26 May 2002

Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press

Simply put, this book is the read of the year - every concerned American should read this book. Investigative journalists speak out on the obstructive forces they encounter when they have written the truth about powerful entites that would rather not have the truth announced. Courageously, they stuck to thier principles and fought the righteous battle, sticking to the course, and became even more vigilant in their research. Lost homes, financial ruin, public discrediting, blacklistings, legal challenges - it would be easy to say "OK, I'll change the story" or "Whatever you want me to say boss". It's my take that these individuals are real heroes, sacrificing personal security, esposing family and friends to humility and ridicule, all for the sacred adherence to an fundamental American cause - freedom of speech.

Libertarians always are quick to argue that "censorship" can only occur by government edict, that private entities that exercise suppression of speech are not censoring, for it is their ownership of production and accompaning right to limit their employees. But as we rapidly move to a state where there are a handful of media content providers, who exercise complete control over the channels and modes of mass communications, this assertion just isn't true anymore. If a reporter discovers voluminous mounds of evidence that indicates a given food additive is harmful, but yet not one of the major media conglomerates will air or print this information, is that not paramount to censorship? For now, he could write a web page and detail his findings, but that's not a mass medium, not unless he has deep pockets to pay for servers (in addition to all the time and money spent researching) and more essentially, it's not immune to a bigger content provider pulling the plug on the site, with legal hounds or just simply forcing the upstream bandwidth provider to turn it off.

In addition to private enterprise, high powers in the executive branch of government also seek to the constraints on free speech. Restricting speech under the guise of national security, threatening and imploring news outlets to cease airing messages deemed risky, or inappropriate, not by the public, but by the whim of the executive administration. Measures have been orchestrated to place organizations like the FBI and CIA "above the law", and make them answerable to nobody. Freedom in American seems to dissipate every day.

Each chapter in Into the Buzzsaw features a different report essay on thier experience of running "into the buzzsaw", bumping into powers-that-be in attempting to expose high-level government fraud and/or corporate malfeasance. I've listed a brief synopsis of most of the authors. There are several others included who speak about the news business itself, CIA measures to place themselves outside the law, and what they are doing to keep the legacy of the investigative journalist alive.

  • Gerard Colby - tell-all books on the DuPont family and Rockefeller family produced a legion of lawyers fight to suppress his work

  • Jane Akre - fired from a Murdoch owned, Tampa Fox News TV station for refusing to slant and distort a critical story on Monsanto and rBGH. A jury agreed that indeed management fired her and her husband for refusing to rewrite the truth. The Fox corporation feared Monsanto yanking advertising revenue from all its owned stations.

  • Greg Palast - broke the story of how 58,000 voters had their right to vote stripped from them in Florida and it ran on page one, in another country (England) that doesn't even recognize a "free press". All were tagged as convicted felons denied suffrage, but research and analysis revealed that all but a handful had their vote taken away unjustly. Later, the story was picked up by some in the "mainstream media", but even then it was sanitized and downplayed.

    Maurice Murad - a piece on how the media reinforces myth and misconception and gives the Iraq hunger problem as a prime example - in his investigations and travels to Iraq he has seen nary a starving person. Yet, the UN claims are that thousands are dying.

    Kristina Borjesson, David Hendrix - Borjesson served as the collector and editor of all these individual essays, but she has a sizable chapter herself devoted to her run "into the buzzsaw". It was the TWA800 story, the 1996 plane crash - the "official" cause was decreed mechanical failure, but Borjesson, Hendrix and others uncovered evidence that points to a missle impact. Denials, coverups, death threats, stolen evidence - all part of a pattern leading to a collision with "National Security" interests, and powerful government forces not interested in the truth.

    Robert Port - took big heat for his investigative story on US forces in 1950 Korea indiscriminately slaughtering innocent civilians.

    Monika Jensen-Stevenson - the story of Bobby Garwood, a Vietnam POW unjustly courtmartialed to maintain a facade that no POWs existed anymore. Veterans told the reportly a vastly different tale than they gave on the witness stand. General Eugene Tighe backed up Garwood's story, but was ignored.

    Michael Levine, Gary Webb - Levine, a 25 year veteran of the DEA, now turned journalist, tells of how the Cocaine Import Agency (CIA) thrwarted any battles DEA waged on the farcical "War on Drugs" and how the mainstream media maintains the myth and questions not the injustice. Every time they tried to drop the hammer on a bigtime drug smuggler operation, the CIA and/or other "National Security" interests intervened and protected vile scum bags. Levine supports blacklisted former SJ Mercury reporter's charges that the CIA smuggled drugs in the U.S. and used the profits to fund terrorist counter-insurgents and favored dictatorial regime dujour. In fact, Levine says that Webb only uncovered the tip of the iceberg. Yet, Webb, though the actual charges never refuted with evidence, was discounted, simply because the CIA said it wasn't true.


Gary Webb, Reporter Who Linked CIA to Drug Sales, Dead at 49
The Associated Press
Published: Dec 12, 2004

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Gary Webb, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who wrote a controversial series of stories linking the CIA to crack cocaine trafficking in Los Angeles, has died at age 49.

Webb was found Friday morning at his home in Sacramento County, dead of an apparent suicide. Moving-company workers called authorities after discovering a note posted on his front door that read, "Please do not enter. Call 911 and ask for an ambulance."

Webb died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to the Sacramento County coroner's office.

Webb was part of the San Jose Mercury News reporting team that won a 1990 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Webb's 1996 series in the Mercury News alleged that Nicaraguan drug traffickers had sold tons of crack cocaine in Los Angeles and funneled millions of dollars in profits to the CIA-supported Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980s.

The articles did not accuse the CIA of directly aiding drug dealers to raise money for the Contras, but implied that the agency was aware of the activity.

Major parts of Webb's reporting were later discredited by other newspaper investigations. An investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department found no evidence of a connection between the CIA and the drug traffickers.

In 1997, then-Mercury News executive editor Jerry Ceppos backed away from the series, saying "we fell short at every step of our process." Webb was transferred to one of the paper's suburban bureaus.

"This is just harassment," Webb said after his demotion. "This isn't the first time that a reporter went after the CIA and lost his job over it."

After quitting the newspaper in December 1997, Webb continued to defend his reporting with his 1999 book "Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion."

Born in Corona, Calif., to a military family, Webb dropped out of journalism school and went to work for the Kentucky Post and the Cleveland Plain Dealer before landing at the Mercury News.

Webb worked in state government after leaving the paper, most prominently as a member of an audit committee investigating former Gov. Gray Davis' controversial award of a $95 million no-bid contract to Oracle Corp. in 2001.

Earlier this year, Webb was one of a group of employees fired from the Assembly Speaker's Office of Member Services for failing to show up for work. He continued writing occasionally for various publications.

"All he ever wanted to do was write," said Webb's ex-wife, Susan Bell.

Webb is survived by two sons and a daughter.

Gary Webb Speaks: "Dark Alliance" Author Talks on CIA, Contras & ...
Investigative journalist Gary Webb spoke to a packed house in Eugene,
Oregon at 7:30 pm on January 16, 1999. ParaScope presents ...


March 21, 2001
Silencing the Messenger Censoring NarcoNews
by Gary Webb

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