Our government is and has been darkly corrupt–money, power, drugs corrupted it many, many years ago. It is now a cesspool of moral, ethical and sexual deviancy. Nothing is beyond its imagination, particularly so during the desperate days of the American empires accelerating decay. We are the wounded beast and dangerous is an understatement. The CIA drug trade has never ended. Nothing is as it seems.
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.
These days, Webb is being cast in a more sympathetic light. He’s portrayed heroically in a major motion picture set to premiere nationwide next month. And documents newly released by the CIA provide fresh context to the “Dark Alliance” saga — information that paints an ugly portrait of the mainstream media at the time.
On September 18, the agency released a trove of documents spanning three decades of secret government operations. Culled from the agency’s in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence, the materials include a previously unreleased six-page article titled “Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story.” Looking back on the weeks immediately following the publication of “Dark Alliance,” the document offers a unique window into the CIA’s internal reaction to what it called “a genuine public relations crisis” while revealing just how little the agency ultimately had to do to swiftly extinguish the public outcry. Thanks in part to what author Nicholas Dujmovic, a CIA Directorate of Intelligence staffer at the time of publication, describes as “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists,” the CIA’s Public Affairs officers watched with relief as the largest newspapers in the country rescued the agency from disaster, and, in the process, destroyed the reputation of an aggressive, award-winning reporter.
Gary Webb, the Pulitzer prize-winning reporter who broke the story of the CIAs involvement in the importation of cocaine into the U.S., died December 10, 2004, reportedly from self-inflicted gunshots to the head.
It was a tragic end to a brilliant, and tragic, career.
In August 1996, the San Jose Mercury News published Webbs 20,000 word, three-part series entitled Dark Alliance. The articles detailed the nexus between a California coke kingpin, CIA officials and assets and the Nicaraguan Contra army, whose funding had been cut off by an act of Congress in the mid-80s. Webb found evidence that the CIA had direct contact with the smugglers, knew the proceeds were going to fund the murderous Contras, and tried to cover it up when other law enforcement agencies began investigating. The most troubling aspect to the story was that the central player was no ordinary drug lord. He was the man many credit for popularizing crack, the highly addictive, smoke-able form of cocaine.
For many African-Americans, the story smacked of a grand conspiracy to destroy the black community. There were rallies in Watts and Compton, and heated discussions on black media across the country. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus called for a federal investigation. In November 1996, CIA director John Deutch appeared at Locke High School in South Central Los Angeles to personally answer to the allegations. He was met with loud jeers. It was a PR disaster.
But it was Webb who found himself on the ropes. Ironically, the CIA did little to publicly counter his allegations. Instead, the media did its dirty work for them, most notably the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. The mainstream media accused Webb of exaggerating his findings.
For Webb, the most confounding part of the whole affair was that he ended up being accused of making allegations he never made specifically that the CIA-crack connection was part of a larger, genocidal plot to kill off black people. Webb never made that claim though he noted in his book, “Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion,” the inherent racism in a covert policy that reaped so much destruction on such a vulnerable segment of society.
He wrote, Dark Alliance does not propound a conspiracy theory; there is nothing theoretical about history. In this case, it is undeniable that a wildly successful conspiracy to import cocaine existed for many years, and that innumerable American citizensmost of them poor and blackpaid an enormous price as a result. This book was written for them, so that they may know upon what altars their communities were sacrificed.
The fact is by 1996 it was common knowledge in the so-called alternative media that there were connections between the Contras, the Agency and drugs. In 1988, a Senate subcommittee investigation headed by Sen. John Kerry concluded the links were there. Oliver Norths own diary noted, $14 million to buy arms for the Contras came from drugs.
Nevertheless, Webbs editors at the Mercury News hung him out to dry, without ever providing any evidence that any of his reporting was wrong. He was reassigned, then forced out. Webb went on to work as an investigator for the state of California, penning a report on racial profiling by state police. More recently, he landed a reporting job at a Sacramento newspaper.
In honor of Webbs legacy of authentic journalism, GNN presents this exclusive interview, in which Webb discusses Dark Alliance, the media maelstrom, and the storys historical importance.
The video was produced by a team of GNNs video students at the School of Authentic Journalism 2002 seminar in Merida, Mexico.
Morbid Addiction: CIA & the Drug Trade
Just as the British Empire was in part financed by their control of the opium trade through the British East India Company, so too has the CIA been found time after time to be at the heart of the modern international drug trade. From its very inception, the CIA has been embroiled in the murky underworld of drug trafficking.
There are billions of dollars per year to be made in keeping the drug trade going, and it has long been established that Wall Street and the major American banks rely on drug money as a ready source of liquid capital. With those kinds of funds at stake, it is unsurprising to see a media-government-banking nexus develop around the status quo of a never-ending war on drugs – aided, abetted and facilitated by the modern-day British East India Company, the CIA.
This is our EyeOpener Report by James Corbett presenting the history, documented facts, and cases on the CIA’s involvement and operations in the underworld of drug trafficking, from the Corsican Mafia in the 1940s through the 1980s Contras to the recent Zambada Niebla Case today.