Talk:Gary Webb

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More articles[edit]

WhisperToMe (talk) 22:39, 24 December 2013 (UTC)


I take issue with this article. It claims in the introduction (and its overall feel is) that Webb was somehow vindicated. In actuality, a great deal of his more significant claims have (to date) NOT been verified. He claimed (for example) that Ross and his cohorts "opened the first pipeline between Colombia's cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles" he also claimed this same group "helped spark a crack explosion in urban America". That is baseless. And speaking of that, one of the very reports cited here says exactly that. I am speaking of the July 1998 Justice Department article referenced here. According to this article, the report is [mischaracterized as] a vindication of Webb, saying that the "report corroborated Webb's investigation into Norwin Meneses". But not only did the Justice Department report dispute these claims (saying they were unable to substantiate the claim that he was protected), it also disputed Webb's claims of the origins of the crack epidemic (both in Los Angeles and nationwide). It also said that Meneses's "drug dealing was not motivated by any desire to aid the Contra cause, but instead was for his personal profit". It also questioned the numbers Webb gave as far as their contributions to the Contra cause. I'm not sure how to resolve this but I think this article needs a re-write. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rja13ww33 (talkcontribs) 22:14, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

@LamontCranston: @Viriditas: @Commodore Sloat: @TDC: - To those I pinged, would you mind taking a look at this editor's comments? WhisperToMe (talk) 16:23, 6 July 2014 (UTC)
@Nareek: and @Quadell: WhisperToMe (talk) 16:26, 6 July 2014 (UTC)
@Tempshill: @Apostle12: WhisperToMe (talk) 02:59, 7 July 2014 (UTC)

One thing to keep in mind is that many newspapers who posted criticisms of Webb stated that his series stated certain things, but Webb's supporters stated that the critical newspapers were putting words in his mouth. WhisperToMe (talk) 06:00, 7 July 2014 (UTC)

It's true that a lot of people mischaracterized what Webb stated. But the quotes I gave (i.e. Ross & co. "opened the first pipeline between Colombia's cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles" and this "helped spark a crack explosion in urban America") came directly from the first installment of Dark Alliance itself. These are the claims that sparked so much attention for the series in the first place. Furthermore Webb also claimed that Ross was the "Johnny Appleseed of crack" in California (a notion which the DOJ investigation undermines).Rja13ww33 (talk) 13:27, 7 July 2014 (UTC)

Please stick to the sources. Originally, the reliable secondary sources in this article said he was vindicated. You're criticizing that based on your reading of the primary source material. Viriditas (talk) 10:24, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Rja13ww33, you need to find a secondary source which explicitly says something along the lines of: "Webb said A, the USDOJ said B, so therefore..." - Wikipedia:Original research does not allow an editor to say "Even though the Los Angeles Times/whoever had accused him and now said he was vindicated, I read the USDOJ report so I will say he's wrong" WhisperToMe (talk) 13:31, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
I’m relatively new at this so I hope you will pardon the fact I am somewhat dismayed that I cannot cite primary resources that prove my assertion (I’m almost certain I’ve seen books cited as references on here). But if you want a secondary source that also question the notion that Webb was vindicated (and also characterized the Hitz report far differently than this article does), see below.
  • Delaval, Craig. “Cocaine, Conspiracy Theories & the C.I.A. in Central America
    • “Still, the fantastic story of the CIA injecting crack into ghettos had taken hold. In response to the public outcry following Webb's allegations--which were ultimately published in book form under the title Dark Alliance--the CIA conducted an internal investigation of its role in Central America related to the drug trade. Frederick Hitz, as the CIA Inspector General-- an independent watchdog approved by Congress--conducted the investigation. In October 1998, the CIA released a declassified version of Hitz's two-volume report.
The IG's report cleared the CIA of complicity with the inner-city crack cocaine trade. It refuted charges that CIA officials knew that their Nicaraguan allies were dealing drugs. But, the report said that the CIA, in a number of cases, didn't bother to look into allegations about narcotics And the Hitz report describes how there was little or no direction for CIA operatives when confronted by the rampant traffic in drugs in Central American during the 1980s.”
By the way, speaking of the Hitz report, this article says it says: “report described how the Reagan-Bush administration had protected more than 50 Contras and other drug traffickers, and by so doing thwarted federal investigations into drug crimes. Hitz published evidence that drug trafficking and money laundering had made its way into Reagan's National Security Council where Oliver North oversaw the operations of the Contras”. The citation for this is neither a secondary source describing the Hitz report nor is it the Hitz report itself; it is a archive for George Washington University that doesn’t reference the Hitz report (it references the Kerry Committee and North’s notebook (among other primary source by the way)). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rja13ww33 (talkcontribs) 19:04, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

We can chronicle sources which say he was vindicated and/or info was confirmed:

  • Paterno, Susan. "The Sad Saga of Gary Webb" (Archive). American Journalism Review. June/July 2005.
    • "But none of the papers adequately investigated the CIA's connection to Central American drug dealers, a relationship the agency confirmed in 1998, two years after Webb's series ran, and a year after he was exiled from journalism." and "Though hardly a vindication of Webb, the report marked one of the most extensive internal probes the CIA had ever launched, and it strengthened Webb's resolve to win the war his series had unleashed."
  • Schou, Nick. "Ex-L.A. Times Writer Apologizes for "Tawdry" Attacks" (Archive). LA Times. Thursday May 30, 2013.
    • "Webb was vindicated by a 1998 CIA Inspector General report, which revealed that for more than a decade the agency had covered up a business relationship it had with Nicaraguan drug dealers like Blandón."
    • This may be of note in the article: "Katz seems to be referring to the fact that Times editor Shelby Coffey assigned a staggering 17 reporters to exploit any error in Webb's reporting, including the most minute. The newspaper's response to "Dark Alliance" was longer than Webb's series. It was replete with quotes from anonymous CIA sources who denied the CIA was connected to contra-backing coke peddlers in the ghettos."
  • The 2013 Schou article was covered in: Pierce, Charles P. "Gary Webb And The Limits Of Vindication" (Archive). Esquire. June 18, 2013.
    • As the Esquire notes, Webb once wrote for the Esquire

As for Katz's response:

  • Katz, Jesse. "Seeing the Gray in 'Dark Alliance'" (Archive). Los Angeles Magazine. June 6, 2013.
    • "Since the San Jose Mercury News’ 1996 publication of his “Dark Alliance” series, which alleged that a drug ring affiliated with Nicaragua’s CIA-backed Contra rebels helped “spark a crack explosion in urban America,” Webb has been portrayed as either a courageous reporter or a loose cannon, a hero or a hyperbolist. He spoke truth to power, or he ignored truth in stubborn pursuit of his own agenda. His work has been vindicated. His work has been discredited." (Katz was describing the media reaction - He was one of the guys who published critical articles back in the 1990s and many pro-Webb people criticized him... AFAIK he had to do an about-face)

In general terms:

  • Alessio, John C. Social Problems and Inequality: Social Responsibility through Progressive Sociology. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., January 28, 2013. ISBN 1409494586, 9781409494584. p. 155. "Gary Webb was eventually vindicated, but not until his life, and the lives of many others, were ruined."
You see, this demonstrates the problem with not relying on original sources in this issue. This guy claims that: “They were also crimes that involved the illegal importation and distribution of drugs in order to make money to fund the Contras. The CIA and other arms of the government were involved, and had drug lords on the payroll.” Not only is this vague as to what this “involvement” actually was or who this drug lord is, but the Hitz report actually says something far different (assuming this “drug lord” they refer to is Ross): “No information has been found to indicate that any past or present employee of CIA, or anyone acting on behalf of CIA, had any direct or indirect dealing with Ricky Ross, Oscar Danilo Blandon or Juan Norwin Meneses. Additionally, no information has been found to indicate that CIA had any relationship or contact with Ronald J. Lister or David Scott Weekly. No information has been found to indicate that any of these individuals was ever employed by CIA, or met by CIA employees or anyone acting on CIA's behalf.”
It also claims that (the book) Dark Alliance is an “extremely well researched and documented book”, without informing the reader that a lot of this “documentation” came from drug dealers (facing prison sentences) and people connected with the Christic Institute (which isn’t even discussed in the original wiki article) were some of Webb’s investigators. So I hope this demonstrates the folly of relying on a bunch of second hand sources as to what Webb’s claims actually were and whether or not he was vindicated. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rja13ww33 (talkcontribs) 02:58, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
The Wikipedia community is fairly adamant against doing Wikipedia:Original research. Wikipedia is a tertiary source and it's supposed to report on what other people say, so it is against the purpose of Wikipedia for someone to do his or her own analysis and say "those guys say the work was vindicated but they misinterpreted the source". However I found from the AJR link from Susan Paterno that not everyone agrees that the CIA report "vindicated" (using that specific word) Webb's work, so what you could do is change it to say: "Nick Schou says AAA while Susan Paterno says BBB and Jesse Katz says CCCC" with acknowledgement of Katz's previous involvement in the affair. WhisperToMe (talk) 04:07, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
This stuff about how only “other” people’s statements can be cited (no original material) not only seems odd but doesn’t seem accurate either when you look at other wiki pages. For example, the piece on President Kennedy’s assassination cites the Warren Commission Directly (i.e. a direct quote; NO middle man) in several instances. Its’ a similar thing with the Watergate scandal too (in terms of transcripts cited). I could go on but I think the point is clear. If the train is going off the rails in terms of conclusions, I might see your point. But it also seems odd to me that anyone would want to rely on other people’s interpretations when a wealth of primary resources are available.Rja13ww33 (talk) 05:04, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
This is explained in the page against original research. You are allowed to quote from an original source document, but you are not allowed to advance a new interpretation or conclusion on the topic based upon that original source document (that is called synthesis), unless someone else has posted that conclusion in their own article. In terms of the interpretation of the documents you are stuck between what published authors say. If you want, I can make a post on the Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/Noticeboard and get some additional attention. WhisperToMe (talk) 09:10, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
If you think that is the best course, by all means. By the way, it’s interesting when you read this where “interpretations” are acceptable and where they are not. In the “Criticism” section, Glen Garvin’s review of Dark Alliance is discussed. Virtually none of the articles cited supporting Webb are evaluated (they are essentially taken at face value). But Garvin’s sure is saying: “However, Garvin offers no evidence of his own that directly refutes Webb's documentation, and simply assumes Webb is wrong by relying on second hand mainstream sources. Garvin then states Webb's work is really about "vindicating the American left””.Rja13ww33 (talk) 19:41, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
Alright, I'll make the post (I'm surprised only one of the people I've pinged have responded so far!). Thanks for catching that, by the way. There shouldn't be original analysis of Garvin's criticism. There should be only analysis of Garvin's criticism if some third party had criticized Garvin for writing what he did. WhisperToMe (talk) 08:52, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view/Noticeboard#NPOV_notice_on_Gary_Webb:_Was_he_.22vindicated.22.3F WhisperToMe (talk) 09:15, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanks. By the way the post (or notice) mentioned only the CIA's internal report. There is also the DOJ report that I mentioned before.Rja13ww33 (talk) 19:29, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Taking the advice from the NPOV noticeboard, I attributed the "vindicated" statement to Nick Schou WhisperToMe (talk) 07:00, 27 July 2014 (UTC)

If anyone knows of any other sources that talk about this, please add them! WhisperToMe (talk) 14:42, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

Keep in mind the lead states: "his reportage was eventually vindicated; since his death, for example, both the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune have defended his "Dark Alliance" series." - So what one can do is find the newer (2000s and newer) articles from the two publications, and not only use them as sources but quote the relevant passages and maybe use the wording from the two articles. WhisperToMe (talk) 04:57, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Here's a passage from the Los Angeles Times editorial written by Nick Schou: Schou, Nick (August 18, 2006). "The truth in 'Dark Alliance'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  • "Meanwhile, spurred on by Webb's story, the CIA conducted an internal investigation that acknowledged in March 1998 that the agency had covered up Contra drug trafficking for more than a decade. Although the Washington Post and New York Times covered the report -- which confirmed key chunks of Webb's allegations -- the L.A. Times ignored it for four months, and largely portrayed it as disproving the "Dark Alliance" series. "We dropped the ball on that story," said Doyle McManus, the paper's Washington bureau chief, who helped supervise its response to "Dark Alliance.""
WhisperToMe (talk) 09:46, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Sources on the CSUN site[edit]

Talk:Gary Webb/CSUNpages I have found additional resources and will post them here WhisperToMe (talk) 16:24, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

There are California State University, Northridge pages from Dr. Bernardo Attias, titled "San Jose Mercury News Phony Epilogue" and "Cocaine Import Agency" -- these pages include news articles that can be of use to this page WhisperToMe (talk) 16:29, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

My plan for this article[edit]

After the NPOV dispute is finished, I want do this: split this article into two:

  • Gary Webb - A biography of Gary Webb
  • Dark Alliance - An article about the book (remember if a book has at least two reviews it meets WP:GNG) and about the preceding journalist stories (the background)

That way it is easier for someone to read about either topic. You can use a university library search (I use University of Houston Libraries) to generate a list of possible book reviews, and then use WP:RX to get personal copies of the said book reviews. WhisperToMe (talk) 11:50, 10 July 2014 (UTC)

Looks like you have help. It's already done (I fixed your link above). Viriditas (talk) 12:16, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Thank you so much, Viriditas! WhisperToMe (talk) 14:42, 10 July 2014 (UTC)