WPost’s Slimy Assault on Gary Webb

Exclusive: The movie, “Kill the Messenger,” portrays the mainstream U.S. news media as craven for destroying Gary Webb rather than expanding on his investigation of the Contra-cocaine scandal. So, now one of those “journalists” is renewing the character assassination of Webb, notes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Jeff Leen, the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor for investigations, begins his
renewed attack
on the late Gary Webb’s Contra-cocaine reporting with a falsehood.

Leen insists that there is a journalism dictum that “an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.” But Leen must know that it is not true. Many extraordinary claims, such as assertions in 2002-03 that Iraq was hiding arsenals of WMDs, were published as flat-fact without “extraordinary proof” or any real evidence at all, including by Leen’s colleagues at the Washington Post.

Journalist Gary Webb

Journalist Gary Webb

A different rule actually governs American journalism that journalists need “extraordinary proof” if a story puts the U.S. government or an “ally” in a negative light but pretty much anything goes when criticizing an “enemy.”

If, for instance, the Post wanted to accuse the Syrian government of killing civilians with Sarin gas or blame Russian-backed rebels for the shoot-down of a civilian airliner over Ukraine, any scraps of proof no matter how dubious would be good enough (as was the actual case in 2013 and 2014, respectively).

However, if new evidence undercut those suspicions and shifted the blame to people on “the U.S. side” say, the Syrian rebels and the Ukrainian government then the standards of proof suddenly skyrocket beyond reach. So what you get is not “responsible” journalism as Leen tries to suggest but hypocrisy and propaganda. One set of rules for the goose and another set for the gander.

The Contra-Cocaine Case

Or to go back to the Contra-cocaine scandal that Brian Barger and I first exposed for the Associated Press in 1985: If we were writing that the leftist Nicaraguan Sandinista government the then U.S. “enemy” was shipping cocaine to the United States, any flimsy claim would have sufficed. But the standard of proof ratcheted up when the subject of our story was cocaine smuggling by President Ronald Reagan’s beloved Contras.

In other words, the real dictum is that there are two standards, double standards, something that a careerist like Leen knows in his gut but doesn’t want you to know. All the better to suggest that Gary Webb was guilty of violating some noble principle of journalism.

But Leen is wrong in another way because there was “extraordinary proof” establishing that the Contras were implicated in drug trafficking and that the Reagan administration was looking the other way.

When Barger and I wrote the first story about Contra-cocaine trafficking almost three decades ago, we already had “extraordinary proof,” including documents from Costa Rica, statements by Contras and Contra backers, and admissions from officials in the Drug Enforcement Administration and Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff.

However, Leen seems to dismiss our work as nothing but getting “tips” about Contra-cocaine trafficking as if Barger and I were like the hacks at the Washington Post and the New York Times who wait around for authorized handouts from the U.S. government.

Following the Money

Barger and I actually were looking for something different when we encountered the evidence on Contra-cocaine trafficking. We were trying to figure out how the Contras were sustaining themselves in the field after Congress cut off the CIA’s financing for their war.

We were, in the old-fashioned journalistic parlance, “following the money.” The problem was the money led, in part, to the reality that all the major Contra organizations were collaborating with drug traffickers.

Besides our work in the mid-1980s, Sen. John Kerry’s follow-on Contra-cocaine investigation added substantially more evidence. Yet Leen and his cohorts apparently felt no need to pursue the case any further or even give respectful attention to Kerry’s official findings.

Indeed, when Kerry’s report was issued in April 1989, the Washington Post ran a dismissive story by Michael Isikoff buried deep inside the paper. Newsweek dubbed Kerry “a randy conspiracy buff.” In Leen’s new article attacking Gary Webb — published on the front-page of the Washington Post’s Sunday Outlook section — Leen just says:

“After an exhaustive three-year investigation, the committee’s report concluded that CIA officials were aware of the smuggling activities of some of their charges who supported the contras, but it stopped short of implicating the agency directly in drug dealing. That seemed to be the final word on the matter.”

But why was it the “final word”? Why didn’t Leen and others who had missed the scandal as it was unfolding earlier in the decade at least try to build on Kerry’s findings. After all, these were now official U.S. government records. Wasn’t that “extraordinary” enough?

In this context, Leen paints himself as the true investigative journalist who knew the inside story of the Contra-cocaine tale from the beginning. He wrote: “As an investigative reporter covering the drug trade for the Miami Herald, I wrote about the explosion of cocaine in America in the 1980s and 1990s, and the role of Colombia’s Medellin Cartel in fueling it.

“Beginning in 1985, journalists started pursuing tips about the CIA’s role in the drug trade. Was the agency allowing cocaine to flow into the United States as a means to fund its secret war supporting the contra rebels in Nicaragua? Many journalists, including me, chased that story from different angles, but the extraordinary proof was always lacking.”

Again, what Leen says is not true. Leen makes no reference to the groundbreaking AP story in 1985 or other disclosures in the ensuing years. He just insists that “the extraordinary proof” was lacking — which it may have been for him given his lackluster abilities. He then calls the final report of Kerry’s investigation the “final word.”

But Leen doesn’t explain why he and his fellow mainstream journalists were so incurious about this major scandal that they would remain passive even in the wake of a Senate investigation. It’s also not true that Kerry’s report was the “final word” prior to Webb reviving the scandal in 1996.

Government Witnesses

In 1991, during the narcotics trafficking trial of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, the U.S. government itself presented witnesses who connected the Contras to the Medellin cartel.

Indeed, after testimony by Medellin cartel kingpin Carlos Lehder about his $10 million contribution to the Contras, the Washington Post wrote in a Nov. 27, 1991 editorial that “The Kerry hearings didn’t get the attention they deserved at the time” and that “The Noriega trial brings this sordid aspect of the Nicaraguan engagement to fresh public attention.”

But the Post offered its readers no explanation for why Kerry’s hearings had been largely ignored, with the Post itself a leading culprit in this journalistic misfeasance. Nor did the Post and the other leading newspapers use the opening created by the Noriega trial to do anything to rectify their past neglect.

In other words, it didn’t seem to matter how much “extraordinary proof” the Washington Post or Jeff Leen had. Nothing would be sufficient to report seriously on the Contra-cocaine scandal, not even when the U.S. government vouched for the evidence.

So, Leen is trying to fool you when he presents himself as a “responsible journalist” weighing the difficult evidentiary choices. He’s just the latest hack to go after Gary Webb, which has become urgent again for the mainstream media in the face of “Kill the Messenger,” a new movie about Webb’s ordeal.

What Leen won’t face up to is that the tag-team destruction of Gary Webb in 1996-97 by the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times represented one of the most shameful episodes in the history of American journalism.

The Big Papers tore down an honest journalist to cover up their own cowardly failure to investigate and expose a grave national security crime, the Reagan administration’s tolerance for and protection of drug trafficking into the United States by the CIA’s client Contra army.

This journalistic failure occurred even though the Associated Press far from a radical news outlet and a Senate investigation (not to mention the Noriega trial) had charted the way.

Leen’s Assault

Contrary to Leen’s column, “Kill the Messenger” is actually a fairly honest portrayal of what happened when Webb exposed the consequences of the Contra cocaine smuggling after the drugs reached the United States. One channel fed into an important Los Angeles supply chain that produced crack.

But Leen tells you that “The Hollywood version of [Webb’s] story, a truth-teller persecuted by the cowardly and craven mainstream media, is pure fiction.”

He then lauds the collaboration of the Big Three newspapers in destroying Webb and creating such enormous pressure on Webb’s newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, that the executive editor Jerry Ceppos threw his own reporter under the bus. To Leen, this disgraceful behavior represented the best of American journalism.

Leen wrote: “The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, in a rare show of unanimity, all wrote major pieces knocking the story down for its overblown claims and undernourished reporting.

“Gradually, the Mercury News backed away from Webb’s scoop. The paper transferred him to its Cupertino bureau and did an internal review of his facts and his methods. Jerry Ceppos, the Mercury News’s executive editor, wrote a piece concluding that the story did not meet the newspaper’s standards, a courageous stance, I thought.”

“Courageous”? What an astounding characterization of Ceppos’s act of career cowardice.

But Leen continues by explaining his role in the Webb takedown. After all, Leen was then the drug expert at the Miami Herald, which like the San Jose Mercury News was a Knight Ridder newspaper. Leen says his editors sought his opinion about Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series.

Though acknowledging that he was “envious” of Webb’s story when it appeared in 1996, Leen writes that he examined it and found it wanting, supposedly because of alleged overstatements. He proudly asserts that because of his critical analysis, the Miami Herald never published Webb’s series.

But Leen goes further. He falsely characterizes the U.S. government’s later admissions contained in inspector general reports by the CIA and Justice Department. If Leen had bothered to read the reports thoroughly, he would have realized that the reports actually establish that Webb and indeed Kerry, Barger and I grossly understated the seriousness of the Contra-cocaine problem which began at the start of the Contra movement in the early 1980s and lasted through the decade until the end of the war.

Leen apparently assumes that few Americans will take the trouble to study and understand what the reports said. That is why I published a lengthy account of the U.S. government’s admissions both after the reports were published in 1998 and as “Kill the Messenger” was hitting the theaters in October. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Sordid Contra-Cocaine Saga.”]

Playing It Safe

Instead of diving into the reeds of the CIA and DOJ reports, Leen does what he and his mainstream colleagues have done for the past three decades, try to minimize the seriousness of the Reagan administration tolerating cocaine trafficking by its Contra clients and even obstructing official investigations that threatened to expose this crime of state.

Instead, to Leen, the only important issue is whether Gary Webb’s story was perfect. But no journalistic product is perfect. There are always more details that a reporter would like to have, not to mention compromises with editors over how a story is presented. And, on a complex story, there are always some nuances that could have been explained better. That is simply the reality of journalism, the so-called first draft of history.

But Leen pretends that it is the righteous thing to destroy a reporter who is not perfect in his execution of a difficult story and that Gary Webb thus deserved to be banished from his profession for life, a cruel punishment that impoverished Webb and ultimately drove him to suicide in 2004.

But if Leen is correct that a reporter who takes on a very tough story and doesn’t get every detail precisely correct should be ruined and disgraced what does he tell his Washington Post colleague Bob Woodward, whose heroic Watergate reporting included an error about whether a claim regarding who controlled the White House slush fund was made before a grand jury?

While Woodward and his colleague Carl Bernstein were right about the substance, they were wrong about its presentation to a grand jury. Does Leen really believe that Woodward and Bernstein should have been drummed out of journalism for that mistake? Instead, they were lionized as heroes of investigative journalism despite the error as they should have been.

Yet, when Webb exposed what was arguably an even worse crime of state the Reagan administration turning a blind eye to the importation of tons of cocaine into the United States Leen thinks any abuse of Webb is justified because his story wasn’t perfect.

Those two divergent judgments on how Woodward’s mistake was understandably excused and how Webb’s imperfections were never forgiven speak volumes about what has happened to the modern profession of journalism at least in the mainstream U.S. media. In reality, Leen’s insistence on perfection and “extraordinary proof” is just a dodge to rationalize letting well-connected criminals and their powerful accomplices off the hook.

In the old days, the journalistic goal was to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” but the new rule appears to be: “any standard of proof works when condemning the weak or the despised but you need unachievable ‘extraordinary proof’ if you’re writing about the strong and the politically popular.”

Who Is Unfit?

Leen adds a personal reflection on Webb as somehow not having the proper temperament to be an investigative reporter. Leen wrote:

“After Webb was transferred to Cupertino [in disgrace], I debated him at a conference of the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization in Phoenix in June 1997. He was preternaturally calm. While investigative journalists are usually bundles of insecurities and questions and skepticism, he brushed off any criticism and admitted no error. When asked how I felt about it all, I said I felt sorry for him. I still feel that way.”

It’s interesting and sadly typical that while Leen chastises Webb for not admitting error, Leen offers no self-criticism of himself for missing what even the CIA has now admitted, that the Contras were tied up in the cocaine trade. Doesn’t an institutional confession by the CIA’s inspector general constitute “extraordinary proof”?

Also, since the CIA’s inspector general’s report included substantial evidence of Contra-cocaine trafficking running through Miami, shouldn’t Leen offer some mea culpa about missing these serious crimes that were going on right under his nose in his city and on his beat? What sort of reporter is “preternaturally calm” about failing to do his job right and letting the public suffer as Leen did?

Perhaps all one needs to know about the sorry state of today’s mainstream journalism is that Jeff Leen is the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor for investigations and Gary Webb is no longer with us.

[To learn how you can hear a December 1996 joint appearance at which Robert Parry and Gary Webb discuss their reporting, click here.]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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55 comments for “WPost’s Slimy Assault on Gary Webb

  1. Abe
    October 18, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Both the Washington Post and the New York Times are newspapers of record for slimy assaults against U.S. government designated “enemies.”

    • October 19, 2014 at 8:00 am

      Not to mention the Orwellian censorship of reader comments on both those websites. Anything critical of the host never sees the light of day.

      • Robby
        October 19, 2014 at 12:25 pm

        Well, that’s not true. All sorts of critics comments are appearing at the Post site under the Leen column!

      • toby
        October 19, 2014 at 3:18 pm

        No kidding! The blacklist moderator(s) there is quite active…. restricting freedom of speech when Judea/Israel/Zionists are held accountable or criticized.

    • Mary
      October 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      “The Agency’s relationship with [The New York] Times was by far its most valuable among newspapers, according to CIA officials. [It was] general Times policy … to provide assistance to the CIA whenever possible.”
      The CIA and the Media, by Carl Bernstein

  2. incontinent reader
    October 18, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Now that J. Bezos is in bed with J. Brennan and on ‘Cloud Nine’, I expect the slime to continue to ooze, and at the time and place J.B. demands.

  3. W. R. Knight
    October 18, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    “Leen insists that there is a journalism dictum that ‘an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof’”. — If that were true, the Washington Post couldn’t print any of its extraordinary claims.

    • toby
      October 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      One would think the government should be held to those standards….NOT by the Post or Times.

      Typical, claim the opposition is doing exactly what you are doing….aka 180, caprice, contrary to the truth.

  4. October 18, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    What’s especially amazing in all this is that Alfred McCoy way back in the 1970s in his book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, showed the CIA’s connections to drug trafficking; he later updated that classic study to include later instances in other parts of the world. The Company is literally a force for crime and evil, despite some of the fine people who have worked within it, and later revealed the seamy side of so-called “intelligence” work. It is the covert ‘operations’ side of the CIA that causes most of the serious problems including poisoning sources of information for the intelligence analysis side of the house.

  5. bfearn
    October 18, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Unfortunately the majority of the public will continue to believe the mainstream media because they are lazy and simply refuse to believe that these ‘reputable’ media outlets would lie to them. It is called patriotism which has been accurately described as “the virtue of the vicious”.

    As a previous blogger noted Americans accept government lies ad nauseum –
    lied about the Gulf of Tonkin incident so that they could invade Vietnam.
    lied about the carnage they inflicted on Laos and Cambodia
    lied about the US controlled, Contra terrorist carnage overseen by Oliver North
    lied about the invasion of Panama
    lied about the invasion of Granada
    lied about babies in incubators in Kuwait
    lied about WMDs in Iraq
    lied about the non-existent ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Libya, and on it goes!!

    • GerriM
      October 19, 2014 at 1:40 am

      And how do you determine truth from lies??
      Talk is cheap.

      • joe schmoe
        October 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm

        nice of you to demonstrate just how cheap talk is.

      • toby
        October 19, 2014 at 3:30 pm

        Seek and ye shall find. Pray for wisdom to discern. Question motives and hidden agendas.

      • Brian
        October 20, 2014 at 12:49 pm

        To people like yourself, the truth is whatever you believe in fervently enough.

  6. Jason
    October 18, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    “The Big Papers tore down an honest journalist to cover up their own cowardly failure to investigate and expose a grave national security crime, the Reagan administration’s tolerance for and protection of drug trafficking into the United States by the CIA’s client Contra army.”

    Aside from focusing on the details of the malfeasance, the fact that the Reagan administration was aiding and abetting a right-wing foreign group to wage an assault within U.S. borders upon the American people is itself a travesty that should be investigated. Well-informed readers should consider most mainstream newspapers and their journalists to be CIA assets and respond accordingly by canceling subscriptions.

    • October 19, 2014 at 7:53 am

      A German journalist, Udo Ulfkotte, recently admitted in an interview that he has been a long-time CIA asset and was rewarded in various ways for writing fake anti-Russian and anti-Gaddafi stories. There was no written contract, all of these activities were unofficial. Would it surprise me that Leen is being “unofficially rewarded” by the CIA?

      The release of the movie that casts negative light on the CIA most likely caused the agency to take urgent countermeasures involving the US media.

      • toby
        October 19, 2014 at 3:36 pm

        Light upon their deeds makes it hard to cover up. Spread the information widely.

    • Brian
      October 20, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Anyone who still actually has a subscription to any of these worthless propaganda rags ought to have their heads examined.

  7. Theodora Crawford
    October 18, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    The Post is rapidly losing all credibility…and tragically they are not alone in the ranks of our “main stream media”… Tragic demise of a once respected institution.

  8. Steven
    October 18, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Thank you for this, and so many other articles you have written over the years.

  9. Zachary Smith
    October 18, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    After first reading this thread about the WP’s hatchet job on Gary Webb, I shifted to the one titled “A Mysterious Iran-Nuke Document”. After some looking around, I found this at the Washington Post site.

    The process is not infallible. Evidence is often ambiguous, as the same technology can sometimes have peaceful as well as military applications. In the case of Danilenko, the scientist’s synthetic-diamonds business provided a plausible explanation for his extensive contacts with senior Iranian scientists over half a decade. Danilenko has consistently denied that he ever knowingly aided Iran’s nuclear program.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-scientist-vyacheslav-danilenkos-aid-to-iran-offers-peek-at-nuclear-program/2011/11/12/gIQAeuiCJN_story_2.html

    When the neocon Post is doing the publishing and when they’re investigating issues where God didn’t deliver the story carved out on stone tablets. Things can be fuzzy, evidence “ambiguous”.

    But when somebody else tackles an issue Big Newspapers have been instructed to ignore, it’s time to bare the fangs.

    Quoting from Leen’s piece:

    But investigative reporting is unforgiving to those who get it only partially right, especially on their core claims. When a story gets that big, it invites scrutiny and criticism. And criticism of the criticism. Where does it all land in the end? The criticism of the criticism usually fails to come to grips with the salient point: No matter what you think of the CIA, there’s no putting the crack-epidemic genie back in the bottle.

    Mind you, there is an excellent chance the WP got even the “core claims” wrong with their Iran piece. But they leave in enough weasel words to cover their tracks.

    So I’d say Jeff Leen isn’t just a slime-ball, he’s a slime ball of weasel ancestry.

    But hey, he’s got a cushy job, and so long as he continues to cooperate with the Powers That Be, he’s likely to retire from that elevated position.

  10. F. G. Sanford
    October 18, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Take heart, y’all, I just checked the Post online. So far, there are 48 responses to Leen’s article. 47 say he’s a scumbag, and one says, “I see a promotion in Leen’s future”.

  11. Mary
    October 18, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    Jeff Leen is guilty of something else plagiarism. His made up “journalism dictum” that “an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof,” is just a rewrite of Carl Sagan’s famous quote: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

  12. Shea
    October 19, 2014 at 3:04 am

    Not only is Leen a former employee of The Miami Herald, but also, so is Jerry Ceppos. Mainstream media – just one big happy family.

  13. Steve Daly
    October 19, 2014 at 3:08 am

    When we lived in Northern California my son’s classmate said his father told of unloading a transport of a shipment of boxes on a US military sir field.

  14. Steve Daly
    October 19, 2014 at 3:13 am

    When we lived in Northern California my son’s classmate said his father told of unloading a transport of a secret shipment of boxes on a US military air field that were then driven off base by non-military personnel.

  15. onno
    October 19, 2014 at 6:47 am

    I am reading a new book by a German journalist and 17 year veteran of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Udo Ulfkotte. His book Gekaufte Journalisten or Bought Journalists is typical for todays world of MSM propaganda financed by national governments and in particular by USA and CIA/NATO. Jeff Leen shows that he is faithful to his paying boss ‘ the US government.
    Also todays smear campaign against Russia and its President is financed by the US government. This psychological war fare initiated by western politicians as part of their geopolitical ambitions is based on lies to manipulate the world’s opinion. Denying ANY fascism or Neo Nazi in the present Kiev government that is murdering thousands of innocent civilians, mostly women and children in East Ukraine and Odessa. Denying the fact Biden’s son Hunter is not only a drug addict but also working for oligarch/criminal/governor of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine who with his private army of extremists now attacks even factories to expand his power in times there is anarchy in Ukraine and USA supports them!!!
    Freedom of Speech is documented in the US Constitution but Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and NSA Edward Snowdon are fighting extradition to the USA whre they could face death or life. Today this constitutional right is violated by the US
    Its now 3 months ago that MH 17 was shot down in Ukraine and USA refuses to release their satellite pictures like the Russians did who proved that 2 Ukrainian fighter jets shot down MH 17 and NO surface-to-Air missile. Isn’t coincidence that MH 370 cannot be found probably some US Navy ship in the China Sea used similar missiles as was used on July 3,1988 to shoot down an Iran commercial Airbus 300 with 290 people on board incl. 66 children on a ‘local’ flight from Teheran-Dubai. Also in this case US government denied ANY responsibility but paid anyhow a compensation. On 17 July 1996 TWA flight 800 exploded 12 minutes after take-off killing all 230 passengers on board. Investigation NEVER definitely determined the cause of the explosion and conspiracy theory included a possible missile attack by US naval ship.
    US foreign policy is not like Obama says ‘don’t do stupid stuff’ but its more like preventing that shut hits the fan. Therefore, Snowdon and Assange have to worry about their lives as well and hopefully are not going the same way like Gary Webb a journalist who wanted to bring the truth to the people and paid for it with his life.

    • October 19, 2014 at 7:57 am

      You just stole my thunder regarding Udo Ulfkotte! Excellent post anyways.

  16. Gregory Kruse
    October 19, 2014 at 9:01 am

    It isn’t easy for me to feel hopeful, but I am, that this movie will go some way to vindicate Webb, Parry, and other honest and heroic journalists.

  17. October 19, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Thanks Bob. I am glad you replied to this quickly.

    Clearly, the Post is worried because the film turned out so well. And it shows them cooperating with the Agency to smear Webb.

    The amazing thing about Webb’s series is how much of it he got right, when he was essentially working by himself. When one reads his book, it is even more substantive, since he had more time to work on it.

    There is no doubt that the main gist of his story is correct: Contras, Meneses, Blandon, Ross.. and they were all allowed to proceed under the umbrella of the CIA’s not so secret war. But further, as the IG report revealed, the CIA had an understanding with the Justice Department as early as 1982 not to go after drug traffickers who were supporting the Contra cause. That was a crucial piece of evidence that Hitz unearthed. Casey and the CIA knew what was happening and sanctioned it throughout the government.

  18. hbrasyunas@yahoo.com
    October 19, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Here is to you Robert Parry for bringing us the truth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdmHHoI9beM

  19. Steven R
    October 19, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Over the years we have learned that several journalists and editors have taken direction from the US government in doing the very thing that Jeff Leen is doing with this story; providing a counter-narrative to what’s going on. A counter-narrative that the US can then expand upon to discredit their critics. They seem to find columnists the best to feed their fabricated truths to. Joseph Alsop, Edward R. Murrow, and others, all at times posted stories for their handlers at the CIA. Clearly Mr. Leen hasn’t read the recently declassified document brought to our attention by the folks over at The Intercept, about how the CIA “handled” the Webb stories through their contacts with journalists across the nation. Are they doing so again? If history tells us anything, all we need do is look back to the 1950’s and Operation Mockingbird, whose secrets are, as best we know, part of the public record, to see that this is not a flight of fancy, but a grim reality of journalism today. Most information is eventually declassified. That’s when we learn things like Edward R. Murrow took on Joe McCarthy because the CIA told him to. What will we learn about Mr. Leen’s motivations for this column when all of this is eventually declassified, twenty or fifty years from now?

  20. Otho Stice
    October 19, 2014 at 11:37 am

    How ironic that Leen’s name means “they read” in Spanish,

  21. Bill Bodden
    October 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    The Washington Post: Under new management but business as usual.

  22. D Scott
    October 19, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    The Iranian airliner was downed in the Persian Gulf, not the China Sea.
    Good post!

  23. Colinjames
    October 19, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    If it’s any consolation, the comments to the wapo piece (as far as I read, like the first fifteen or so) unanimously disparage the attack, the paper, and the author, as well as including links to this piece. Some pretty good comments too, especially for a msm site. Seems people are catching on. I seriously wouldn’t doubt if Leen was asked by the CIA or some higher-up to write that cowardly drivel. Or maybe he’s just that big a douchebag he took it upon himself.

    • Mary
      October 19, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      “You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month.”
      –CIA operative, discussing the availability and prices of journalists willing to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories. Katherine the Great, by Deborah Davis

  24. Chris
    October 19, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    As long as people deify Reagan and believe that he was ” The Greatest President that ever lived” .. Webb will never be vindicated. Because to do so would mean that Reagan was every bit as evil and corrupt as some of us know he was. ..
    21 convictions of members of his administration..
    Imagine if that happened in Obamas administration? Would the media give him the pass it always gave Reagan? I don’t think so.
    We need to stop pretending the GOP myth that the media is left wing and see it for what it really is ,

  25. lokiboy8@hotmail.com
    October 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Sorry, I have to dash to work, so, I have not parsed ALL the comments.
    I woud just like to point out an obvious, to me anyway, and salient point in all of this.

    Project Mockingbird.
    Started in 1947 and continuing — just like MK Ultra, COINTELPRO, etc.
    Under many nw and different monikers, of course.
    Blessings

  26. Pat
    October 19, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    As others have pointed out, comments on Leen’s hatchet job are overwhelmingly against. The few supporting comments sound like they’re written by Langley trolls. I had a good laugh at the one that derided Consortium as “that leftist online rag.”

    But I suppose WaPo wins anyway. Controversial articles get more clicks, and traffic stats improve when people stay on a page longer to leave comments.

  27. John Edward Hurley
    October 19, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    The Washington Post has yet to report on the closing of the century-old Confederate Memorial Association’s museum and library in Washington, which was the subject of federal and local courts for decades and included references to the Iran-contra cocaine connection with the CIA.
    Judge John H. Bayly, who had previously argued before his judgeship for the the CIA and CIA Director William Casey, jailed me as president and chairman of the CMA for challenging a legal bill submitted by his attorney friend Herbert Harmon. A day after my jailing, Harmon sent my a check for $20,000.
    It turns out that Harmon and his wife had set up a front company called Wrightmon USA. This outfit was being paid $15,000 per month by the apartheid South African government to circumvent the embargo by the UN and the US for the importation of uranium from the apartheid government.
    Since all of these machinations occurred in Washington, one would think that the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor for investigations might have gotten wind of it.

    John Edward Hurley

  28. Haya
    October 20, 2014 at 1:13 am

    After watching the great film, “Kill the Messenger”, I typed in the movie title to search for background to the story. The first link was to Jeff Leen’s Op piece in the Washington Post. My heart sank as I read it. It was “Kill the Messenger, the sequel”; or rather just like watching the movie all over again. I guess I didn’t get the message about MSM from the movie, and so it serves me right for even reading the Leen Op.

    Then I typed in Gary Webb, and the first link to appear was Robert Parry’s response to Leen on Consortiumnews.com. All I can say after reading 2 of Parry’s articles on the background of Gary Webb’s story, is that Parry gave Webb the justice he deserved- above and beyond an abridged movie. Parry hits it out of the field with his intelligent, comprehensive, independent, investigative journalism at it’s best. I’m grateful to have found Consortiumnews. Keep up your very good work. Following and sharing.

  29. thebullss@yahoo.com
    October 20, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Yes Washington Post, we believe you when you say;”Gary Webb was no journalism hero, despite what ‘Kill the Messenger’ says”. Just like when you write about Apartheid Israel and its benefits for the Americans, and US foreign policy. We really believe you.
    We should Just believe what Jennifer Rubin of WP writes. She is the Stick of the Journalism, that all journalism have to be measured by.

  30. Zachary Smith
    October 20, 2014 at 11:01 am

    The Washington Post Needs a Bus – and to Throw Jeff Leen Under It

    That’s the title of a long piece at the Narco News site. It’s essentially a monster-mash job on Mr. Leen.

    I don’t know enough about the situation to say whether or not this kicking-around is justified, but it’s a fact the authors show him no mercy.

    http://www.narconews.com/Issue67/article4769.html

  31. Art Brodsky
    October 20, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Thanks for writing this. I had read Gary Webb’s book and followed the case at the time. In an ideal world, a piece like this would have run alongside Leen’s. This isn’t an ideal world.

  32. October 20, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Jeff is a pathetic excuse for journalism to continuing to attack Gary even after even the CIA itself had acknowledged their own lies. Now that we know the truth, the likes of Jeff can no longer continue with the old tired lies and assault on a decent journalist such as Gary. May his Soul rest in peace. And may there be many more Garys to expose the charlatans such as Jeff.

  33. F. G. Sanford
    October 21, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Mr. Parry, this is off-topic, BUT – After reading the narconews.com link mentioned in a previous comment, i think it is only fitting that honest journalists should wage a campaign. They should endeavor to make “LEEN” the eponymous buzzword for shoddy journalism. It could also be used as an acronym, like “Liars Embedded in Editorial News”, or “Libelous Envy Extinguishes Narrative”, or “Larcenous Egotism and Editorial Narcissism”, or “Licentious Editing Exhonerates Negligence”. It could be an adjective, like “The author’s credibility was marred by Leenisms and questionable sources”. Or, “His Leening insinuations were not supported by credible evidence”. How about, “Respected experts refuted conclusions based on speculation and Leen interpretations”. Shoddy methodology and journalistic laziness verging on plagiarism could be referred to as “Leenist Editorializing”. Newspapers and media sources which peddle state-sponsored propaganda could be accused of “Leening” their audience, and opinion program hosts like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity could be accused of “Leenophilia”. Leenism, Leenography, and Leenaprops could become the new callouts to journalism motivated by personal vendetta and character assassination. Big media moguls with political agendas like Rupert Murdoch or Jeff Bezos could become known as “Leenogarchs”. Comedians who ridicule hypocrisy could do “One Leeners”, and evasive politicians who waffle on the issues could be called “Leenocrats”. With a little effort, Jeff Leen could become the Thomas Crapper of journalism – the only drawback would be his fame, but it would certainly bring him none of the fortune for which he was willing to sell his journalistic soul.

    Spread the “word” – let’s make this guy famous for LEENOCRISY!

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 21, 2014 at 8:10 am

      “Lean & Mean”

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 21, 2014 at 8:12 am

      Correction:
      “LEEN & Mean”

    • Tundra
      October 22, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      He’ll finally have some fame, just not the fame he was seeking!

  34. dahoit
    October 21, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    What jumped at me was the declaration of rare unanimity by Wapo,NYT,and LA Times.Show me one instance of disagreement on important issues of the day,and I’ll drop dead.
    And why are they so alike?

  35. Steve Luttner
    October 21, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    This flawed attack on the late Gary Webb cheapens the Washington Post. It makes the Post look very small and petty – and it in fact helps to substantiate part of the story line in Kill the Messenger. Instead of attacking dead reporters, perhaps the Post should try to break a story. RIP Gary Webb.

  36. October 21, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Here’s another good take on the attacks on Gary Webb’s work (though I admit I’m a little biased): http://surviving-journalism.com/2014/10/18/killing-the-messenger-again-new-film-arouses-new-ire-from-big-media/

    –Richard Wexler

  37. Aridzonan_13
    October 22, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I was on ADSW (88- 92) Counter Narcotics Ops for the National Guard.. Six to nine mos. before the Gary Webb’s SJMN story, there was scuttlebutt about Air Force assets being used to smuggle drugs into SC L.A. I have ancillary stories from Air Force radar troops, Army Rangers and Law Enforcement about how certain drug smuggling activities were coddled by FedGov.Inc (Note domain suffix) over a wide range of territory.

  38. October 27, 2014 at 10:37 am

    The real effect of Leen”s hit piece is to highlight the significance of the fact that Jeff Bezos’ company Amazon has a $600 million contract with the CIA (http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/07/the-details-about-the-cias-deal-with-amazon/374632/)

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