FAIR's October 16 Action Alert criticized mainstream media silence following the October 8th release of a second CIA report detailing the agency's knowledge of Contra drug trafficking. Activists were encouraged to write directly to journalists at the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times to inquire about each paper's treatment of the new facts.
At last, the Washington Post (11/3/98) has run a story on the report.
While not dealing exhaustively with the many allegations contained in the report, the Post article, by Walter Pincus, does raise troubling questions--particularly concerning the Reagan administration's decision to alter federal policy so that the CIA would not be required to report drug-trafficking by those not formally employed by the agency.
Pincus' story takes the expected swipes at Gary Webb, formerly of the San Jose Mercury News--and continues to misrepresent what Webb's seminal stories actually alleged. But the Post piece does suggest that at least one major paper is beginning to realize that the real question is not "Was Gary Webb's story correct?" but "Did the CIA know that the Contras--which the CIA organized and supervised--were involved in drug trafficking?"
The Washington Post's article ends with a quote from the author of the CIA's report, Frederick Hitz: "This is grist for more work, if anyone wants to do it." We are encouraged by this acknowledgment that the CIA report is not the final word on Contra drug trafficking, but rather a starting point for a serious, independent inquiry.
We believe that the nation's leading daily newspapers should be encouraged to conduct such investigations. The New York Times has not taken the story any further since their October 9 piece based solely on the CIA's own work, and the Los Angeles Times has not even published a story on the report, although the L.A. Times' Washington bureau chief, Doyle McManus, has indicated that the paper is working on a longer piece.
Please contact these papers and encourage them to conduct their own independent investigation of the relationships between drug traffickers, Contras and the CIA.
Walter Pincus-- National staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
New York Times
William Connolly-- Senior Editor email@example.com
Los Angeles Times
Doyle McManus-- D.C. Bureau Chief Doyle.McManus@latimes.com