So What’s This About a Private NSA Document Reading Room?

I know, I know you’re tired of hearing about Snowden and Greenwald and Omidyar and First Look and I feel your pain, I really do. I want an end to this as much as you do, but see we’re in the final, definitive stages of this most historic event, the country’s first neoliberal whistleblowing. Yes, that’s right! I mean, look, here we have a public resource in the form of government documents affecting everyone on earth and paid for by the good people of the United States, the only complete cache of which has been effectively privatized by a bunch of rich white people, mostly dudes, who are also touting the private sector as the vessel of our deliverance from state surveillance evil. Yay Apple! Yay Google! Yay Whisper Systems! All of it wrapped in a tightly controlled, corporate mediated, relentlessly commodified narrative that is as much, if not more, about the self-actualization of the whistleblower and members of his inner circle as the global violation of human rights by the United States government. If that’s not neoliberal, I’m Augusto Pinochet! To make matters even more disquieting, this is being presented as a grand act of disobedience, a leftist act of disobedience. Can you believe it?

Yes, apparently many of you can!

But sorry, I can’t. You know me! Purist. I expect words to mean things. Words like “left”, for instance. In my world, left presupposes a politics that is at least a little communal and doesn’t extol oligarchs, corporations and magic Dads. This ain’t that. This is the opposite of that. To be honest, I don’t think I have seen anything defended as ardently by the anglophonic internet Left this year as Mr. Glenn Greenwald’s right to squeeze every last dime and every last ounce of social capital out of these leaks, unimpeded by questions or criticism. Nevertheless, as grimly interesting as I find this ingenius neoliberal colonizing of left imaginations, I would happily quit blogging about it if something remotely like journalism were happening on the left in regard to it.

But of course, that is the great paradox of this renaissance in transparency and investigatish journalistics we are so lucky to be witnessing: its own exemption from transparency and near-complete immunity from investigative journalism!!! Even Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting can’t be bothered to raise any questions, let alone hard ones. Hell, FAIR’s Peter Hart even applauded Ryan Devereaux’s awful hit piece on Gary Webb. So as long as Team Omidyar keeps inadvertently trolling me with newsworthy bullshit, and people like Peter Hart still aren’t taking it up, I will struggle somewhat unsuccessfully to ignore it.

Which brings me around to the inspiration for this post. You will recall that the recent New York Magazine piece on Omidyar’s “insurgency”, contained this enticing detail:

Greenwald says [The Intercept] also plans to share [the leaks] with outside reporters and is building a secure “reading room” in its Fifth Avenue headquarters building, where it is currently renovating three floors.

How exciting, for those who still give a shit what’s in the leaks anyway. (Hint: Not me) But as I mentioned at the time and I’ll mention again — over a year ago I asked Greenwald why he didn’t make the leaks available to other journalists, while publicly observing — much to the Greenwald crew’s apparently eternal chagrin — that the fewer people had the leaks, certainly the higher their value. In the foamy, intentionally fallacious comment that launched a thousand trolls, this was Greenwald’s response:

As for why we don’t just hand out the documents like lolipops [sic] around the world, the answer is simple: we can’t legally. If we were to do that, we’d become distributors or sources, not journalists. We can only publish the documents journalistically, which means we have to work in partnership with those media outlets as journalists.

At the time I felt this explanation didn’t square with The Guardian providing a copy of their trove to The New York Times which, in turn, gave access to Pro Publica. This planned Intercept reading room seems to contradict Greenwald’s prior explanation in the same way.  So my question is, what’s changed? Why couldn’t this arrangement or something similar have been made before, especially since Snowden himself seemingly intended wider distribution early on:

If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of US network operations against their people should be published.

In the absence of an explanation, I’m going to assume Greenwald lied, as he often does, and assume that my original inference — that he was hoarding leaks to keep their value high or and/or temper their impact — was possibly correct. I was going to let this pass when it first came up in New York Magazine, but it came up again today, when Jillian York asked Greenwald about who would get to use the repository:

This really seems to make it clear who owns these leaks –indefinitely — and who will continue to shape the narrative.  The irony is that as the grip on the leaks is about be loosened, if only slightly, I’ve stopped caring myself about what’s in them. I think we’re getting diminishing returns.  But it looks like we were lied to, and I think it’s reasonable to seek an explanation. I also think that further privatization of the leaks should be resisted on principle.

UPDATE

*crickets

UPDATE 2

*crickets

Related

Take Your Drip and Stick It

My Reply to Greenwald’s Comments

The Pejorative Use of Dumping

A Heat Vampire in Search of a Movie Deal

Posted in Uncategorized | 33 Comments

Can We Have A Smarter Conversation About Free Speech?

Freddie deBoer recently phoned in a defense of  free speech principles against “broad left-wing flirtations with abandoning them on [leftist] grounds.” As is normal for the genre of straight white dude condescendingly upholding the right of people to spew hatred and incite violence against classes of people he doesn’t belong to, the piece is a litany of bromides we all learn as children, unimpeded by a single fact or citation from history or common law. deBoer even dispenses with the convention of providing a timely example of some odious piece of shit who wants to say, set up a fast food restaurant and donate proceeds to hate groups, or sell animal torture porn — that we must, if we are not complete authoritarians, defend because if the odious piece of shit can’t set up his fast food restaurant or the animal torture pornographer can’t torture animals for paying sadists, it obviously follows that nice lefty folks won’t get to topple the government and transform society.

First of all, is this country in peril of being too vigilant in the defense of women and marginalized populations?  Is there some draconian Federal hate crimes law pending that I don’t know about? Why are we always talking about the policing of hate speech, when the straight, white dudes that benefit most by its defense still have the upper hand in all facets of U.S. society? If we’re going to invoke slippery slopes, wouldn’t it be prudent to work with an imminent precedent? Why don’t deBoer and his ilk agonize over timely assaults on the free speech of people we should support unequivocally, like the epidemic of Ag Gag laws that make it illegal to blow whistles on hideously cruel, unsafe and unsanitary practices in meat production? Is it really so hard to perform your wonderful commitment to speech in a way that actually defends speech leftists have an immediate — not simply theoretical — interest in defending?

It is not my intent here to make a pitch for hate crimes laws. I don’t like laws generally and I’m very much all over the map myself where free speech is concerned. What I want more than anything is a smarter conversation about it, where the participants actually seem to know things, like that historically hate speech has occupied a privileged place relative to radical speech. Like that free speech absolutism is working out particularly well for corporations. Like that many states have had hate crimes statutes since the 1980s and the sky hasn’t fallen. deBoer ominously promises that “the day that the United States bans hate speech, such a law will be invoked against a pro-Palestinian activist, to pick one example” but has not burdened himself with showing a precedent at the state level or in countries where hate speech laws are much stronger.

deBoer does all his fact-free bromide-reciting under the title “Power is not Our Friend” arguing that leftists “simultaneously [recognize] that we live within structures of intrinsic, intentional inequality and injustice, and yet [are] forever ready to abandon that skepticism towards those structures when it seems convenient to do so.”  I ratify all of this, which is why the conventional view of free speech rights that deBoer espouses has always struck me as strangely starry-eyed and minimizing, imagining a state that plays by the rules no matter how power is distributed or what is at stake at a given point in time. But if deBoer is convinced hate speech laws will be selectively used against, say, pro-Palestinian activists, what is the basis for thinking the First Amendment or common law will apply any more fairly?  When we talk about a hate speech law and the First Amendment are we not talking about an instrument of the state in both cases?

Of course we know that if the state gives clearance to a white supremacist church leader to call for a racial holy war, even after one of his acolytes goes on a killing spree, it does not obviously follow that U.S. Muslims have the the right to make an analogous call against Christians. See Ali al-Timimi, a Muslim cleric in Virginia, sentenced to life in prison for exhorting his followers to fight for the Taliban following 9/11, or Tarek Mahenna, sentenced to 17 years in prison for simply translating publicly available pro-jihadist documents and posting them online. We see this double standard reinforced in mainstream media, where there are few constraints on inflammatory speech directed at Muslims, but where an extremely tempered critique of militarism by a Celebrity Left necessitates a groveling apology.

Furthermore, the state has many ways of oppressing deBoer’s imagined  “pro-Palestinian activist” without resorting to hate crimes laws, such as selective policing, or selective permit-granting, or “free speech zones.” If those methods fail, it can try tax auditing, infiltration, provocation, entrapment or murder. Most of the time it suffices for corporate-dominated media to keep worthy causes and struggles on the margins and atomized. Which is why surely it makes more sense to amplify these struggles than to make yet more hackneyed, infantile defenses of hate speech, “on principle”.

Related

Glenn Greenwald’s Free Speech Absolutism

A Radical Look at Free Speech

Authoritarian Asshole Erick Loomis’s Free Speech Problem

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Posted in Uncategorized | 47 Comments

Creepy! @mtaibbi Foretold His Departure from First Look!

A lot of people were shocked when Matt Taibbi left First Look a few weeks back, but on my way to calculating how much the world’s 126th richest person had spent on The Racket before Alex Pareene gave Greenwald’s nutsack its 1,897,456th public tongue bath (salaries + rent I’m guessing $500k at least), I found this August announcement of new hire, Laura Dawn, written by Taibbi which, in retrospect, looks unmistakably like a warning and a cry for help to prospective new employers.

“As the former Creative & Cultural Director of MoveOn.org from 2003 – 2011,” Taibbi wrote forebodingly, “and current Founder and Chief Creative Director for the creative agency & production group ART NOT WAR,” he continued, with barely concealed alarm, “Laura has spent the last decade making high-impact media —securing and shooting interviews with politicians such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Edwards, and creating social change media with celebrities like Matt Damon, Oliver Stone, Whoopi Goldberg, John Cusack, Olivia Wilde, and many others.”

With a tone more like that of a hostage on the verge of screaming than a fearless muckraker, Taibbi added: “Her work has been called ‘radical,’ ‘vile,’ ‘brilliant,’ ‘savage,’ ‘foul-mouthed,’ ‘eccentric,’ and ‘hard hitting and highly effective’ by Fox News and other major media outlets.

Two months later, he was out the door. How could we have missed the signs?

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

I Read the New York Magazine Omidyar Article So You Don’t Have To

Today New York Magazine published “The Pierre Omidyar Insurgency.” The takeaway? Rich white guys are fighting the power! Highlights with comments below:

Omidyar’s foundation had just unveiled a $200 million Global Innovation Fund, established in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

For those not paying attention, that’s USAID, the government agency that created a fake Twitter in Cuba to incite social unrest (“a drop in the internet propaganda bucket” wrote Glenn Greenwald at the time, savoring his journalisty indy poodle-ence)  and with whom Omidyar partnered to force-multiply neo-nazis in Ukraine. (“and I should care about this, because???” asked fiercey Greenwald adverseriously )

“To this day,” Greenwald says, “I’ve never met Pierre in person.”

Meeting your boss is so last century. Like caring what they stand for or what neofascists they’re facilitating.

Omidyar’s organization operates a little like WikiLeaks, except it is staffed by well-salaried journalists and backed by Silicon Valley money.

Only “a little like Wikileaks?” Apart from the well-salaried journalists and backing by a billionaire actually implicated in the government blockade against Wikileaks, it’s just like Wikileaks!

Greenwald says [The Intercept] also plans to share [the leaks] with outside reporters and is building a secure “reading room” in its Fifth Avenue headquarters building, where it is currently renovating three floors.

That’s great news! But wait a minute. Didn’t Glenn, when asked to share the leaks with other journalists, write on this here blog that he couldn’t do that because it would make him a source and thereby prosecutable? I must be confused because Glenn Greenwald never lies.

“He’s a very serious and public-spirited person,” says General Wesley Clark, who has been friendly with Omidyar since he raised money for his 2004 presidential campaign.

Is there a better judge of character and public-spiritedness than General Wesley Clark? I think not.

“He’s not this hard-core, radical maverick,” Greenwald says. “Back before this all happened, he just seemed like the normal, average, amicable billionaire.”

So relieved he’s a typically “amicable” billionaire and not one of those radical billionaires, or worse, a #ChickenPseudoRadical billionaire.  Also cool that Greenwald has such acute judgment about someone he didn’t know “before this all happened”, still hasn’t met, and by his own account, knows almost nothing about!

His thick black hair, once worn in a luxuriant ponytail…

*Schwing

His [various web] accounts offer granules of self-disclosure…enthusiasms (the Segway), and philosophical musings (on “Star Trek ethics”).

*Schwing-a-ding-ding

He is fascinated by diseases like Ebola and thinks the public-health system could be helpless in a crisis…Originally, the domain eBay.com had nothing to do with auctions… Its earliest incarnation hosted a web page about Ebola…Later, eBay would offer a variety of origin stories for its odd name, none having to do with Ebola in the Bay Area…

Yes, you inferred correctly. The e in eBay is for Ebola, something which, along with influenza and stockpiling against cataclysm, interests Pierre a lot.

The online-auction idea wasn’t original—a founder of a preexisting site, OnSale, recalls talking to Omidyar about a job before he started his competitor.

That puts Omidyar alongside Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg in the pantheon of visionaries with the foresight to steal the right idea at the right time. Here’s OnSale.com now.

He built himself a 48,000-square-foot mansion overlooking the desert, which he told Esquire he liked because it gave him “the sense of what the planet was like before humans showed up.”

Can you think of a better location for experiencing the pre-human past than this, especially if you’re on the side that doesn’t face the six-lane highway and wearing earplugs?

po-manse-nv

[After moving to Hawaii] Omidyar was still fretful about his security and cognizant of the state’s isolation. He had heard that Hawaii had food supplies for only about a week in case of a catastrophe. In 2009, the Honolulu Advertiser reported he kept emergency stockpiles near his home and had purchased a solar-powered ranch in Montana to serve as a “safe house.”

Of course everyone in Hawaii has a second house on the mainland in case of catastrophic food shortages, but did Omidyar forget he had a 48,000 square foot mansion in Nevada?

Omidyar immersed himself in the Second Life community, adopting a secret identity: a tattooed black man named Kitto Mandala. Even after Omidyar became a Linden Lab investor, [Linden Lab founder, Philip] Rosedale primarily interacted with his animated avatar. Mandala rode a Segway and wore a T-shirt that said KISS ME I’M LAWFUL EVIL.

Fun!

Omidyar seems to take such setbacks in stride; he sees traditional philanthropy as overly risk-averse.

The “setback” referenced above was one of Omidyar’s “philanthropic” ventures in microfinance called SKS, an Indian “nonprofit” that set out to reap millions from a stock sale, but crashed in a scandal over harsh debt collection tactics tied to a wave of suicides. Poor Pierre! But –

“In Silicon Valley,” he said at a 2011 nonprofit conference, “we say if you haven’t tried something and failed, and actually learned something from that failure, then why would I want to work with you?”

You know what they say: “to make chana masala you gotta boil a few chickpeas.”

[In 2012], he responded to ­campaign-season viciousness by tweeting out a list hashtagged #Republicans­IRespect, citing figures like Robert Gates (a former CIA director) and Condoleezza Rice.

Thank God someone with influence is relieving the viciousness of our politics with hashtag support for the overseer of the CIA’s torture program and an engineer of the War in Iraq.

“It was really kind of amazing, because we were actually in the process of doing almost exactly the same things,” Greenwald told me. “The obvious difference between what we were doing and what he was doing is that he has $8 billion.”

I am so glad our leading investigatish journaler isn’t afflicted with the slightest trace of class consciousness or any reluctance to look like an avaricious vulgarian. That can really get in the way of funding important work.

Omidyar ran into immediate criticism from the conspiratorial extremes of the left. Julian Assange attacked the “big power” of First Look, calling Omidyar an “extreme liberal centrist” and questioning his suspicious visits to the White House. The tech-news site PandoDaily published a series of scathing articles.

Who cares what those left-wing conspiracy kooks at Wikileaks and tech mags think about things that actually happened?

Greenwald hinted of further scoops. “Stay tuned, is all I can say,” he told me.

Glenn, you incorrigible tease! Lemme guess: the NSA is bulk collecting phone or internet data somewhere. No, don’ t tell me!

Greenwald says that he and Omidyar plan to finally meet later this month, when they will appear at a very different sort of gathering: an invite-only event called Newsgeist, co-sponsored by Google and the Knight Foundation. Billed as an “unconference,” it has no agenda other than “reimagining the future of the news.” Greenwald told me “top editors, executives, moguls, and founders” are expected to attend, including Dean Baquet of the New York Times.

Now that’s insurgency, baby! The invite-only kind. Viva the reimagined journalism.

Related

Greenwald Still Covering for Omidyar on PayPal

A Harbinger of Journalism Saved

No, Pierre Omidyar Does Not Want to Topple the Government

Omidyar’s First Look Introduces The Intercept

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 65 Comments

Here’s @DavidGraeber politely entertaining idea of CIA connection to Foucault

David Graeber sneered again today at speculation that he’s a CIA plant, based on his ambiguous support for military interventions in Libya and Syria, and his strange alliance with Freedom House troll Sarah Kendzior and career militarist Josh Foust in their red-baiting smear campaign of a few months ago. He might want to turn down the heat, though, because if the following can be taken at face value, he once politely entertained speculation about a CIA connection to poststructuralism and Foucault:

If I really wanted to make a case that the CIA was behind postmodern, though, I’d look at the moment, right after the great insurrection of May ’68 in France, when the French government whisked Foucault away from Tunisia, where he’d been doing acid in the desert and whatnot, to give him a seat in the College de France – since his poststructuralism was perfect for allowing people to feel very very political while steadfastly avoiding any actual political engagement. Sure, maybe the CIA recommended it, who knows? Though they couldn’t have been happy when he went on to become an advocate of the Iranian revolution.

h/t Todd Marek

UPDATE 2

Graeber is a conundrum inside an enigma inside an asshole. I think we can at least agree he’s a hypocrite and that that’s among his nicer qualities. Also an intellectual coward highly attuned to the social cost of certain ideas. I like the cut of this Ghost guy’s jib, btw.

UPDATE

Dave now says he was only joking and after suffering the whole thread that excerpt is from, I think it does look something like really unfunny people belaboring a joke. Or floating ideas in a joking way because they’re too chickenshit to own them. It seems kind of beside the point, since this Geertz guy was connected to the CIA, an idea that Graeber doesn’t seem to be scoffing at. The remarks on Foucault seem earnest to me.

I’m remaining agnostic.  One interpretation makes Graebs a hypocrite. The other has him scoffing at the very idea of CIA penetration of the academy. Either way, it smells like disingenuous asshole and that we are once again guessing what he really thinks doesn’t help.

Related

Notes on David Graeber and Conspiracism

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Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Citizenfour’s Astonishing Revelation: Greenwald is a “useless” “careerist” “boob”

From Rich Jones, on the Cypherpunks mailing list:

The main revelation of [Citizenfour], however, is what an incredible boob Glenn Greenwald is. I had some idea of this after seeing him give an extremely disappointing talk earlier this year, but I don’t think I quite understood how useless this guy really is. He’s constantly asking the wrong questions, displays a technical ineptness (to the point of deliberate ignorance) that obviously hampers the journalism, and at very step shows a very clear desire to keep the document cache to himself for careerist purposes. At one point Ewen MacAskill brings up the idea of there being a Wikileaks-esque document explorer, and Ed says that this would be the best outcome for the documents, and Greenwald quickly dismisses the idea to talk about his publishing schedule. I still have immense respect for him, but I found it very frustrating and quite cringey to watch him treat the whole event in news-cycle terms, while everybody around him is obviously thinking in historical context. For instance, there is a moment when they are prepping for Ed’s first on-camera interview and he asks the reporters how much background he should give about himself, and they give different answers. Poitras asks for as much detail as possible, and Greenwald basically says that isn’t important, just be short so we get a good soundbite…

Truly mind-blowing. I had no idea.

Other commenters throw in, with John Young of Cryptome in a particularly scathing mood. Highly recommended.

UPDATE

Fair’s fair, so I am adding that I just found this comment from another cpunks member, which someone else on the list ratified:

I wasn’t watching the scene with the intention of being able to recall it fully afterwards, but I remember it rather differently. I recall Ed saying releasing all of the documents Wikileaks-style would an ideal outcome, but because it included information that should be legitimately redacted, he instead wanted to filter the material through journalists who would make that judgement call. Also, Greenwald said he was under a deadline, and I think you’ll agree it was in everyone’s best interests to start to get the information out as quickly as possible.

Posted in Uncategorized | 32 Comments

Misremembering Gary Webb

Sure sign of a subservient hack: Recapitulating the CIA's 18-year-old objection to this indisputably apt graphic which first accompanied Dark Alliance before controversy got it pulled.

Sure sign of a subservient hack: Recapitulating the CIA’s 18-year-old objection to this indisputably apt graphic which first accompanied Dark Alliance before controversy got it pulled.

[This piece has been substantially updated since it was first posted]

I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked that eighteen years after Dark Alliance was published, the release of a film about investigative journalist Gary Webb would inspire a new round of smears. Nevertheless, I am.

In my last post I stressed how the government’s own investigations largely vindicated Gary Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series. Implicit in this, of course, is the obvious point that these investigations only took place because of his reporting. By any normal human standard, that makes him uniquely accomplished as journalists go, and you’d think our media culture might see some practical merit in unequivocally recognizing that, if only to market their own commitment to the truth while neatly compartmentalizing Contra drug trafficking and Webb’s ostracism as uniquely Reaganesque.  That Webb is still being smeared almost two decades after “Dark Alliance” on the pages of the New York Times, The Washington Post and by ‘advocacy’ simulacra like The Intercept, shows how little chance elites are willing to take in validating a bullshit-proof purchase on reality.

Of course, Webb’s story remains highly combustible because it is singularly rich in valuable lessons: that the Intelligence Community executes policy objectives without even the pretense of oversight or ethical constraints; that the Drug War clearly has never been about preventing drug abuse; that the intelligence apparatus regards poor, black Americans with the same murderous contempt it regards Nicaraguan socialists and anyone else of no use to the ruling class; and that the mainstream media is a fraud, a highly sophisticated instrument of ruling class disinformation that can shift into propaganda overdrive whenever conditions require it.

Many of  the leading players in elite journalism’s own dark alliance with the CIA to destroy Webb continue to ply their trade — Walter Pincus, Howard Kurtz, Tim Weiner and Tim Golden among others –and that itself, apart from everything else, limits how much fault any socially and professionally savvy reporter can find. The system of rewards and punishment that fortifies those mens’ long careers and destroyed Webb’s now guides discussion of his legacy. Among the first to obediently tailor a Kill The Messenger tie-in to these constraints was The Intercept‘s Ryan Devereaux — discussed in my last post — and after publication of his velvet-gloved hit piece, journalists in higher places followed suit.

David Carr in The New York Times, a paper which did so much of the heavy-lifting for the CIA last time around, begins by cynically feigning amazement at the CIA/Contra scandal — “did that really happen?” —  and, consistent with the recurring hack insistence on the Agency’s minor, bystander role in its own scandals and cover-ups, reduces its drug-trafficking complicity to “turning a blind eye.”  He then proceeds in a vein similar to Devereaux, claiming Webb made himself “open to attack”  and disparaging his “deeply flawed”, “oversold” series, his “lurid presentation”, “his willingness to draw causality based on very thin sourcing and evidence”,  and his series’ “overheated” language and graphics.

Like Devereaux, Carr deftly suggests this victim-blaming is all conventional wisdom, by disobliging himself of providing evidence for any shred of it, apart from, like Devereaux, citing the original graphic accompanying Webb’s piece, which had a photo of a crack smoker superimposed on the CIA’s logo (inserted above). We know from the CIA document, “Managing a Nightmare“, that this graphic was particularly vexing to The Agency. We also know that this graphic — which simply suggests Agency complicity in the crack epidemic —  is indisputably apt. Therefore, whenever you see this 18-year-old CIA complaint trotted out as if the basis for it is self-evident, know that you are in the midst of subservient hack fuckery, even if that hasn’t been plain from the lede on, as it is in Carr’s case.

Keeping to the trail blazed by Devereaux at The Intercept, Carr generously quotes people disparaging Webb’s reporting, including supporters like Kill The Messenger star Jeremy Renner and Carr’s Times colleague Tim Golden. Golden is an unrepentant veteran of the original smear campaign, noted for writing a full page hit piece constructed entirely from interviews with CIA officers, former rebels, and narcotics agents, only one of whom — Aldolfo Calero, the leader of the FDN and certainly involved in trafficking — allowed the use of his name.

“Webb made some big allegations that he didn’t back up” Golden tells Carr. “You can find some fault with the follow-up stories, but mostly what they did was to show what Webb got wrong.” Of course this is bullshit, which Carr knows,  since he finally does what Devereaux didn’t do: acknowledge the CIA report that vindicated Webb’s reporting.  Webb “lived long enough to know that he did not make the whole thing up”, writes Carr with contemptible, inane flippancy, before noting The Agency’s corroboration at the tail end of his piece.

For all his faults, Carr looks almost like, well, Gary Webb, compared to the Washington Post‘s assistant managing editor for investigations, Jeff Leen, writing under the brave title, “Gary Webb was no journalism hero, despite what ‘Kill the Messenger’ says.” Readers of my last post may recall that The Agency’s own report singled out The Washington Post as uniquely helpful to bringing down Webb, using a team that consulted with L. J. O’Neale, the CIA’s man at the Justice Department, and which included Walter Pincus, a reporter with ties to the intelligence apparatus going back to the fifties.  By way of The Post‘s national reputation, the CIA’s report approvingly noted, it created a “firestorm of reaction against [Webb’s paper,] the San Jose Mercury News.”

Leen’s hamfisted, shamelessly dishonest piece suggests the paper’s cozy relationship with the CIA  endures, eighteen years on. Near the top Leen claims “The Hollywood version of  [Webb’s] story — a truth-teller persecuted by the cowardly and craven mainstream media — is pure fiction.” Things go steadily downhill from there, with Lee excoriating Webb as vigorously as his colleague, CIA loyalist Walter Pincus, did eighteen years ago, finding very little fault with The Agency or the cannibalism on its behalf. Too much wading around in garbage like this is bad for the soul, so I’ll leave Leen to others, like Robert Parry, who, with Brian Barger, broke the first Contra Cocaine story, and has ardently defended “Dark Alliance” for years.

By far, the best antidote to new injections of old poison is getting the true measure of Dark Alliance and its aftermath, which is enduringly fascinating, revealing and horrifying. It also provides an instructive backdrop to the pernicious clowning of the Celebrity Left. The difference between Webb’s courageous interrogation of racism and power and the exhausting banality of Greenwald’s one-note showboating, the careerist narcissism of Weevgate, and the bad faith of David Graeber’s anarcho-imperialism could not be more stark.

So, inspired by a friend who solicited resources on Webb, I’m providing the following links to things I used in writing my last post and some good material I’ve discovered since. I recommend starting with “Dark Alliance” itself. The Democracy Now interviews and the Cockburn/St. Clair excerpt from their book Whiteout are particularly worth your time. The Huffington Post surprisingly stands out as doing the best reporting to tie in with the film by far and both pieces listed below are worth reading. I invite people to share other resources that I can add via updates.

Hat tip to Walter Glass for inspiring this post.

UPDATE

Resources provided by readers:

Via forest:

The Contras, Cocaine and Covert Operations — The National Security Archive’s comprehensive index of official records documenting “official knowledge of drug operations, and collaboration with and protection of known drug traffickers.”

Washington Post’s Slimy Assault on Gary Webb — Robert Parry, the co-author of the first, largely ignored reporting on Contra drug trafficking, unpacks WaPo’s latest hatchet job.

Via eleutherios:

Dark Alliance: Supporting Documents, Photos, and Audio from Gary Webb’s Reporting on CIA Links to Crack Cocaine (1996) – The Internet Archive

Gary Webb: In His Own Words — an interview of Webb by the Guerrilla News Network / Narco News

KXJZ’s Insight: Gary Webb — features interviews with Robert Parry, one of Webb’s sons, Peter Kornbluh, and others

Obituary of Gary Webb & “The Pariah”  — Charles Bowden, Webb’s friend and confidante.  Via the Web Wayback machine

“The Pariah” — Charles Bowden, Esquire Magazine (alternative link to above, via Jacob)

The CIA-Contra-Crack Cocaine Controversy: A Review Of The Justice Department’s Investigations And Prosecution  — U. S. Department of Justice

Related

The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux is No Gary Webb

Philip Agee and Edward Snowden: A comparision

Omidyar’s First Look Introduces The Intercept

 

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