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Wed Nov 26, 2014, 03:37 AM


Support Gary Webb and Re-Release Kill the Messenger in Theaters

Support Gary Webb and Re-Release Kill the Messenger in Theaters


Reasons for signing

Rachel Rodriguez FOLSOM, CA
2 days ago
Liked 3

supporting my friend, and Gary's daughter, Christine Webb!
2 days ago
Liked 2

The core themes of courage and journalistic integrity (and lack thereof) are as relevant today as ever.
2 days ago
Liked 2

This is a personal movie to my husband and me. Gary's story is important to tell. Unfortunately, these days without proper distribution and publicity, it can be overlooked. Thank you, Lisa
2 days ago
Liked 2

People need to hear and see what has happened by their government, how it affected our society and the price paid by the journalist who broke the story.
1 day ago
Liked 1

As Gary Webb's eldest son and a true believer in the importance of this film, I find Focus Features' minimal attempt to distribute this movie appalling. A film such as this, which does not involve a cape donning superhero, needed as much distribution and advertising possible to catch the attention of the masses. To add insult to injury, Focus has done a wonderful job of advertising for 'The Theory of Everything'...obviously with money withheld from 'Kill the Messenger'.

More Reasons


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Arrow 27 replies Author Time Post
Reply Support Gary Webb and Re-Release Kill the Messenger in Theaters (Original post)
777man Nov 2014 OP
777man Nov 2014 #1
sabrina 1 Nov 2014 #2
777man Nov 2014 #7
roody Nov 2014 #13
sabrina 1 Nov 2014 #16
777man Nov 2014 #24
777man Nov 2014 #14
deutsey Nov 2014 #4
777man Nov 2014 #8
deutsey Nov 2014 #11
MinM Nov 2014 #19
777man Nov 2014 #9
Leopolds Ghost Nov 2014 #3
Smarmie Doofus Nov 2014 #5
Octafish Nov 2014 #6
Blue_Tires Nov 2014 #10
Bluenorthwest Nov 2014 #12
Wella Nov 2014 #15
sabrina 1 Nov 2014 #17
Wella Nov 2014 #18
sabrina 1 Nov 2014 #21
Wella Nov 2014 #23
wildbilln864 Nov 2014 #20
Raul Hernandez Nov 2014 #22
killthemessengerfilm Dec 2014 #25
777man Dec 2014 #26
Guy Whitey Corngood Dec 2014 #27

Response to 777man (Original post)

Wed Nov 26, 2014, 03:54 AM

1. An open Letter to Jeff Leen at THE WASHINGTON POST


Last edited Fri Nov 28, 2014, 03:34 PM - Edit history (1)

An open Letter to Jeff Leen at THE WASHINGTON POST:

Jeff, I want to write you a quick note about your recent (10/17/14) attack on Gary Webb.

(Gary Webb was no journalism hero, despite what ‘Kill the Messenger’ says
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/gary-webb-was-no-journalism-hero-despite-what-kill-the-messenger-says/2014/10/17/026b7560-53c9-11e4-809b-8cc0a295c773_story.html )

I simply cannot understand what would motivate you to write such a thing other than envy pure and simple, given the large body of evidence now supporting Mr. Webb.

Given the sheer size and power of the Washington Post you have arrogantly assumed that the people would take this lying down, but this time you are wrong.
Gary Webb did get the last word on CONTRA COCAINE. Generations of people will be watching the movie KILL THE MESSENGER.

I will be there and I will remind them what the owner of your newspaper Katharine Graham once said at a 1988 speech at CIA Headquarters:
“We live in a dirty and dangerous world … There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn’t. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.”

Its therefore no surprise that a culture of ignorance has grown at the Post to the point that it could Ignore the CIA’s front page admission of GUILT.

In 1998 Congresswoman Maxine Waters wrote:
Quite unexpectedly, on April 30, 1998, I obtained a secret 1982 Memorandum of Understanding between the CIA and the Department of Justice, that allowed drug trafficking by CIA assets, agents, and contractors to go unreported to federal law enforcement agencies. I also received correspondence between then Attorney General William French Smith and the head of the CIA, William Casey, that spelled out their intent to protect drug traffickers on the CIA payroll from being reported to federal law enforcement.
Then on July 17, 1998 the New York Times ran this amazing front page CIA admission: “CIA Says It Used Nicaraguan Rebels Accused of Drug Tie.” “The Central Intelligence Agency continued to work with about two dozen Nicaraguan rebels and their supporters during the 1980s despite allegations that they were trafficking in drugs…. The agency’s decision to keep those paid agents, or to continue dealing with them in some less formal relationship, was made by top officials at headquarters in Langley, Va.”. (emphasis added)
………The CIA had always vehemently denied any connection to drug traffickers and the massive global drug trade, despite over ten years of documented reports. But in a shocking reversal, the CIA finally admitted that it was CIA policy to keep Contra drug traffickers on the CIA payroll. The Facts speak for themselves. Maxine Waters, Member of Congress, September 19, 1998

Mr. Leen, I would also remind you that Congresswoman Waters also found CIA EMPLOYEES DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN THE SMUGGLING:
“Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the Department of Justice at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the Los Angeles Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities.According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central Los Angeles,around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Volume II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the Department of Justice, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles.”

(Excerpt from the Dark Alliance Book)
“When CIA Inspector General Fred P. Hitz testified before the House Intelligence Committee in March 1998, he admitted a secret government interagency agreement. `Let me be frank about what we are finding,’ Hitz said. `There are instances where CIA did not, in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships with individuals supporting the Contra program who were alleged to have engaged in drug trafficking activity.’

“The lawmakers fidgeted uneasily. `Did any of these allegations involved trafficking in the United States?’ asked Congressman Norman Dicks of Washington. `Yes,’ Hitz answered. Dicks flushed.”

“And what, Hitz was asked, had been the CIA’s legal responsibility when it learned of this? That issue, Hitz replied haltingly, had `a rather odd history…the period of 1982 to 1995 was one in which there was no official requirement to report on allegations of drug trafficking with respect to non-employees of the agency, and they were defined to include agents, assets, non-staff employees.’ There had been a secret agreement to that effect `hammered out between the CIA and U.S. Attorney General William French Smith in 1982,’ he testified.”

Hitz concluded his testimony by stating “This is the grist for more work, if anyone wants to do it.”

Mr Leen, I will also leave you with a copy of the agreement which exempted intelligence agencies from reporting drugs:


Exhibit 1 U.S. Attorney General William French Smith replies to a still classified letter from DCI William Casey requesting exemption from reporting drug crimes by CIA agents, assets and contractors.
Source: cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/cocaine/contra-story/01.gif

Exhibit 2: DCI William Casey happily agrees with William French Smith and signs the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) exempting his agency from reporting drug crimes. This agreement covered both the Latin American conflicts and Afghanistan war. It remained in effect until August, 1995 when it was quietly rescinded by Janet Reno after Gary Webb began making inquiries for his series. The 1995 revision of the DoJ-CIA MOU specifically includes narcotics violations among the lists of potential offenses by non-employees that must be reported to DOJ.
Source: cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/cocaine/contra-story/13.gif

Exhibit 3: On February 8, 1985, Deputy Chief of DoJ’s Office of Intelligence Policy andReview (OIPR) from 1979 to 1991, A. R. Cinquegrana signed off on this letter approving the MOU. Mark M. Richard, Deputy Assistant Attorney General with responsibility for General Litigation and International Law Enforcement in 1982, states that he was unableto explain why narcotics violations were not on the list of reportable crimes except thatthe MOU had “other deficiencies, not just drugs.”
Source: cia.gov/library/reports/general-reports-1/cocaine/contra-story/14.gif

AND Finally, Mr. Leen, if that is not enough, I would remind you of what Senator Kerry found after interviewing dozens of witnesses:

“There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras.”—Senator John Kerry, The Washington Post (1996)

“It is clear that there is a network of drug trafficking through the Contras…We can produce specific law-enforcement officials who will tell you that they have been called off drug-trafficking investigations because the CIA is involved or because it would threaten national security.”
–Senator John Kerry at a closed door Senate Committee hearing

“Because of Webb’s work the CIA launched an Inspector General investigation that named dozens of troubling connections to drug runners. That wouldn’t have happened if Gary Webb hadn’t been willing to stand up and risk it all.”
Senator John Kerry (LA Weekly, May 30, 2013)

“The Contras moved drugs not by the pound, not by the bags, but by the tons, by the cargo planeloads.”
–Jack Blum, investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, testimony under oath on Feb. 11, 1987

“We were complicit as a country, in narcotics traffic at the same time as we’re spending countless dollars in this country as we try to get rid of this problem. It’s mind-boggling.
I don’t know if we got the worst intelligence system in the world, i don’t know if we have the best and they knew it all, and just overlooked it.
But no matter how you look at it, something’s wrong. Something is really wrong out there.”
– Senator John Kerry, Iran Contra Hearings, 1987

Any further questions Jeff Leen?


This letter was originally published at Robert Parry's Consortium News,

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Response to 777man (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 26, 2014, 04:01 AM

2. Interesting. What happened to Kerry?

And Maxine Waters, who I have a lot of respect for, we rarely hear from her anymore.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 02:32 AM

7. The SILENCE of Maxine Waters on CONTRA CIA COCAINE


On 2/1/2013, Kerry became secretary of state. Probably his reward for not causing a bigger stink about what he knows.

As Far as Maxine Waters goes,It is quite apparent that she has been silenced. Ms Waters has not spoken on the matter since 2000 and then only briefly upon the death of Gary Webb, at his funeral.

As the late Mike Ruppert noted, Maxine Water's Husband was given an ambassadorship in the Bahamas and The federal reserve chairman went on a tour of her district before granting a 1.5 Billion dollar grant.

HPSCI head Porter Goss became DCI in 2003 under the George W. Bush administration, serving a 1 year term. The position of DNI went to John Negroponte, death squad cover up artist in Honduras during the 1980s.

in a strange turn of events, Porter Goss became the chief investigator tormenting Waters in a drawn out (2009 to 2012)politically motivated ethics investigation . Waters was later cleared of all charges in 2012

NOT a Peep from Maxine Waters, as far as I am aware, regarding the film KILL THE MESSENGER. I was told that Michael K Williams (who plays Freeway Ricky Ross in the film) did meet with the Congressional Black Caucus. Jeremy Renner screened the film and met with MPAA CEO (former US Senator) Chris Dodd
Dodd was instrumental along with John Kerry in creating the Foreign Relations committee investigating CONTRA Drug transgressions in the mid 1980s. No word from Jeremy Renner on what was discussed with Dodd or what his comments were regarding the film.

The SILENCE of Maxine Waters is very telling. The CIA DRUG LORDS must have incredible power if they are able to silence such an outspoken person as Ms. Waters.

It reminds me of how Jacqueline Onasis Kennedy and Pamela Harriman called on Senator John Kerry to drop his investigation of BCCI and Clark Clifford. SCARY SCARY SCARY

what else can I say?

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 10:14 AM

13. She wants to live, and for her family to live.

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Response to roody (Reply #13)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 11:18 PM

16. I don't doubt that at all. So what we are talking about is a coup. Anyone who doesn't keep their

mouths shut about crimes and corruption, has to worry about their very lives and the lives of their families.

So, what happens now, is the question. The crooks have become bolder than ever.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #16)

Sun Nov 30, 2014, 01:08 PM

24. Education is one way


During the George W. Bush admin, every dirty dealer from the Iran Contra affair was back in power! Pretty much every major figure except OLIVER NORTH himself.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 04:38 PM

14. Kerry went soft on the Contra Crack investigation


How the Washington Press Turned Bad
October 28, 2014

A reader wrote in response to Robert parry's article:
Ralph Walter Reed on October 29, 2014 at 1:11 am said:

In 1991 I helped bring then-Senator John Kerry to Hampshire College in Amherst for an event that was attended by about a hundred people. Near the end of the question and answer period I challenged him with a strong complaint about why the Senate investigation he oversaw into CIA involvement in cocaine smuggling during the time the Boland Amendment was in effect wasn’t more vigorously pursued and promoted given the risks and efforts of so many within and outside of the US government to mitigate the carnage in Central America, “waving the bloody shirt” a bit I’m afraid as I was peripherally involved when in the Air Force, and perhaps blindsiding him as I was the one chiefly responsible for organizing his talk. He became quite visibly distressed, and apologetically replied that “we felt that the country wouldn’t be served by another Watergate” so soon after the original.

Objectively, what might have happened if he had done his constitutional duty? Would the Soviet Union and Warsaw pact have muddled on with the real possibility of nuclear war? On the other hand the behavior of the Clinton White House in Europe, and that the State Department currently in Ukraine doesn’t make me feel like it was in the end justifiable to protect US institutions at the expense of its principles.

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Response to 777man (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 26, 2014, 07:26 AM

4. This is a little off topic, but the book Acid Dreams

(by Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain) makes a pretty convincing argument that the CIA was behind the rise of LSD in the '60s and '70s.

From the introduction:

While under the influence of the psychedelic, (poet Allen Ginsburg) began to ponder the disclosures that had
recently surfaced in the news media concerning the ClA's use of LSD as a mind
control weapon. The possibility that an espionage organization might have promoted
the widespread use of LSD was disturbing to Ginsberg, who had been an outspoken
advocate of psychedelics during the 1960s. He grabbed a pen and started jotting
down some high-altitude thoughts. "Am I, Allen Ginsberg, the product of one of the
ClA's lamentable, ill-advised, or triumphantly successful experiments in mind
control?" Had the CIA, "by conscious plan or inadvertent Pandora's Box, let loose the
whole LSD Fad on the U.S. & the World?"

The authors conducted extensive research on newly declassified CIA documents related to MK-ULTRA (the covert CIA mind control program) and used what they uncovered to write their "social history" of LSD and the Sixties (also from the Intro):

As it turns out, nearly every drug that appeared on the black market during the
1960s--marijuana, cocaine, heroin, PCP, amyinitrate, mushrooms, DMT, barbiturates, laughing gas, speed, and many others--had previously been scrutinized, tested, and in some cases refined by CIA and army scientists.
But of all
the techniques explored by the Agency in its multimillion-dollar twenty-five-year
quest to conquer the human mind, none received as much attention or was
embraced with such enthusiasm as LSD-25. For a time CIA personnel were
completely infatuated with the hallucinogen. Those who first tested LSD in the early
1950s were convinced that it would revolutionize the cloak-and-dagger trade.

As we studied the documents more closely, certain shapes and patterns came alive
to us. We began to get a sense of the internal dynamics of the ClA's secret LSD
program and how it evolved over the years. The story that emerged was far more
complex and rich in detail than the disconnected smattering of information that had
surfaced in various press reports and government probes. We were able to
understand what the spies were looking for when they first got into LSD, what
happened during the initial phase of experimentation, how their attitude changed as
they tested the drug on themselves and their associates, and how it was ultimately
used in covert operations.

It's a fascinating book on many levels. I highly recommend it, especially for a larger context of the CIA's involvement in drugs.

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Response to deutsey (Reply #4)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 03:13 AM

8. 1993 Clint Eastwood Film Mentions CONTRA CRACK


I was watching the film IN THE LINE OF FIRE the other day.


It is ironic because clint Eastwood's Character (Secret Service agent) pursues a former CIA Assassin out to kill the President of the United States. in the 1993 film (Three years before Gary wEBB'S dARK aLLIANCE CAME OUT)

Upon Finding out that the assassin is ex CIA, Frank Horrigan (Eastwood) asks: What did he do, sell Cocaine for the contras?


In the 1994 Tom Clancy film CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER
Jack Ryan catches the government striking a deal with the cartel!

This was years before Gary Webb wrote his article.

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Response to 777man (Reply #8)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 08:12 AM

11. The Contras-cocaine connection was news in the '80s

The AP broke the story in '86 and the Kerry Committee concluded that the Contras had indeed been involved in drug trafficking.

The CIA wasn't directly implicated, though.

Charles Bowden, in his intro to the book Kill the Messenger, mentions his own investigations into the drug underworld in the '80s and the numerous "whiffs of the CIA that can never be completely documented" he found (e.g., a DEA agent telling him about seeing a plane loaded with cocaine landing at a US Air Force base in the '80s).

He encountered enough instances of CIA-related drug trafficking to convince him "that the CIA has for decades knowingly dealt with drug dealers and justified these actions by citing national security...Gary Webb stumbled upon one such instance, pursued it with tenacity, willed his account into print, and consequentially, was run out of the news business."

The CIA Inspector General essentially corroborated the gist of Webb's story in his report that was instigated by Webb's series:

Six weeks after the declassified and heavily censored report was made public, Inspector General Hitz testified before a House congressional committee. Hitz stated that:

As I said earlier, we have found no evidence in the course of this lengthy investigation of any conspiracy by CIA or its employees to bring drugs into the United States. However, during the Contra era, CIA worked with a variety of people to support the Contra program. These included CIA assets, pilots who ferried supplies to the Contras, as well as Contra officials and others. Let me be frank about what we are finding. There are instances where CIA did not, in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships with individuals supporting the Contra program who were alleged to have engaged in drug trafficking activity or take action to resolve the allegations.

Hitz also testified that the CIA did not "expeditiously" cut off relations with alleged drug traffickers.


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Response to 777man (Reply #8)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 11:06 AM

19. In the Line of Fire (1993)

This was ostensibly a piece of meme-reversal by Clint Eastwood to counter Oliver Stone's JFK.

Given all of the recent snafus by the Secret Service we might be due another Eastwood film to resuscitate their reputation.

American Sniper appears to trend in that genre...

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Response to 777man (Reply #1)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 03:37 AM



"In my 30-year history in the Drug Enforcement Administration and related agencies, the major targets of my investigations almost invariably turned out to be working for the CIA."

--Dennis Dayle, former chief of DEA CENTAC.(Peter Dale Scott & Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies,and the CIA in Central America, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991, pp. x-xi.)

"There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, on the payroll of, and carrying the credentials of,the CIA were involved in drug trafficking while involved in support of the contras."

—Senator John Kerry, The Washington Post (1996).

"our covert agencies have converted themselves to channels for drugs."
--Senator John Kerry, 1988

"It is clear that there is a network of drug trafficking through the Contras...We can produce specific law-enforcement officials who will tell you that they have been called off drug-trafficking investigations because the CIA is involved or because it would threaten national security."

--Senator John Kerry at a closed door Senate Committee hearing

"...officials in the Justice Department sought to undermine attempts by Senator Kerry to have hearings held on the allegations."
-Jack Blum, investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee

We live in a dirty and dangerous world ... There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.

--1988 speech by Washington Post owner Katharine Graham at CIA Headquarters

"We were complicit as a country, in narcotics traffic at the same time as we're spending countless dollars in this country as we try to get rid of this problem. It's mind-boggling.
I don't know if we got the worst intelligence system in the world, i don't know if we have the best and they knew it all, and just overlooked it.
But no matter how you look at it, something's wrong. Something is really wrong out there."
-- Senator John Kerry, Iran Contra Hearings, 1987

"it is common knowledge here in Miami that this whole Contra operation was paid for with cocaine... I actually saw the cocaine and the weapons together under one roof, weapons that I helped ship to Costa Rica." --Oliver North employee Jesus Garcia December, 1986

"I have put thousands of Americans away for tens of thousands of years with less evidence for conspiracy than is available against Ollie North and CIA people...I personally was involved in a deep-cover case that went to the top of the drug world in three countries. The CIA killed it."
Former DEA Agent Michael Levine - CNBC-TV, October 8, 1996

"When this whole business of drug trafficking came out in the open in the Contras, the CIA gave a document to Cesar, Popo Chamorro and Marcos Aguado, too...""..They said this is a document holding them harmless, without any responsibility, for having worked in U.S.security..."

--Eden Pastora, Former ARDE Contra leader - November 26, 1996, speaking before the Senate Select Intelligence Committee on alleged CIA drug trafficking to fund Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s

"I believe that elements working for the CIA were involved in bringing drugs into the country," "I know specifically that some of the CIA contract workers, meaning some of the pilots, in fact were bringing drugs into the U.S. and landing some of these drugs in government air bases. And I know so because I was told by someo f these pilots that in fact they had done that."

– Retired DEA agent Hector Berrellez on PBS Frontline. Berrellez was a supervisory agent on the Enrique Camarena murder investigation

"I do think it a terrible mistake to say that
'We're going to allow drug trafficking to destroy American citizens'
as a consequence of believing that the contra effort was a higher priority."
Senator Robert Kerrey (D-NE)

A Sept. 26, 1984, Miami police intelligence report noted that money supporting contras being illegally trained inFlorida "comes from narcotics transactions." Every page of the report is stamped: "Record furnished toGeorge Kosinsky, FBI." Is Mr. Kosinsky's number missing from (Janet) Reno's rolodex?

– Robert Knight and Dennis Bernstein, 1996 . Janet Reno was at that time (1984), the Florida State prosecutor.----on Sept. 13, 1996, the nation's highest law enforcement official, Attorney General Janet Reno, stated flatly that there's "no evidence" at this time to support the charges. And a week earlier, on Sept. 7, director of Central Intelligence, John Deutch, stated his belief that there's "no substance" to allegations of CIA involvement.

"For decades, the CIA, the Pentagon, and secret organizations like Oliver North's Enterprise have been supporting and protecting the world's biggest drug dealers.... The Contras and some of their Central Americanallies ... have been documented by DEA as supplying ... at least 50 percent of our national cocaine consumption. They were the main conduit to the United States for Colombian cocaine during the 1980's. The rest of the drug supply ... came from other CIA-supported groups, such as DFS (the Mexican CIA) ... other groups and/or individuals like Manual Noriega."

-- Michael Levine, The Big White Lie: The CIA and the Cocaine/Crack Epidemic

"To my great regret, the bureau (FBI) has told me that some of the people I identified as being involved in drug smuggling are present or past agents of the Central Intelligence Agency."

--Wanda Palacio’s 1987 sworn testimony before U.S. Sen. John Kerry's Senate Subcommittee on Narcotics and International Terrorism.

“I sat gape-mouthed as I heard the CIA Inspector General, testify that there has existed a secret agreement between CIA and the Justice Department, wherein "during the years 1982 to 1995, CIA did not have to report the drug trafficking its assets did to the Justice Department. To a trained DEA agent this literally means that the CIA had been granted a license to obstruct justice in our so-called war on drugs; a license that lasted - so CIA claims -from 1982 to 1995, a time during which Americans paid almost $150 billion in taxes to "fight" drugs.God, with friends like these, who needs enemies?”

- Former DEA Agent Michael Levine, March 23, 1998.

CIA ADMITS TO DEAL WITH JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO OBSTRUCT JUSTICE.“The CIA finally admitted, yesterday, in the New York Times no less, that they, in fact, did "work with" the Nicaraguan Contras while they had information that they were involved in cocaine trafficking to the United States. An action known to us court qualified experts and federal agents as Conspiracy to Import and Distribute Cocaine—a federal felony punishable by up to life in prison. To illustrate how us regular walking around, non CIA types are treated when we violate this law, while I was serving as a DEA supervisor in New York City, I put two New York City police officers in a federal prison for Conspiracy to distribute Cocaine when they looked the other way at their friend's drug dealing. We could not prove they earned a nickel nor that they helped their friend in any way, they merely did not do their duty by reporting him. They were sentenced to 10and 12 years respectively, and one of them, I was recently told, had committed suicide.”

- Former DEA Agent Michael Levine, September, 1998 from the article “IS ANYONE APOLOGIZING TO GARY WEBB?”

“After five witnesses testified before the U.S. Senate, confirming that John Hull—a C.I.A. operative and the lynch-pin of North's contra resupply operation—had been actively running drugs from Costa Rica to the U.S."under the direction of the C.I.A.," Costa Rican authorities arrested him. Hull then quickly jumped bail and fled to the U.S.—according to my sources—with the help of DEA, putting the drug fighting agency in the schizoid business of both kidnapping accused drug dealers and helping them escape…. The then-President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias was stunned when he received letters from nineteen U.S. Congressman—including Lee Hamilton of Indiana, the Democrat who headed the Iran-contra committee—warning him "to avoid situations . . .that could adversely affect our relations."

-Former DEA Agent Michael Levine, September, 1998 from the article “I Volunteer to Kidnap Oliver North”

"Drug trafficking has permeated all political structures and has corrupted federal, state, and local officials. It has deformed the economy. It is a cancer that has generated financial and political dependence, which instead of producing goods, has created serious problems ultimately affecting honest businessmen. The Attorney General's office is unable to eradicate drug trafficking because government structures at all levels are corrupted."

-- Eduardo Valle, former adviser, Attorney General in Mexico

60 MINUTES- Head of DEA Robert Bonner Says CIA Smuggled Drugs


Dennis Dayle, former head of DEA's Centac, was asked the following question: "Enormously powerful criminal organizations are controlling many countries, and to a certain degree controlling the world, and controlling our lives.Your own U.S. government to some extent supports them, and is concealing this fact from you."Dennis Dayle's answer:
"I know that to be true. That is not conjecture. Experience, over the better part of my adult life, tells me that that is so. And there is a great deal of persuasive evidence.

"He (Former Congressman Bill Alexander - D. Ark.) made me privy to the depositions he took from three of the most credible witnesses in that project, which left absolutely
no doubt in my mind that the government of the United States was an active participant in one of the largest dope operations in the world.."

Former Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson

The Contras moved drugs not by the pound, not by the bags, but by the tons, by the cargo planeloads”

--Jack Blum, investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, testimony under oath on Feb. 11, 1987

“… he was making millions, 'cos he had his own source of,… avenue for his own,..heroin.I'm sure we all knew it, but we tried to monitor it, because we controlled most of the pilots you see. We're giving him freedom of navigation into Thailand, into the bases, and we don't want him to get involved in moving, you know, this illicit traffic--O.K., silver bars and gold, O.K., but not heroin. What they would do is, they weren't going into Thailand, they were flying it in a big wet wing airplane that could fly for thirteen hours, a DC-3, and all the wings were filled with gas. They fly down to Pakse, then they fly over to Da Nang, and then the number two guy to President Thieu would receive it.”

–CIA Officer Anthony (“Tony Poe”) Poshepny May 17, 1988 PBS Frontline episode “Guns, Drugs, and the CIA”

(Poshepny was a legendary covert operations officer who had supervised the CIA’s secret war in Northern Laos during the 1960s and early 1970s. In the interview, Poshepny stated that the CIA had supplied air transport for the heroin shipments of their local ally, General Vang Pao, the only such on-the-record confirmation by a former CIA officer concerning agency involvement in the narcotics trade.)

"It is … believed by the FBI, SF, that Norwin Meneses was and still may be, an informant for the Central Intelligence Agency."
--CIA OIG report on Contra involvement in drug trafficking (ChIII, Pt2).
(Norwin Meneses was issued a visa and moved freely about the United States despite being listed in more than40 drug investigations over the two previous decades and being listed in an active indictment for narcotics. He has never been prosecuted in this country.)

“There is secret communication between CIA and members of the Congressional staff - one must keep in mind that Porter Goss, the chairman, is an ex CIA official- indicating that the whole hearing is just a smoke and mirror show so that the American people - particularly the Black community - can "blow off some steam"without doing any damage to CIA. The CIA has been assured that nothing real will be done, other than some embarrassing questions being asked.”


"If you ask: In the process of fighting a war against the Sandinistas, did people connected with the US government open channels which allowed drug traffickers to move drugs to the United States, did they know the drug traffickers were doing it, and did they protect them from law enforcement? The answer to all those questions is yes.""We don't need to investigate . We already know. The evidence is there."--
Jack Blum, former Chief Counsel to John Kerry's Subcommittee on Narcotics and Terrorism in 1996 Senate Hearings

“Several informed sources have told me that an appendix to this Report was removed at the instruction of the Department of Justice at the last minute. This appendix is reported to have information about a CIA officer, not agent or asset, but officer, based in the Los Angeles Station, who was in charge of Contra related activities.According to these sources, this individual was associated with running drugs to South Central Los Angeles,around 1988. Let me repeat that amazing omission. The recently released CIA Report Volume II contained an appendix, which was pulled by the Department of Justice, that reported a CIA officer in the LA Station was hooked into drug running in South Central Los Angeles.”

--U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters – October 13. 1998, speaking on the floor of the US House of Representatives.

“My knowledge of all this comes from my time as British Ambassador in Uzbekistan. I … watched the Jeeps … bringing the heroin through from Afghanistan, en route to Europe. I watched the tankers of chemicals roaring into Afghanistan.

The four largest players in the heroin business are all senior members of the Afghan government – the government that our soldiers are fighting and dying to protect.” --Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray,2007


This war with China … really seems to me so wicked as to be a national sin of the greatest possible magnitude, and it distresses me very deeply. Cannot any thing be done by petition or otherwise to awaken men’s minds to the dreadful guilt we are incurring? I really do not remember, in any history, of a war undertaken with such combined injustice and baseness. Ordinary wars of conquest are to me far less wicked, than to go to war in order to maintain smuggling, and that smuggling consisting in the introduction of a demoralizing drug, which the government of China wishes to keep out, and which we, for the lucre of gain, want to introduce by force; and in this quarrel are going to burn and slay in the pride of our supposed superiority. — Thomas Arnold to W. W. Hull, March 18, 1840


"We also became aware of deep connections between the law-enforcement community and the intelligence community. I, personally, repeatedly heard from prosecutors and people in the law-enforcement world that CIA agents were required to sit in on the debriefing of various people who were being questioned about the drug trade. They were required to be present when witnesses were being prepped for certain drug trials. At various times the intelligence community inserted itself in that legal process. I believe that that was an impropriety; that that should not have occurred."

--Jack Blum, speaking before the October 1996 Senate Select Intelligence Committee on alleged CIA drug trafficking to fund Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s, Chaired by Senator Arlen Specter.

"The CIA wants to know about drug trafficking, but only for their own purposes, and not necessarily for the use of law enforcement agencies. Torres told DEA Confidential Informant 1 that CIA representatives are aware of his drug-related activities, and that they don't mind. He said they had gone so far as to encourage cocaine trafficking by members of the contras, because they know it's a good source of income. Some of this money has gone into numbered accounts in Europe and Panama, as does the money that goes to Managua from cocaine trafficking. Torres told the informant about receiving counterintelligence training from the CIA, and had avowed that the CIA looks the other way and in essence allows them to engage in narcotics trafficking."


"US ATTORNEY WILLIAM) Weld claims he followed up with an investigation. But there is, however, no record that while Weld was the chief prosecutor for the U.S., that so much as one Contra-related narcotics trafficker was brought to justice."
--John Mattes, special counsel to Sen. John Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on terrorism and narcotics.

(When the FBI was notified) "in fact they didn't want to look at the contras. They wanted to look at us and try to deter us from our investigation. We were threatened on countless occasions by FBI agents who told us that we'd gone too far in our investigation of the contras."
--John Mattes, special counsel to Sen. John Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on terrorism and narcotics.

"There would appear to be substance to the allegations," "potential official involvement in...gunrunning and narcotics trafficking between Florida and Central and South America." "that the Justice Department either attempted to slow down or abort one of the ongoing criminal investigations."
---House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime chairman William Hughes (D-N.J.) 1987 press conference

"Cabezas claimed that the contra cocaine operated with the knowledge of, and under the supervision of, the CIA. Cabezas claimed that this drug enterprise was run with the knowledge of CIA agent Ivan Gómez."

"what we investigated, which is on the record as part of the Kerry committee report, is evidence that narcotics traffickers associated with the Contra leaders were allowed to smuggle over a ton of cocaine into the United States. Those same Contra leaders admitted under oath their association and affiliation with the CIA."
--John Mattes, attorney, former federal public defender, counsel to John Kerry's senate committee

"we knew everybody around Pastora was involved in cocaine... His staff and friends... were drug smugglers or involved in drug smuggling."
--CIA Officer Alan Fiers

(At Ilopango) "the CIA owned one hangar, and the National Security Council ran the other."
"There is no doubt that they were running large quantities of cocaine into the U.S. to support the Contras," "We saw the cocaine and we saw boxes full of money. We're talking about very large quantities of cocaine and millions of dollars."
"my reports contain not only the names of traffickers, but their destinations, flight paths, tail numbers, and the date and time of each flight."
--DEA Agent Celerino Castillo III said he detailed Contra drug activities in Official DEA reports, each signed by DEA Country attache Bob Stia.

an eight-page June 25, 1986, staff memorandum clearly stated that "a number of individuals who supported the Contras and who participated in Contra activity in Texas, Louisiana, California and Florida, as well as in Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, have suggested that cocaine is being smuggled in the U.S. through the same infrastructure which is procuring, storing and transporting weapons, explosives, ammunition and military equipment for the Contras from the United States."
----March 31, 1987 Newsday article

"What we investigated and uncovered, was the very infrastructure of the network that had the veil of national security protecting it, so that people could load cannons in broad daylight, in public airports, on flights going to Ilopango Airport, where in fact the very same people were bringing narcotics back into the U.S., unimpeded."
--John Mattes, attorney, former federal public defender, special counsel to Sen. John Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on terrorism and narcotics.

"Imagine this, here you have Oliver North, a high-level official in the National Security Council running a covert action in collaboration with a drug cartel,"

"That's what I call treason we'll never know how many kids died because these so-called patriots were so hot to support the contras that they risked several generations of our young people to do it."

"As a key member of the joint committees, he (HENRY HYDE) certainly played a major role in keeping the American people blindfolded about this story," Levine said. "There was plenty of hard evidence. … The totality of the whole picture is very compelling. This is very damning evidence. ...

(FBI Agent Mike Foster) "Foster said it (CONTRA DRUG TRAFFICKING) would be a great story, like a grand slam, if they could put it together. He asked the DEA for the reports, who told him there were no such reports. Yet when I showed him the copies of the reports that I had, he was shocked. I never heard from him again."

---Celerino Castillo III describes his meeting with FBI agent Mike Foster, who was assigned to Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh.

"My god," "when I was serving as a DEA agent, you gave me a page from someone in the
Pentagon with notes like that, I would've been on his back investigating everything he did from the minute his eyes opened, every diary notebook, every phone would have been tapped, every trip he made."

--Michael Levine (DEA retired) read Oliver North's diary entries, finding hundreds of drug references. Former Drug Enforcement Administration head John Lawn testified that Mr. North himself had prematurely leaked a DEA undercover operation, jeopardizing agents’ lives, for political advantage in an upcoming Congressional vote on aid to the contras (p.121).

"In my book, Big White Lie, I that the CIA stopped us from indicting the Bolivian government at the same time contra assets were going down there to pick up drugs. When you put it all together, you have much more evidence to convict Ollie North, Dewey Clarridge and all the way up the line, than they had in any John Gotti case." _MIKE LEVINE, (DEA RETIRED)

"With respect to the Resistance Forces...it is not a couple of people. It is a lot of people."
--CIA Central American Task Force Chief Alan Fiers, Testimony at Iran Contra hearings

"The government made a secret decision to sacrifice a part of the American population for the contra effort,"

-- Washington attorney Jack Blum before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1996. Blum had been special counsel to Sen. John Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on terrorism and narcotics.

(Reagan administration officials were) "quietly undercutting law enforcement and human-rights agencies that might have caused them difficulty," "Policy makers absolutely closed their eyes to the criminal behavior of the contras."
-- Washington attorney Jack Blum before the Senate Intelligence Committee in 1996.

"For some reason, Webb's piece came up, and I asked the guys (Undercover narcs), 'So, what do you think? Is what Webb wrote about the CIA true?'" "And they all turned to me and said," Of course it is.'
--Writer Charles Bowden describes the reaction of drug agents during an interview, September, 1998

"Here's my problem. I think that if people in the government of the United States make a secret decision to sacrifice some portion of the American population in the form of ... deliberately exposing them to drugs, that is a terrible decision that should never be made in secret."

--Jack Blum, speaking before the October 1996 Senate Select Intelligence Committee on alleged CIA drug trafficking to fund Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s, Chaired by Senator Arlen Specter.


"The other thing that John found out over time -- and the seeds of that were so very early -- was the drug traffickers were moving dope to the United States under cover of the Contra war, and that the Contra movement, the infrastructure supporting the Contras, was infested by drug traffickers.

In fact, later on, we found one of the drug traffickers who Oliver North and the NSC was working with to provide support to the Contras -- and we even got money ultimately from the State Department to support the Contras -- was moving marijuana by the ton into the state of Massachusetts, into New Bedford. It wasn't the only place he was moving dope. But it was one of the places.

So the disorder caused by the war was bringing dope into this country. Now, 10 years later, the Central Intelligence Agency inspector general investigated all of this, and found that the particular allegations and things that Kerry had looked at -- there was substantial evidence for every one of them. There was a huge amount of drugs relating to that Contra infrastructure. …"

-Jonathan Winer, former chief counsel to the Kerry committee (1985-1994), former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement

I remember Dick Cheney attacking John Kerry in 1986 for things John Kerry was saying about the Contras and the NSC and Oliver North. Every single thing John Kerry said was true. The attacks were aggressive, and were based on hopes, wishes, and politics -- partisan politics, not reality. John Kerry's reality was proven -- and it was proven -- when the plane went down in Nicaragua, and it turned out that that was tied to the National Security Council, and money out of Saudi Arabia, and money from the Iranians, and ultimately, as we showed, related in part to narcotics money, at least in other elements of the Contra infrastructure.

There were a lot of people who were mad at John Kerry for having been right. The Reagan administration was, of course, furious. They didn't want him anywhere near the Iran-Contra investigation, because he knew too much and he was too effective. That's what I believe it was about.
-Jonathan Winer, former chief counsel to the Kerry committee (1985-1994), former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement

"What we didn't know was, the time that John Kerry made the decision not to go after Oliver North and to go after the other violations of law that we saw, that Oliver North was going after John Kerry. If you look at Oliver North's diaries, North had people calling him up, and giving him detailed information on every aspect of our investigation. Week after week, month after month, in 1986, Oliver North's diaries have references to John Kerry. North understood that the Kerry investigation was a real risk to his ability to continue to engage in the illegal activity he was engaging in."
-Jonathan Winer, former chief counsel to the Kerry committee (1985-1994), former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement


“It was I who directed the investigation into the death of Camarena” “During this investigation, we discovered that some members of a U.S. intelligence agency, who had infiltrated the DFS (the Mexican Federal Security Directorate), also participated in the kidnapping of Camarena. Two witnesses identified Felix Ismael Rodriguez. They (witnesses) were with the DFS and they told us that, in addition, he (Rodriguez) had identified himself s “U.S. intelligence.”

--EX DEA AGENT HECTOR BERRELLEZ October, 2013. Berrellez lead the murder inestigation "Operation Leyenda"" into the death of DEA agent ENRIQUE "KIKI" CAMARENA

“Caro Quintero had billions of dollars stashed in secret bank accounts in Luxembourg and in Switzerland,” “The one in Luxembourg had $4 billion and the other one had even more.”
“To my knowledge they were never confiscated,”
--EX DEA AGENT HECTOR BERRELLEZ, Forbes Magazine December 5, 2013

“In interrogation room, I was told by Mexican authorities, that CIA operatives were in there. Actually conducting the interrogation. Actually taping Kiki.”
--Phil Jordan (DEA-RET.), former director of the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) October, 2013

"The CIA was the source. They gave them to us," "Obviously, they were there. Or at least some of their contract workers were there."
-EX-DEA Agent Hector Berrellez (COPIES of the audio taped torture session were provided to DEA within a week)

“The CIA ordered the kidnapping and torture of ‘Kiki’ Camarena, and when they killed him, they made us believe it was Caro Quintero in order to cover up all the illegal things they were doing (with drug trafficking) in Mexico” “The DEA is the only (federal agency) with the authority to authorize drug trafficking into the United States as part of an undercover operation”.

“The business with El Bufalo (RAFAEL CARO QUINTERO's RANCH) was nothing compared with the money from the cocaine that was being sold to buy weapons for the CIA”.
--Phil Jordan (DEA-RET.), former director of the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) October, 2013

"I know and from what I have been told by a former head of the Mexican federal police, Comandante (Guillermo Gonzales) Calderoni, the CIA was involved in the movement of drugs from South America to Mexico and to the U.S.,"
--Phil Jordan (DEA-RET.), former director of the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) October, 2013

He (Mexican Judicial Police Officer Guillermo Gonzalez Calderoni) told me: ‘Hector, get out of this business because they’re going to fuck you over. The CIA is involved in that business about ‘Kiki’. It’s very dangerous for you to be in this.’ He gave me names, among them that of Felix, and details and everything, but when my bosses found out, they took me out of the investigation and sent me to Washington.
"He told me, 'Your government did it,' "
--EX DEA AGENT HECTOR BERRELLEZ October, 2013. Calderoni was killed in in McAllen Texas in 2003. His murder remains unsolved.

"Back in the middle 1980's, the DFS, their main role was to protect the drug lords,"
"Upon arrival we were confronted by over 50 DFS agents pointing machine guns and shotguns at us--the DEA. They told us we were not going to take Caro Quintero," "Well, Caro Quintero came up to the plane door waved a bottle of champagne at the DEA agents and said, 'My children, next time, bring more guns.' And laughed at us."
--EX DEA AGENT HECTOR BERRELLEZ October, 2013. (Caro Quintero allegedly carried DFS credentials during the escape flight piloted by a CIA Contractor.)

"Our intelligence agencies were working under the cover of DFS. And as I said it before, unfortunately, DFS agents at that time were also in charge of protecting the drug lords and their monies,"
"After the murder of Camarena, (Mexico's) investigation pointed that the DFS had been complicit along with American intelligence in the kidnap and torture of Kiki. That's when they decided to disband the DFS."

"I know what these men are saying is true, that the Contras were trafficking in drugs while the CIA looked the other way, because I served in the trenches of Latin America for six years when this was going on,"
--EX DEA agent Celerino Castillo III, October, 2013.

“I don’t know of any DEA administrator that I worked for who would have sanctioned cocaine smuggling into the United States in the name of national security, when we are out there risking our lives,”
--Phil Jordan

“Kiki said, ‘That’s horseshit. You’re lining your pockets,’” “He could not believe that the U.S. government could be running drugs into the United States.”
-Phil Jordan

"the use of a drug dealer’s property by the CIA for the purpose of helping the Contras didn’t sit well with the DEA agents."
“That’s the way we’re brought up, so to speak,” he said. “When we see someone running drugs, we want to bust them, not work with them.”
--Phil Jordan

“The Contras were running drugs from Central America and the Contras were providing drugs to street gangs in Los Angeles. That’s your connection.”
--Hector Berrellez

"We've been attacked for this, and our credibility has been questioned, by people who were not involved in the investigation and had no first-hand knowledge of what took place then or what is happening now."
-Phil Jordan

“We’re not saying the CIA murdered Kiki Camarena,” Jordan said. But the “consensual relationship between the Godfathers of Mexico and the CIA that included drug trafficking” contributed to Camarena’s death, he added.
“I don’t have a problem with the CIA conducting covert operations to protect the national security of our country or our allies, but not to engage in criminal activity that leads to the murder of one our agents,”
--Phil Jordan

"We have people in the U.S. witness protection program who say they are willing to give additional statements under oath to a federal agent or federal prosecutor concerning these details," ....I am not an active federal agent, so I can't take the allegations into an indictment process, but interested agents and prosecutors can do this. We're waiting."
-Hector Berrellez

--------------From "The Pariah" by Charles Bowden, Esquire Magazine, September, 1998

"When the Big Dog gets off the porch, watch out."
"The CIA's mission is to break laws and be ruthless. And they are dangerous."

--EX DEA Agent Mike Holm, September, 1998, Esquire Magazine article "The Pariah" by Charles Bowden

"stand down because of national security."

--DEA agent Mike Holm (Holm's superiors at DEA's reaction to reports that Southern Air Transport, a CIA-contracted airline, was landing planeloads of cocaine at Homestead Air Force)

"There ain't no fucking drug war," he says now. "I was even called un-American. Nobody cares about this shit.
"As I read (about Gary Webb), I thought, This shit is true,"

--Hector Berrellez checked into a blank schedule for one year after being transferred to Washington DC desk job. He had ordered a criminal investigation of the CIA and drug trafficking. His informants were "reporting strange fortified bases scattered around Mexico, ...and, his informants told him, the planes were shipping drugs." Berrellez went to Mexico City to meet with his DEA superiors and American-embassy staff, mentioned the reports and was told, Stay away from those bases; they're our training camps, special operations"

"Remarks made by retired Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Phil Jordan and those of other retired DEA agents do not reflect the views of the Drug Enforcement Administration,"
-- DEA statement, 2014

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Response to 777man (Original post)

Wed Nov 26, 2014, 04:37 AM

3. Wash Post is the same rag whose "sainted" media critic Kurtz brought down Rather's career

For daring to question George Bush's nonexistent Texas Air National Guard service, based on reporting done by Walt Starr right here on DU. (in between stints flying vegetables from hothouses in Honduras to Miami for his daddy Bush's company during the 80s -- see how I tied it all together in my note??)

It's hardly surprising they'd serve as a hatchet job on a distinguished former reporter whose career was destroyed by former DIA employee Woodward's favorite agency, the CIA. Merely for telling the truth on a subject that already had precedent in the Air America case involving laundering money for heroin in Southeast Asia (hell, Mel Gibson made a fucking movie about it.)

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Response to 777man (Original post)

Wed Nov 26, 2014, 09:01 AM

5. Signed, Kicked, Recced. n/t


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Wed Nov 26, 2014, 12:09 PM

6. Remember Gary Webb!

The Warning in Gary Webb’s Death

Special Report: Modern American history is more complete because journalist Gary Webb had the courage to revive the dark story of the Reagan administration’s protection of Nicaraguan Contra cocaine traffickers in the 1980s. However, Webb ultimately paid a terrible price, as Robert Parry reports.

By Robert Parry
ConsortiumNews, December 9, 2011

Every year since investigative journalist Gary Webb took his own life in 2004, I have marked the anniversary of that sad event by recalling the debt that American history owes to Webb for his brave reporting, which revived the Contra-cocaine scandal in 1996 and forced important admissions out of the Central Intelligence Agency two years later.

But Webb’s suicide on the evening of Dec. 9, 2004, was also a tragic end for one man whose livelihood and reputation were destroyed by a phalanx of major newspapers – the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times– serving as protectors of a corrupt power structure rather than as sources of honest information.

In reviewing the story again this year, I was struck by how Webb’s Contra-cocaine experience was, in many ways, a precursor to the subsequent tragedy of the Iraq War.

In the 1980s, the CIA’s analytical division was already showing signs of politicization, especially regarding President Ronald Reagan’s beloved Contras and their war against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government – and the U.S. press corps was already bending to the propaganda pressures of a right-wing Republican administration.

Looking back at CIA cables from the early-to-mid-1980s, you can already see the bias dripping from the analytical reports. Any drug accusation against the leftist Sandinistas was accepted without skepticism and usually with strong exaggeration, while the opposite occurred with evidence of Contra cocaine smuggling; then there was endless quibbling and smearing of sources.

So, to put these reports in anything close to an accurate focus, you would need special lenses to correct for all the politicized distortions. Yet, the U.S. news media, which itself was under intense pressure not to appear “liberal,” worsened the Reagan administration’s fun-house reflection of reality and attacked any dissident journalist who wouldn’t go along.

Thus, Americans heard a lot about how the evil Sandinistas were trying to “poison” America’s youth with cocaine, although there was not a single interception of a drug shipment from Nicaragua during the Sandinista reign, except for one planeload of cocaine that the United States flew into and out of Nicaraguan in a clumsy “sting” operation.

On the other hand, substantial evidence of Contra-related cocaine shipments out of Costa Rica and Honduras was kept from the American people with Reagan’s Justice Department and CIA intervening to head off investigations and thus prevent embarrassing disclosures. The chief role of the big newspapers in this upside-down world was to heap ridicule on anyone who told the truth.

During that time frame of the early-to-mid-1980s, the patterns were set for CIA analysts to advance their careers (by giving the president what he wanted) and mainstream journalists to protect theirs (by accepting propaganda). By 2002-2003, these patterns had become deeply engrained, leaving almost no one to protect the American people from a new round of falsehoods – aimed at Iraq.

Though I was not in touch with Webb in the last months of his life in 2004, I have always wondered if he saw this connection between his own valiant efforts to correct the historical record about Contra-cocaine trafficking in 1996 and the victory of lies over truth regarding Iraq’s WMD in 2002-2003.

In the weeks before Webb’s suicide, there also was the intervening fact of George W. Bush’s reelection – and with it, the dashed expectation that the CIA analysts and the mainstream journalists who played along with the Iraq-WMD fabrications might face some serious accountability. At the moment when Webb picked up his father’s pistol and put it to his head, there must have appeared little hope that anything would change.

Indeed, we are now seeing yet another replay of this systematic distortion of information, this time regarding Iran and its alleged nuclear weapons program. Any tidbit of information against Iran is exaggerated, while exculpatory data is downplayed or ignored.

So, it may be timely again to recount what happened to Gary Webb and to reflect on the dangers of allowing this corrupt disinformation system to press ahead unchecked.

Dark Alliance

For me, the tragic story of Gary Webb began in 1996 when he was working on his “Dark Alliance” series for the San Jose Mercury News. He called me at my home in Arlington, Virginia, because, in 1985, I and my Associated Press colleague Brian Barger had been the first journalists to reveal the scandal of Reagan’s Nicaraguan Contras funding themselves in part by collaborating with drug traffickers.

Webb explained that he had come across evidence that one Contra-connected drug conduit had funneled cocaine into Los Angeles, where it helped fuel the early crack epidemic. Unlike our AP stories a decade earlier — which focused on the Contras helping to ship cocaine from Central America into the United States — Webb said his series would examine what happened to the Contra cocaine after it reached the streets of Los Angeles and other cities.

Besides asking about my recollections of the Contras and their cocaine smuggling, Webb wanted to know why the scandal never gained any real traction in the U.S. national news media. I explained that the ugly facts of the drug trafficking ran up against a determined U.S government campaign to protect the Contras’ image. In the face of that resistance, I said, the major publications — the likes of the New York Times and the Washington Post — had chosen to attack the revelations and those behind them rather than to dig up more evidence.

Webb sounded confused by my account, as if I were telling him something that was foreign to his personal experience, something that just didn’t compute. I had a sense of his unstated questions: Why would the prestige newspapers of American journalism behave that way? Why wouldn’t they jump all over a story that important and that sexy, about the CIA working with drug traffickers?

I took a deep breath, sensing that he had no idea of the personal danger he was about to confront. Well, he would have to learn that for himself, I thought. It surely wasn’t my place to warn a journalist away from a significant story just because it carried risks.

So, I simply asked Webb if he had the strong support of his editors. He assured me that he did. I said their backing would be crucial once his story was out. He sounded perplexed, again, as if he didn’t know what to make of my cautionary tone. I wished him the best of luck, thinking that he would need it.

The Safe Route

When I hung up, I wasn’t sure that the Mercury News would really press ahead with the story, considering how the big national news outlets had dismissed and ridiculed the notion that President Reagan’s beloved Contras had included a large number of drug traffickers.

It never seemed to matter how much evidence there was. It was much easier — and safer, career-wise — for Washington journalists to reject incriminating testimony against the Contras, especially when it came from other drug traffickers and from disgruntled Contras. Even U.S. law-enforcement officials who discovered evidence were disparaged as overzealous and congressional investigators were painted as partisan.

In 1985, as we were preparing our first AP story on this topic, Barger and I knew that the evidence of Contra-cocaine involvement was overwhelming. We had a broad range of sources both inside the Contra movement and within the U.S. government, people with no apparent ax to grind who had described the cocaine-smuggling problem.

One source was a field agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); another was a senior official on Reagan’s National Security Council (NSC) who told me that he had read a CIA report about how a Contra unit based in Costa Rica had used cocaine profits to buy a helicopter.

However, after our AP story was published in December 1985, we came under attack from the right-wing Washington Times. That was followed by dismissive stories in the New York Times and the Washington Post. The notion that the Contras, whom President Reagan had likened to America’s Founding Fathers, could be implicated in the drug trade was simply unthinkable.

Yet, it was always odd to me that many of the same newspapers had no problem accepting the fact that the CIA-backed Afghan mujahedeen were involved in the heroin trade, but bristled at the thought that the CIA-backed Nicaraguan Contras might be cut from the same cloth.

A key difference, which I learned both from personal experience and from documents that surfaced during the Iran-Contra scandal, was that Reagan had assigned a young group of ambitious intellectuals such as Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan to oversee the Contra war.

These neoconservatives worked with old-line anticommunists from the Cuban-American community, such as Otto Reich, and CIA propagandists, such as Walter Raymond Jr., to aggressively protect the Contras’ image. And the Contras were always on the edge between getting congressional funding or having it cut off.

So, that combination — the propaganda skills of Reagan’s Contra-support team and the fragile consensus for continuing Reagan’s pet Contra war — meant that any negative publicity about the Contras would be met with a fierce counterattack.

Going to Editors

The neoconservatives were also bright, well-schooled, and skilled in their manipulation of language and information, a process they privately called “perception management.” They proved adept, too, at ingratiating themselves with senior editors at major news outlets.

By the mid-1980s, these patterns had become well-worn in Washington. If a journalist dug up a story that put the Contras in a negative light, he or she could expect the Reagan administration’s propaganda team to make contact with a senior editor or bureau chief and lodge a complaint, apply some pressure, and often offer up some dirt about the offending journalist.

Also, many news executives in that time frame were sympathetic toward Reagan’s hard-line foreign policy, especially after the humiliations of the Vietnam War and the Iranian revolution. Supporting U.S. initiatives abroad — or at least not allowing your reporters to undercut those policies — was seen as patriotic.

At the New York Times, executive editor Abe Rosenthal was one of the news media’s most influential neoconservatives, declaring that he was determined to steer the newspaper back to “the center,” by which he meant to the right.

At AP, general manager Keith Fuller was known to be a strong Reagan supporter and his preferences were sometimes expressed forcefully to AP’s Washington bureau where I worked. At the Washington Post and Newsweek (where I went to work in 1987), there was also a strong sense that Reagan-era scandals should not reach the president, that it would not be “good for the country.”

In other words, on the issue of Contra drug trafficking, there was a confluence of interests between the Reagan administration, which was determined to protect the Contras’ public image, and senior news executives, who wanted to adopt a “patriotic” posture after convincing themselves that the country shouldn’t endure another wrenching battle over wrongdoing by a Republican president.

The popular image of courageous editors standing up for their reporters in the face of government pressure was not the reality, especially not where the Contras were concerned.

Reverse Rewards

So, instead of a process that outsiders might imagine — where journalists who dug out tough stories got rewarded — the actual system worked in the opposite way. The careerists in the news business quickly grasped that the smart play when it came to the Contras was either to be a booster or at least to pooh-pooh evidence of the Contras’ brutality or drug traffickers.

The same rules applied to congressional investigators. Anyone who pried into the dark corners of the Nicaraguan Contra war faced ridicule, as happened to Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts when he followed up the early AP stories with a courageous investigation that discovered more ties between cocaine traffickers and the Contras.

When his Contra-cocaine report was released in 1989, its findings were greeted with yawns and smirks. News articles were buried deep inside the major newspapers and the stories focused more on alleged flaws in his investigation than on his revelations.

For his hard work, Newsweek summed up the prevailing “conventional wisdom” on Kerry by calling him a “randy conspiracy buff.” Being associated with breaking the Contra-cocaine story was also regarded as a black mark on my own career.

To function in this upside-down world, where reality and perception often clashed – and perception usually won – the big news outlets developed a kind of cognitive dissonance that could accept two contradictory positions.

On one level, the news outlets did accept the undeniable reality that some of the Contras and their backers, including the likes of Panamanian General Manuel Noriega, were implicated in the drug trade, but then simultaneously treated this reality as a conspiracy theory.

Squaring the Circle

Only occasionally did a major news outlet seek to square this circle, such as during Noriega’s drug-trafficking trial in 1991 when U.S. prosecutors called as a witness Colombian Medellín cartel kingpin Carlos Lehder, who — along with implicating Noriega — testified that the cartel had given $10 million to the Contras, an allegation first unearthed by Sen. Kerry.

“The Kerry hearings didn’t get the attention they deserved at the time,” a Washington Post editorial on Nov. 27, 1991, acknowledged. “The Noriega trial brings this sordid aspect of the Nicaraguan engagement to fresh public attention.”

However, the Post offered its readers no explanation for why Kerry’s hearings had been largely ignored, with the Post itself a leading culprit in this journalistic misfeasance. Nor did the Post and the other leading newspapers use the opening created by the Noriega trial to do anything to rectify their past neglect.

And, everything quickly returned to the status quo in which the desired perception of the noble Contras trumped the clear reality of their criminal activities.

So, from 1991 until 1996, the Contra-cocaine scandal remained a disturbing story not just about the skewed moral compass of the Reagan administration but also about how the U.S. news media had lost its way.

The scandal was a dirty secret that was best kept out of public view and away from a thorough discussion. After all, the journalistic careerists who had played along with the U.S. government’s Contra defenders had advanced inside their media corporations. As good team players, they had moved up to be bureau chiefs and other news executives. They had no interest in revisiting one of the big stories that they had downplayed as a prerequisite for their success.


Meanwhile, those journalists who had exposed these national security crimes mostly saw their careers sink or at best slide sideways. We were regarded as “pariahs” in our profession. We were “conspiracy theorists,” even though our journalism had proven to be correct again and again.

The Post’s admission that the Contra-cocaine scandal “didn’t get the attention it deserved” didn’t lead to any soul-searching inside the U.S. news media, nor did it result in any rehabilitation of the careers of the reporters who had tried to put a spotlight on this especially vile secret.

As for me, after losing battle after battle with my Newsweek editors (who despised the Iran-Contra scandal that I had worked so hard to expose), I departed the magazine in June 1990 to write a book (called Fooling America) about the decline of the Washington press corps and the parallel rise of the new generation of government propagandists.

I was also hired by PBS Frontline to investigate whether there had been a prequel to the Iran-Contra scandal — whether those arms-for-hostage deals in the mid-1980s had been preceded by contacts between Reagan’s 1980 campaign staff and Iran, which was then holding 52 Americans hostage and essentially destroying Jimmy Carter’s reelection hopes. [For more on that topic, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

Then, in 1995, frustrated by the pervasive triviality that had come to define American journalism — and acting on the advice of and with the assistance of my oldest son Sam — I turned to a new medium and launched the Internet’s first investigative news magazine, known as Consortiumnews.com. The Web site became a way for me to put out well-reported stories that my former mainstream colleagues seemed determined to ignore or mock.

So, when Gary Webb called me that day in 1996, I knew that he was charging into some dangerous journalistic terrain, though he thought he was simply pursuing a great story. After his call, it struck me that perhaps the only way for the Contra-cocaine story to ever get the attention that it deserved was for someone outside the Washington media culture to do the work.

When Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series finally appeared in late August 1996, it initially drew little attention. The major national news outlets applied their usual studied indifference to a topic that they had already judged unworthy of serious attention.

It was also clear that the media careerists who had climbed up their corporate ladders by accepting the conventional wisdom that the Contra-cocaine story was a conspiracy theory weren’t about to look back down and admit that they had contributed to a major journalistic failure to inform and protect the American public.

Hard to Ignore

But Webb’s story proved hard to ignore. First, unlike the work that Barger and I did for AP in the mid-1980s, Webb’s series wasn’t just a story about drug traffickers in Central America and their protectors in Washington. It was about the on-the-ground consequences, inside the United States, of that drug trafficking, how the lives of Americans were blighted and destroyed as the collateral damage of a U.S. foreign policy initiative.

In other words, there were real-life American victims, and they were concentrated in African-American communities. That meant the ever-sensitive issue of race had been injected into the controversy. Anger from black communities spread quickly to the Congressional Black Caucus, which started demanding answers.

Secondly, the San Jose Mercury News, which was the local newspaper for Silicon Valley, had posted documents and audio on its state-of-the-art Internet site. That way, readers could examine much of the documentary support for the series.

It also meant that the traditional “gatekeeper” role of the major newspapers — the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times — was under assault. If a regional paper like the Mercury News could finance a major journalistic investigation like this one, and circumvent the judgments of the editorial boards at the Big Three, then there might be a tectonic shift in the power relations of the U.S. news media. There could be a breakdown of the established order.

This combination of factors led to the next phase of the Contra-cocaine battle: the “get-Gary-Webb” counterattack. The first major shot against Webb and his “Dark Alliance” series did not come from the Big Three but from the rapidly expanding right-wing news media, which was in no mood to accept the notion that some of President Reagan’s beloved Contras were drug traffickers. That would have cast a shadow over the Reagan Legacy, which the Right was elevating to mythic status.

It fell to Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s right-wing Washington Times to begin the anti-Webb vendetta. Moon, a South Korean theocrat who fancied himself the new Messiah, had founded his newspaper in 1982 partly to protect Ronald Reagan’s political flanks and partly to ensure that he had powerful friends in high places. In the mid-1980s, the Washington Times went so far as to raise money to assist Reagan’s Contra “freedom fighters.”

Self-Interested Testimony

To refute Webb’s three-part series, the Washington Times turned to some ex-CIA officials, who had participated in the Contra war, and quoted them denying the story. Soon, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times were lining up behind the Washington Times to trash Webb and his story.

On Oct. 4, 1996, the Washington Post published a front-page article knocking down Webb’s series, although acknowledging that some Contra operatives did help the cocaine cartels.

The Post’s approach was twofold, fitting with the national media’s cognitive dissonance on the topic of Contra cocaine: first, the Post presented the Contra-cocaine allegations as old news — “even CIA personnel testified to Congress they knew that those covert operations involved drug traffickers,” the Post sniffed — and second, the Post minimized the importance of the one Contra smuggling channel that Webb had highlighted in his series, saying that it had not “played a major role in the emergence of crack.”

A Post sidebar story dismissed African-Americans as prone to “conspiracy fears.”

Next, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times weighed in with lengthy articles castigating Webb and “Dark Alliance.” The big newspapers made much of the CIA’s internal reviews in 1987 and 1988 — almost a decade earlier — that supposedly had cleared the spy agency of any role in Contra-cocaine smuggling.

But the CIA’s cover-up began to weaken on Oct. 24, 1996, when CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz conceded before the Senate Intelligence Committee that the first CIA probe had lasted only12 days, and the second only three days. He promised a more thorough review.

Mocking Webb

Webb, however, had already crossed over from being a serious journalist to a target of ridicule. Influential Post media critic Howard Kurtz mocked Webb for saying in a book proposal that he would explore the possibility that the Contra war was primarily a business to its participants. “Oliver Stone, check your voice mail,” Kurtz chortled.

However, Webb’s suspicion was no conspiracy theory. Indeed, White House aide Oliver North’s chief Contra emissary, Robert Owen, had made the same point in a March 17, 1986, message about the Contras leadership. “Few of the so-called leaders of the movement . . . really care about the boys in the field,” Owen wrote. “THIS WAR HAS BECOME A BUSINESS TO MANY OF THEM.” [Emphasis in original.]

In other words, Webb was right and Kurtz was wrong, even Oliver North’s emissary had reported that many Contra leaders treated the conflict as “a business.” But accuracy had ceased to be relevant in the media’s hazing of Gary Webb.

In another double standard, while Webb was held to the strictest standards of journalism, it was entirely all right for Kurtz — the supposed arbiter of journalistic integrity who was also featured on CNN’s Reliable Sources — to make judgments based on ignorance. Kurtz would face no repercussions for mocking a fellow journalist who was factually correct.

The Big Three’s assault — combined with their disparaging tone — had a predictable effect on the executives of the Mercury News. As it turned out, Webb’s confidence in his editors had been misplaced. By early 1997, executive editor Jerry Ceppos, who had his own corporate career to worry about, was in retreat.

On May 11, 1997, Ceppos published a front-page column saying the series “fell short of my standards.” He criticized the stories because they “strongly implied CIA knowledge” of Contra connections to U.S. drug dealers who were manufacturing crack cocaine. “We did not have enough proof that top CIA officials knew of the relationship,” Ceppos wrote.

Ceppos was wrong about the proof, of course. At AP, before we published our first Contra-cocaine article in 1985, Barger and I had known that the CIA and Reagan’s White House were aware of the Contra-cocaine problem.

However, Ceppos had recognized that he and his newspaper were facing a credibility crisis brought on by the harsh consensus delivered by the Big Three, a judgment that had quickly solidified into conventional wisdom throughout the major news media and inside Knight-Ridder, Inc., which owned the Mercury News. The only career-saving move – career-saving for Ceppos even if career-destroying for Webb – was to jettison Webb and his journalism.

A ‘Vindication’

The big newspapers and the Contras’ defenders celebrated Ceppos’s retreat as vindication of their own dismissal of the Contra-cocaine stories. In particular, Kurtz seemed proud that his demeaning of Webb now had the endorsement of Webb’s editor.

Ceppos next pulled the plug on the Mercury News’ continuing Contra-cocaine investigation and reassigned Webb to a small office in Cupertino, California, far from his family. Webb resigned from the paper in disgrace.

For undercutting Webb and other Mercury News reporters working on the Contra-cocaine investigation, Ceppos was lauded by the American Journalism Review and was given the 1997 national Ethics in Journalism Award by the Society of Professional Journalists.

While Ceppos won raves, Webb watched his career collapse and his marriage break up. Still, Gary Webb had set in motion internal government investigations that would bring to the surface long-hidden facts about how the Reagan administration had conducted the Contra war.

The CIA published the first part of Inspector General Hitz’s findings on Jan. 29, 1998. Though the CIA’s press release for the report criticized Webb and defended the CIA, Hitz’s Volume One admitted that not only were many of Webb’s allegations true but that he actually understated the seriousness of the Contra-drug crimes and the CIA’s knowledge of them.

Hitz conceded that cocaine smugglers played a significant early role in the Contra movement and that the CIA intervened to block an image-threatening 1984 federal investigation into a San Francisco–based drug ring with suspected ties to the Contras, the so-called “Frogman Case.”

After Volume One was released, I called Webb (whom I had met personally since his series was published). I chided him for indeed getting the story “wrong.” He had understated how serious the problem of Contra-cocaine trafficking had been.

It was a form of gallows humor for the two of us, since nothing had changed in the way the major newspapers treated the Contra-cocaine issue. They focused only on the press release that continued to attack Webb, while ignoring the incriminating information that could be found in the body of the report. All I could do was highlight those admissions at Consortiumnews.com, which sadly had a much, much smaller readership than the Big Three.

Looking the Other Way

The major U.S. news media also looked the other way on other startling disclosures.

On May 7, 1998, for instance, Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, introduced into the Congressional Record a Feb. 11, 1982, letter of understanding between the CIA and the Justice Department. The letter, which had been requested by CIA Director William Casey, freed the CIA from legal requirements that it must report drug smuggling by CIA assets, a provision that covered both the Nicaraguan Contras and the Afghan mujahedeen.

In other words, early in those two covert wars, the CIA leadership wanted to make sure that its geopolitical objectives would not be complicated by a legal requirement to turn in its client forces for drug trafficking.

The next break in the long-running Contra-cocaine cover-up was a report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Bromwich.

Given the hostile climate surrounding Webb’s series, Bromwich’s report also opened with criticism of Webb. But, like the CIA’s Volume One, the contents revealed new details about government wrongdoing. According to evidence cited by Bromwich, the Reagan administration knew almost from the outset of the Contra war that cocaine traffickers permeated the paramilitary operation. The administration also did next to nothing to expose or stop the crimes.

Bromwich’s report revealed example after example of leads not followed, corroborated witnesses disparaged, official law-enforcement investigations sabotaged, and even the CIA facilitating the work of drug traffickers.

The report showed that the Contras and their supporters ran several parallel drug-smuggling operations, not just the one at the center of Webb’s series. The report also found that the CIA shared little of its information about Contra drugs with law-enforcement agencies and on three occasions disrupted cocaine-trafficking investigations that threatened the Contras.

As well as depicting a more widespread Contra-drug operation than Webb had understood, the Justice Department report provided some important corroboration about a Nicaraguan drug smuggler, Norwin Meneses, who was a key figure in Webb’s series.

Bromwich cited U.S. government informants who supplied detailed information about Meneses’s drug operation and his financial assistance to the Contras. For instance, Renato Pena, a money-and-drug courier for Meneses, said that in the early 1980s the CIA allowed the Contras to fly drugs into the United States, sell them, and keep the proceeds.

Pena, who was the northern California representative for the CIA-backed Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN) Contra army, said the drug trafficking was forced on the Contras by the inadequate levels of U.S. government assistance.

DEA Troubles

The Justice Department report also disclosed repeated examples of the CIA and U.S. embassies in Central America discouraging DEA investigations, including one into Contra-cocaine shipments moving through the international airport in El Salvador.

Inspector General Bromwich said secrecy trumped all. “We have no doubt that the CIA and the U.S. Embassy were not anxious for the DEA to pursue its investigation at the airport,” he wrote.

Bromwich also described the curious case of how a DEA pilot helped a CIA asset escape from Costa Rican authorities in 1989 after the man, American farmer John Hull, had been charged in connection with Contra-cocaine trafficking.

Hull’s ranch in northern Costa Rica had been the site of Contra camps for attacking Nicaragua from the south. For years, Contra-connected witnesses also said Hull’s property was used for the transshipment of cocaine en route to the United States, but those accounts were brushed aside by the Reagan administration and disparaged in major U.S. newspapers.

Yet, according to Bromwich’s report, the DEA took the accounts seriously enough to prepare a research report on the evidence in November 1986. In it, one informant described Colombian cocaine off-loaded at an airstrip on Hull’s ranch. The drugs were then concealed in a shipment of frozen shrimp and transported to the United States.

The alleged Costa Rican shipper was Frigorificos de Puntarenas, a firm controlled by Cuban-American Luis Rodriguez. Like Hull, however, Frigorificos had friends in high places. In 1985-86, the State Department had selected the shrimp company to handle $261,937 in non-lethal assistance earmarked for the Contras.

Hull also remained a man with powerful protectors. Even after Costa Rican authorities brought drug charges against him, influential Americans, including Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Indiana, demanded that Hull be let out of jail pending trial. Then, in July 1989 with the help of a DEA pilot – and possibly a DEA agent – Hull managed to fly out of Costa Rica to Haiti and then to the United States. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “John Hull’s Great Escape.”]

Despite these new disclosures, the big newspapers still showed no inclination to read beyond the criticism of Webb in the press release and the executive summary.

Major Disclosures

By fall 1998, Washington was obsessed with President Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, which made it easier to ignore even more stunning Contra-cocaine disclosures in the CIA’s Volume Two, published on Oct. 8, 1998.

In the report, CIA Inspector General Hitz identified more than 50 Contras and Contra-related entities implicated in the drug trade. He also detailed how the Reagan administration had protected these drug operations and frustrated federal investigations throughout the 1980s.

According to Volume Two, the CIA knew the criminal nature of its Contra clients from the start of the war against Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government. The earliest Contra force, called the Nicaraguan Revolutionary Democratic Alliance (ADREN) or the 15th of September Legion, had chosen “to stoop to criminal activities in order to feed and clothe their cadre,” according to a June 1981 draft of a CIA field report.

According to a September 1981 cable to CIA headquarters, two ADREN members made the first delivery of drugs to Miami in July 1981. ADREN’s leaders included Enrique Bermúdez and other early Contras who would later direct the major Contra army, the CIA-organized FDN which was based in Honduras, along Nicaragua’s northern border.

Throughout the war, Bermúdez remained the top Contra military commander. The CIA later corroborated the allegations about ADREN’s cocaine trafficking, but insisted that Bermúdez had opposed the drug shipments to the United States that went ahead nonetheless.

The truth about Bermúdez’s supposed objections to drug trafficking, however, was less clear. According to Hitz’s Volume One, Bermúdez enlisted Norwin Meneses, a large-scale Nicaraguan cocaine smuggler and a key figure in Webb’s series, to raise money and buy supplies for the Contras.

Volume One had quoted a Meneses associate, another Nicaraguan trafficker named Danilo Blandón, who told Hitz’s investigators that he and Meneses flew to Honduras to meet with Bermúdez in 1982. At the time, Meneses’s criminal activities were well-known in the Nicaraguan exile community. But Bermúdez told the cocaine smugglers that “the ends justify the means” in raising money for the Contras.

After the Bermúdez meeting, Contra soldiers helped Meneses and Blandón get past Honduran police who briefly arrested them on drug-trafficking suspicions. After their release, Blandón and Meneses traveled on to Bolivia to complete a cocaine transaction.

There were other indications of Bermúdez’s drug-smuggling tolerance. In February 1988, another Nicaraguan exile linked to the drug trade accused Bermúdez of participation in narcotics trafficking, according to Hitz’s report. After the Contra war ended, Bermúdez returned to Managua, Nicaragua, where he was shot to death on Feb. 16, 1991. The murder has never been solved.

The Southern Front

Along the Southern Front, the Contras’ military operations in Costa Rica on Nicaragua’s southern border, the CIA’s drug evidence centered on the forces of Edén Pastora, another top Contra commander. But Hitz discovered that the U.S. government may have made the drug situation worse, not better.

Hitz revealed that the CIA put an admitted drug operative — known by his CIA pseudonym “Ivan Gomez” — in a supervisory position over Pastora. Hitz reported that the CIA discovered Gomez’s drug history in 1987 when Gomez failed a security review on drug-trafficking questions.

In internal CIA interviews, Gomez admitted that in March or April 1982, he helped family members who were engaged in drug trafficking and money laundering. In one case, Gomez said he assisted his brother and brother-in-law in transporting cash from New York City to Miami. He admitted that he “knew this act was illegal.”

Later, Gomez expanded on his admission, describing how his family members had fallen $2 million into debt and had gone to Miami to run a money-laundering center for drug traffickers. Gomez said “his brother had many visitors whom [Gomez] assumed to be in the drug trafficking business.” Gomez’s brother was arrested on drug charges in June 1982. Three months later, in September 1982, Gomez started his CIA assignment in Costa Rica.

Years later, convicted drug trafficker Carlos Cabezas alleged that in the early 1980s, Ivan Gomez was the CIA agent in Costa Rica who was overseeing drug-money donations to the Contras. Gomez “was to make sure the money was given to the right people [the Contras] and nobody was taking . . . profit they weren’t supposed to,” Cabezas stated publicly.

But the CIA sought to discredit Cabezas at the time because he had trouble identifying Gomez’s picture and put Gomez at one meeting in early 1982 before Gomez started his CIA assignment.

While the CIA was able to fend off Cabezas’s allegations by pointing to these discrepancies, Hitz’s report revealed that the CIA was nevertheless aware of Gomez’s direct role in drug-money laundering, a fact the agency hid from Sen. Kerry in his 1987 investigation.

Cocaine Coup

There was also more to know about Gomez. In November 1985, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) learned from an informant that Gomez’s two brothers had been large-scale cocaine importers, with one brother arranging shipments from Bolivia’s infamous drug kingpin Roberto Suarez.

Suarez already was known as a financier of right-wing causes. In 1980, with the support of Argentina’s hard-line anticommunist military regime, Suarez bankrolled a coup in Bolivia that ousted the elected left-of-center government. The violent putsch became known as the Cocaine Coup because it made Bolivia the region’s first narco-state.

By protecting cocaine shipments headed north, Bolivia’s government helped transform Colombia’s Medellín cartel from a struggling local operation into a giant corporate-style business for delivering cocaine to the U.S. market.

Flush with cash in the early 1980s, Suarez invested more than $30 million in various right-wing paramilitary operations, including the Contra forces in Central America, according to U.S. Senate testimony by an Argentine intelligence officer, Leonardo Sanchez-Reisse.

In 1987, Sanchez-Reisse said the Suarez drug money was laundered through front companies in Miami before going to Central America. There, other Argentine intelligence officers — veterans of the Bolivian coup — trained the Contras in the early 1980s, even before the CIA arrived to first assist with the training and later take over the Contra operation from the Argentines.

Inspector General Hitz added another piece to the mystery of the Bolivian-Contra connection. One Contra fund-raiser, Jose Orlando Bolanos, boasted that the Argentine government was supporting his Contra activities, according to a May 1982 cable to CIA headquarters. Bolanos made the statement during a meeting with undercover DEA agents in Florida. He even offered to introduce them to his Bolivian cocaine supplier.

Despite all this suspicious drug activity centered around Ivan Gomez and the Contras, the CIA insisted that it did not unmask Gomez until 1987, when he failed a security check and confessed his role in his family’s drug business. The CIA official who interviewed Gomez concluded that “Gomez directly participated in illegal drug transactions, concealed participation in illegal drug transactions, and concealed information about involvement in illegal drug activity,” Hitz wrote.

Protecting Gomez

But senior CIA officials still protected Gomez. They refused to refer the Gomez case to the Justice Department, citing the 1982 agreement that spared the CIA from a legal obligation to report narcotics crimes by people collaborating with the CIA who were not formal agency employees.

Gomez was an independent contractor who worked for the CIA but was not officially on staff. The CIA eased Gomez out of the agency in February 1988, without alerting law enforcement or the congressional oversight committees.

When questioned about the case nearly a decade later, one senior CIA official who had supported the gentle treatment of Gomez had second thoughts. “It is a striking commentary on me and everyone that this guy’s involvement in narcotics didn’t weigh more heavily on me or the system,” the official acknowledged to Hitz’s investigators.

A Medellín drug connection arose in another section of Hitz’s report, when he revealed evidence suggesting that some Contra trafficking may have been sanctioned by Reagan’s NSC. The protagonist for this part of the Contra-cocaine mystery was Moises Nunez, a Cuban-American who worked for Oliver North’s NSC Contra-support operation and for two drug-connected seafood importers, Ocean Hunter in Miami and Frigorificos De Puntarenas in Costa Rica.

Frigorificos De Puntarenas was created in the early 1980s as a cover for drug-money laundering, according to sworn testimony by two of the firm’s principals — Carlos Soto and Medellín cartel accountant Ramon Milian Rodriguez. (It was also the company implicated by a DEA informant in moving cocaine from John Hull’s ranch to the United States.)

Drug allegations were swirling around Moises Nunez by the mid-1980s. Indeed, his operation was one of the targets of my and Barger’s AP investigation in 1985. Finally reacting to these suspicions, the CIA questioned Nunez about his alleged cocaine trafficking on March 25, 1987. He responded by pointing the finger at his NSC superiors.

“Nunez revealed that since 1985, he had engaged in a clandestine relationship with the National Security Council,” Hitz reported, adding: “Nunez refused to elaborate on the nature of these actions, but indicated it was difficult to answer questions relating to his involvement in narcotics trafficking because of the specific tasks he had performed at the direction of the NSC. Nunez refused to identify the NSC officials with whom he had been involved.”

After this first round of questioning, CIA headquarters authorized an additional session, but then senior CIA officials reversed the decision. There would be no further efforts at “debriefing Nunez.”

Hitz noted that “the cable [from headquarters] offered no explanation for the decision” to stop the Nunez interrogation. But the CIA’s Central American Task Force chief Alan Fiers Jr. said the Nunez-NSC drug lead was not pursued “because of the NSC connection and the possibility that this could be somehow connected to the Private Benefactor program [the Contra money handled by North] a decision was made not to pursue this matter.”

Joseph Fernandez, who had been the CIA’s station chief in Costa Rica, confirmed to congressional Iran-Contra investigators that Nunez “was involved in a very sensitive operation” for North’s “Enterprise.” The exact nature of that NSC-authorized activity has never been divulged.

At the time of the Nunez-NSC drug admissions and his truncated interrogation, the CIA’s acting director was Robert Gates, who nearly two decades later became President George W. Bush’s second secretary of defense, a position he retained under President Barack Obama.

Drug Record

The CIA also worked directly with other drug-connected Cuban-Americans on the Contra project, Hitz found. One of Nunez’s Cuban-American associates, Felipe Vidal, had a criminal record as a narcotics trafficker in the 1970s. But the CIA still hired him to serve as a logistics coordinator for the Contras, Hitz reported.

The CIA also learned that Vidal’s drug connections were not only in the past. A December 1984 cable to CIA headquarters revealed Vidal’s ties to Rene Corvo, another Cuban-American suspected of drug trafficking. Corvo was working with Cuban anticommunist Frank Castro, who was viewed as a Medellín cartel representative within the Contra movement.

There were other narcotics links to Vidal. In January 1986, the DEA in Miami seized 414 pounds of cocaine concealed in a shipment of yucca that was going from a Contra operative in Costa Rica to Ocean Hunter, the company where Vidal (and Moises Nunez) worked. Despite the evidence, Vidal remained a CIA employee as he collaborated with Frank Castro’s assistant, Rene Corvo, in raising money for the Contras, according to a CIA memo in June 1986.

By fall 1986, Sen. Kerry had heard enough rumors about Vidal to demand information about him as part of his congressional inquiry into Contra drugs. But the CIA withheld the derogatory information in its files. On Oct. 15, 1986, Kerry received a briefing from the CIA’s Alan Fiers Jr., who didn’t mention Vidal’s drug arrests and conviction in the 1970s.

But Vidal was not yet in the clear. In 1987, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami began investigating Vidal, Ocean Hunter, and other Contra-connected entities. This prosecutorial attention worried the CIA. The CIA’s Latin American division felt it was time for a security review of Vidal. But on Aug. 5, 1987, the CIA’s security office blocked the review for fear that the Vidal drug information “could be exposed during any future litigation.”

As expected, the U.S. Attorney’s Office did request documents about “Contra-related activities” by Vidal, Ocean Hunter, and 16 other entities. The CIA advised the prosecutor that “no information had been found regarding Ocean Hunter,” a statement that was clearly false. The CIA continued Vidal’s employment as an adviser to the Contra movement until 1990, virtually the end of the Contra war.

FDN Connections

Hitz also revealed that drugs tainted the highest levels of the Honduran-based FDN, the largest Contra army. Hitz found that Juan Rivas, a Contra commander who rose to be chief of staff, admitted that he had been a cocaine trafficker in Colombia before the war.

The CIA asked Rivas, known as El Quiche, about his background after the DEA began suspecting that Rivas might be an escaped convict from a Colombian prison. In interviews with CIA officers, Rivas acknowledged that he had been arrested and convicted of packaging and transporting cocaine for the drug trade in Barranquilla, Colombia. After several months in prison, Rivas said, he escaped and moved to Central America, where he joined the Contras.

Defending Rivas, CIA officials insisted that there was no evidence that Rivas engaged in trafficking while with the Contras. But one CIA cable noted that he lived an expensive lifestyle, even keeping a $100,000 Thoroughbred horse at the Contra camp. Contra military commander Bermúdez later attributed Rivas’s wealth to his ex-girlfriend’s rich family. But a CIA cable in March 1989 added that “some in the FDN may have suspected at the time that the father-in-law was engaged in drug trafficking.”

Still, the CIA moved quickly to protect Rivas from exposure and possible extradition to Colombia. In February 1989, CIA headquarters asked that the DEA take no action “in view of the serious political damage to the U.S. Government that could occur should the information about Rivas become public.” Rivas was eased out of the Contra leadership with an explanation of poor health. With U.S. government help, he was allowed to resettle in Miami. Colombia was not informed about his fugitive status.

Another senior FDN official implicated in the drug trade was its chief spokesman in Honduras, Arnoldo Jose “Frank” Arana.

The drug allegations against Arana dated back to 1983 when a federal narcotics task force put him under criminal investigation because of plans “to smuggle 100 kilograms of cocaine into the United States from South America.” On Jan. 23, 1986, the FBI reported that Arana and his brothers were involved in a drug-smuggling enterprise, although Arana was not charged.

Arana sought to clear up another set of drug suspicions in 1989 by visiting the DEA in Honduras with a business associate, Jose Perez. Arana’s association with Perez, however, only raised new alarms. If “Arana is mixed up with the Perez brothers, he is probably dirty,” the DEA said.

Drug Airlines

Through their ownership of an air services company called SETCO, the Perez brothers were associated with Juan Matta-Ballesteros, a major cocaine kingpin connected to the murder of a DEA agent, according to reports by the DEA and U.S. Customs. Hitz reported that someone at the CIA scribbled a note on a DEA cable about Arana stating: “Arnold Arana . . . still active and working, we [CIA] may have a problem.”

Despite its drug ties to Matta-Ballesteros, SETCO emerged as the principal company for ferrying supplies to the Contras in Honduras. During congressional Iran-Contra hearings, FDN political leader Adolfo Calero testified that SETCO was paid from bank accounts controlled by Oliver North. SETCO also received $185,924 from the State Department for ferrying supplies to the Contras in 1986. Furthermore, Hitz found that other air transport companies used by the Contras were implicated in the cocaine trade as well.

Even FDN leaders suspected that they were shipping supplies to Central America aboard planes that might be returning with drugs. Mario Calero, the chief of Contra logistics, grew so uneasy about one air freight company that he notified U.S. law enforcement that the FDN only chartered the planes for the flights south, not the return flights north.

Hitz found that some drug pilots simply rotated from one sector of the Contra operation to another. Donaldo Frixone, who had a drug record in the Dominican Republic, was hired by the CIA to fly Contra missions from 1983 to 1985. In September 1986, however, Frixone was implicated in smuggling 19,000 pounds of marijuana into the United States. In late 1986 or early 1987, he went to work for Vortex, another U.S.-paid Contra supply company linked to the drug trade.

By the time that Hitz’s Volume Two was published in fall 1998, the CIA’s defense against Webb’s series had shrunk to a 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, Congress, and even the CIA’s own analytical division.

Besides tracing the evidence of Contra-drug trafficking through the decade-long Contra war, the inspector general interviewed senior CIA officers who acknowledged that they were aware of the Contra-drug problem but didn’t want its exposure to undermine the struggle to overthrow Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government.

According to Hitz, the CIA had “one overriding priority: to oust the Sandinista government. . . . [CIA officers] were determined that the various difficulties they encountered not be allowed to prevent effective implementation of the Contra program.” One CIA field officer explained, “The focus was to get the job done, get the support and win the war.”

Hitz also recounted complaints from CIA analysts that CIA operations officers handling the Contras hid evidence of Contra-drug trafficking even from the CIA’s analysts.

Because of the withheld evidence, the CIA analysts incorrectly concluded in the mid-1980s that “only a handful of Contras might have been involved in drug trafficking.” That false assessment was passed on to Congress and to major news organizations — serving as an important basis for denouncing Gary Webb and his “Dark Alliance” series in 1996.

CIA Admission

Although Hitz’s report was an extraordinary admission of institutional guilt by the CIA, it went almost unnoticed by the big American newspapers.

On Oct. 10, 1998, two days after Hitz’s Volume Two was posted on the CIA’s Web site, the New York Times published a brief article that continued to deride Webb but acknowledged the Contra-drug problem may have been worse than earlier understood. Several weeks later, the Washington Post weighed in with a similarly superficial article. The Los Angeles Times never published a story on the release of Hitz’s Volume Two.

In 2000, the House Intelligence Committee grudgingly acknowledged that the stories about Reagan’s CIA protecting Contra drug traffickers were true. The committee released a report citing classified testimony from CIA Inspector General Britt Snider (Hitz’s successor) admitting that the spy agency had turned a blind eye to evidence of Contra-drug smuggling and generally treated drug smuggling through Central America as a low priority.

“In the end the objective of unseating the Sandinistas appears to have taken precedence over dealing properly with potentially serious allegations against those with whom the agency was working,” Snider said, adding that the CIA did not treat the drug allegations in “a consistent, reasoned or justifiable manner.”

The House committee — then controlled by Republicans — still downplayed the significance of the Contra-cocaine scandal, but the panel acknowledged, deep inside its report, that in some cases, “CIA employees did nothing to verify or disprove drug trafficking information, even when they had the opportunity to do so. In some of these, receipt of a drug allegation appeared to provoke no specific response, and business went on as usual.”

Like the release of Hitz’s report in 1998, the admissions by Snider and the House committee drew virtually no media attention in 2000 — except for a few articles on the Internet, including one at Consortiumnews.com.

Unrepentant Press

Because of this misuse of power by the Big Three newspapers — choosing to conceal their own journalistic failings regarding the Contra-cocaine scandal and to protect the Reagan administration’s image — Webb’s reputation was never rehabilitated.

After his original “Dark Alliance” series was published in 1996, Webb had been inundated with attractive book offers from major publishing houses, but once the vilification began, the interest evaporated. Webb’s agent contacted an independent publishing house, Seven Stories Press, which had a reputation for publishing books that had been censored, and it took on the project.

After Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion was published in 1998, I joined Webb in a few speaking appearances on the West Coast, including one packed book talk at the Midnight Special bookstore in Santa Monica, California. For a time, Webb was treated as a celebrity on the American Left, but that gradually faded.

In our interactions during these joint appearances, I found Webb to be a regular guy who seemed to be holding up fairly well under the terrible pressure. He had landed an investigative job with a California state legislative committee. He also felt some measure of vindication when CIA Inspector General Hitz’s reports came out.

However, Webb never could overcome the pain caused by his betrayal at the hands of his journalistic colleagues, his peers. In the years that followed, Webb was unable to find decent-paying work in his profession — the conventional wisdom remained that he had somehow been exposed as a journalistic fraud. His state job ended; his marriage fell apart; he struggled to pay bills; and he was faced with a move out of a modest rental house near Sacramento, California.

On Dec. 9, 2004, the 49-year-old Webb typed out suicide notes to his ex-wife and his three children; laid out a certificate for his cremation; and taped a note on the door telling movers — who were coming the next morning — to instead call 911. Webb then took out his father’s pistol and shot himself in the head. The first shot was not lethal, so he fired once more.

Even with Webb’s death, the big newspapers that had played key roles in his destruction couldn’t bring themselves to show Webb any mercy. After Webb’s body was found, I received a call from a reporter for the Los Angeles Times who knew that I was one of Webb’s few journalistic colleagues who had defended him and his work.

I told the reporter that American history owed a great debt to Gary Webb because he had forced out important facts about Reagan-era crimes. But I added that the Los Angeles Times would be hard-pressed to write an honest obituary because the newspaper had not published a single word on the contents of Hitz’s final report, which had largely vindicated Webb.

To my disappointment but not my surprise, I was correct. The Los Angeles Times ran a mean-spirited obituary that made no mention of either my defense of Webb, nor the CIA’s admissions in 1998. The obituary was republished in other newspapers, including the Washington Post.

In effect, Webb’s suicide enabled senior editors at the Big Three newspapers to breathe a little easier — one of the few people who understood the ugly story of the Reagan administration’s cover-up of the Contra-cocaine scandal and the U.S. media’s complicity was now silenced.

To this day, none of the journalists or media critics who participated in the destruction of Gary Webb has paid a price for their actions. None has faced the sort of humiliation that Webb had to endure. None had to experience that special pain of standing up for what is best in the profession of journalism — taking on a difficult story that seeks to hold powerful people accountable for serious crimes — and then being vilified by your own colleagues, the people that you expected to understand and appreciate what you had done.

On the contrary, many were rewarded with professional advancement and lucrative careers. For instance, Howard Kurtz still hosts the CNN program, “Reliable Sources,” which lectures journalists on professional standards.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.



DEAR FORUM HOSTS: Thanks to blm and DU, Robert Parry allows DU full use of his articles. Thank you!

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Response to 777man (Original post)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 03:55 AM

10. I don't know why Focus Features

would greenlight, finance, produce and promote the film, only to then NOT distribute it...

Do I have that right? What am I missing here??

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #10)

Thu Nov 27, 2014, 09:28 AM

12. Focus is the US market distributor, they did not greenlight, finanance nor produce the film


Bluegrass Films and The Combine were the production entities. Focus is distributor just for the US market. I think the film is going to do quite well in after markets, which is where the action is for films of this size and nature.
I would urge people who support the film, be they DU posters or the director's close supporters, to emphasize the fact that it is a good movie filled with excellent actors which is about a fascinating subject. Emphasis on the importance of the facts it tells is not a winning way to market a narrative film to a wider audience and a terrible choice for trying to motivate a distributor to push harder.

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Response to 777man (Original post)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 04:51 PM

15. Maybe it's time to sell DVDS and have viewing parties across the country


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Response to Wella (Reply #15)

Fri Nov 28, 2014, 11:47 PM

17. That maybe the only way to inform the people of the unbelievable corruption, some of it documented

in this thread, that our government has been and still is, engaged in.

Because we know the complicit media will never do it, they are part of the corruption. Especially the NY Post and NY Times.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #17)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 12:21 AM

18. I know. We have no idea, sometimes, what is being done in our name.


This is very important.

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Response to Wella (Reply #18)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 02:46 PM

21. I agree and it is happening to an extent now that people have other sources to communicate

with, such as the Internet. More information is available now than ever before so hopefully eventually we WILL have a much more informed population.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #21)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 06:07 PM

23. But that also increases the amount of misinformation


Sometimes you wonder who is behind even websites you trust.

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Response to 777man (Original post)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 12:03 PM

20. k & r & thanks! n/t


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Response to 777man (Original post)

Sat Nov 29, 2014, 03:12 PM

22. No. Webb is a confirmed Third Wayer.


Forget it.

His ambitions is over before it started

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Response to 777man (Original post)

Tue Dec 9, 2014, 03:37 AM

25. Petition Update/Tid Bits

Thank you everyone for the support with this film! I'm just someone trying to help spread and update news on it

Focus Features uncharacteristically added 19 theaters to show Kill the Messenger this weekend. Considering they had it playing in only 8 last weekend, it is a noticeable change. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekend&id=killthemessenger.htm

Focus continued to run weekly nation-wide commercials with the October release date though, despite keeping the film (mostly) inaccessible. No clue what their motive is there, but for now that's a lot of money down the drain for the same commercial that rarely played before or while the film was in triple-digit theaters.

Here is a brief article explaining how quickly Focus Features initially jumped on the project:

Since Focus Features was forced to close down their international branch at the end of last year, its parent company--Universal Pictures--is currently controlling a good amount of the foreign distribution through its other subsidiaries. There's already a number of red flags coming up for how the film is being treated in some markets, especially the UK. As a result, the petition is set up to send an e-mail to both Focus Features and Universal Pictures whenever it is signed. The gesture, at the very least, may serve as an indicator to non-Universal foreign subsidiaries that there is a wide audience for the film that hasn't been given the chance.

Thank you again for your support, please sign and share as much as possible!

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Response to killthemessengerfilm (Reply #25)

Wed Dec 10, 2014, 02:38 AM



Thanks for the information KTM (Is this Red Rusty?)

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Response to 777man (Original post)

Wed Dec 10, 2014, 02:39 AM

27. K&R

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