Gary Webb (died December 10, 2004) was an American reporter who gained fame for a series of articles he wrote entitled Dark Alliance. In August of 1996, this series, published in the San Jose Mercury News, claimed that the Central Intelligence Agency was involved in the initial spread of crack cocaine in California, and that this source of income was used to fund the Contras. [[ Freedom of Information Act inquiries by the National Security Archive and other investigators have unearthed a number of documents showing that White House officials, including Oliver North, knew about and supported using money raised via drug trafficking to fund the contras.
Webb's theories were challenged by subsequent investigations by the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, but many felt he was vindicated by CIA and GAO reports. The Mercury News later published a retraction and reassigned Webb to a suburban bureau. He quit in December 1997 and published his CIA-crack cocaine theory in a 1999 book, Dark Horizons.
In September 1998, Esquire Magazine ran an (estimated) 11,000-word story called The Pariah. Here is the summary: "Two years ago, Gary Webb wrote a series of articles that said some bad things about the CIA. The CIA denied the charges, and every major paper in the country took the agency's word for it. Gary was ruined. Which is a shame, because he was right."
On December 10, 2004 he was found dead in his house of a gunshot wound to the head. The Sacramento County coroner ruled that his death was a suicide.
None of the initial coverage about his death mentioned the Esquire article, which defended both Webb and his work.
- R.I.P. Gary Webb -- Unembedded Reporter by Jeff Cohen
- America's Debt to Journalist Gary Webb by Robert Parry
- Robert Parry on Democracy Now! - includes links at bottom to several interviews with Webb
- 1999 speech by Gary Webb
The CIA-Contra-Crack Cocaine Controversy: A Review of the Justice Department's Investigations and Prosecutions (GAO report December 1997):
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