Monday, December 13, 2004

Victim of CIA Smear Campaign Dies

In 1996 Pulitzer prize winning reporter Gary Webb thought he had the biggest story of his career. He started investigating the origins of the sudden Crack cocaine epidemic in American cities in the 1980's. What he found shocked him and he began one of the biggest stories in the last twenty years. He had sources that could prove that the crack cocaine epidemic at least in Los Angeles was started by Reagan's freedom fighters the contras to finance their war and they had the active aid and protection of U.S. officials. Under Reagan the intelligence establishment had destroyed black urban Americans to finance an illegal war.

For his brave reporting at the San Jose Mercury News, Webb paid a high price. Under the direction of the CIA, Webb was attacked by, among others, The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Under this pressure, his editor Jerry Ceppos sold out the story and demoted Webb, causing him to quit the Mercury News. Even Webb?s marriage broke up. The story had gained a large readership because the San Jose Mercury News had placed everything, even more than they printed, online.

On Friday, Dec. 10, Gary Webb, 49, died of an apparent suicide, a gunshot wound to the head.

Robert Parry attacks the media for carrying out this campaign to attack Webb and cover up the story but does not go into how this was a massive disinformation campaign lead by the top of the CIA to cover up their involvement. To this day the mass media and the leading American newspapers have refused to look at the story they attacked. They specifically did not cover the CIA's own later investigation under different leadership which found even more government involvement than Webb had uncovered:
In Volume Two, published Oct. 8, 1998, CIA Inspector General Hitz identified more than 50 contras and contra-related entities implicated in the drug trade. He also detailed how the Reagan-Bush administration had protected these drug operations and frustrated federal investigations, which had threatened to expose the crimes in the mid-1980s. Hitz even published evidence that drug trafficking and money laundering tracked into Reagan?s National Security Council where Oliver North oversaw the contra operations.

Hitz revealed, too, that the CIA placed an admitted drug money launderer in charge of the Southern Front contras in Costa Rica. Also, according to Hitz?s evidence, the second-in-command of contra forces on the Northern Front in Honduras had escaped from a Colombian prison where he was serving time for drug trafficking

In Volume Two, the CIA?s defense against Webb?s series had shrunk to a tiny fig leaf: that the CIA did not conspire with the contras to raise money through cocaine trafficking. But Hitz made clear that the contra war took precedence over law enforcement and that the CIA withheld evidence of contra crimes from the Justice Department, the Congress and even the CIA?s own analytical division.

Hitz found in CIA files evidence that the spy agency knew from the first days of the contra war that its new clients were involved in the cocaine trade. According to a September 1981 cable to CIA headquarters, one of the early contra groups, known as ADREN, had decided to use drug trafficking as a financing mechanism. Two ADREN members made the first delivery of drugs to Miami in July 1981, the CIA cable reported.
At the time of the story FAIR was one of the few watchdog organizations which noted that all the attacks on Webb's story were misleading and relied on high-level CIA sources for their story.
Although the Washington Post in particular took issue with the Mercury News for referring to the Nicaraguan contras as "the CIA's army," the FAIR report describes use of the phrase as "solid journalism" that highlights a relationship "fundamentally relevant to the story. The army was formed at the instigation of the CIA, its leaders were selected by and received salaries from the agency, and CIA officers controlled day-to-day battlefield strategies." The report criticizes what it calls a "newsroom culture of denial" that dodged such historical realities.
Another radical for truth Michael C. Ruppert wrote:
What Gary Webb handed, on a silver platter, to all who are serious about this and who know the story well, was absolute documented and undeniable evidence that: CIA knew of Ricky Ross' and Danillo Blandon's activities from the earliest days and protected those activities from the start, even at the local level; that CIA, through Ron Lister, actively supported the distribution of automatic weapons to the gangs in South Central; that as investigative heat mounted against Ross and Blandon, CIA efforts to protect them increased measure for measure; and that, as the crack epidemic spread from city to city, the CIA allowed and encouraged that contagion.

This is like the point I make about one entry in Oliver North's diary that "$14 million to buy arms for the Contras came from drugs." What more proof does a logical mind need?

Gary Webb HAS provided evidence of a racist conspiracy. It?s right there in his book. It is some of the most amazing reporting I have ever read. And it is detailed and eloquent. He writes, "Pretending that crack was something that had appeared out of nowhere was, politically, much safer than admitting the truth - that the Federal government had been warned about it very specifically many years earlier and hadn't lifted a finger to stop it, effectively surrendering the inner cities to an oncoming plague. If that information became too widely known, the public might start asking prickly questions, such as: Why weren't we told?

"And how could a question like that be answered? Because we didn't believe it? Because we didn't care? Because we thought it might encourage people to try it? Or was it because the drug problem looked as if it would be confined to lower income neighborhoods, ghettos as it had been in South America, Jamaica, and the Bahamas?"
Gary Webb was well aware what was being run against him as he discusses in this informative interview:
RW: In talking about all the different inds of attacks that have come down on you and others who have been involved in this series, you used the term "disinformation campaign." Can you explain that a little more?

GW: There was an effort in the '80s, that is fairly well documented, that was called Perception Management. This was a program that was set up inside the State Department by CIA propaganda experts to either (A) badger and bash reporters who were questioning the Contra war and raising issues about Contra cocaine trafficking, and (B) to frighten editors and frighten other reporters into not pursuing the story.

And it's very similar if you look at the results they achieved back in the '80s, to see what's going on here. It's the same sort of thing. Stories are planted about you. They have people, you can identify these people, the people with Accuracy In Media, Reed Irvine's organization, the same people
pop up now saying there's nothing to this CIA story, it's all phony, it's all baloney. The same people popped up during the 1980s claiming that there was no massacre at El Mozote down in El Salvador, that it was made up, that Raymond Bonner for the Times was a communist sympathizer. Same people.

And one of the things you learn when you write about intelligence agencies is you learn pattern recognition. Because it may not be the same people all the time, but it's the same pattern. It's the same pattern as the Perception Management efforts of the 1980s. And you gotta hand it to them, it's worked. It has worked. The mainstream press is now convinced that there was nothing to this. Even though there hasn't been a single factual error found in any of those stories.

RW: So, in light of all these attacks on you and the series, why have you decided to stick to your guns, to take the risks. To tell the story and stick to it?

GW: Because it's true. And the bottom line is: it's true. And you get into journalism specifically for this reason. And if I thought the stories were wrong or I'd made a mistake, I would say yes, I was wrong. But I wasn't wrong. And this is a story that people need to know--(A) not only to understand what happened, but (B) I mean somebody needs to be held accountable for this.
These were crimes that were committed. People get sent to jail for cocaine conspiracies all the time. And this was a conspiracy that brought in thousands and thousands and thousands of kilos of cocaine into the United States. Into the inner cities. And nobody has paid a price for it yet, except the people who are living in those neighborhoods.
It should be noted that the present head of the CIA, former congressmen Goss, is also former CIA special agent Goss and was implicated in the CIA-Contra-Crack Cocaine connection cover-up.

I have read Gary Webb's Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion and it is straight-forward, well-written and persuasive with massive amounts of evidence.

Democracy Now has more on Gary Webb with audio and links.

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