
so rare that it could hardly be called a nuisance, much
less the menace Guyer was advertising." (Webb - p24).
Ron Siegel, PhD of UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI)
had written in an earlier monograph, "The rediscovery
of cocaine in the seventies was unavoidable because its
stimulating and pleasure-causing properties reinforce
the American character with its initiative, its energy,
its restless activity and its boundless optimism."
(Webb - p19).
Siegel, one of the
world's leading experts on drug abuse had, however, written
a February, 1979 article for The New England Journal of
Medicine which warned of a growing trend toward the smoking
of cocaine (freebase, not rock) in the western United
States. He traced the
origins of freebasing back to 1974 in the San
area. He, like others, noted that smoking was a much more
effective and powerful way to ingest cocaine because the
surface area of the lungs absorbed the drug more rapidly,
more efficiently and in larger quantities. He cautioned
that smoking cocaine was also many times more addictive
than snorting. Yet Siegel concluded, "All in all
the long term negative effects of cocaine use were consistently
overshadowed by the long term positive benefits,"
(Webb - pp. 31-33).
The witnesses testifying
before congress included the heads of the Drug Enforcement
Administration, that National Institute on Drug Abuse
(NIDA) and a host of medical and psychiatric experts.
The conclusion: cocaine was not a problem.
[NOTE: My sixteen
years in 12 Step recovery from alcoholism and my work
with scores of recovering alcoholics and addicts belies
the fact that powdered cocaine can be, in and of itself,
extremely destructive and addictive.]
Only one man, Dr.
Robert Byck of Yale University was insistent that trouble
was coming and it was BIG trouble. Byck was a professor
of psychiatry and pharmacology at Yale Medical School.
He began his testimony by stating, "What I would
like to talk to you about for the most part is the importance
of telling the truthпїЅ We have given a great deal of cocaine
to many individuals and find it to be a most unremarkable
But, according to
Webb, "Byck told the Committee that he'd hesitated
for a long time about coming forward with the information
and was still reluctant to discuss the matter at a public
hearing. 'Usually, when things like this are reported,
the media advertises them, and this attention has been
a problem with cocaine all along.' The information Byck
had was known to only a handful of drug researchers around
"For about a
year, a Peruvian police psychiatrist named Dr. Raul Jeri
had been insisting that wealthy drug users in Lima were
being driven insane by cocaine. A psychiatrist in Bolivia,
Dr. Nils Noya, began making similar claims shortly thereafter."
What had been discovered was an addiction so overwhelming
that middle and upper class students and middle class
wage earners in Peru and Bolivia had abandoned every aspect
of a normal human life, including eating, drinking, personal
hygiene to the point of defecating in clothes that would
remain unchanged for days, family and shelter in the pursuit
of "basuco". (Webb - pp25-30).
Basuco, a sticky paste,
was the first-stage product in the refinement of coca
leaves into powder. Although frequently mixed with a cesspool
of toxic waste such as gasoline, kerosene and other chemicals,
the pharmacological effects of smoking basuco are identical
to the effects of smoking crack cocaine which became popular
in the US ten years later. So intense was the addiction
that desperate South American psychiatrists had resorted
to bilateral anterior cyngulotomies (lobotomies) to stop
the addiction (Ruppert 3). But even these drastic measures
resulted in a relapse rate of between 50-80% (Webb - p36)
(Ruppert 2). Yale medical student David Paly, working
under Dr. Byck, recalled a 1978 conversation with his
mentor. "The substance of my conversation with ByckпїЅ
was that if this ever hits the U.S., we're in deep trouble."
(Webb - p30)
Byck traveled to Peru
to attend a symposium on cocaine with Siegel and other
experts in 1979. Later he obtained police permits and
federal grants to begin intensive research into cocaine
smoking (Webb - p 31). The CIA routinely monitors overseas
travels of U.S academics and the purposes of their travels.
Since the Nixon Administration, emerging drug trends in
producing countries had been a mandate of CIA collection
efforts. When law enforcement grants, approvals and funding
crossed international boundaries, the Law Enforcement
Assistance Administration (LEAA) and several special units
within CIA were automatically notified. Here, we begin
to see that CIA must have been well aware of the effects
of basuco. The CIA's well-documented role in providing
training, assistance and advice to Latin American law
enforcement agencies guarantees that CIA was collecting
intelligence on the destructiveness of cocaine smoking
as soon as it began to be a problem. (Colby, Prouty).
That was as far back as 1974. (Webb - p33).
By the time the government
was compelled to acknowledge that cocaine smoking had
reached the U.S., and that it was having a devastating
effect, the experts, including Siegel and Byck, who was
now warning of an epidemic of near biblical proportions,
encountered nothing but resistance from the government.
According to Webb
"Byck said the Food and Drug Administration shut
down attempts to do any serious research on addiction
or treatment, refusing to approve grant requests or research
proposals and withholding government permits necessary
to run experiments with controlled substances. 'The FDA
almost totally road blocked our getting anything done.
They insisted that they had total control over whether
we could use a form of cocaine for experimental purposes,
and without a so-called IND [an Investigation of New Drug
permit] we couldn't go ahead with any cocaine experiments.
And they wouldn't give us an IND.
"' Why not? Once
you get into the morass of government, you never understand
exactly who is doing what to whom and why.'" (Webb
- p 37)
Again, to understand
how CIA infiltrates various government agencies including
the FDA, The Forest Service and the Postal Service I recommend
Prouty and From The Wilderness (Dec. 1998).
What was Ron Siegel's
experience? According to Webb, "When Siegel, under
U.S. Government contract, finished a massive report on
the history and literature of cocaine smoking, he couldn't
get the government to publish it." (Webb - p37).
This writer interviewed Ron Siegel a number of times in
the mid 1980s and what I learned was that all of his studies
had shown that "rock" smoking, as it was then
called, was, in effect, the bubonic plague of drug abuse.
Between 1984 and 1987
I served as the West Coast Correspondent for The U.S.
Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence. During that time
I had a number of occasions to interview some of the world's
leading experts on drug abuse and rock cocaine. They included
Dr. Louis "Joly" West, Dr. Sidney Cohen and
Ron Siegel. All were a part of UCLA's Neurospychiatric
Institute (NPI) which is a world-renowned facility that
includes among its specialties drug abuse research. NPI
is also jointly funded by the RAND Corporation, which
was a creation of the CIA and the U.S. Air Force. How
tight is the relationship between NPI and RAND? A check
of NPI's home page on the Internet (www.hsrcenter.org/program)
reveals that 5 of 19 faculty scholars and 19 out of 54
current investigators at NPI come from the RAND Corporation.
A check of the RAND
Corporation's home page (www.rand.org) leads to the following
quote: "RAND's research agenda has always been shaped
by the priorities of the nation. With roots in the Cold
War competition with the Soviet Union, the early defense
related agenda evolved - in concert with the nation's
attention - to encompass such diverse subject areas as
space, economic, social and political affairs overseas;
and the direct role of government in social and economic
problem solving at home."
I remember when I
was as a young boy, that my father, who worked on CIA
related projects for Martin-Marietta Corp, met frequently
with people from the RAND Corporation. In fact, my first
boyhood crush was on the daughter of a RAND executive.
It was no small matter of pride in my family that RAND
was known to be part of the CIA.
As further corroboration
for RAND's connection to both UCLA and the CIA I met with
UCLA Political Science professor Paul Jabber in early
1982. It was Paul who confirmed for me that the National
Security Council and CIA had approved the use of heroin
smuggled through Kurdestan, as a means of (re)arming
the Kurds to fight against Saddam Hussein in 1975. This
was the operation which, when I discovered it, ended my
LAPD career in 1978. (For further on this see my written
Senate testimony at www.copvcia.com.)
Paul Jabber had been
a RAND consultant and an NSC/CIA consultant throughout
the Carter Administration. He was still a RAND consultant
when I met him at UCLA.
A search of retired
CIA officer Ralph McGehee's excellent CIABase (www.ciabase.com)
reveals 73 pages of annotated references to CIA's longstanding
relations with academia. Two portions of those printouts
are telling. One, a response to a Freedom of Information
Act request turned up more than 900 pages of documents
relating to CIA contracts with the University of California.
Another quote indicates that, circa 1957-77, "Docs
released under FOIA reveal long history contacts between
CIA and University California. Activities cover wide range
cooperation between several of its 9 campuses including:
UC Vice Presidents 2-week tour with CIA in which he advised
Agency relating to student unrest, recruiting UC students,
Academic cover for Professors doing research for the CIA,
and improving CIA's image on campuses; a series of CIA
sponsored seminars in Berkeley and other sites for professors
to share info with CIA; providing a steady flow of CIA
material on China and the USSR to CIA-approved professors."
The CIA connections
grow deeper and more ominous. Louis "Joly" West,
who died this month, served for many years as Director
of NPI. The documentation from government records is voluminous
that West was a pioneer for CIA in the development of
and experimentation with LSD in the 1950's and 1960s.
The first time I met him a group of doctors were joking
about how he had "administered 10,000 micrograms
of LSD to an enraged elephant for the CIA. The elephant
died. I recall one doctor quipping, "I sure am glad
it was a communist elephant!"
One last note before
we move on: Joly West, is extremely well documented from
CIA's own records as having been one of the principal
researchers in CIA's MK-ULTRA program which used drugs
and torture to produce mind-control assassins and other
useful servants. I recall one telling discussion with
NPI's sympathetic Dr. Sid Cohen who knew of my past struggles
against CIA. He told me, "CIA pretty much knows everything
we do at NPI. It was set up that way from the start."
Cohen was qualified to speak on this subject. He had been
a consultant for the State Department, the U.S. Army and
the World Health Organization.
If that was
the case, and if NPI housed some of the world's foremost
experts on crack cocaine, it is impossible not to believe
that CIA didnпїЅt know what UCLA, RAND and the governments
of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia knew.
Until the book Dark
Alliance and an absolutely fabulous series of articles
appeared in The Orange County Weekly by reporter Nick
Schou I had been unconvinced that CIA had directly targeted
African-Americans. I believed it in my heart but I had
never seen the evidence to prove it. In August 1996, right
after the Webb stories appeared, I was a call-in guest
on a number of radio talk shows with Gary and I recall
stating that I knew nothing about CIA selling crack cocaine
on street corners but I knew a great deal about CIA bringing
it in on airplanes and boats. It was not until Schou's
series and Webb's book appeared that I was not only convinced,
I was certain that CIA had targeted blacks.
It is beyond the scope
of this article to describe just how well Gary Webb used
court records, DEA, Justice Department, CIA and L.A. County
Sheriff's records to establish that the drug dealing operations
of Danilo Blandon and Norwin Meneses were sanctioned and
protected by both DEA and the CIA. The revelations in
both volumes of the CIA's Inspector General's reports,
as covered in From The Wilderness, corroborate much of
In particular, Webb
documented how Ricky Ross always seemed to avoid arrest
at the peak of his career. Danilo Blandon's direct connections
to CIA assets and agents are now a given. Let's look at
what Ricky Ross had to say about Blandon. "All I
knew was like, back in LA he [Blandon] would always tell
me when they was going to raid my houses. The police always
thought I had somebody working for the police.
"And he was always
giving me tips like, 'Man don't go back over to that house
no more,' or 'Don't go to this house over here.'"
(Webb - p179)
The police told of
serious frustrations at trying to arrest Ross. The most
telling event was when a joint task force of Sheriffs,
LAPD and other agencies set out to raid fourteen different
locations in 1986. All of them had been cleaned out by
the time the surprise raids hit. (Webb - p310-321). Only
one location, the home of Ronald Lister, turned up anything
of value - government documents. Both Webb and Schou tied
Lister directly to CIA and Contra support operations and
to Scott Weekly, an Annapolis classmate of Oliver North.
Subsequent investigations, lasting into 1997, not only
showed evidence of Weekly's links to CIA and DIA, including
FBI wiretaps of his phone conversations, but also established
links between Weekly, North and the staff of Vice President
George Bush (Webb - pp320-323). Sheriff's deputies and
LAPD officers were amazed and knew full well that they
were investigating a CIA operation, which was being protected.
Hundreds of pages of government documents mysteriously
disappeared from Sheriff's custody and Blandon never got
arrested. Neither did Ricky Ross until much later.
One of the heroes
of Dark Alliance, Bell PD detective Jerry Guzetta, summed
up all of the police experience in trying to arrest Ricky
Ross and Danillo Blandon. "Every policeman who ever
got close to Blandon was either told to back off, investigated
by their department, forced to retire or indicted,"
(Webb - p375).
In early November
1996, two weeks before I confronted CIA Director John
Deutch at Locke High School in Watts, I attended another
congressional town hall meeting in Compton hosted by Congresswoman
Juanita Millender-McDonald. At that meeting, before I
took the microphone to talk about CIA drug dealing, I
had an opportunity to talk in private with Department
of Justice Inspector General Michael Bromwich and the
commander of LAPD's Narcotics Group, Commander (now Deputy
Chief) Gregg Berg. I told both men exactly how CIA protected
their drug operations.
At the time all police
agencies belonged to an organization known as the Narcotics
Intelligence Network (NIN). Any law enforcement agency
conducting an investigation of a drug trafficker must
first run the suspect's name through a computer search
to find out if anyone else has an ongoing investigation
of that suspect. Such an arrangement is necessary to prevent
one agency from arresting another agency's undercover
operatives. What the CIA does is to use its contract agents
or deep covers within local police departments to constantly
monitor NIN, which has to be notified of pending raids.
The CIA also uses its deep covers within police departments
to monitor investigations and warn CIA assets in time
to avoid arrest.
How did I know this?
Ten years before the Ricky Ross raids, in 1976, my CIA
agent fiancпїЅe had told me this was how "her people"
protected certain things. The job she was recruiting me
for, which I refused to take, was to work myself, with
a little help, into a position where I would be the one
doing the monitoring - and the warning. She once told
me that she had asked "her people" if she could
give me information which would lead directly to a Los
Angeles arrest of a major dealer. They wouldn't let her
because I had already told her that I would never overlook
illegal narcotics. The unspoken message was that if I
wouldn't overlook when asked I couldn't be given a "freebie".
Lister, an ex-policeman
who served as a bodyguard/courier for Blandon delivered
both drugs and money while enjoying CIA protection. He
and Blandon delivered drugs and guns all over South Central.
Danillo Blandon even sold guns to Ricky Ross' immediate
entourage. Ollie Newell, Ross's partner, was able to purchase
a .50 caliber machine gun on a tripod (Webb p 188). This
is a pure military weapon known as a "Ma Deuce"
and something which is not obtainable at your local surplus
Webb and Schou also
documented that the police and the FBI knew that Lister
and Blandon were delivering not only guns but sophisticated
radio equipment (which enabled the monitoring of secure
police frequencies) to Ross and the gangs (Webb - pp.
179-193) (Schou). I knew then that the whole operation
was protected from start to finish by the Central Intelligence
Agency. Why? If you walk into a room filled with policemen
and yell "Anybody want to take some drugs off the
street?" maybe half the room will stand up. But if
you walk into the same room and yell, "Anybody want
to take some guns off the street?" you will be crushed
in the ensuing stampede. Only the federal government,
and especially the CIA, have the horsepower to make cops
stay away from arresting those who put guns on the streets.
Nick Schou demonstrated
how Lister, through arms dealer Tim La France and Weekly
(who is himself a firearms master), was working on Agency
contracts serious enough to secure him end-user certificates
from the State Department to export weapons in a matter
of days when the process usually requires months. Indirect
confirmation of these relationships was established when
the FBI denied release of some of Lister's documents under
provisions of the National Security Act (Webb - p 193).
As documented by phone
records and telephone calls placed to the Fluor Corporation
in Irvine, California by Lister's associates, Ron Lister
held frequent meetings with a Fluor Vice President named
Bill Nelson (Webb - pp191-193) (Schou). Bill Nelson was
a retired Deputy Director of Operations (DDO) of the CIA
who had personally overseen the destabilization and overthrow
of Chile's Salvador Allende in the 1970s. The DDO is the
second most powerful position in the CIA and is directly
in charge of all covert operations. The Fluor Corporation,
according to confidential sources, was a major multi-national
corporation which regularly provided services and cover
for the CIA over a period of roughly fifteen years.
It is inconceivable
that a courier and contractor like Lister could have held
regular meetings with a retired DDO in Southern California
unless he was protected at the highest levels. One good
narcotics detective could have tailed Lister to one meeting
which would have been enough to totally compromise the
Agency - especially if it had occurred just after Lister
had transported twenty kilos of cocaine or a trunk load
of sub-machine guns. Conversely, it is also inconceivable
that a retired DDO would meet with anybody unless he knew
everything in the world there was to know about that person
beforehand. The Agency just does not work that way.
A former CIA officer,
John Vanderwerker, confirmed to Schou that Nelson and
Lister knew each other (Webb - p195).
Crack cocaine was
particularly devastating for African-American communities.
This was, I believe, by design. In early 1985 USC Sociologists
Klein and Maxson researched the phenomenon of crack use.
"One thing they were unable to explain was why crack
was found only in L.A.'s black neighborhoods. 'The drug,"
the sociologists wrote, at least currently seems to be
ethnically specific. Cocaine is found widely in the Black
Community in Los Angeles, but it is almost totally absent
from the Hispanic areas," (Webb - p184).
And the effects of
crack use were, indeed, biblical. In 1985 50% of the emergency
room admissions in L.A were due to crack. Full-blown cocaine
psychosis was occurring as soon as eight months after
first use and crack cocaine hit hardest among those African-Americans
who had some college education and held steady jobs (Ruppert1&2).
I wrote in 1985. "So
pervasive is the epidemic that it is threatening the political
and social systems that have held black communities together
in the face of cuts in social programs and rising unemployment
in an already depressed economy," (Ruppert
The Webster Commission, charged with finding the causes
of the 1992 LA riot/insurrection found that one of the
primary causes was crack cocaine. The LA riots remain,
to this day, the largest domestic insurrection since the
Picture a jury trial
for a man accused of arson. No one saw the man light the
match (taught the dealers how to make the crack). Yet
there is incontrovertible evidence that the man knew and
had studied fire science and thus knew that by pouring
gasoline onto dry wood and striking a match, that the
wood building would burn. There is also incontrovertible
evidence that the man brought gasoline, small bits of
kindling and a person who liked to play with matches to
a large building. There is also hard proof that the man,
once a fire had started, deliberately interfered with
fire fighters attempting to reach the blaze. Then he brought
in lots more gasoline. Not only that but the man provided
the match striker with guns and radios which monitored
the fire department frequencies so that he could fight
off firefighters and continue lighting more fires.
As the building burned,
and people died inside, our suspect attempted to cover-up
for the match lighter and interfered with law enforcement
investigations into his activities. He even lied to Congress,
which was alarmed by the damage and the number of deaths.
And, being trusted by Congress, our suspect continued
to thwart attempts to stop the fire and find the cause.
Such a man would be
convicted of arson in a heartbeat.