FREEDOM OF THE PRESS, US STYLE

Who killed Gary Webb?

G webb
HAVANA (5 January 2005) -- LIKE no other journalist before him, with an incredible cynicism, he exposed the CIA's evil schemes in the drug world and revealed to the US public how the country's black neighborhoods were inundated with crack as part of drug trafficking designed to supply the Nicaraguan Contras with money and weapons.

He denounced narco-terrorist Luis Posada Carriles and his accomplices who were involved in that criminal transaction. And he ended up being shot in his home with two bullets in his face. A suicide, reported the judicial authorities.

US reporters are in mourning. Gary Webb, who was discovered dead on Friday, December 10, in his Carmichael home in California, was for many a model of professionalism and integrity. He was 49 years of age.

In August, 1996, when he worked at the San José Mercury News, Webb disclosed how the CIA sold tons of crack in Los Angeles neighbourhoods and afterwards used the money from this trafficking to finance the operations of the Nicaraguan Contras who were then trying to overthrow Nicaragua's Sandinista government.

His revelations were published in all the Knight-Ridder papers. All of them… except the Miami Herald, the paper that has ties with the Cuban-American drug-trafficking terrorist mafia.

His investigation, impressive for its seriousness and scope, caused a national stir.

In their book Whiteout: the CIA, Drugs and the Press, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, journalists from the well known web site Counterpunch.com, detailed how Webb was the victim of a veritable campaign aimed at destroying his reputation.

The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times distinguished themselves in this dirty work.

"The attack on Gary Webb and his series in the San Jose Mercury News remains one of the most venomous and factually inane assaults on a professional journalist's competence in living memory. In the mainstream press he found virtually no defenders, and those who dared to stand up for him themselves became the object of virulent abuse and misrepresentation."

Webb resigned from San José Mercury News in 1997. You could no longer read his work in any well known newspaper.

In 1990 Webb was among a group of reporters selected for the Pulitzer Prize, the most prestigious in the world of US journalism, for a work on the Loma Prieta earthquake, but according to his relatives, he never recovered from the scandal caused by his series denouncing the CIA.

In 1999 he defended his famous investigation by publishing a book entitled Dark Alliance: the CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion, which made a strong impact.

Posada, drug trafficker

Among the most interesting revelations is the case of Luis Posada Carriles.

In Dark Alliance, relying on some of the CIA's declassified documents, Webb revealed how in January 1974 the CIA rejected Posada's request for "a Venezuelan passport" for one of his buddies because, the author wrote in all seriousness, "a control agent could not be allowed to get involved in drug trafficking."

That same year, the CIA was advised by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) that Posada was exchanging arms for cocaine with a person "involved in political assassinations, " a reference to Félix Rodriguez Mendigutia, a CIA agent who ordered the assassination of Che.

As a secret element of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the CIA organized Operation 40, in which Posada and dozens of Cuban Americans participated together with hired assassins from the Italian-American mafia.

Operation 40's network was used for terrorist activities against Cuba until 1970 when one of its planes crashed in southern California with a huge quantity of heroin and cocaine on board. This same year, the FBI arrested 150 suspects in the "biggest anti-drug operation in the history of the federal police."

At that time Attorney General John Mitchell indicated that the network controlled 30 per cent of the country's heroin trade and 70 to 80 per cent of cocaine sales. But he did not mention the fact that several of those arrested belonged to the gang of Juan Restoy, a former Batista politician, distinguished "alumni" of Operation 40 with ties to the Havana capo Santos Traficante.

Two of the Restoy's most entrusted hired assassins were…Ignacio and Guillermo Novo, "members" of the Cuban Nationalist Movement, a terrorist group with cells in Miami and Union City, New Jersey. These two assassins, who served four years in prison with Posada in Panama, recently returned to the United States with the blessings of the CIA and the FBI office in Miami.

In June 1976 Guillermo Novo and Posada participated in forming the terrorist organization CORU, whose ranks were comprised of the likes of Félix Rodriguez, Frank Castro and other criminals involved in drug trafficking operations authorized by the Reagan administration in support of the Nicaraguan Contras, which Gary Webb had covered.

In 1983, Frank Castro was accused of importing 500 tons of marijuana "then, as if by magic, the charge disappeared following his establishment of a Contras training camp in 1983." Fortunately, Rodriguez left George Bush's father's office, which had appreciated his "talent." And Posada, illegally pardoned by the former president of Panama, Mireya Moscoso, has preferred "to disappear" with the "protections" that were left to him.

After the assassination of the Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier, the Novo brothers ended "their relations" with the Cuban-American National Foundation, while the life-appointed "chairman" of that organization, Jorge Mas Canosa, paid $26,000 for the "release" of Posada when he was imprisoned in Venezuela following an explosion on board a Cubana passenger airline, which killed 73 people.

The African-American community is outraged

Webb's series in the San José Mercury News explains in detail how the CIA network sold tons of cocaine to criminal gangs and demonstrates how the White House's anti-communist fanaticism was so fervent that it was willing to engage in the propagation of the most hideous drug epidemic of modern times.

The African-American community in the United States was shocked by the news disseminated by Webb's articles.

His role in disclosing the CIA's sinister plot made Webb a very famous figure in the black community.

When the House of Representatives finally agreed to take up the issue, after a report was issued by the CIA inspector general concerning drug trafficking by the agency, Porter Goss, who had directed the Intelligence Committee since the previous year, decided at a preliminary hearing that the allegations were "false."

Goss, a former CIA agent who in 1972 participated in operations at the JM/WAVE base in Miami including terrorist operations against Cuba, ended up being named director of the CIA by George W. Bush.

Ricky Ross, one of Gary Webb's most reliable sources, spoke with him a few days before his death. Webb told him that he had seen some men examining the pipes outside his house, and that it was evident that they were not thieves but "government people." He added that he had received death threats and was routinely followed.

It was known that Gary Webb was working on a new investigation on the same subject concerning the CIA and drug trafficking.

On December 10, Webb's corpse was discovered in his home in Carmichael. Two bullets from a Caliber .38 revolver had destroyed his face.

Coroner Robert Lyons was the judicial official who carried out the investigation into Webb's death. He quickly announced his conclusion: Gary Webb committed suicide.

Granma International On line


*JEAN-GUY ALLARD is a Canadian journalist based in Havana


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