Oct 16 1998

CIA Admissions, Media Omissions

The recently de-classified second volume of the CIA’s internal investigation of Contra-drug connections was released last week (still censored in parts), and found the CIA had knowledge of allegations linking many Contras or Contra associates with drug trafficking.

But how did the major media cover the story?

  • It’s a good question to put to the New York Times, which ran a sketchy story in their Saturday, October 10 edition (the least-read paper of the week, on a holiday weekend no less) on page A7.
  • It’s also worth asking the Washington Post, which published not one word of the CIA’s findings over the weekend. They did, however, have the room on Oct. 13 for a profile of John Hollister Hedley, who works in the Agency’s Directorate of Intelligence reviewing manuscripts to decide “how far the CIA will go in revealing its inner workings to the outside world.”
  • Or maybe the LA Times, which penned this in an editorial (“FBI and CIA: Open Up”) on July 21, 1998: “Americans have not just the right to learn what their government has done in this tumultuous century; they also have an imperative to know. It’s clear that Clinton’s 1995 declassification order is in need of strengthening.” Maybe it was other government deeds the LA Times was referring to; they have yet to file a story on the CIA’s newly de-classified report.

The CIA’s report found that the Contra leadership was arranging its drug connections from the very start, and that a CIA informant alerted the agency of the activity. The CIA, by its own admission, failed to inform the proper agencies of this knowledge.

These revelations practically define the term “political scandal.” The national press’s own record on this story has been to cover up for the CIA (read Snow Job, Extra! 1-2/97), as it did by attacking former San Jose Mercury News journalist Gary Webb. When Mercury News editor Jerry Ceppos disavowed Webb’s series, it earned him a praising editorial in the New York Times. Where is the New York Times editorial now that a CIA report has acknowledged CIA wrongdoing that the Times has done so much to obfuscate?

To ask why national news media ignored or downplayed this latest round of CIA admissions, contact the news outlets directly (their e-mail addresses are listed below). Ask them to use this new information to begin investigations into Contra drug-running– a story they have, for the most part, distanced themselves from for over a decade.

Washington Post

Walter Pincus– National staff writer


New York Times

William Connolly– Senior Editor


Los Angeles Times

Doyle McManus– D.C. Bureau Chief


The CIA reports are partial, hedged, tip-of-the-iceberg, at best. Read for yourself: The CIA-Contra-Crack Cocaine Controversy: A Review of the Justice Department’s Investigations and Prosecutions (December, 1997)