The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux is No Gary Webb

Were it not something of a flop in the readership department, The Intercept might well be the U.S. ruling class’s highest achievement in propaganda. As the offspring of the Snowden whistleblowing event, it is forever identified with resistance to state authority, cultivating a readership almost fetishistically eager to believe that something fearless and adversarial is always underway.  As such it can blatantly peddle doctrinal trash to an extent running dogs with less glamorously rebellious brands can only dream of.

Trash is mostly what Ryan Devereaux serves up in his recent piece on investigative journalist Gary Webb. His post is intended to tie in with an upcoming film, Kill The Messenger, about the mainstream media campaign that ruined Webb in 1996 after he’d published “Dark Alliance”, a three-part series that connected the CIA-backed Contras to the crack epidemic that devastated black communities in the 80s.  Superficially, the piece is simply a review of the history covered by the film, using a recently released CIA document about the affair as its hook.  But Devereaux inexplicably seizes the opportunity to resuscitate long-discredited planks from the original campaign against Webb and to sanitize the CIA’s role in his ruin.

Devereaux’s piece strongly suggests that Webb’s downfall owed at least in part to his own deficiencies; that the CIA’s role in the campaign against Webb was mostly passive; and that media compliance with the CIA’s designs was largely a happy coincidence, animated less by direct state interference or the media’s institutionalized service to power, than by petty jealousy and professional rivalry.  In other words, Devereaux has produced the closest thing to a hit piece/whitewash that one can credibly write about a martyred journalist whose reporting has been entirely vindicated and with whose legacy one wishes to burnish one’s own brand.

Devereaux states that

Webb’s series reported that in addition to waging a proxy war for the U.S. government against Nicaragua’s revolutionary Sandinista government in the 1980s, elements of the CIA-backed Contra rebels were also involved in trafficking cocaine to the U.S. in order to fund their counter-revolutionary campaign. The secret flow of drugs and money, Webb reported, had a direct link to the subsequent explosion of crack cocaine abuse that had devastated California’s most vulnerable African American neighborhoods.

This is largely correct except for its weird understatement of the crack epidemic, which devastated urban black communities from coast to coast. In fact, three times in the piece Devereaux restricts the epidemic to California, and elsewhere refers to the decade-long crisis diminishingly as the “crack scare.” Devereaux’s summary also neglects Webb’s claim that the Contra-connected drug wholesalers in his series were protected from prosecution and never went to prison, but were hired as informants by federal prosecutors.

More crucially, Devereaux’s account omits Webb’s vindication by the CIA’s and Justice Department’s own investigations. Volume One of the CIA’s report, published in January of ’98, largely confirmed everything Webb had claimed about the Bay Area drug traffickers — Danilo Blandón and Juan Norwin Meneses — their connection to the Nicaraguan Contra movement, and their ability to freely operate without the threat of law enforcement. Volume Two of the report, published in the following October, described how the Reagan-Bush administration had, in fact, protected more than 50 Contras and other drug traffickers, and by so doing thwarted federal investigations into drug crimes. A report by the Justice Department published in  July ’98 contained similar findings. (source)

Here’s what Webb said about these reports:

…The CIA’s knowledge and involvement had been far greater than I’d ever imagined.  The drug ring was even bigger than I had portrayed.  The involvement between the CIA agents running the Contras and the drug traffickers was closer than I had written.  And agents and officials of the DEA had protected the traffickers from arrest…(source)

Webb’s claims about the relationship between the drug traffickers in his piece and the crack epidemic were also entirely solid. Freeway Rick Ross, the main customer of Webb’s Contra-connected drug wholesalers was, and still is, widely credited with creating the crack cocaine crisis. Two years before the publication of Dark Alliance, the Los Angeles Times reported that Ross “did more than anyone else to democratize [crack], boosting volume, slashing prices, and spreading disease on a scale never before conceived…his coast-to-coast conglomerate was selling more than $500,000 a day, a staggering turnover that put the drug within reach of anyone with a few dollars.” (source)

In parallel with government reports vindicating Webb’s story, journalists and media critics exhaustively pulled apart each talking point in the campaign against him and none of them held up.

The first to do this was Pete Carey, an investigative reporter and a colleague of Webb’s at the San Jose Mercury News. After the shit hit the fan, the paper had him check Webb’s reporting against the charges of his critics. Carey’s report backed up Webb’s work and added new information to the story. (source).

In 1997, media critic Normon Solomon did an excellent, point by point analysis of the smear campaign for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, connecting it to the historic ties between the media and the CIA.  The title of his piece, Snow Job: The Establishment’s Papers Do Damage Control for the CIA, encapsulates his findings.

Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair analyzed the affair exhaustively in their book  Whiteout: the CIA, Drugs and the Press (excerpted here), stating that “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.”

That Webb’s report stopped being “controversial” years ago seems to have slipped past Devereaux in the same way the scale of the crack crisis has. He keeps the merits of Webb’s reporting a somewhat open question through most of his post, despite his agreement with common consensus that the media campaign against Webb was in bad faith.

But Devereaux largely ignores the extent to which the campaign against Webb was built entirely from lies, straw men, denials by anonymous officials, and outright character assassination. Rather, the impression one gets from Devereaux’s selection of quotes and details is that Webb’s detractors had misplaced priorities; that instead of poking holes in Webb’s story, they should have been following up on his claims.

A mea culpa Devereaux includes from Jesse Katz, who was part of the Los Angeles Times‘ 17-member “Get Gary Webb” team, perfectly encapsulates this general thrust:

we saw this series in the San Jose Mercury News and kind of wonder[ed] how legit it was and kind of put it under a microscope. And we did it in a way that most of us who were involved in it, I think, would look back on that and say it was overkill. We had this huge team of people at the L.A. Times and kind of piled on to one lone muckraker up in Northern California.”

Perhaps Katz said more than this, but as mea culpas go, this excerpt could hardly be more dishonest and self-serving. It is beyond my scope here to pull apart the widely reviled hatchet job The Los Angeles Times did on Webb. But let’s look a little closer at Katz.

I quoted the Los Angeles Times above on Rick Ross’s peerless contribution to the crack epidemic. But just two years after the paper had called Ross the  “criminal mastermind” of the epidemic, and credited him with “spreading disease on a scale never before conceived” a member of the “Get Gary Webb” team wrote this:

“the explosion of cheap smokable cocaine in the 1980s was a uniquely egalitarian phenomenon, one that lent itself more to makeshift mom and pop operations than to the sinister hand of a government-sanctioned plot…How the crack epidemic reached that extreme, on some level, had nothing to do with Ricky Ross.” (source)

The reporter in both cases was – incredibly – Jesse Katz.  Saying one thing in 1994 and then saying the opposite two years later is not putting something “under a microscope.”  It’s not “overkill.” It is, quite simply, lying, and quoting his half-assed, misleading mea culpa without reference to his infamous reversal is in the same neighborhood.

In fact, the most damning thing said about the media’s assault on Webb in Devereaux’s piece comes from a 17-year-old article Peter Kornbluh wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review:

“[the L.A. Times] stumbled into some of the same problems of hyperbole, selectivity, and credibility that it was attempting to expose” while ignoring declassified evidence (also neglected by the  New York Times and the Washington Post) that lent credibility to Webb’s thesis. “Clearly, there was room to advance the contra/drug/CIA story rather than simply denounce it,” Kornbluh wrote.

In other words, some of Webb’s zealous detractors were as bad as Webb! But one really can’t say this enough: there was nothing seriously wrong with Webb’s reporting. His series wasn’t perfect — no journalism is — but it was no more imperfect than any other investigative work. In fact, it’s considerably better, and by pioneering the posting of source documents online, Webb was more ethical than most of his predecessors, in that he enabled readers to review the evidence for themselves in a way others had not.

Nonetheless Devereaux states flatly, without argument, that “there’s no question that ‘Dark Alliance’ included flaws, which the CIA was able to exploit” implying, inanely, that with a bit more diligence, Webb might have somehow prevented or mitigated a baseless campaign manufactured out of whole cloth. As if the entire problem wasn’t that he had told his readers — most troublingly, his black readers — something people in high places felt they shouldn’t know. But having insulated himself and his readers from Webb’s near-complete rehabilitation, Devereaux trots out disparaging, unsubstantiated declarations about Webb’s journalism from three of the four people he quotes in the piece. It’s like it’s 1996 all over again, and indeed, only one of the three is speaking in the present.

First up is the CIA’s  Nicholas Dujmovic, who speaks by way of “Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story”, a recently declassified six-page article he wrote in the 90s for the CIA’s in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence. “Nightmare” is a highly biased chronological account of how the media reception to “Dark Alliance” moved progressively more in favor of the CIA and against Webb, and of the role the CIA’s Public Affairs department played in that transition.

Devereaux says this document provides “fresh context to the ‘Dark Alliance’ saga”  but, in fact, it doesn’t impart much that’s surprising or new to anyone familiar with the history, apart from a uniquely dishonest and skewed perspective. “Nightmare” frames the unprecedented campaign to discredit Webb as a quest for “more balanced reporting”, animated by the “journalistic profession’s…will and ability to hold its own members to certain standards.”

If Devereaux finds anything suspect in the CIA’s release of this undated, unredacted document only weeks away from the release of a film about Webb, he keeps it to himself, and this generosity pervades his face-value assessment of the document overall.

He reports that Dujmovic “pointed out that much of what was reported in ‘Dark Alliance’ was not new”, which is undoubtedly a reference to this passage:

…CIA media spokesmen would remind reporters that this series represented no real news, in that similar charges were made in the 1980s and were investigated by the Congress and were found to be without substance.

The assertion here, that the Contra-cocaine charges had been disproved in the 1980s is, as Devereaux knows, undeniably false, which makes this passage interesting and newsworthy because one, it discloses to the knowledgable reader that the CIA was spreading a lie via its media contacts and two, it continues to propagate the lie to any readers of Dujmovic’s article, allegedly intended for internal consumption.  But Devereaux remarks upon this passage only to resuscitate the “no news” plank from the original media campaign, neglecting to notice its multi-layered mendacity and the questions it raises about the document’s intended audience.

Devereaux quotes The Agency man at much greater length on Webb’s failings as a reporter:

Dujmovic complained that Webb’s series “appeared with no warning,” remarking that, for all his journalistic credentials, “he apparently could not come up with a widely available and well-known telephone number for CIA Public Affairs.” This was probably because Webb “was uninterested in anything the Agency might have to say that would diminish the impact of his series,” he wrote.

Devereaux parenthetically adds that “Webb later said that he did contact the CIA but that the agency would not return his calls”, helpfully noting that “efforts to obtain CIA comment were not mentioned in the ‘Dark Alliance’ series.”

Anyone familiar with the original campaign should be feeling deja vu, since this silly objection was raised again and again at the time, and Devereaux quotes not one but two people recapitulating it.

It borders on slimy — no, it is slimy — to twice touch on Webb’ s alleged negligence in this regard without reference to Webb’s account of government stonewalling in “Dark Alliance”:

None of the government agencies known to have been involved with [Nicaraguan drug traffickers] Meneses and Blandon over the years would provide the Mercury News with any information about them.

A Freedom of Information Act request filed with the CIA was denied on national security grounds. FOIA requests filed with the DEA were denied on privacy grounds. Requests filed months ago with the FBI, the State Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service have produced nothing so far. (source)

This seems sufficient grounds for taking Webb at his word that he had made calls that were not returned, but, honestly, who the fuck cares? I’ll let Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair explain:

…suppose the CIA had returned Webb’s calls? What would a spokesperson have said, other than that Webb’s allegations were outrageous and untrue? The CIA is a government entity pledged to secrecy about its activities. On scores of occasions, it has remained deceptive when under subpoena before a government committee. Why should the Agency be expected to answer frankly a bothersome question from a reporter? Yet it became a fetish for Webb’s assailants to repeat, time after time, that the CIA denied his charges and that he had never given this denial as the Agency’s point of view. ( source )

The complaint is a non-starter, an attempt to discredit based on an arbitrary technicality that says literally nothing about Webb’s series or his competence as a journalist. But trust The Intercept — the offspring of a whistleblowing event mediated by journalists who boast of routine consultations with government officials — to resurrect this chestnut as if it isn’t trivial and as if its likely origin in the CIA’s Public Affairs department is entirely beside the point.

After his generous allotment to the CIA’s viewpoint, Devereaux moves on to Peter Kornbluh’s 1997 analysis of the Webb affair in the Columbia Journalism Review:

In his CJR piece, Kornbluh said the series was “problematically sourced” and criticized it for “repeatedly promised evidence that, on close reading, it did not deliver.” It failed to definitively connect the story’s key players to the CIA, he noted, and there were inconsistencies in Webb’s timeline of events.

Devereaux has not tasked himself with providing any of the arguments for these claims in Kornbluh’s piece, which is a masterly example of the pointedly even-handed, ‘both sides are wrong’, analysis that are as much a part of defamation campaigns as outright hatchet jobs.

As paraphrased in The Intercept, Kornbluh simply endorses various elements of the disinformation campaign that were put to bed long ago. But since Devereaux brought it up, let’s take a closer look. As to the allegedly problematic sourcing and undelivered evidence, Kornbluh didn’t like that two of the figures of Webb’s series are “identified without supporting evidence as FDN officials.”  Apparently their words and deeds in service to this august army aren’t enough. Perhaps Webb was to also have linked photos of their Contra membership cards.

Kornbluh was also vexed that Adolfo Calero, the political leader of the FDN — which Kornbluh admits is literally a CIA army — is identified as a “longtime CIA operative” without proof.  That the CIA entrusted Calero with leading its army seems evidence enough. In any event, it is now known that Calero was a CIA informant in Nicaragua as early as 1963, so however Webb got his information, it was entirely correct. Would Kornbluh have even demanded evidence had Webb not posted so much other evidence online? Probably not.

Kornbluh also splits hairs over the identification of Enrique Bermúdez as a “CIA agent”, even though as a Contra military leader, this goes without saying. Do we need to see paystubs before connecting those dots? Are the ramifications of Webb’s story altered at all by parsing the difference between a CIA “operative” and a CIA “agent?”

As for “Webb’s timeline of events,” this broken record was played in one form or another again and again throughout the campaign. Webb responded to it at the time, as have multiple critics. Kornbluh finds inconsistencies where none exist, and then asserts, based on a legalistic technicality, that the Contra operation could not have been responsible for the crack explosion in US cities.

Since these matters were settled years ago — mostly by the CIA’s own report — one wonders why Devereaux is dredging them up. But at last he puts aside his 17-year-old documents and talks to an actual person, Nick Schou, who wrote the book on which Kill the Messenger is based. Of course Schou must also share his misgivings about Webb:

I think it’s fair to take a look at [“Dark Alliance”] objectively and say that it could have been better edited, it could have been packaged better, it would have been less inflammatory. And sure, maybe Gary could have, like, actually put in the story somewhere ‘I called the CIA X-amount of times and they didn’t respond.’ That wasn’t in there,” he said.

Let’s note that Devereaux is, for the third time, passing on a string of complaints about “Dark Alliance” almost entirely without reference to anything specific nor any evidence of merit. Schou’s seem particularly empty, as if to simply signify membership in the responsible journalist’s club. What does “packaged better” mean and why does it matter? The wish for a “less inflammatory” piece seems particularly odd and wrong. “Dark Alliance” is extremely straightforward and written in the plainest English. It is the claims Webb made that inflamed readers — particularly black readers — and rightfully so.

At least Schou understands how trivial his misgivings are:

these are all kind of minor things compared to the bigger picture, which is that he documented for the first time in the history of U.S. media how CIA complicity with Central American drug traffickers had actually impacted the sale of drugs north of the border in a very detailed, accurate story. And that’s, I think, the take-away here.

and that, right there — three quarters of the way into Devereaux’s piece — is the closest we get to giving Webb his due, as well as the single occurrence of the word “accurate.”

Elsewhere, Schou amplifies the other troublesome theme tainting Devereaux’s post: the ostensible passivity of the CIA in the whole affair.

 Rather than some dastardly, covert plot to destroy (or, as some went so far as to suggest, murder) Webb, Schou posits that the journalist was ultimately undone by the petty jealousies of the modern media world. The CIA “didn’t really need to lift a finger to try to ruin Gary Webb’s credibility,” Schou told The Intercept. “They just sat there and watched these journalists go after Gary like a bunch of piranhas.”

“They must have been delighted over at Langley, the way this all unfolded,” Schou added.

I want to like this Schou guy — he did, after all, write a sympathetic book — but this is just nonsense.  I’d let it pass were the central idea here — that the CIA played a small supporting role in Webb’s destruction — not echoed throughout the piece. Devereaux writes that Dujmovic’s document “paints an ugly portrait of the mainstream media at the time”, but it apparently tells us very little about the CIA, which seemingly just watches:

“How the CIA Watched Over The Destruction of Gary Webb”

“The CIA’s Public Affairs officers watched with relief as the largest newspapers in the country rescued the agency from disaster…”

“The CIA watched these developments closely…”

“They just sat there and watched these journalists…”

Of course, no Intercept offering is complete without online coaching from Intercept staff, so here’s Glenn Greenwald echoing Devereaux on Twitter:

Most interesting part of new docs: CIA realized they needn’t do anything against Gary Webb; US media did it for them

Here’s Liliana Segura saying essentially the same thing:

Main take away: press devoured Webb so CIA didn’t need to.

What does this even mean? Do Devereaux, Greenwald and Segura think the reporters just made up all those anonymous CIA, DEA and Contra sources on which they based their hatchet jobs?  Do they infer nothing from Dujmovic’s reference to a “ground base of already productive relations with journalists” or from his title, “Managing a Nightmare?”

There is a useful point that could be made here, which is that between ambition, competition and a reflexive tilt toward power, mainstream journalists execute the propaganda aspect of our media system without much outside interference. But this self-directing quality is being grossly overstated here, and posits a false dichotomy between a CIA that “launched a dastardly, covert plot to destroy (or, as some went so far as to suggest, murder) Webb” and an Agency that simply watches and waits for the phone to ring.  Among other things, the vision created here understates the damage the CIA can do when it takes a reporter’s call, as Dujmovic’s article makes clear.

However, that’s not all the CIA and its associates did.

Two of the papers most crucial to the assault on Webb were The New York Times and The Washington Post. Before going into specifics about what the CIA did besides “watching”, it’s important to get the lay of the land where the CIA and these papers are concerned. Norman Solomon wrote that “The New York Times and Washington Post have…connections to the CIA that go back nearly to the agency’s founding.” Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein wrote that “the agency’s relationship with the [New York] Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials”, and that over the years the paper has provided Times cover to CIA employees. (source)

As to the Washington Post, Bernstein quoted a CIA official as saying of the Post’s late owner and publisher, “It was widely known that Phil Graham was somebody you could get help from.” “In 1988”  Solomon writes,  “Washington Post owner Katharine Graham, (Phil’s widow), gave a speech at the CIA’s Langley, Va. headquarters. “We live in a dirty and dangerous world,” Graham told agency leaders. “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.” (source)

Solomon also reports that the two papers had expressed editorial support for funding the Contras.

In Whiteout, Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair describe a 1991 CIA memo claiming that The Agency maintains “relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly and TV network” and show that among the journalists taking influential swings at Webb were some that had exceptionally close ties: Ron Kessler of CNN, which an Agency memo credited with turning “some ‘intelligence failure’ stories into ‘intelligence success’ stories”; the right-wing commentator Arnaud de Borchgrave, who “boasted of intimate relations with French, British and US intelligence agencies”; and The Washington Post‘s Walter Pincus, whom the Washington Times reported as being known to The Agency as ‘the CIA’s house reporter.’

Cockburn and St. Clair write of the extensive influence of  L. J. O’Neale, the Justice Department prosecutor who was Danilo Blandón’s protector and Rick Ross’s prosecutor.  Cockburn and St. Clair describe a transcript from a deposition at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department that shows O’Neale “reveling in his top-secret security clearance with the CIA”; attempting to phone the Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz; speaking to “CIA house reporter”, Walter Pincus; and criticizing Gary Webb, who, according to the transcript, O’Neale felt “had become an active part of Ricky Ross’s defense team.”

Now consider the calls O’Neale made to Kurtz and Pincus alongside Dujmovic’s remarks about the reporters’ paper.

The Washington Post ran two articles by leading journalists that criticized the assumptions and connections made by the original series. Public Affairs made sure that journalists and news directors calling for information and [officials representing the Agency] received copies of these  more balanced stories.

Because of the Post’s national reputation, its articles especially were picked up by other papers, creating what the Associated Press called a “firestorm of reaction” against the San Jose Mercury News.

Whiteout also describes how in December 1997, the CIA announced publication of the long-delayed report it had promised a month after “Dark Alliance” appeared. Stories appeared in major newspapers as well as Webb’s own to the effect that the CIA had absolved itself. News of these stories traveled widely via CNN and other outlets.

There was one problem, though. None of these newspapers or any other media outlet had been furnished with the report, because shortly after the CIA announced its self-exoneration, publication was delayed again. Nonetheless, along came additional stories by the New York Times‘ Tim Weiner and the CIA’s ally at the Washington Post, Walter Pincus, quoting anonymous officials claiming the investigation revealed no link between the CIA and cocaine traffickers. We now know the CIA report did nothing of the sort, but that was only revealed later, after the heat was off.

Clearly the CIA and its close associates did a bit more than watch. Rather, the record suggests that by way of publicity stunts and friends inside the media, they directly shaped the narrative at some of the most influential outlets, and this narrative then propagated through other outlets, facilitated by the CIA’s PR people responding to inquiries, friends at other outlets and the herd instinct.

This process, of course, doesn’t explain everything. Schou is not wrong entirely to cite the “petty jealousies of the modern media world” as having a role in the affair. Certainly there was some of that in play at the Los Angeles Times, which Webb’s smaller paper had bested on its own turf.  But journalists do not spend every day of their lives embarked on campaigns to destroy each other. They require incentives, leadership and talking points, and the CIA and its media confederates happily oblige. There can be no question that had Webb written a series that was equal in every respect, technically, toDark Alliance” but did not take on a resourceful, powerful enemy whose very business is deception, manipulation and destruction on behalf of elites, it would have come and gone uneventfully, just as everything Webb had written before “Dark Alliance” had.

The Intercept muddies the water here on this obvious point, promoting a vision of the media that is, in an odd way, somewhat rose-colored in its elision of CIA penetration at the highest levels and the immense control and influence that imparts.  In other words, Devereaux’s article, whether on purpose or by accident, is disinformative, and its resurrection of old, debunked complaints about Webb makes it particularly so. It is really rather shameful that Greenwald’s blog is clearly attempting to align itself historically with Webb and “Dark Alliance” when, in this particular case, it has more in common with the forces that destroyed him.

Acknowledgement: @RancidSassy assisted greatly in unpacking Peter Kornbluh’s bullshit. His general remarks about Devereaux’s piece were also quite helpful. 


Bobby Harris, who claims to be a close friend and colleague of Gary Webb’s has dropped by to share an email he sent to Bob Garfield of On The Media, after Garfield did an atrociously dishonest interview with Ryan Devereaux about his Intercept post.  You should read the whole comment but I will excerpt the part here that addresses the persistent myths about Webb’s reporting:

Within a few years, Gary became known as a great and determined drug-war reporter. That’s why he got the phone call from a jailed trafficker’s girlfriend, that put him onto the big story.

Gary told me that he had reliable contacts — inside the CIA — that confirmed the details his reporting (connections, drug and money volumes), but who would (of course) not go on the record.

The notion that he never called the CIA, as is repeatedly mentioned in Devereaux’s article, is utter nonsense. Gary was a true stickler for journalistic propriety (contrary to attacks on him), and he decided to simply not mention the agency in the context of their relations. He had confirmation from sources inside the agency, but could not use them; so, he didn’t feel allowing the agency to deny these affairs in a statement was fair play.

That’s the real story of what happened on this topic.

As far as timeline problems, Gary relied on sworn testimony by Meneses, against contrary information, from what he told me about this aspect.

Blandon brought cocaine into SCLA at a third of the regular price at this time; giving Ross the ability to spring up the crack epidemic. Clearly, there were “tons” of cocaine and “millions” of dollars involved with this enterprise.

Bob, can you or Devereaux point to actual, serious, pivotal problems with Gary’s story, or are we just continuing an erroneous spin that there are such problems?

Nick Schou states to Devereaux that he: “readily concedes there were problems with Webb’s reporting,” that it could have been “better edited” / “packaged better;” but, this seems to lead back to the falsity that Gary never contacted the CIA or issues of how The SJMN handled the story.

Even in the midst of this new and generally favorable attention, persists the canard that Gary’s story was faulty. (read all)


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87 Responses to The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux is No Gary Webb

  1. srogouski says:

    Reblogged this on Stanley W. Rogouski and commented:
    Gary Webb was right. The CIA did create the crack epidemic in South Central LA. The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux muddies the waters.

  2. diane says:

    beautiful – not bought and paid for – clarity, honey.

    thank you, so very , very much.

  3. Goldfish Training Institute says:

    This is an amazing takedown and timeline. Maybe Devereaux will grow a pair and respond.

  4. I sort of just feel embarrassed for Devereaux and his crew; God knows they don’t. It’s a shame such a defense of one of the modern era’s best, actually hard-hitting exposes has to be relegated to a WordPress when there’s so much money going to the shitty blogging going on at the Intercept. But that is literally the world, isn’t it.

    I couldn’t look away from that shitpile of a semi-smear, each time I looked at it I grew angrier. “Adversarial” writers flat-out praising the CIA allegedly keeping above the fray while the media goes about its jealousy-fueled frenzy. Uncritically repeating claims not borne by reality, which fleshing-out of its veracity you’d think a full-time paid journalist could muster.

    The whole thing stinks and any criticism is stonewalled on Twitter and literally blocked by comment moderators. That website is a huge fucking sham, it has no original content that it doesn’t mine from the very boring Snowden docs, it carries water for elites in ways the ostensible left would typically attack or at least ridicule. And I really think that’s the game for Omidyar, with GG just being the fame-seeking dingbat tricked into being the telegenic face. Defang criticism of capitalism and empire and get the “left” to do it, gleefully.

    I know this was a lot of hard work, and it’s very long, but hopefully it can stand as an easy to reference rebuttal of fresh smears of Webb sure to follow after the movie comes out. “Crazy conspiracy theorist claimed–” No. Sane, meticulous documenter of a real conspiracy and its terrible consequences showed. And pleased to have had the opportunity to help a little!

    • Cecille Chan says:

      Anyone praising the CIA would immediately trigger my bullsh_ _ radar. There never was/is a war on drugs. The “authorities” destroyed small dealers for our entertainment, and destroyed those that got too big and took away from their profit. I can only wish more people would read, read, and read. Most prefer to sit down and watch that stupid box and swallow its daily dose of propaganda.

  5. diane says:

    It would not surprise me, at all, if it comes to be revealed in the next decade (when it’s too late, it’s already just next to too late), that the San Jose Mercury News has always been a death trap for any human ‘journalist’ who desired to tell the absolute truth about Free Trade and Silicon Valley, in the STATE (a CORRUPT EMPIRE to millions: stuck, and doomed, on that STATE’s PROPERTY of “California”), indeed Empire, of “California”. One needs to question why such a hot spot of power and money never had a major News Paper, instead of the San Jose Mercury News, which has always acted as a local (versus nationside, or countrywide) ‘small town rag.’

    (if there are any odd period marks (“.” Which have been oddly showing up way too frequently when I post something somewhere) inserted in this comment, I did not insert them, …. despite my propensity for sipping on fermented grapes (not at all unlike, and not near so extensive as: those who are ‘calling the $HOTS’) it’s yet another Soft Ware glitch which ultimately serves to obfuscate reality by undermining anyone questioning the: let’s move on to Mars, now that we’ve near totally destroyed the earth, death cult.

    and, thank you again, for your clarity, honey.)

  6. Xelcho says:


    As usual your take down of the shits at FL is not surprising. I too was thinking the same thoughts as I read the article. Thank you for taking the time to find all of the material to make this post. I appreciate it as is an alarm bell that shows what is going at FL. Wallowing in fraud / innuendo / obvious omissions, fucking pathetic!

  7. Peter says:

    “…which is a masterly example of the pointedly even-handed, ‘both sides are wrong’, analysis that are as much a part of defamation campaigns as outright hatchet jobs.”

    Amen. What I find particularly annoying are those who argue the line of thinking that runs ‘well, nothing can really be determined.’ This line, in a world in which we are literally surrounded by miracles of technology in which their creators regularly get everything right, and repeatedly do so.

    Interesting also that focusing on the illicit drug financing, though very important, draws attention away from the very well documented and explicit US policy of implementing a terror campaign in Central America for the benefit of the oligarchs. Funny how drugs imported to American cities to finance the operation trumps the trail of heads left dotting the Salvador hillsides.

    Nice breakdown, Tarzie.

    • Tarzie says:

      Funny how drugs imported to American cities to finance the operation trumps the trail of heads left dotting the Salvador hillsides.

      That’s a good point. But that’s just business as usual. I guess all the big scandals are when the lowers realize the uppers regard them the same way they regard everyone else in the world.

  8. David Bartram says:

    Excellent, Thanks!

  9. haptic says:

    This is epic. I was avoiding reading the RD piece, because I was not that familiar with GW to really know what the fuss was about and it seemed like it was going to be a bit of work to research. This helps immensely. It is a very solid, impressive piece of writing, and, on the face of it, quite damning.

    This film is going to be awful by the sounds of things.

    The “coaching” tweets from Segura/Greenwald remind me of the recent Hussain piece too, and demonstrate how and why these types are getting incorporated into the propaganda system. With the Hussain piece, there is this longstanding dogmatic liberal meme “Islam is not inherently violent.” Many are dedicated to proving this at all costs. In his zeal to absolve Islam of the atrocities of the Islamic State, Hussain ends up shunting responsibility onto “Marxist-Leninists”:

    The very idea which ISIS embodies – a ruthless revolutionary vanguard using extreme violence to bring about a utopian society – is one drawn directly from 20th century European radical movements like Marxism-Leninism.

    And he seems to regard that as a satisfactory achievement, because it perfectly fulfills his intermediate goal of repudiating Islamophobia. He knows fuck all about “Marxism-Leninism” and therefore perceives no drawbacks to shunting all of the smears onto radicals. Nice work.

    Greenwald is so monomaniacally obsessed with media critique – one of his blogging career staples – that he perceives it as a hot take that “CIA realized they needn’t do anything against Gary Webb; US media did it for them”. Oh, I guess that makes the US media look real bad, Glenn. To a certain perverse way of looking at it, it makes the media look ever worse that they were so vicious and effective that the CIA never had to lift a finger. The hot take is so seductive to his little hamster mind that he doesn’t give a shit whether he is actually helping distort history, and in so doing whitewashing the CIA – a much uglier beast. What is worse? That the CIA ran contras, murdered thousands, and caused the crack crisis? Or that the media helped run interference for it? Both are bad, but clearly the former. Not to this guy. And in fact, they are all of a piece. But not to this guy. Priorities.

    There’s probably a similar thing to say about the stunted imaginations that perceived demonstrating how “strong adversarial journalism” could also be “responsible” and acceptable to the mainstream was the most urgent opportunity offered by the Snowden documents.

    None of this is to say that the US media isn’t a truly loathsome thing (we are critiquing media, after all), nor that smearing Muslims is ok. It’s just to note that in each of these cases the propaganda system is operationalizing a short-sighted fixation with these bad things to provide cover for worse things. Issue-based liberal minds are being selected to prevent system-based radical minds from developing. Nice work, Pierre.

    • Peter says:

      “CIA realized they needn’t do anything against Gary Webb; US media did it for them”

      We are led to think of the CIA as ‘infiltrating’ media – which it certainly has – but often fail to note that the CIA is more correctly understood as to be serving the powerful interests of the owners of media.

      • Tarzie says:

        I can’t speak for anyone else, but I always imagine the owners as complicit and certainly the record demonstrates. perhaps infiltration isn’t the best word to describe that though. Is there a more precise word? I have used penetration which carries the same connotation. It’s an interesting problem.

      • Peter says:

        “I can’t speak for anyone else, but I always imagine the owners as complicit and certainly the record demonstrates.”

        The CIA has certainly become a powerful entity unto itself, but oligarchic control and skulduggery predates it. Immersion into the documents might resolve where things break, unfortunately the CIA – being covert – doesn’t officially exist; they don’t release many meaningful documents nor give adversarial interviews. We’ve ample evidence of what the empire will do to steer outcomes abroad; what energy do they expend to direct developments at home?

      • Is there a more precise word? I have used penetration which carries the same connotation. It’s an interesting problem.

        Maybe “collusion/collaboration between” rather than “infiltration/penetration of”? Although both of those are somewhat flawed as well to the extent they imply independent agents aligning to further their shared interest, and therefore fail to capture that way that the shared interest is actually their defense of the status quo (i.e., the “oligarchic control”) Peter describes.

      • Tarzie says:

        yeah, that’s good.

    • donald says:

      “The hot take is so seductive to his little hamster mind that he doesn’t give a shit whether he is actually helping distort history, and in so doing whitewashing the CIA – a much uglier beast. ”

      I know I’m a month late, but this is incredibly stupid. Propaganda on behalf of the CIA and the US government by our mainstream press is a huge part of what is needed to fool people into thinking that the system works. If our supposed watchdogs say the story was false, the story goes away and the government breathes a sigh of relief and goes back to doing what it does. Yes, the US government actually does the killing, but without the support of the press people would know this and be outraged by it. That’s why the CIA would either actively intervene in the Webb story or gladly sit by and allow the press to destroy Webb. Not that there is actually much of a difference there–in order for the press to destroy Webb, they’d have to pass on the CIA’s preferred version. The average reader would know this. Your own version of what happened demonstrates how important the press is–the CIA and the government were terrified of a mainstream press that might actually do what it claims to do. But of course all this pales into insignificance when compared to the all-important task of insulting Greenwald. It’s almost like you think that press criticism of Greenwald is one of the most important things you can do. Ironic, isn’t it?

      I’m going to pass on the Intercept story to a few friends. And guess what? They’ll see the importance of it–the mainstream press sided with the CIA and suppressed a very important story about CIA collusion with drug dealers.

  10. PJ says:

    “It could have been packaged better”


  11. tanglebum says:

    There’s a thing of whatever it was Webb lifted the rock from off of was just that and that only – contras, crack, and Company – and now it’s done. Argued over, stinking like a factory farm cess pool, but finished, over. A piece of history, reality, that we can analyse judiciously, as we will.
    But my experience of that world, those worlds, is it deepens inevitably, it gets darker and bigger, and you go with it, or you get out, if you can.
    It’s been decades now. Think the CIA’s cleaner today than it was in the 80’s?
    Opium production in Afghanistan is setting records, today. Cocaine’s relatively cheap and widely available. Where’s all the money going?
    There’s another thing where the power hierarchies of the illegal drug biz are all staffed by greasy players from “down there”. Hispanic surnames abounding. A remix of the heathen savages trope.
    As brutal and billioned-up as they are, in the consensus view, their whole murderous scene gets to the southern US border and just descends immediately into mom-n-pop American franchises. Horseshit.
    As if all that money and all that amoral inhuman methodology just can’t make it across the line into America, that bastion of moral virtue in practice led by nice people in powerful positions.
    Tempering that duplicitous crap is the toothless “indicting” of those evil maloficantes.
    There’s probably a real tight reason Chapo Guzman was doing big business in Chicago, a city currently run by Rahm Emanuel. What are the odds on some local stringer bumping into the connective tissue on *that* sleaze?
    Nil trending toward void I think.
    Funny how, and I mean this, brave and rational minds can walk culpability right up to the gates of Langley and then just dump it there. as if all those spooks were anything more than well-designed tools, efficient under a cover of bumbling inefficiency, globally deployable, and now entirely unconstrained by law or oversight.Tools, not autonomous players.
    They work *for* someone, or some thing. They were not and are not doing that heinous shit for themselves.
    Whose vision set up the circuitries of social degradation and violence Webb exposed?
    Are they gone? Did their vision fade in the light of this awakened moment?
    Hint: no.

    • Tarzie says:

      Are they gone? Did their vision fade in the light of this awakened moment?
      Hint: no.

      I don’t think anyone who reads this blog thinks things have improved. I simply look at the Webb Affair as a uniquely revealing episode, the whole ugly mess laid bare from top to bottom.

  12. Dirty says:

    Intercept HAD to blame Webb’s “take-down” on a subservient,courtier media because it sets a ground for them to stand as a more radical(because it’s responsible and objective–lol) and dissenting figure in media(branding). Diminishing the CIA’s role as overjoyed voyeurs who sat back and let hacks do their work is a nostrum that only distinguishes the sloppy ones(Webb, Manning) from the responsible efforts of The Intercept. More Polished Turds that minimize US security establishment’s horrors and maximize the failures of past media efforts(starting with Chelsea Manning, and by extension Wikileaks, a sloppy Gary Webb, and the courtier media) to exalt themselves as responsible, objective, and radical truth tellers. Another exercise in bland and implicit character assassination of real dissenters to establish their responsible and non-threatening to authority dissenting credentials to “sensible dissenters who give equal credence to ‘both sides'(a real journalist is chided for not being credible enough as CIA officials’ non-denial denials are taken at face value). Adding the laments of past journalists who felt they went too hard on Webb, despite not apologizing for the content of their attacks(i.e. what a real journalist would confront them with, and not just ask about their “feelings” and present mendacious pity along with a non-apology as something substantial.)

    This piece was incredibly thorough, well crafted, and exhaustive. It does all the heavy lifting this exercise in branding never considered.

    • Tarzie says:

      Great stuff, dirty. While I had seen a parallel to Manning in the parasitism at work here, I hadn’t considered how fostering myths about Webb’s sloppiness fits with their good dissenter/bad dissenter positioning. That’s a keen observation.

      And thanks for the kind words.

      • wendyedavis says:

        Your take on the good whistleblower/bad whistleblower meme was the first I’d seen, and yes, it continues. besides this seriously informative post, there was another one you likely saw.

        Background: at my home website a frequent commenter is a Kiwi, thus interested in all things NZ, and and likes Mr. Snowden and GG a lot. And she’s not the only one there who disagrees with me (smile). But I did put up the Moment of Truth video for her, and only ever watched a few bits, but one Snowden quote I pointed ut to her in the comments section were along this theme, and quite bullshit of Snowden to have uttered. May I just post the comment? I went and dug it out, and I don’t use capital letters there very often:

        “OMG. while doing his bit about john key declassifying stuff ‘to defend himself’, he said “and throwing up classified documents in the air like julian assange”. then: “no offense, julian! hee hee”. assange was not amused; had i been he, i’d have blinked off my skype connection then and there….

        Within a day or two, he posted this link on the Wikileaks Twitter account; I loved it to death! Gads, I hope it comes through. Just in case, it read:

        US, UK, Sweden & @Pierre launch $200m global “innovation” intervention … @ggreenwald

        Then up popped the Pando pieces about ‘Pierre’ and his ‘philanthropic endeavors’.

    • RUKidding says:

      Agree with Tarzie: thanks for the tip about how Webb’s work was branded – then as now – as “sloppy,” and therefore, we can kinda-sorta ignore it bc Webb is the one who made some sort of mistake or wasn’t really really a good journo or whatever. When some of the dust settled back in the day, and it came out (sort of) that Webb was correct, then the brickbats flew about Webb’s “sloppiness” as if that made all the rest of sh*t ok.

      The connection to Chelsea Manning is accurate bc that’s pretty much the same deal. Oh if ONLY, IF ONLY Chelsea had done this, that or the other thing, why THEN we could listen to her and countenance what she is telling us. But bc Chelsea didn’t present the Intel in some non-specified way, that means we can all just ignore the content of what she’s telling us.

      Yeah, yeah: that’s the ticket.

  13. RUKidding says:

    Great stuff, and thanks for pulling all of this together. I have followed Webb’s story from the very beginning and have been outraged all along for, well, for everything involved – how Webb was taken down, how the CIA constantly gets away with it, etc. I will go see the movie to see how it’s presented, but I’m not holding my breath that it’ll be particularly revealing or “truthful.”

    Here’s another article that some might find of limited interest:

    Sacramento News & Review is generally a decent local small town weekly that is often very good on providing insights on local politics (making it worth reading), plus also sometimes having a few hard-hitting pieces that go beyond local. Color me disappointed in this article about Webb, who apparently worked for SN&R for a few months before his alleged “suicide.”

    While the article kinda-sorta is sympathetic to Webb, Melinda Welsh, who wrote it, exhibits at least laziness in her analysis of what happened to Webb, particularly not making any attempt to connect the dots between Webb’s media “take down” and the CIA. Although she apparently bothered to track down Jerry Ceppos, SJMN editor during Webb’s tenure, Welsh provides a very meh conversation with Ceppos that goes nowhere. Ceppos denies that he knew anything about the movie being made. Yeah, right.

    Article is worth perusal bc Webb’s son Eric is interviewed. Webb’s widow (now remarried) and kids still live in Sacramento. FWIW, Eric claims that his dad did commit suicide; that the gun involved could have fired off 2 shots. Uh, ok, I guess… Odd, that bit. Apparently Webb was truly depressed and despondent after all that happened to him, which is believable.

    Article of some interest but not the greatest. FYI.

    • Tarzie says:

      Thanks for the tip.

      About Webb’s death: I don’t know much of the background. However a number of credible people seem to think it really was suicide. The two bullet thing is weird, but unless he was working on something important, I can’t really see the CIA popping him eight years after it had completely neutralized him professionally.

      It’s a murder either way, though, really.

      • RUKidding says:

        “It’s a murder either way, though, really.”
        Yes, my thought exactly. I don’t wish to dispute Eric Webb on this, as he claims to have handled the gun & know how it operates, etc. So perhaps it is entirely feasible that Webb committed suicide “on his own.” It does appear that Webb was, indeed, depressed and despondent at the time.

        That said, Webb’s take-down (by the CIA via the M$M) and subsequent shaming, blaming and then ostracizing (from the M$M) played no small role in causing his despair and ultimate death. The SN&R article did not do the greatest job, IMO, in highlighting this, either, but … I’m sure the CIA was very happy, to say the least, when they heard about Webb’s death.

  14. BlanchoRelaxo says:

    Nice one Tarzie. Thanks for this. That Devereaux piece had the reek of hot vampire on it when I read it last week; you pulverized it here in my opinion.

    • Tarzie says:

      the reek of hot vampire

      I like this phrase, and yeah I felt the same way. Smelled worse and worse the more closely I inspected it. The litany of disparagements is really the tipoff, that and the bizarre generosity toward the CIA document. Really *odd* piece. It’s shocking to me that people read this shit and interpret it as something other than entirely servile.

  15. diane says:

    tweetlerdeedee, and tweetlerdeedum …agreed to have a battle. Said tweetlerdeedum, to tweetler deedee:

    You’ve Damaged My Brand New Rattler!

    (otherwise known as a side winder)

    (and, yup – the Serve U$ Economythis piece; which Rancid Sassy linked to here:

  16. Pingback: The Rancid Honeytrap FAQ | The Rancid Honeytrap

  17. Jay23 says:

    This is the blogpost of the year 2014. I went into it hoping you were being unfair to Deveraux. (I hadn’t read his piece, and see no real need to now.) I got halfway thru your post last night, and woke up this morning to Deveraux on NPR. YUCK! He spent about 25% of his airtime rebroadcasting the “didn’t give the CIA opportunity to comment” critique….. he gave what seemed to be equal heft to ‘both sides’. Just awful, just truly awful.

    • Tarzie says:

      Thanks for the compliment and also for the heads up about the interview. It’s really too bad that people are going to use the movie to piss on Webb’s grave.

  18. diane says:

    The following, by ‘Max Pearl’, momentarily caught my eye as a possible sweet reprieve of sanity, …. as someone who absolutely believes in the healing power and just sheer joy of unbridled dance in order to ward off the stunning brutality and repression against that which can’t be bought – which should never have a pri$e tag: – a least harm life force. soze I ‘scanned’ (one can only spend so much time on something On Line cauz odds are: it’s just some pain inducing write up by some despondent peep trying to making a living under On Line Capitalism/Communism, Capitalism/Communism at its most corrupt end of the day ROT:

    04/28/14 Repetitive Beats Prohibited

    only to absolutely horrify me in its stunning Brit Colonial Anglo Centricity (and, not so very subtle, overedose of testostrone) , in that it missed centuries of unbridled: fear, regulation, PUNISHMENT and maligning of wee mammal dance ….

    • diane says:

      (as to Sassy’s color scheme choices, … well, that: pink one [‘electric chair’] for the litl girlz, …and that blue one, for the litl boyz, is a rather hard symbolism to replace, …. jus sayin …)

  19. Mardy says:

    Jeez Tarzie.

    You’re lifting so much weight here. Your work greatly apprecieted. Such an invaluable post. Thank you.

  20. jason says:

    NYT review of the movie is up on-line. i mean it’s not like the CIA would ship weapons to enemy iran thru the light unto the nations to fund the contras or anything, is it? “the CIA is multi-faceted.” poor old CIA being beat up by Webb with his Imperial Star Destroyer pen. when will they ever get a break?

  21. jason says:

    and just how does all that heroin get out of afghanistan? taliban donkeys? pointing out the cia has done this stuff before (vietnam) is just crazy talk.

  22. Bobby Harris says:

    Thanks so much to this blog for an in-depth analysis of Ryan Devereaux’s column.
    Perhaps, as a very close friend of Gary, I can bring some new information into this situation (please see below, regarding Gary and CIA sources).
    Here is my (Oct. 6) email to Bob Garfield at OTM (I have not yet received a response) :

    Bob Garfield,

    I was a very close friend of Gary Webb, from 1991 until his death. He revealed his big story to me six months before it was (finally) published (SJMN sat on it for a few months).

    I have some salient comment regarding your recent interview with Ryan Devereaux.

    Also, I have some (perhaps new) information quite relevant to the alleged problems with his reporting.

    Gary followed me from a state Capitol hearing room in 1991, asking me to help him understand the state asset-forfeiture law, of which I became the poster-person for abuse and an expert.

    He soon wrote an article about my legal circumstances for the SJMN and I became the primary source for his award-winning SJMN series about the forfeiture law (August, 1992). His series very greatly helped to obtain legislative reform, defeating Wilson’s and Lungren’s drug-war program.

    I was the relevant legislative advocate and Gary was the great reporter who exposed many serious problems with this drug-war law.

    His closely associated SJMN reporter in its state Capitol office in those days used to introduce me as the person “who made Gary famous” for drug-war reporting (an overstatement, of course).

    I also helped Gary with some other drug-war type articles.

    Within a few years, Gary became known as a great and determined drug-war reporter. That’s why he got the phone call from a jailed trafficker’s girlfriend, that put him onto the big story.

    Gary told me that he had reliable contacts — inside the CIA — that confirmed the details his reporting (connections, drug and money volumes), but who would (of course) not go on the record.

    The notion that he never called the CIA, as is repeatedly mentioned in Devereaux’s article, is utter nonsense. Gary was a true stickler for journalistic propriety (contrary to attacks on him), and he decided to simply not mention the agency in the context of their relations. He had confirmation from sources inside the agency, but could not use them; so, he didn’t feel allowing the agency to deny these affairs in a statement was fair play.

    That’s the real story of what happened on this topic.

    As far as timeline problems, Gary relied on sworn testimony by Meneses, against contrary information, from what he told me about this aspect.

    Blandon brought cocaine into SCLA at a third of the regular price at this time; giving Ross the ability to spring up the crack epidemic. Clearly, there were “tons” of cocaine and “millions” of dollars involved with this enterprise.

    Bob, can you or Devereaux point to actual, serious, pivotal problems with Gary’s story, or are we just continuing an erroneous spin that there are such problems?

    Nick Schou states to Devereaux that he: “readily concedes there were problems with Webb’s reporting,” that it could have been “better edited” / “packaged better;” but, this seems to lead back to the falsity that Gary never contacted the CIA or issues of how The SJMN handled the story.

    Even in the midst of this new and generally favorable attention, persists the canard that Gary’s story was faulty.

    I believe we all owe it to Gary to finally put to rest this erroneous view, which serves to protect certain press institutions and the government.

    I’m willing to testify that Gary, several times, informed me that he had these CIA contacts, as noted above.

    Gary used to visit me about twice a year, after I moved to Humboldt County in 1997. The last time we were together, a few months prior to his death, I sensed that things were not well, but didn’t suspect what would occur.

    We hugged each other for the last time and he said to me: “Bobby, you’re so lucky; you have reasons for getting up in the morning.”

    One of those reasons, Bob, is to continue to protect my friend from the sort of defamation that he still suffers, even the midst of iconic admiration.

    Please help me to move forward this key message.

    Best regards (from a devoted listener),
    Bobby Harris

    • Tarzie says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this!

      You might want to reach out to The Intercept and see if they’d give you an opportunity to respond to Devereaux’s piece.

      Again, really grateful for your visit here.

      I hate to be a pain, but can you link me to something that puts you and Webb together?

    • Tarzie says:

      As far as timeline problems, Gary relied on sworn testimony by Meneses, against contrary information, from what he told me about this aspect.

      Can you clarify this a little bit? Are you saying there were two competing timelines and Webb, decided to go with Meneseses testimony? Or is that he quoted both the testimony and information that contradicted it? Also, what was the source of the contradictory information?

  23. Bobby Harris says:

    Gary told me (after the attacks against him began) that there were confusions / inconsistencies regarding timelines of Meneses’ involvement, but that he decided to rely on sworn testimony by Meneses (in a later, legal case) about this matter.

    Of course, Gary’s statements to me about his inside sources at the CIA and how he handled this, are crucial to understanding affairs.

    I have contacted Devereaux and Greenwald at The Intercept about this situation.

    Thanks for updating your post.

  24. Bobby Harris says:


    Sorry to briefly overlook your request for some nature of confirmation about the relationship between myself and Gary — “I hate to be a pain, but can you link me to something that puts you and Webb together?”

    I don’t know if there is information on the internet about this, maybe not. If you were able to locate it, I’d refer you to the SJMN article (1991) he wrote about my legal circumstances, following which I became the primary (background) source for his three-part series (August, 1992) about the state forfeiture law. He doesn’t mention me in that series, but I guided him through this law and these matters (as mentioned in my note to Garfield), and to other sources, such as one of my attorneys, who stated that the forfeiture law was “like shooting fish in a barrel.”

    CNN did a news story about my legal situation (early 1993), that I believe was caused by Gary’s influence, although he never admitted that.

    Tom Dresslar is one person who could easily confirm that Gary and I were close friends.

    Here is a relevant and interesting excerpt from an article in Sac. Bee (Oct. 7), which mentions Tom (who also wrote a story for the Daily Journal (legal newspaper) about me (November, 1995) :

    “’The first time I saw him operate as a reporter, (Gov. Pete Wilson) was having his annual press conference where he unveils the budget’ said Tom Dresslar, who once was part of the Capitol press corps with Webb. ‘Gary asked him, “You know, governor, you keep sticking it to the poor with these budget cuts. What about having the rich people share some of the pain, by reducing tax breaks for the wealthy and the big corporations?”‘

    “Added Dresslar with a grin: ‘It did not go over too well.’

    “But Webb appeared to be able to keep it together at work during those post-“Alliance” years. ‘He was a true professional,’ said Dresslar, who worked with Webb for the Joint Legislative Audit Committee – Webb’s post Mercury News gig. Dresslar knew Webb for many years, going back to when Dresslar covered the Capitol for the legal newspaper the Daily Journal and Webb for the Mercury News.

    “For the committee, Dresslar and Webb worked on the investigation into the state’s failed software contract with Oracle. “The investigative work we did had some kinship with journalism, and I think that’s why he liked it,” said Dresslar, who was recently appointed special assistant to the commissioner at the state Department of Business Oversight.

    “In early 2004, Webb lost his subsequent job with Assembly speaker’s Office of Member Services after a leadership change.”

    Tom can be located (“recently appointed special assistant to the commissioner at the state Department of Business Oversight.”), so that may be the easiest route to available confirmation.

    Although Gary is not mentioned in it, below is a link to a feature story in the North Coast Journal (, which provides a useful, detailed examination of who I am, the innovator of local governmental implementation of Prop. 215 (the original medicinal cannabis initiative, you’ve likely heard of it). The Orange County Register (May, 1998) describes me, noted by this NCJ story, as “the closest thing to a hero in the struggle for implementation [of Prop. 215]” :

    I hope this information helps. Please let me know if you would like added help along these lines.

    Best regards,

    • Tarzie says:

      Thanks a lot, Bobby. Your first comment struck me as completely authentic and credible, but there are a lot of spoofers on the web and I didn’t want to end up with egg on my face. I really appreciate your gracious and thorough response.

      I don’t gush much, but I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate your stopping by. Thanks also for the work you do fighting injustice and for working to give your friend his proper due. Clearly it’s an uphill climb. Bastards are still controlling the narrative, eighteen years later.

  25. Stephen says:

    Haven’t read your site in a while, been busy. Just wanted to say I think this is the best thing you’ve done that I’ve read, as you’ve been very thorough here with your references. It really should demand a response from any reasonable journalist, regardless of any personal antipathy they may have toward you. There’s no way these misrepresentations can be fobbed off as semantic quibbles. Naturally I’m sceptical contrition will be forthcoming, but at least this is here. I hope they will at least have the decency to respond properly to Mr Harris’ letter. This is every bit as base a betrayal of journalism as partaking in apologetics for the military when they kill Reuters journalists, or covering up for them.

    • Tarzie says:

      Thanks. Just for the record, though, the approach I took to references was no different from any other piece I’ve written. I attribute and link to everything I quote or paraphrase from another source.

  26. diane says:

    You did a post about six months ago, or so, soliciting thoughts on the news ‘media.’ Might be worthwhile to revisit the subject?

  27. Bobby Harris says:


    Here is some encouraging news :

    Democracy Now! has a great segment about Gary on its show of Oct. 9. Bob Parry is interviewed and he has quite a lot to say, well worth watching / listening. I sent Devereaux and Greenwald a head’s up on this DN! show. Of course, Greenwald is a fairly regular guest on DN! (and Devereaux used to work there, see below).

    I’ve received good responses (Oct. 8, 9) from Devereaux, to my email (copied to Greenwald).

    Ryan says we could talk on the phone, when this can be arranged. I’ve sent more (detailed about Gary and my specific concerns with his story) email in the meantime, demanding that he / The Intercept publish a follow-up / reprise of his story. I’ve asked him to soon speak with Greenwald about this prospect (it seems this is presently occurring, see below). I also see Greenwald has made some twitter remarks about this basic situation; he’s being copied on all email to Ryan.

    Ryan is being very nice, Tarzie. He initially writes: “I want you to know that I take your comments very seriously and I appreciate you taking the time to write.”

    And just a few minutes ago, I’ve received a second email from Ryan :

    Hey Bobby,

    I literally just watched that [DN!] interview about 20 minutes ago. Thought it was great (I used to work at DN!). I’m at an event with Glenn. Will respond at length tomorrow. Hope to actually talk soon.


    Thus, I’m quite encouraged that Ryan intends to “respond at length tomorrow,” and “hope[s] to actually talk soon.” I genuinely believe there is some reasonable prospect that he and The Intercept will responsibly act to reprise his article. I made a pretty good pitch, hopefully, within these emails to him (and Greenwald).

    I’ll keep you updated about (hoped for) progress. You’ve done a lot of good work on your post and deserve to be informed about these affairs.

    PS: Still no response from Garfield, but I’ll be listening to OTM’s next broadcast.

    • Tarzie says:

      Ryan is being very nice, Tarzie. He initially writes: “I want you to know that I take your comments very seriously and I appreciate you taking the time to write.”

      Thanks for the update, Bobby.

      I am glad you reached out to Devereaux, regardless of what the end result is. I respect your optimism, but I don’t trust these people at all. I think this is ass-covering because their deliberately disinformative article didnt go down as easily as they’d hoped. They completely ignored criticism until you upped the ante by being something of an authority. They ignored this blog post, queries by myself and others on Twitter and censored criticism (by others, not me) on the Intercept site. These people operate in the worst possible faith.

      I won’t hold my breath for any official update on the Intercept site expressing regret or error, in the absence of which, it doesn’t matter what they say to you or at what length. I honestly don’t think a new article is enough, in the unlikely event it even happens. But keep us posted just the same. I appreciate what you’re doing.

  28. diane says:

    red moon indeed ….. sigh (hate to say it, but just why would you trust the Omidyar Group after what happened to Gary, Bobby?)

    Oh, and this is the exact image – sans any of the now multi-hued, particular and highly individuali$ed faux Gifft ribbonz – I was searching for four days ago in my sidewinder comment:

    (thank you so, jacob)

    • diane says:

      sorry, jumped the gun …. in a whirled ….. designed for gun jumping. …. that was six days ago, not four, when I made the Rattler/Side Winder remark ….

  29. babaganusz says:

    fwiw, this post (thanks for it, btw – i chuckle slightly to think that i first heard the story via GG Hizself, during Guardian days iirc) has made it to one search entry below the ’10 Pasadena Weekly interview of then-recently-released Freeway Ricky. wondering how long it’ll take the poo-flinger brigade to latch onto and downward-spin this passage:

    “I didn’t have money to hire an investigator, so what my attorney did was use Gary as our investigator, and Gary used my attorney to question Blandón, if you know what I mean. Gary didn’t have the authority to question Blandón. The only one who had that authority was my attorney. … He had become my lawyer’s confidante.” [ellipsis theirs]

  30. Casual Observer says:

    I liked your article. I cringed when i read the Intercept article. I actually intended to share it, but found it not shareworthy. One glaring omission was not even a mention of Operation Mockingbird. All the discrediting outlets and reporters nearly are mockingbirds in my opinion. I was aware of the Counterpunch article you cited having read it years ago. I also read the declassified Iran/Contra documents. Anyone who thinks the CIA was not involved in drug trafficking is wearing huge blinders. I didn’t find Webb’s reporting all that sloppy. The Intercept piece seemed to do all the things you pointed out. Great documentation…shared your article.

  31. diane says:

    Love this:

    Particularly this, re prison commentary when it’s well known by the elites that those struggling to evade being imprisoned – those highly worried about being punished despite the fact that all they are attempting to do is stay alive, and not “break the law”… all the while being totally fucked by “the law” – are at all able to focus (nor able at all to assist with when they are able to focus on) on prisoner’s rights when they find they have no rights themselves, ‘pre conviction’ :

    she works for a billionaire, cries about prisons. Meh.

    Just (half an hour ago and still not showing) attempted a comment on “naked capitalism” very closely related to that effect:

    Re: Bank of America’s No-Bid Prison Contract Facing Criticism in Congress DSWright, Firedoglake.

    I wish “Fire Dog Lake” (which site’s stunningly personalized – not acknowleding [sic] those who have an utter fear of dogs, since elites, for centuries, have trained dogs to attack minorities – and therefore confusing and meaningless to most, title, never ceases to make me want to vomit and feel sorry for those dependent upon its founding mother for extra change) and the Center For Public Integrity (CPI) source piece referred to, had also at least mentioned in passing: the forced and FEE PUNITIVE/RIDDEN, Privacy Violating (most surely illegal) contracts with BofA, et al (that “et a”’ dependent on which Bank one’s ‘whored’ bought and sold STATE Governor has sold his/her soul to. Must say though, that BofA, and certainly CHASE, appear to be predominant predators, in this particularly venal, toxic, and lethal ‘art form’) , in order to attain deserved, and more than earned, Disability, Unemployment, and Retirement benefits.

    But then, cynic that I am (particularly after viewing the current Board of Directors at CPI, that might have actually provoked outrage; versus solely talking about prisoner abuse (as was done) when it’s so well known that most who’ve never been illegally imprisoned by the STATE, really are not interested (to put it very lightly), at all, in prisoner’s rights when they haven’t committed any ‘Federal Offenses’ themselves. Most, if not all, who have not witnessed being illegally abused and/or imprisoned, by “The State”, ultimately, or totally, ignore write ups about such abuse (whether those lucky ones will admit that appears to be a well preserved ‘secret’).

    Yep, such is a feature, not a bug, of the hideous world we are witnessing.

  32. diane says:

    Priceless, and so real, honey, thanks for sharing:


    that may near be equivalent to what the movie ,Aliens, evoked in many, -… about the stunning venality of The Powers that Be – in that moment which likely all who viewed it, have never forgotten.

    Oh, and how that ghastly creation skittered across the floor (foundation), quicker than a snake’s smile.

  33. Pingback: Are Covert Ops Compatible With Democracy? » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

  34. diane says:

    Speaking of maleficent A[lien]I[ntelligence] !!!! (code reference = Elite Lily White Human Male ‘Intelligence,’ from MIT and such) functions of the Power$ That Be: Priceless! …. though not at all a surprise, our Google Maestros’ Occupy Alien, Justine Tunney, weighing in for [LILY WHITE ONLY] Men Of Character, specifically Andrew Auernheimer ‏@rabite

    (Speaking of which, the thing about the [10/12/14] Gaming Industry, is that it was predominantly funded for ultimate ill purpose from day one, and used most predominantly by the DOD MIC and its obscenely wealthy puppeteers/owners. The Gaming Indu$try focus is PREY … WAR GAME$.)

    • diane says:

      The Gaming Industry carrot – a lethal and horrifyingly successful feature (far more addictive than nicotine is my guess), the Gaming Industry presents itself as – is ‘destroying’ the Bad Guys. Of course that game is rigged so one will repeatedly attempt to at least stay alive again (yet once again lose, 99.999999999% of the time), over and over and over and over again; …… because, that Gaming Industry is all about a pyramid game, off the top of my head analogous, for just one example, to [Pando Funder] Tony Hsiehs’ Lost Vegas:


      (yes, and that piece does not even bother to mention those horrifying suicides by those who had been previously at least been hanging in there (Can No Longer Afford To Stay In Their HOME TOWN, but CANNOT EVEN AFFORD TO LEAVE) … before TONI’s $AY …. CAME ALL OVER those attempting to keep their heads above water, …. in ‘vegas.’)

      • diane says:

        Oopser doopser, fucked up the far more than tedious “html coding” :

        10/01/14 The Downtown Project Suicides: Can the Pursuit of Happiness Kill You?

      • babaganusz says:

        this is why i like keeping an eye on Europeans (one or two of them are even from the UK) who seem interested in devising immersive “serious games” for preadolescents to develop conflict resolution skills. (check SIREN.)

      • diane says:

        SIREN IMMERSIVE GAMES, really? For children? …

        Why bother even living then?

      • diane says:

        I mean, doesn’t that word SIREN (let alone that stunning making a ‘win all or lose all’ game out of it) bother you as applied to promoting gentle conversation around something humans are momentarilty at odds with each other about (conflict resolution)????

      • babaganusz says:

        who said “win all or lose all” was part of their design?

      • diane says:

        see, the thing is, 99.999999999 times out of one hundred, those children’s biological parents are the best (even despite the fact that so many parents fail at it) to show their child how to get by and be kind to others; not THE $TATE, it’s putridly ‘wealthy’ puppeteers, nor the $tunningly Ob$cene Non Profit organ$ puppeteered by the franken$tein mating of The $tate, and the putridly ‘wealthy.’ .

      • diane says:

        You must be kidding:

        who said “win all or lose all” was part of their design?

        when you, yourself, acknowledged that it was gaming education:

        i like keeping an eye on Europeans (one or two of them are even from the UK) who seem interested in devising immersive “serious games” for preadolescents to develop conflict resolution skills. (check SIREN.)

        and games have historically been entirely about a winner versus a loser, with no in between even slightly happy endings.

      • babaganusz says:


        “You must be kidding:”

        not at all. but please, condescend to your great big heart’s content.

        who said “win all or lose all” was part of their design?

        “when you, yourself, acknowledged that it was gaming education…
        and games have historically been entirely about a winner versus a loser,”

        okay, have you established your ~historical credentials~ to your personal satisfaction? you in no way answered the question you went to the trouble of quoting, and just to add some clarity since you chose to generalize and ~invoke history~, the answer is “nobody” – because it was in no way established that the design centers on the tired dichotomy to which you chose to defer.

        “with no in between even slightly happy endings.”

        if by now you had given a hint of genuine knowledge or interest in design i might recommend some Ian Bogost or something. but apparently this particular prejudice is strong with you. have fun with that when you can.

        i don’t begrudge you your cynicism–not by a long chalk–but please make a little effort to not put on airs that you know all you need to about [a specific item you obviously haven’t directly examined] just because you’re world-wearily (and i’m sure painfully) aware of how fucked up humans can be.

      • babaganusz says:

        i also didn’t say the designers were part of The Industry. (in case that helps adjust your blinders.)

      • diane says:

        SIREN – Social games for conflIct REsolution based on natural iNteraction [the odd extra caps in the words: conflict, resolution, and interaction, aren’t a typo on my part, they’re pathetically meant to be a reiteration of that red alert word “SIREN” (please excuse me, as I vomit).]

        The key aim of the Siren project is to create an intelligent interactive software system, specifically a serious game, which supports teachers’ role to educate young people on how to resolve conflicts.

        Yet another AI Scam. $oft Ware Required, whereby the software is presented as infallible – far more objective, and wise than the parents, and teachers – despite the fact that the software is cooked up by totally fallible, and generally filled with themselves, Academia! entrenched humans … mostly pale Males of a class who’ve never been renowned for sharing in the clean up aspects of raising children, … many of whom never even had children.

        And yes, Baba, I’m sure my “blinders” to that appalling – stunningly TONE DEAF -SIREN [forced, therefore quite pleased with it] acronym and yet another Children’s Game (that hideous Musical Chairs game comes to mind immediately) promoted by Wise Folk can be cured by yet another White Daddy Gamer (with, I might add, far, far less life experience, and none whatsoever as an historically shat on, and dreaded Fe Male) named Ian Bogost, who appears to not even have any children, nor been required to experience what it means to take care of a child, or for that matter, anyone but himself.

        BaBa, do you ever wonder why no darker skinned people – let alone females of all skin tones -are not known for frequenting the gaming community? And regarding:

        i also didn’t say the designers were part of The Industry.

        hilarious, …. and, of course, the University of California is involved in the SIREN (uuuuuugggggh) Project ‘Consortium’, as they were in the Manhattan Project, et al.

        Lastly, the problem for the masses and their children is not being unable to resolve conflict. If the masses were not skilled in resolving conflict, everyone would be dead by now. It is only a handful of putridly powerful persons who are not interested in resolving conflict, especially since that is primary source of their ‘fortunes.’ Oh, and do look up the word “design” and realize it has been around far longer than the $oft Ware you’ve apparently become a pathetic slave to.

    • babaganusz says:

      yeah, that’s the ticket – prophetable weev was tortured for being ~of character~, not, o i dunno, having a big beautiful swastika tattoo.

  35. Pingback: Remembering Gary Webb | The Rancid Honeytrap

  36. John says:

    Wow, outstanding work, and I love the way you’ve convincingly demonstrated — via Webb — that First Look is just more service to power.

  37. Pingback: The Dark Alliance of Media and Empire: The ‘Dissident’ Smear of Gary Webb « The Progressive Mind

  38. Pingback: Misremembering Gary Webb | The Rancid Honeytrap « The Progressive Mind

  39. Pingback: The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux is No Gary Webb | The Rancid Honeytrap « The Progressive Mind

  40. Pingback: So What’s This About a Private NSA Document Reading Room? | The Rancid Honeytrap

  41. Pingback: Making Media Great Again: The Fake News Conspiracy Panic and (Some of) What’s Behind It | IRREMEDIABLE

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