The true story behind the crack scourge, featuring exclusive interviews with characters who lived it. Their stories reveal a crack in the system that implicates the centers of power in our government, their mass incarceration policies and militarization of police, the spread of gangs and guns, and the loss of entire generations to the war on drugs...
Tag Archives | Gary Webb
Andrew O’Hehir has a nuanced view of ethics in journalism, reflected here in this essay for Salon:
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In thinking about the cases of Gary Webb and James Risen, two famous investigative reporters aggressively persecuted for their explosive revelations (in very different situations, and with different results), we are drawn into the thorny question of journalism and its so-called professional ethics. How well do the supposed codes of journalism work, and whom do they serve and protect? Is the primary role of journalism as a social institution to discover the truth as best it can and raise the level of public discourse, or to preserve its own power and prestige and privilege? I don’t claim to know the answers with any certainty. If anything, the stories of Webb and Risen suggest that those questions yield different answers in different contexts.
I’ve been a working journalist for more than 25 years, across the demise of print and the rise of the Internet, and I’ve always viewed the idea of journalism as a profession as, at best, a double-edged sword.
Jeff Cohen writes at Common Dreams:
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It’s been almost a decade since once-luminous investigative journalist Gary Webb extinguished his own life.
It’s been 18 years since Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series in the San Jose Mercury News exploded across a new medium – the Internet – and definitively linked crack cocaine in Los Angeles and elsewhere to drug traffickers allied with the CIA’s rightwing Contra army in Nicaragua. Webb’s revelations sparked anger across the country, especially in black communities.
But the 1996 series (which was accompanied by unprecedented online documentation) also sparked one of the most ferocious media assaults ever on an individual reporter – a less-than-honest backlash against Webb by elite newspapers that had long ignored or suppressed evidence of CIA/Contra/cocaine connections.
Gary Webb is posthumously achieving recognition for his “Dark Alliance” investigative report of the CIA’s involvement in the importation of cocaine to finance its illegal involvement in backing the Contras in Nicaragua. There’s a movie coming out portraying Webb and now The Intercept reveals the CIA’s admission that it was closely watching Webb’s activities and eventual death:
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Eighteen years after it was published, “Dark Alliance,” the San Jose Mercury News’s bombshell investigation into links between the cocaine trade, Nicaragua’s Contra rebels, and African American neighborhoods in California, remains one of the most explosive and controversial exposés in American journalism.
The 20,000-word series enraged black communities, prompted Congressional hearings, and became one of the first major national security stories in history to blow up online. It also sparked an aggressive backlash from the nation’s most powerful media outlets, which devoted considerable resources to discredit author Gary Webb’s reporting. Their efforts succeeded, costing Webb his career. On December 10, 2004, the journalist was found dead in his apartment, having ended his eight-year downfall with two .38-caliber bullets to the head.
From Al Jazeera:
A spokesman for the Mexican state of Chihuahua has stirred up quite a bit of controversy in diplomatic circles for his comments to Al Jazeera regarding the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s role in the drug trade:
“It’s like pest control companies, they only control,” Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, the Chihuahua spokesman, told Al Jazeera last month at his office in Juarez. “If you finish off the pests, you are out of a job. If they finish the drug business, they finish their jobs.”
Read More about Chihuahua and the CIA at Al Jazeera.
Accusations of CIA involvement in drug trafficking has been around for decades. Famously, San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb wrote a series of articles detailing connections between the CIA, Nicaraguan rebels and the crack cocaine epidemic of the late eighties. A collection of the articles were later published as the 1999 book Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion.… Read the rest
The late, lamented Gary Webb never really received the credit he deserved for his investigative journalism blowing open the CIA-Contras drug trafficking scandal. Now Ryan Grim sets the record straight in this article for Huffington Post, ostensibly about Ron Paul and conspiracy theories, but really an opportunity to plug his new book, This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America:
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…Earlier this week, I looked into [Ron] Paul’s claim … that the war on drugs had racist origins and that the medical community played a role in lobbying for drug prohibitions. That charge was more or less accurate.
So is Paul’s claim about the CIA and drug trafficking, a connection I explore in the book “This Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America.” (An excerpt of the chapter on the CIA appeared in The Root.) The following is drawn from my book.
Out There Radio – Episode 24: Buying Crack from the C.I.A.
It’s all about the C.I.A. on the 24th episode of Out There Radio. We’ll discuss the work of Gary Webb, the journalist that proved the agency was selling crack to fund the Contra War. Also, get ready for multiple clips of C.I.A. directors getting busted in press conferences!