Kill the Messenger reveals uncomfortable truths

“If we had met five years ago, you wouldn’t have found a more staunch defender of the newspaper industry than me … And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I’d enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn’t been, as I’d assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job … The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn’t written anything important enough to suppress.” —Gary Webb

Gary Webb never wanted to be anything but an honest investigative journalist and after Watergate exploded in the national news, he dropped out of college three credits short of a degree to take a job as a cub reporter. He spent two decades working his way up the reporter ranks through a half dozen papers, and even participated in a Pulitzer, but then the story of the century dropped in his lap, courtesy of Coral Baca, who would much later be revealed as the wife of Carlos Lehder, founder of the Medellin Cartel.

Baca became aware of Gary after he’d written an expose on forfeiture abuse for a San Jose newspaper. Drug war forfeiture began in the early 1980s and quickly became a major source of law enforcement funding. Baca used Gary as a ploy to help get a drug smuggler friend of hers released from custody. She was working as a manager for the insurance giant AIG when she contacted Gary. Most people are unaware of the deep political connections between AIG and the CIA and their possible involvement in drug money laundering, but if you trace the history of AIG, you’ll find opium funded-anti-communist efforts at its origins. And 80 years later, that was the op Gary bumped into, only this time around it was cocaine funding an illegal Contra war on a Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua.

HBO just added the wonderful and explosive feature, Kill the Messenger, based on the biography by Nick Schou of the same name as well as Gary’s book Dark Alliance. Although produced on a relatively low budget, the film has some big names and provides a riveting account of Gary’s spiral of doom down a CIA-infested rabbit hole. The film leaves Gary’s suicide in 2004 as an open question, although I believe Gary took his own life in a moment of despair. However, the CIA had already destroyed his career and played numerous dirty tricks to break him down emotionally. The last straw seemed to be the theft of his prized cafe racer motorcycle combined with the sale of his home, as he could no longer afford the mortgage payments. He was about to downsize into his mother’s apartment and decided he’d endured enough abuse.

I  was editor of a national magazine when Gary lost his newspaper job and immediately offered him a monthly column. But Gary had a lot of pride and demanded $5 a word, which is more than I could afford. I ended up hiring Mike Ruppert (and eventually regretting that decision).

Had Gary lived, he’d be a rock star journalist today since history has completely vindicated his work. And anyone famous can self-publish with ease these days. Seven corporations with ties to the military-industrial complex no longer have a monopoly stranglehold on publishing like they did two decades ago. At the highest level, these corporations work hand-in-glove to assist the CIA, not investigate it, and that’s the fallacy and myth created by Watergate. When you see investigative reporters getting giant book and film deals and being lionized by the national media, like what happened with Woodward and Bernstein, you are looking at CIA ops in progress, which is why I don’t trust Wikileaks or Snowdon. Gary, on the other hand, was the real deal, a truly honest reporter who just wanted to get to the truth, no matter the consequences. He was not lionized, he was crucified.

Funny when this movie came out in the theaters, it disappeared almost instantly before it could find an audience. Not exactly what happened with All the President’s Men, eh? But now you can watch Kill the Messenger on demand on HBO, at least for this month, so please check it out because it may help open some eyes. And if you want to keep following the rabbit hole even deeper, just subscribe to this blog, because it’s one of the few places that peers into the dark corners.
One thing I’ve learned after 30 years hanging around the marijuana industry: it’s stuffed with spooks and scam artists. When the CIA wanted to use drug profits to prop up a Contra army, they were able to double and triple dip profits along the way. First they fronted a mountain of cocaine to street dealers while arming those dealers with advanced automatic weapons, something that forced the police to militarize in order to combat the street gangs. The military-industrial complex was cashing in on weapons sales on both sides of that divide. Then, after a decade of insane profits, they began taking down the street dealers and having the government seize their assets. They only built them up so they could take it all away later. And only the spooks walk free to dance through the raindrops and nary a drop lands on them.

You’ll find similar games played in world of cannabis.

If you want to check out a recent documentary that covers Gary’s story, I suggest Freeway: Crack in the System by Marc Levin.

The Hippie-Mafia Connection

When the hippie generation first emerged around 1966, they had a tremendous, global impact almost immediately. The hippies influenced the Beatles, for example, not the other way around. The movement was actually deeply ethical and spiritual, and involved respect for nature and native cultures, as well as a deep suspicion for the oil companies, who had emerged as the world’s dominant corporations. Their relentless campaign to turn everything in America into plastic really annoyed us. Plastic was a bad word to hippies. We hated it.

One thing we didn’t hate was marijuana, which was the primary sacrament from day one. All sorts of other plants and substances quickly followed. We needed people to cultivate, transport and sell these sacraments. These people were closer to priests than outlaws to us since they were providing our sacraments at great personal jeopardy.

It’s no accident that the most spiritually advanced hippie clan was also the most successful smuggling and dealing operation in North America. I speak of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love based out of Laguna Beach, California and founded by hippie saint Johnny Griggs.

John Griggs.

The Brotherhood became known as the hippie mafia, and their story became a tale of drug smuggling and police interventions. The Godfather was John, picture at the left. But the hippie mafia story is a little bit like the blind man describing an elephant by touching its toe. Nick Schou recently wrote an entertaining book on the Brotherhood and he couldn’t understand why John’s widow couldn’t relate to it. The illegal part of hippie life is like the visible part of an iceberg. The heart and soul of the culture lies submerged, out-of-view. And that is the spiritual side, known to made members. We have no official ceremony for this initiation, but we know how to recognize when one gets “zapped” by this unique, non-violent form of spirituality. But to the population at large, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love remains just another “crime syndicate.”

Which is why I can relate to the so-called “mafia.” See, the Sicilian immigrants that came to America arrived with a very strong sense of tribal culture and clung together and supported each other. The most successful among them, the man who produced the most jobs, became “the father” of his clan, and among his duties was to negotiate disputes among family members and navigate towards peace. Because Sicilians lived under conquerors for centuries, they developed a unique sense of justice. When a Sicilian feels dishonored, he does not go to a policeman or the halls of justice, both of which were historically controlled by an enemy culture. He does things the Sicilian way, which is to say in a dark alley from behind with a stiletto to the throat.

When prohibition set in, all the immigrant cultures had criminal gangs, and the Irish were among the strongest. Nucky Johnson was the grand poo-bah of that culture, but Joe Kennedy was probably a close second. But the biggest money-makers at the time were probably the Jews in Canada, the Bronfmans. But slowly, the Sicilians took power. Why? Perhaps because their spirituality was stronger and they were more dedicated to their tribes. And maybe also because they were students of Niccolo Machiavelli, who taught them the strategies of force. Those who seek only to do good inevitably lose to those willing to commit evil. The great dons of the past were often educated, well-read and deeply spiritual, although they’ve been stereotyped as virtual morons with mustaches. The reason “The Godfather” resonated so strongly is that this elaborate and ancient culture was actually investigated for the first time.

Strangely, after Joe Kennedy’s son became president, his brother launched a vicious campaign against Jimmy Hoffa’s control over the Teamsters, and Hoffa’s greatest ally, Carlos Marcello of New Orleans. For the most part, these investigations became centered on the Sicilians, as if they were the only organized crime in the country. From their perspective, RFK looked more like a political demagogue than righteous crusader. RFK called up some of the most respected fathers and treated them with the utmost of disrespect. This was done because he wanted to subvert their influence over the labor movement, when, in fact, they’d been leveraged into that position to replace the Communist Party, which, in fact, was just another intel op, part of the grand chessboard where all sides report to the same bankers. The media is always trying to paint the picture of organized crime as one grand criminal conspiracy instead of the complex web that actually exists. If there is a grand conspiracy, the perpetrators are hiding inside the halls of the Pentagon and the Wall Street banks, and scapegoating hippies running grass or even Italians running bingo parlors isn’t going to threaten that situation anytime soon.