Dark Alliance by Gary Webb

dark-allianceIn 2004, a journalist was found dead in his home with two gunshot wounds to the head.  It was ruled a suicide.  In 1995, Gary Webb had begun researching into a Nicaraguan drug dealer and government informant, but he had never imagined it would lead to a giant conspiracy involving the CIA, the Contras, drug trafficking, Columbian drug cartels, the DEA, and the South Central crack epidemic.  In August 1996, he published his findings in the Mercury News only to succumb to heavy criticism not as much by the government but other newspapers.  Webb eventually resigned from the paper, and the world mostly forgot the heroic journalist who took on government corruption at the highest levels.  Until that is, 2014 with the movie Kill the Messenger which told the Gary Webb story.  I have no idea what I was doing when the story broke in 1996.  Maybe I perchance came across it and thought nothing of it.  Everyone at the time heard about the Iran-Contra Congressional hearings that tried to take down Reagan as an architect of selling arms to the Iranians in order to fund the Contras.  For those who do not know, and were too young, the Contras were a CIA-organized resistance group to the Communist regime in Nicaragua.  Upon hearing of Contra atrocities and the mining the harbors of Nicaragua which damaged ships from all over the world, Congress banned the direct funding of the Contras.  Invention is the mother of necessity.  The CIA went around this ban by working with drug traffickers, aiding and abetting drug trafficking, and helping drug traffickers avoid prosecution or drug raids in exchange for drug money going to the Contras.  This is what Gary Webb uncovered, and this is why many people believe he didn’t shoot himself in the head twice.

 If you haven’t noticed, there is huge disaffection with our two main choices for President.  These are historic times.  Generally, you would assume that the two most popular candidates wind up running against each other, that is, unless something or someone has a problem with one of those candidates.  There is no doubt in my mind that Bernie Sanders had more votes and support than Hillary.  There is no doubt in my mind that those in power did not want Sanders to be President.  At the same time, they were actually powerless against the overwhelming popularity of Trump, and even if they did steal votes for Ted Cruz, there was simply no way to steal what was a virtual landslide for Trump in most states.  In other words, the only way for the people to get their candidate elected is for that candidate to have overwhelming popular support.  When I supported Ron Paul in 2012, although, I always thought Fox News was a blatantly biased conservative tool, it never occurred to me that their bias was not toward political ideological conservatism, but big business.  They served their masters, Rupert Murdoch and big business that advertised on it.  It was never about conservative ideology but rather a simple agitating tool to divide and distract the country.  When I started supporting Sanders, I started watching MSNBC, and similarly, while I realized it was liberally biased, it became overwhelming clear to me that they too served big business which was threatened by Sanders.  Their blatant bias in favor of Hillary and against Sanders actually surprised me, but ultimately convinced me that mainstream, big media was a sham.  I think I’m not the only person to realize this.

 So when Webb uncovered government corruption and complicity in the destruction of South Central and many poor neighborhoods across the nation by aiding and abetting the crack epidemic, he was not only targeted by the government and all their crony criminal friends and agents, he was also the target of mainstream, big media.  The fact that to this day, mainstream, big media has largely ignored the Gary Webb story is proof that we live in strange, yet historic times.  There was a time when the media was considered a powerful, independent fourth check and balance to government and big business power.  I fondly remember from my youth watching 60 Minutes and 20/20 uncover government corruption and corporate products that harmed the public.  Those days are long gone.  I sometimes wonder if we are living in a social experiment simulation, because it is simply amazing how far our government, in collusion with big business, has taken over our lives, destroyed our environment, corrupted our culture, and brainwashed us.  The brainwashing starts with 12 years of government school supplemented by constant television bombardment.  Only recently, have I come to the sad realization, that I was heavily brainwashed by the two.  While my parents certainly had a large impact on my life, it was further reinforced by government school that led me to believe that they were the answer to all our social problems while TV convinced me that material consumption was the answer to all my personal problems.  By spending money and showing off my material wealth in the form of nice cars and clothes, I could find happiness and join the in crowd, the cool people who live a carefree, glamorous life.  By supporting government intervention and regulation of everything, we could eliminate poverty, crime, war, disease, pollution, injustice, inequality, sexism, racism, drugs, and today, terrorism. 

 We live in historic times, because at the same time that government and big business are larger than they have ever been in the history of humanity, the most invasive and all-encompassing and most collaborative and dominant on almost every sphere of our lives, we have this crazy, funny, weird, new thing called the Internet as well as the hipster movement.  As powerful and wealthy as the government-big business cartel, it is run by old people who are so out of touch with technology and youth, they have for the most part missed the emerging power and influence of the Internet and the hipster youth culture.  By hipster, I do not mean tight pants and man-buns, the caricaturizing of the movement, but rather the ideology of supporting independent, local businesses and an organic, natural, modest, anti-materialist, non-mainstream, animal-friendly lifestyle.  But they are not stupid.  I have noticed the last few weeks that when I play a YouTube video, I often get a Hillary Clinton ad.  At the same time, both Google and Facebook are huge corporations with powerful shareholders and both serve powerful advertisers who are increasingly old establishment corporations.  There is no doubt in my mind that they are and increasingly will be influencing what you get searching Google and what you see in your Facebook feed. 

 I feel like I am in a social experiment, because it feels like we are encountering a disturbing, historic, shocking point in the history of humanity where we decide whether the masses continue being ignorant, obedient servants to a few masters of the species, or whether they can rise up sufficiently to wrest power from them and effectively put an end to the destruction of our planet, human exploitation, human servitude, inequality, injustice, corruption, poverty, starvation, mass incarceration, brainwashing, oppression, and war.  We encounter the Fermi Paradox.  With so many opportunities for life in the universe and the age of the universe, one might imagine that we at least pick up an alien transmission.  Why not?  The unsettling answer may be that all intelligent life is destined to fail.  All intelligent life is destined to discover technology that they are unable to harness which ultimately destroys them and their planets.  Their violent, exploitative tendencies which helped them prosper over other adversaries, ultimately led to their demise as they turned against one another, or possibly, the intelligent machines they programmed, infected by their violent, exploitative tendencies, turned against their creators.  This might be called the pessimist’s outcome. 

 There is an optimist’s outcome too.  The government-big business cartel is eventually dismantled.  A sufficient and irrefutable majority of the masses (instead of supporting a psychopath like Trump), support a new generation of leaders who are hell bent on dismantling the cartel and liberating us from it.  The question is whether the process is filled with violence and destruction or it is relatively peaceful and ingenious.  The question is whether it is aided by artificial intelligence or resisted by it.  The question is whether artificial intelligence supports the cause or created and employed by the cartel, fights it.  Fundamental to change is despair, and the Millennial generation already must confront the reality that they are worse off than their parents, that they are suffering great unemployment and inflation that is not being accurately reported.  They must confront a world that is unpleasant, exploitative, disturbing, unjust, oppressive, violent, divided, and corrupt.  I simply cannot see them all running into the embrace of the government-big business cartel.  In my opinion, the government-big business cartel was not created by geniuses but rather opportunists whose goal was not to create a long-standing institution but rather a short-sighted exploitative plantation to provide great luxuries and pleasures in the old age of its creators.  I also believe that with the Internet, with the ability to look up multiple viewpoints of every issue, individuals are developing a more balanced, open, flexible, and independent, critical mind that is harder to exploit and control. 

 One pessimistic outcome is that those in power unleash the nightmare scenario.  The only way to turn the masses into mindless extremists is crisis.  9/11 was a classic example of how the relatively small civilian death toll of 3,000 people, or 0.0011% of the population, could convince an entire nation to surrender their civil liberties and invade a sovereign nation that had nothing to do with the attack.  Just imagine what would happen if terrorists used an atomic bomb and killed a hundred thousand or those in power decided to unleash World War III with Russia and China leading to another hundred million war casualties?  Arguably, the reason the Baby Boomers were so amiable to the collusion of government and big business was their traumatization from World War II and desperate need for a sense of social order and control.  They created Disneyland and Disneyworld as these utopian escape worlds, but perhaps, the entire government-big business cartel was also their idea of an attempt to recreate America as one big Disneyworld escape. 

 By now, you notice that I don’t discuss the book’s contents much.  It’s basically a history of how Ricky Ross, an enterprising South Central kid, discovered crack and with the middleman Nicaraguan Danilo Blandon, spread it all over Los Angeles.  It is about the CIA helping cocaine get to Blandon and how Blandon and his associates miraculously avoided capture or even prosecution throughout the early years.  The book is so full of different key people, that I created my own criminal web chart, but that is just the beginning.  The chart connects the dots with Argentina, Noriega, many Central American countries, Colonel Oliver North, and who knows who else, arguably Ronald Reagan whose main defense it seems was dementia.  Obviously, if you want to do anything illegal, you just say something like, “I don’t care how it’s done, don’t tell me, just do it, and I’ll provide you with the authority.”  Col. North appears to have been the mastermind.  What you realize is that the US government was acting pretty much like a drug cartel or mafia, an organized criminal enterprise.  The book is long, but fortunately, Webb is able to throw a million details at you in a fascinating way including a few personal stories.  His abilities as a writer and journalist are impressive.  I cannot imagine anyone in my local rag doing the same.  The amount of work that must have gone into this book is staggering.  You think of scientists or neurosurgeons as geniuses, but in school, there were a fair amount of geniuses who were not into science and wound up doing other things.  Gary Webb is one of those.  Even in college, when I was taking arts and social science classes, they were usually filled with rich kids who were not smart enough for the natural sciences, but there were a few who were just as smart as the natural science nerds, the kind who might be able to rattle off the history of Russia, name every country in the world, or delve into the insane complexities of philosophy. 

 On the other hand, you have idiots in high places.  If you haven’t noticed by now, and what they never told you in college, is that the smartest people don’t get the furthest in life, mostly in large organizations like government and corporations.  Their modus operandi is obedience.  They reward obedience, and chances are, the least competent people are the most obedient, because that is basically all they have going for them.  So, those who use the least neurons, get ahead the quickest.  In addition to often being the least moral, because they cannot understand the complexities of moral dilemmas, and their main concern is obedience anyway which often contradicts morality, they are also more prone to simplistic overgeneralizations, mental shortcuts, bigotry, over-simplification of complex problems, heavy-handed dogmatic thinking, inflexibility, and naturally, preference toward obedient and similarly incompetent staff.  Time and time again, those in high positions, make bad choices.  The US supported former Somoza henchmen who were also rampant criminals when Somoza was in power.  The US has done this time and time again, and continues to do so in the Middle East, basically making everyone in the world hate us one country at a time.  It would be like aliens coming down to Earth and going, hey, I think I’ll put Trump in the White House, because we talked with him, and he’s totally down with taking orders from us.  Not only would Americans be resentful that the aliens bypassed our elections, but they would also view Trump as a puppet of the aliens.  Those in power, often slept in history class and missed the detailed, independent version of history anyway.  They use archaic paradigms and concepts and try to apply them to all situations regardless of nuance or difference.  This all goes back to Churchill’s “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” doctrine.  We supported Stalin, because Hitler was a greater existential threat than Stalin.  And we were right.  Hitler was in the process of developing the atomic bomb, and if we had not supported Stalin, it is highly probable that he would have been the first to drop the atomic bomb, and it would have been a Cold War with the Nazis and not Communism. 

 Throughout the Cold War, we used the exact same strategy.  We allied ourselves with evil dictators who opposed Communism, but more often than not, they simply opposed Communism in order to get American support.  We failed to recognize the nuances of the Communist threat, how we could have simply worked with Communist governments and they would have aligned themselves with us versus the USSR.  In fact, that is exactly what we did with China.  We are doing the same mistake in the Middle East.  We are aligning ourselves with either dictators or terrorists in order to fight other dictators and terrorists.  By directly supporting dictators and terrorists, we are perpetuating hatred toward America and unfriendly dictators and terrorists.  I doubt that most government leaders are smart enough to have planned all this out to help justify continued expansion of US foreign intervention and the profits of the defense industry.  However, I would argue that the defense industry whole-heartedly supports the perpetuation of idiots in our government’s leadership.  In fact, obedient idiots are much easier to control, manipulate, and exploit than obedient smart people or disobedient idiots. 

 More insidious than ignorance is their obedience as the main key to their career success.  What does this mean?  How many friends of yours are totally obedient to authority?  How many did everything they were told, because they were too afraid of thinking or acting on their own?  Chances, not many, because we tend not to befriend such oddities.  Overly obedient people tend to be anti-social.  Certainly, they have sufficient social skills to crawl up the rectums of their superiors, but they often ingratiate themselves and their superiors are similarly anti-social and only respond to obvious ingratiation.  While other people use a plethora of social skills to influence other people like charm, humor, kindness, charisma, personality, trust, anti-social people are more prone to use intimidation, threats, interrogation, humiliation, and insults.  What makes this dangerous is that when threatened by insiders or outsiders, they are more willing to apply violence and destruction.  Have a problem?  Bomb them.  Kill them.  I’ve talked to older people in high-ranking positions, and you would not believe how easy it is for them to pine about the old days of carpet-bombing enemies.  “You know the problem these days is that people are too sensitive.”  Are you f@cking kidding me?  It is all too easy for them to dehumanize, dissociate, and indulge in abstractions and statistics.  And it is no surprise that they would get into bed with like-minded criminals and killers. 

 The one thing that did bother me about the book was Webb’s apparent glorification of Ricky Ross as some disadvantaged, poor black kid who somehow made himself good by exploiting and destroying his own people and community.  There is no mention of the carnage of the gang wars over turf.  While he does mention that some crack houses used young women as prostitutes, it’s almost as if he dismisses them as crack whores.  While the demonization of drugs is often a weapon of the establishment and exaggerated, crack cocaine was a powerful, addictive, and relatively cheap drug that ravaged a community that had little else going for it.  If you gave a group of people crack cocaine, and they had a future, economic opportunity, equal treatment and all, they wouldn’t be as vulnerable to addiction, but when you take an oppressed community with few opportunities, they had fewer defenses.  Webb thinks the greater evil was the CIA turning a blind eye as cocaine was distributed and the profits went to the Contras, but that’s like journalism’s blind eye to the addicts of South Central as you get awards for your story about the CIA and drug smuggling.  There were victims here, and they were not only our justice system and the American people.  Ricky Ross and Blandon were just as evil and predatory as the CIA and Contras. 

 So after reading 300 pages, I look in back to see how many pages the book is, and at page 553, there’s a list of all the key players.  Nice.  Should have put them in front.  The book is simply too detailed and too long for what it intends to do, the exposure of the CIA and Contras in dealing drugs.  However, you do get some payoff in Chapter 22 when Webb goes off on a small tangent regarding the LA Sheriff’s Department and how they not only abused asset forfeiture, but they essentially became an organized crime gang, planting drugs and stealing money.  It often makes me wonder about all this police violence against blacks.  Was there a lull after the civil rights movement and the crack epidemic?  I don’t know.  It seems to me, that the crack epidemic set into motion popular support for excessive police force and the incarceration of blacks with heavy-handed sentences.  The gang wars accompanying the crack epidemic only fueled popular support for excessive police force.  With the crack epidemic over and terrorism more on people’s minds, I feel that people are wondering why the police are still using excessive force and why so many blacks are incarcerated.

 In the end, the book is utterly depressing.  There was a time I wanted to be a cop, but it’s pretty much spending 20, 25 years of your life hanging around the lowest, most desperate losers of society doing the most degenerate, pathetic, desperate things.  It would get deep into your psyche, and what is the worth of a nice pension, when you spend your retirement drowning your memories in booze at a bar?  Even worse, we have CIA operatives and government officials who are just as sleazy as the petty criminals at the bottom of the pile.  This is one book where you feel like you need a deep-scrub shower after reading it.  The book reveals that the CIA has been in the drug business before this and is most likely still in it with Afghanistan and all their opium. 

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