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Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2004 at 7:01 PM
Gary Webb; reporter who broke the CIA-CRACK COCAINE connection story was found dead of an apparant suicide
From: "jhallaren" firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is devastating news! I cannot imagine Gary dead, leave alone
committing suicide. For one, he had great courage and he came from a
military background where discipline was enmeshed in daily life ethic.
Gary also had a breezy mixture of idealism and cynicism. He took things
with a kind of cockeyed, humorous view. His style was more Forties-Hard
Guy-Reporter rather than Sixties Gonzo, but he was an original! He was
as at home roller-blading on the board walks of Venice Beach as talking
to Ricky Ross' pals, engaging with drug-kingpin girlfriend, the amazing
Ms. Baca or having psychological conversations on the fears of
I first got to know Gary when I worked with Mike Novick, Didon Kamati,
Sabina Virgo, Gary Phillips, Jim Lafferty, Don White and others on a
project for IPS (to continue with Mike Ruppert's list, it's through this
event that I met most of these folks as well as Mike, Tracy Larkins and
Karen Pommer.)I was the fund Raiser/PR person for this new group and
Gary's book had just come out. I called him immediately and he agreed to
come down to be the headline speaker at our first event.
We didn't have much money, and as it was, the folks in Washington were
hesitant to embark, wholeheartedly, on this anti CIA journey. So, I put
Gary up in my apartment and that started a long, sporadic friendship.
Where I really got to know who Gary was and what was important to him
and his life was when I tried to sell his book as a film. He had agents,
really smart and good agents, but they were having difficulty and I saw
it as a possible project for Tom Cruise. Gary's main agent let me run
with this as I'm old friends with Cruise's partner. The Cruise people
were interested, but unfortunatley, not enough to fight for it when his
agent got a solid offer to do this as a T.V. project (I'm not aware of
anything ever coming of this.)
The point of telling this story is that Gary never expected anything to
happen. He was enthusiastic and excited about the different ways to tell
the story on film, but he was very pragmatic about business and life. He
was not taken to flights of fancy, to conspiracy theories or romantic
notions. He didn't set himself up to be victimized by dissapointments,
but he sure did get his share of them.
The world is a little more hopeless, a little more ingenuous, a lot less
honest and courageous with this new and terrible loss. It is hard to see
people of such uncompromising fabric leave us so soon.
In deep sadness and distress,
> From: "Mike Ruppert" email@example.com>
> In death they beat him ruthlessly.
> I always knew it was a fight to the death. I don t think he ever fully
> understood that. Cele Castillo and I both told him what he was up
> and what it would cost him.
> There would be no FTW, or Crossing the Rubicon without Gary Webb.
> Fitts and I would never have met had it not been for Gary Webb. Dick
> Gregory would not have made me his white son on the radio had it not
> for Gary Webb. I would never have confronted John Deutch at Locke High
> it not been for Gary Webb.
> I might have committed suicide in 1996 -- broke and having given up all
> hope of making people listen -- had it not been for Gary Webb. For some
> years now it has been the farthest thing from my mind. I found
> (rediscovered) my purpose and I guess he lost his.
> Assuming that it really was a suicide and I have absolutely no reason
> suspect otherwise it is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. Maybe
> Cele Castillo and I know it fully, but I don t think either one of us
> to discuss it in public or in private.
> I called the Coroner shortly after the first flash came in here. His
> of death was listed at 8:20 AM. Since it was Saturday, the homicide
> detectives would have been off and had to be paged. I estimate two
> (minimum) for them to get to the crime scene (unless a uniformed
> handled it). Add three hours minimum for crime scene, photos etc; that
> means he went to the Coroner s most likely around 1 PM. It could have
> much later depending on response times on a Saturday before Christmas.
> When I called the Sacramento Coroner s Office at 8:20 PM tonight and
> with an unidentified female who stated that he had just been there
> late this afternoon. I Id d myself as a friend, ex-cop and journalist
> she confirmed a single shot to the head. I wasn t sure it was our Gary
> so I got his date of birth, hair and eye color. They matched. Gary was
> good looking man with a moustache and I asked if that fit. She
> for quite a while before answering, I can t tell.
> I confirmed his death with the San Jose Merc and the LATimes. We will
> if later facts don t mesh with what I report here. But in my gut I
> think he
> was a suicide. It has been years since he was in the limelight or had
> hot work going. Apparently he had just had a string of setbacks. He d
> a couple of jobs. He was freelancing. I am not reaching any firm
> conclusions here and now. I am just making a record of what I know and
> I feel at this very, very sad moment.
> I called the LATimes at about 9:15 because I wanted to make sure
> said some good things about him. I dropped some names and got to the
> or the editor on the story who wouldn t ID himself. He said he d have
> someone call me back to get my statement. No one ever called back.
> Damnit, he deserved better than this:
> Gary Webb, 49; Wrote Series Linking CIA, Drugs
> By Nita Lelyveld and Steve Hymon
> Times Staff Writers
> December 12, 2004
> Gary Webb, an investigative reporter who wrote a widely criticized
> linking the CIA to the explosion of crack cocaine in Los Angeles, was
> dead in his Sacramento-area home Friday. He apparently killed himself,
> authorities said.
> Webb had suffered a gunshot wound to the head, according to the
> County coroner's office. He was 49.
> His 1996 San Jose Mercury News series contended that Nicaraguan drug
> traffickers had sold tons of crack cocaine from Colombian cartels in
> Angeles' black neighborhoods and then funneled millions in profits back
> the CIA-supported Nicaraguan Contras.
> Three months after the series was published, the Los Angeles County
> Sheriff's Department said it conducted an exhaustive investigation but
> found no evidence of a connection between the CIA and Southern
> drug traffickers.
> Major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and
> Washington Post, wrote reports discrediting elements of Webb's
> The Los Angeles Times report looked into Webb's charges "that a
> drug ring sent 'millions' of dollars to the Contras; that it launched
> epidemic of cocaine use in South-Central Los Angeles and America's
> inner cities; and that the agency either approved the scheme or
> deliberately turned a blind eye."
> "But the available evidence, based on an extensive review of court
> documents and more than 100 interviews in San Francisco, Los Angeles,
> Washington and Managua, fails to support any of those allegations," The
> Times reported.
> Months later, the Mercury News also backed away from the series,
> an open letter to its readers, admitting to flaws.
> "We oversimplified the complex issue of how the crack epidemic in
> grew," wrote the paper's executive editor, Jerry Ceppos, adding, "I
> that we fell short at every step of our process in the writing, editing
> production of our work."
> The paper reassigned Webb to a suburban bureau. In December 1997, he
> "All he ever wanted to do was write," said Webb's ex-wife, Susan Bell,
> met him when they were both high school students in Indiana. "He never
> really recovered from it."
> Webb was born in Corona to a military family and moved around the
> throughout his youth. He dropped out of journalism school just shy of
> graduating to accept his first newspaper job at the Kentucky Post, then
> went to the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Mercury News.
> Within two years of arriving at the paper, Webb was part of a team that
> the Pulitzer Prize in 1990 for coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake.
> Webb continued to defend his reporting, most notably in a 548-page
> "Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion,"
> which was published in 1999.
> After leaving the Mercury News, Webb worked in state government,
> the Joint Legislative Audit Committee's investigation into then-Gov.
> Davis' controversial award of a -million, no-bid contract to Oracle
> in 2001.
> "The guy had a fierce commitment to justice and truth. He cared deeply
> about the people who are forgotten, that we try to shove into the dark
> recesses of our minds and world," said Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for
> California attorney general's office who worked with Webb on the Oracle
> But Webb's career remained troubled. While working for another
> committee in Sacramento, Webb wrote a report accusing the California
> Highway Patrol of unofficially condoning and even encouraging racial
> profiling in its drug interdiction program.
> Legislative officials released the report in 1999 but cautioned that it
> based mainly on assumptions and anecdotes. Earlier this year, Webb was
> of a group of employees fired from the Assembly speaker's Office of
> Services for failing to show up for work.
> Webb, who lived in Carmichael, continued to write occasionally for a
> variety of publications. Last summer, the weekly Sacramento News &
> hired Webb to cover government and politics. He had recently written
> cover stories, including one on how much money Sacramento County was
> off the use of red-light cameras.
> "He's obviously a skilled reporter and writer and he was doing good
> for us and the evidence was on the page," said News & Review Editor Tom
> Webb is survived by two sons, Ian and Eric; and a daughter, Christine.
> If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at
> Article licensing and reprint options
> Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times
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