The movie “Kill the Messenger” carries an important message about today’s journalism. As pioneering investigate journalist Gary Webb discovered, news that exposes deep-seated government corruption is too important to be left to the corporate news’s boards of directors, lawyers, or advertising managers. “Dark Alliance,” Webb’s San Jose Mercury News series and later book with the same title on the Central Intelligence Agency’s drug smuggling activities into the United States, are the most important contributions to investigative journalism in recent memory. Webb’s series and book covered the time period during which President Ronald “Bonzo” Reagan and his astrologist-enchanted wife were uttering the words, “Just Say No to Drugs.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Webb received accolades from his Mercury News bosses and colleagues after he nailed the CIA and such Reagan administration officials as National Security Council “go-fer” Oliver North and CIA director William Casey for bartering cocaine from Central and South America for money to buy weapons for the Nicaraguan contras. However, Webb’s fame was fleeting. After the CIA activated its journalist assets within the ranks of the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times, Webb was subjected to a barrage of ridicule and charges that he was a “conspiracy theorist” who made up the entire tale of the CIA pumping cocaine into Los Angeles and other cities to obtain massive amounts of cash to arm the contras.
Webb quit his job at the “Merc News” rather than subject himself to the paper’s decision to print a retraction of his well-researched and well-sourced story. Once again, the always-dubious Wikipedia gets it wrong, dead wrong, in its false claim that Webb was fired. In the interest of full public disclosure, Wikipedia should carry the logo of the CIA to denote it as rank government propaganda outlet founded by a former Internet pornographer, Jimmy Wales.
Of course, Webb’s CIA sources were largely off-the-record because of the dangers they would face if identified. This editor can attest to the type of harassment Webb received because I have received it myself from journalists who are actually nothing more than “court stenographers” who have not penned a story of any importance in their entire careers. The CIA developed the term “conspiracy theorist” in the wake of the John F. Kennedy assassination in order to dissuade any enterprising journalist from delving too deeply into the CIA’s dark secrets. Today, the concept still prevails with the CIA actively supporting various fringe websites [we all know which sites we’re talking about] that cater to UFOs, chemtrails, and Loch Ness and Chupacabra monsters that also lift, without permission, serious news stories to damage their credibility.
“Killing the Messenger” ends with a note about Webb’s fate. The film’s closing scroll states that Webb was found shot in the head twice on December 10, 2004 and that police ruled it a suicide. The film also erroneously states that Webb’s career as a journalist ended after he left the Merc News. That is not correct. Webb worked for the alternative press Sacramento News and Review. It was while he was working on a state contract fraud story involving Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS) of Dallas, Texas prior to the 2004 election that Webb contacted this editor by e-mail.
I had been tracking down a story involving ACS, a Republican-owned firm, and its role in purging voter rolls of likely Democrats in 2004 in the same manner that Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris used Database Technologies Online (DBT Online), owned by Florida cocaine smuggler Hank Asher, to purge Florida voter rolls of Democratic voters in 2000, ensuring George W. Bush’s election as president. Webb was intrigued with my leads on ACS and potential electoral roll scrubbing in various states. It is noteworthy that Asher died “peacefully” at his Florida home in 2013 from “natural causes.”
Although Webb wrote to me that he was only interested in the fraud aspects of ACS and Sacramento’s red-light camera system, which was illegally raking in huge amounts of money for ACS and Sacramento, I felt that he was looking into other aspects of the company that I was pursuing.
I informed Webb that my investigation was focusing on former Indianapolis Republican mayor Stephen Goldsmith, an ACS vice president, and his links with Mitch Daniels, Bush’s director of the Office of Management and Budget until 2003. Although Daniels resigned his OMB job to run for governor of Indiana in 2004, his links to ACS and Goldsmith, as well as his ties to election manipulator Karl Rove, suggest that Daniels was doing more in 2004 than merely running for governor. And the Bush team was intent on keeping Kerry out of the White House at all costs.
After all, John Kerry, who, as chairman of the Senate Banking subcommittee in the 1980s was looking into the same CIA drug smuggling activities that Webb later nailed in the 1990s, would suffer the most from ACS’s purging of voter rolls on behalf of their big time GOP directors. Webb and I exchanged numerous e-mails on our investigation of ACS right up until the time of his death on December 10.
A week earlier, I published a series of articles on how the Bush family used drug money stashed overseas in bank accounts in the Isle of Man, Nevis, and other tax havens to pay for the foreign software programming support from Ukraine, Brazil, and other countries that flipped the 2004 election from Kerry to Bush, especially in the states of Ohio, Florida, and Nevada. Kerry’s victory in any one of those states would have made him the president.
My sources on the story were also former CIA operatives involved in the 1980s drug smuggling activities. But they, like Webb’s, insisted for reasons of personal safety to remain off the record. When the police discovered Webb’s body in his home, after the journalist had complained to family and friends of massive government surveillance activities directed against him, I was subjected to a barrage of criticism over my stories about how the Bush administration and its CIA and Saudi friends paid for flipping the election against Kerry. I always had a thought that Webb, in his pursuit of ACS, had delved even deeper than I had on the 2004 election theft story. Rather than investigate “lightning striking twice,” that is the second theft in a row of a presidential election by Bush cronies, the mainstream media viciously attacked me in the same manner they attacked Webb in the 1990s. My chief accuser, who claimed I made up the election fraud story, was MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann who published a screed about the story’s lack of proof on his MSNBC blog. I responded by telling the former ESPN sportscaster that he should stick with covering mindless football and baseball games and leave the job of investigative journalism to the professionals. Olbermann, ironically, was later dumped by MSNBC for not following the pre-approved commentary scripts from the head office. Other critics of the story were DailyKos and DemocraticUnderground, two alleged pro-Democratic Party websites but in reality nothing more than well-financed “controlled opposition” repositories of political pabulum.
Gary Webb, unlike the establishment “plants” who attacked him — controlled journalists like David Corn of The Nation; Walter Pincus of the Washington Post [who was once on the CIA’s payroll], and Tim Weiner of the New York Times — thoroughly flushed out the back story. After their despicable treatment of Webb, no one should believe a damned word of what these three poltroons and their sell-out colleagues have written, are writing, or will ever write. Webb, unlike the do-nothing scribes of the “house organ” newspapers, actually performed “shoe leather” journalism, an art that self-important blatherers like Chris Matthews and Wolf Blitzer would never be able to perform away from their teleprompters and smart phones.
Although I never met Gary Webb personally, I was proud of the fact that he chose to contact me on a story about a corrupt government contractor, a story that likely had tentacles reaching as far into the White House as did Webb’s “Dark Alliance” of the 1980s.