Monday, January 24, 2005

Gary Webb: An American Hero Murdered?

In the mid 1990’s a series of articles written by Gary Webb were published in the San Jose Mercury News about why so much crack appeared on the urban streets of America in the mid 1980's. It contained answers to the question of how so many people, what seemed like the best and brightest, were suddenly addicted to the deadly drug.

“According to the San Jose Mercury News, (Webb’s Report) Nicaraguan Contras, run by the CIA, delivered tons of cut-rate cocaine to a young Los Angeles drug dealer named "Freeway" Rick Ross. Ross, a street-wise drug dealer of mythic reputation, turned the cocaine into crack and supplied the Crips and Bloods street gangs, which saturated the market with crack and used the profits to arm themselves with automatic weapons. The Crips and Bloods developed chapters throughout the west. Ross later moved to Cincinnati and helped spread the crack epidemic across the country. Cocaine was supplied to Ross by Oscar Danilo Blandon Reyes, former leader of the guerrilla army named the Fuerza Democratica Nicaraguense (Nicaraguan Democratic Force) or FDN. Blandon used the millions of dollars paid to him by Ross to buy weapons and equipment for his anticommunist army that unsuccessfully tried to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government in the 1980s. "It is one of the most bizarre alliances in modern history: the union of a U.S.-backed army attempting to overthrow a revolutionary socialist government and Uzi-toting 'gangstas' of Compton and South Central Los Angeles," the Mercury News reported.”

Gary Webb was the author of the articles explaining how crack took over urban America so quickly. That’s why I call him an American hero because he brought the truth to the American people at great cost to himself.

The case of the death of Gary Webb has all the ear marks of a murder, not a suicide, with a government cover-up possibility. In case you feel the language is too strong, check out what happened to Webb, whose book, Dark Alliance : The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion, looks deep into Iran Contra. Webb's book provides documentation that the U.S. government during the Reagan years was responsible for the explosion of crack in the 1980's. He said he had more information to reveal.

Gary Webb was a journalist. Something was done to verify the material he presented. It's called the Iran Contra Affair.

Freeway Rick in Los Angeles, who is in jail for his role, has admitted to coordinating the efforts.

"There are no poppy fields in Harlem," is a line from the movie “New Jack City” that still is true.

The suicide story goes that Webb shot himself twice in the head after leaving a note for the moving men. As a reporter, words were important to him. If he was going to commit suicide he would not have left a note to the moving men that read, "Please do not enter. Call 911 and ask for an ambulance." People ask for 9/11 when they are trying to live. If his determination to die was so great that he shot himself twice in the head, he would have saved 9/11 a trip and asked for the coroner to be sent.

I’ve witnessed the effects of crack since the 1980's and have over the years lost many folks to the pandemic no matter what I did. Elected and appointed officials refused to deal with the subject in Harlem, treating it like they were treating AIDS. I now see, after viewing the material of Al Sharpton meeting with mob folks over drugs, who Harlem's leadership was meeting with. I was told it was not their problem as they played another record on the radio or asked for another donation.

Crack was introduced in a gentle way. It usually happened when a person was over their head in an emotional situation, like the death of a loved one, and was casually offered crack as a way not to feel all the pain in the moment. Or as a party favor shared by folks who thought the host was their friend or family.

Most did not understand what it was the first time they hit it. Within a few days, addiction would set in, another customer. Many reported that the only time after the first few free hits they got free crack again was when they were trying to quit.

The only folks I know who broke the addiction did so through the Lord. The rest are hopelessly lost, still.

Here's some of the material available for your review.

From The Nation:

"Webb's tale is a sad one. He was on to something but botched part of how he handled it. He then was blasted and ostracized. He was wrong on some important details but he was, in a way, closer to the truth than many of his establishment media critics who neglected the story of the real CIA-contra-cocaine connection.

In 1998, a CIA inspector general's report acknowledged that the CIA had indeed worked with suspected drugrunners while supporting the contras. A Senator named John Kerry had investigated these links years earlier, and the media had mostly ignored his findings. After Webb published his articles, the media spent more time crushing Webb than pursuing the full story.

It is only because of Webb's work--as flawed as it was--that the CIA IG inquiry happened. So, then, it is only because of Webb that US citizens have confirmation from the CIA that it partnered up with suspected drug traffickers in the just-say-no years and that the Reagan Administration, consumed with a desire to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, allied itself with drug thugs."


From the Portland Independent Media Center:

"A quick reiteration of the official obituary waffle is as follows: reported first, a suicide with multiple wounds to the head, then a suicide with a wound to the head, then there's a speculated shotgun wound to the face, by Mike Ruppert, because of a verbal report, given to Ruppert from the coroner's office implying that Webb's face was beyond recognition , and finally 2 wounds to the head with a .38 caliber revolver.
Incidentally his gun was kept in the nightstand next to his bed. It was his Dad's gun. Nice touch of detail here. But what does it tell us? Maybe, Gary was concerned, because he had been the recipient of death threats? Maybe that's the REAL reason he had a gun in a drawer next to his bed. According to an informative and revealing article /audio segment, on Alex Jone's Prison Planet website, Gary did indeed have something to be very worried about: Ricky Ross, one of Gary Webb's primary sources had spoken to Gary in the days before his death. Gary told Ricky that he had seen men scaling down the pipes outside his home and that they were obviously not burglars but 'government people'. Gary also told Ricky that he had been receiving death threats and was being regularly followed. It was also mentioned that Gary was working on a
new story concerning the CIA and drug trafficking.

Moreover, why was there so much confusion about the method and number of wounds? Was it that difficult to sort out? Or was something else going-on? I really liked the potshot in the final obituary about the feverish conspiracy theorists on the internet who had been calling the coroner's office, demanding to know the number of wounds Webb ACTUALLY sustained. Now trying to determine factual details based on confused reports makes you a conspiracy theorist. Move on folks, nothing to see here! "

The Media Awareness Project has listed an article from the San Francisco Bay Guardian explaining the terror Webb was living with in this interview.

"...Then the Mercury publicly disowned the story-without ever giving Webb or readers a convincing reason why. The paper's editors had encouraged Webb in his research, but in the firestorm that followed "Dark Alliance"'s publication they retracted their support for the series. After the controversy, the Merc, which is owned by media giant Knight-Ridder, exiled Webb from its Sacramento bureau to the police beat in Cupertino. Webb left the paper and expanded "Dark Alliance" into a book of the same name.

Just published by Seven Stories, it reinforces Webb's investigations with newly uncovered evidence. But the mainstream media are ignoring this new evidence too: the Post, the New York Times, and the L.A. Titnes have all ignored Webb's book-no reviews, no news stories, no coverage at all.

But as
Rep. Maxine Waters ( who wrote a strong introduction for the book ) told me, "Gary Webb has uncovered one of the dirtiest little secrets of the Reagan administration -that we, as a government, introduced a drug to America's inner cities that is literally killing thousands of kids, and that we did it purely for short-term political gain in support of a cause that didn't deserve our support in any way.

For reporting that, Webb lost his job. But the book provides vindication." We interviewed Webb by telephone while he was in Seattle promoting his book. Bay Guardian: Did you do much new reporting and research for the book after the series ran?

Gary Webb: A lot of stuff came out after the series ran. We got 3,000 pages of new documents from the L.A. Sheriff's Department's investigation that was just amazing. Probably 90 percent of the book is new.

BG: What were your most interesting or unexpected new findings?

GW: Some of the most interesting is the stuff the Mercurys News chickened out on and wouldn't run. What was going on in the DEA's office in Costa Rica, where the U.S. drug agents were supposed to be investigating drug crimes but were either looking the other way or, as a customs investigation found, were trafficking drugs themselves. This conspiracy went farther than the CIA. It was so liberating to have the chance to lay out everything you have in context and explain to people why it matters.

BG: How did you get the new information?

GW: FOIA requests, tips, and the CIA Inspector General's January report. And anytime you do a big story people come out of the woodwork, and we had a number of those --specifically this fellow Enrique Miranda, who was an aide to drug lord Norwin Meneses.

BG: One of the main criticisms of the series was that you didn't have a smoking gun. Do you think you have one now?

GW: When you're dealing with the CIA, you're lucky to find any f*cking paper at all, much less a smoking gun. You're never going to find a CIA memo that says, "Go sell crack in L.A." So you have to gather as much evidence as you can, take a good hard look at what you've got, and a legitimate conclusion can become very obvious.

BG: Why do you think the mainstream press --from your own paper to the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, and the New York Times -- went so far out of their way to discredit your series?

GW: Because it's a very dangerous story. It makes people think bad things about their country and their government. Newspapers will let you think bad things about a certain politician, but when you start questioning the foundations of our democracy they say, "He's a troublemaker, a zealot, a maniac."

BG: Were there any valid criticisms that you went back and reconfirmed, or any holes that you subsequently filled?

GW: Sure, absolutely. I've said all along that some parts of that series should have been explained more fully. It was accurate but incomplete. What I tried to do with the book is show all the other evidence that we couldn't get into the newspaper, or were actually prohibited from writing for the newspaper. Initially it was a problem of space, but in the end it was self-censorship on behalf of Mercury News management.

BG: Do you think the decision was made in Knight-Ridder's super-headquarters, or was it strictly Merc management?

GW: I don't know, but I do know Knight-Ridder has backed the decision all the way. I think the thing that frightened them the most about my story was that suddenly there was this whole reactivation of activist black groups getting together and demanding some political changes in Washington. And I think, honest to God, that they were more scared by the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings than anything, when hundreds of citizens actually showed up to watch their government in action and started hooting at the antics they were witnessing. It scared the living hell out of them.

BG: So what happens next? Do you hope Congress finally moves to do a full investigations?

GW: I think we may actually create enough pressure to force the government to release the rest of the reports we've done on this. The public has to get riled up, though, or the government won't do anything. I've been told that the key 600-page report on this, the one that contains the secret agreement between the Justice Department and the CIA allowing the CIA not to report drug trafficking, will never be released, will never be declassified. I don't imagine the CIA will ever be very eager to let that one loose."

Here's the final piece for why I believe Gary Webb's death was a murder and a possible cover-up.

He died around December 9, 2004. I can't find the official report on line.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office website says:

"The Sacramento County Coroner's Office is mandated by the California Government Code § 27491 et seq. to determine the circumstances, manner, and cause of sudden or unexplained deaths in Sacramento County....

When a death appears to be from natural causes, the cause of death may be available after 11:00 a.m. the morning following the death. However, when the death is the result of a homicide, suicide, automobile accident, and in many natural deaths, the cause of death will not be available for several weeks because the forensic pathologist will order toxicology tests. This does not delay the release of the body."

Yet, in the case of the death of Gary Webb the Associated Press reported:

"Gary Webb, Reporter Who Linked CIA to Drug Sales, Dead at 49
The Associated Press Published: Dec 12, 2004

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Gary Webb, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who wrote a controversial series of stories linking the CIA to crack cocaine trafficking in Los Angeles, has died at age 49.
Webb was found Friday morning at his home in Sacramento County, dead of an apparent suicide. Moving-company workers called authorities after discovering a note posted on his front door that read, "Please do not enter. Call 911 and ask for an ambulance."

Webb died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to the Sacramento County coroner's office."

My question is if the tests are not in for weeks, why the rush to say it was a suicide double gunshot wound to the head? I've been trying to understand why he would leave a note telling the moving men to call 9/11 and send an ambulance when he was determined enough to shoot himself in the head twice.

I received an e-mail from "From The Wildnerness:" in response to my questioning, which is where the first report of shotgun use came from.

FTW staff "Admin" 1/31/05

"Gary Webb knew very well that police offcers cannot declare a homicide or suicide crime scene until the victim is pronounced dead. Police officers cannot pronounce death. Only doctors and paramedics. Therefore the logical step is to always contact paramedics first and they are the first to enter the secne after a body is discovered.

It's simple."

Without access to the official reports with supporting documentation, I really don't know if it's simple. How can anybody know? Like any good reporter, I look at who benefits most when something like this happens. Webb was about to get rich from his book. A sitting congress person wrote the intro. He had just sold his house so he was probably sitting on some cash. Even if he had nothing, money was coming. He was an in demand speaker who finally was stepping on stage to talk about his work. In other words, he was a man with a purpose. Suicide makes no sense here. If he just spoke about what was proven in Iran Contra, he had plenty of material to work with. The flaw is not with the truth.

What information did Gary have about folks in the Reagan administration and crack that was new? Where are they now? Why would anybody want to murder Gary Webb?

The inventor Bruce DePalma once wrote "Truth has a ring to it which is unmistakable to those in search of it." The government story just doesn't ring true to me. Does it ring true to you?


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