(en) Webb page

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Tue, 3 Jun 1997 16:43:23 +0000

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Tue, 3 Jun 1997 16:05:21 -0700 (PDT) From: Lester <maxim@netcom.com> Subject: Webb page To: KPFA list <progressive-radio@tango.rahul.net>

San Jose, Calif. June 3, 1997. - When the Society of Professional Journalists meets in San Francisco today, it will consider a request from a chapter member that Gary Webb, investigative reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, be stripped of his 1996 Journalist of the Year award.

The request, by the managing editor of a rival newspaper, illustrates how Mr. Webb's series, "Dark Alliance," continues to echo.

The series was sensitive, because it alleged that CIA was up to its covert neck in drug traffic, and thus reinforced the spurious claims of Blacks and other malcontents that the purported "war on drugs" is, in fact, a phony war and a scam.

"The so-called drug war is a hoax. Its real purpose is to channel social anger towards the poor, drain away civil liberties, secure funds for the DEA thugs, defuse resistance through stupor, and, most of all, to provide a cover for the repression of burgeoning multitudes who have been told there is no place for them in a supposedly thriving economy," muttered Lois Lane, an inarticulate Webb supporter.

Soon after Webb's series was published, it was subjected to intense scrutiny by New York Times and Washington Post SWAT teams, to the extent that several senior correspondents for those papers requested early retirement, on the mistaken assumption that this scrutiny might be applied in-house.

"We asked Webb to produce CIA documents which substantiated his claim," said a Times editor who declined to be identified. "It turns out he only had a handful. Other than that, all he had was testimony of a dozen or so people who said they had been part of it, and a few hundred pounds of paper trail. You have to look at this stuff harder than that. People want to accuse the CIA of everything -- from the overthrow of democracies in Iran and Guatemala to the Bay of Pigs, Chile, Grenada, Nicaragua, death squads in El Salvador, blah, blah, blah. Ask yourself, how much of it turns out to be true? Luckily, his editor is not letting him publish three other articles on the same subject. Our quality-control inspectors are burned out."

A man who opened the door of the sprawling Combustion and Paper Vaporization Complex in Langley confirmed that Webb's story was flawed. "He can't prove a goddam thing. Zippo. It's their word against ours. And it's definitely shoddy journalism, definitely." He seemed not to hear when asked to give his name or position. "That's all I can say at this time. I've got to go," he said, dismissing reporters with a tight smile, and nudging the door closed with his head, so as to keep his grip on a kerosene can and several dozen redacting pens.

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