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Gary Webb's Memorial Service Update
by Dan Bacher (danielbacher [at]
Thursday Dec 16th, 2004 9:49 AM
Here's the update on Gary Webb's Memorial Service on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2 pm at Garden Terrace Room, Doubletree Hotel, 2001 Point West Way in Sacramento.

Gary Webb’s Memorial Service to be held on Saturday, December 18, in Sacramento

by Dan Bacher

A memorial service for Gary Webb, the courageous investigative journalist whose
revealing series in the San Jose Mercury News documented CIA and Contra
involvement in U.S. cocaine supplies and sales, will be held on Saturday,
December 18, 2 p.m. at the Garden Terrace Room, Doubletree Hotel, 2001 Point
West Way in Sacramento.

The event is open to the public. I encourage people to get there early because
the hotel told me that space in the room is limited to 100 to 120 people. For
directions, call 916-929-8855.

“I hope many of us are able to attend his memorial, to acknowledge Gary  Webb's
important contributions and to both mourn his death and celebrate his life,”
said Darien De Lu, long time peace and social justice activist with the Central
America Action Committee, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
and other organizations. “His series in the San Jose Mercury and his book, Dark
Alliance, helped end the public silence on the ties between the CIA, the Contras
and cocaine sales, despite the way the Mercury virtually denounced his

If you didn't see the story in yesterday’s Sacramento Bee, the headline,
“Reporter's suicide confirmed by coroner,” and the actual quotes by the coroner
contradicted one another on the cause of Webb’s Death.

Here's the most interesting line from Coroner Robert Lyons:  "It's unusual in a
suicide case to have two shots," he said, "but it has been done in the past, and
it is in fact a distinct possibility."

A distinct possibility? The coroner first says that Webb committed suicide -
then he contradicts himself by saying that Webb shooting himself twice with a 38
caliber pistol is "a distinct possibility!"

What the heck? If shooting himself twice is only a "possibility," does that mean
that that homicide is also a "possibility" or even a "probability?"

Yes, this death very well could have been a suicide, as his ex-wife and the
coroner contend, but it needs to be thoroughly investigated to find out what
really happened! We must not let the mainstream media and the Coroner's office
get away with covering up his death, if foul play was indeed involved.

We must definitely keep pressure on the Coroner for a complete and thorough
investigation of Webb’s death. For alternative views on Webb's death, you can go
to It appears that Webb had received threats in the
weeks before his untimely death.

Here’the Bee story of December 15, followed by an excellent tribute to Webb by
Bill Conroy in Narcosphere.

1. Sacramento Bee Story:
Reporter's suicide confirmed by coroner

A flood of inquiries about Gary Webb's shooting death prompts statement.

By Sam Stanton -- Bee Staff Writer

Published 2:15 am PST Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Facing a barrage of calls from the media and the public, the Sacramento County
Coroner's Office issued a statement Tuesday confirming that former investigative
reporter Gary Webb committed suicide with two gunshots to the head.

"The cause of death was determined to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the
head," the coroner's statement said.

"Information and evidence gathered at the scene of death, including a
handwritten note indicating an intention on the part of the decedent to take his
own life, resulted in 'suicide' as the determined manner of death.

"The investigation is continuing and will take an estimated additional six to
eight weeks to complete."

The statement was issued because of the number of calls that had flooded the
Coroner's Office since The Bee reported Sunday that Webb's death was caused by
more than one wound.

Webb, a former San Jose Mercury News reporter, was found dead in his Carmichael
home Friday morning.

Webb, who most recently had been writing for the Sacramento News & Review, is
survived by his ex-wife and three children.

Such a case normally would have sparked little notice. But Webb gained notoriety
in the 1990s after writing a series of stories for the Mercury News linking the
CIA to Nicaraguan Contras seeking to overthrow the Sandinista government and to
drug sales of crack cocaine flooding South Central Los Angeles in the 1980s.

His newspaper and others later questioned the conclusions in Webb's reporting,
and he left the San Jose newspaper in 1997 after being moved to a suburban

But Webb's allegations spawned a following, including conspiracy theorists who
have worked the Internet feverishly for days with notions that because Webb died
from two gunshots he was killed by government agents or the Contras in
retribution for the stories written nearly a decade ago.

Webb's ex-wife, Sue Bell, discounted such theories Tuesday, saying the
49-year-old Webb had been distraught for some time over his inability to get a
job at another major newspaper.

"The way he was acting it would be hard for me to believe it was anything but
suicide," Bell said.

She said that before he died Webb wrote and mailed notes to family members and
placed his baby shoes in his mother's shed.

Webb had paid for his own cremation earlier in the year and had named Bell
months ago as the beneficiary of his bank account, she said. He had sold his
house last week, because he could no longer afford the mortgage, and was upset
that his motorcycle had been stolen last week.

He had apparently laid out his driver's license before taking his father's
.38-caliber pistol, which he kept in his nightstand, to shoot himself.

Coroner Robert Lyons said his office had been swamped with calls. "It's unusual
in a suicide case to have two shots," he said, "but it has been done in the
past, and it is in fact a distinct possibility."

Services for Webb are pending.

About the writer:

The Bee's Sam Stanton can be reached at (916) 321-1091 or sstanton [at]

Gary Webb was the real deal
12.13 - Narcosphere - Bill Conroy

Although I never met Gary Webb in person, he was a friend who helped save my
tail-end from the long arm of the FBI.

I had just finished up a major expose about former FBI agent Lok Lau in October
2003. The story exposed the fact that the Bureau had used Lau to spy on China in
the late 1980s and early 1990s. Lau claims that in the wake of his dangerous
spying mission, the FBI discarded him, eventually firing him in 2000.

The newspaper that I wrote the story for, a small weekly in Texas, went to press
on Wednesday and hit the streets on Friday. The story detailed Lau’s career and
was based, in part, on court documents filed with the federal court in
Sacramento, Calif. -- where Gary lived.

I recall that while reading over the paper the Friday the story came out, I got
a call from a source. She told me the U.S. Attorney’s office in Sacramento had
filed a motion with the court seeking to declare the public court records I had
based the story on as classified for national security reasons. The court
pleadings even went a step further: They asked that the government be allowed to
seize and scour clean any computers that the FBI suspected might have stored
copies of the documents exposing Lau’s covert China spying mission.

That meant my computer as well.

What was mind boggling about the whole affair is that when we went to press on
Wednesday, the court documents -- pleadings in Lau’s employment discrimination
case against the FBI -- had been on file with the federal court for some three
weeks. They were clearly public documents. However, two days later, after the
newspaper was printed and to the readers, the government was trying to put the
documents back into the vault under the shroud of national security.

That’s where Gary Webb came in. I had communicated with Gary previously by
e-mail concerning my investigative reporting. He would offer me insight and
suggestions on my stories, but mostly he would give me encouragement. When
you’re in the bunker, with shells going off all around you, it’s good to have a
warrior like that to turn to, someone who’s been in that bunker many times
before and survived to write yet another story.

So after learning my computer was being targeted by the FBI, I gave Gary a call.
At the time, he was working as an investigator for the California state
Legislature. I remember asking him, “What the hell do I do now?” I gave him a
rundown on the story. He suggested I get the documents being targeted by the
government out into the sunlight. He gave me a contact at the California First
Amendment Coalition. I reached out to them and that same day, Friday, I wrote a
story about the whole affair for the coalition, and they posted the story with
the court documents on their Internet site. I also sent a copy of the documents
along to Al Giordano. He too put the documents up on the Net.

The next week, the story went global after the Associated Press picked it up. I
believe the media exposure, coupled with the brave souls who stood up to the
FBI’s bluff and posted the court documents on the Internet, created enough of a
blowback that the federal judge in the case decided to back away from the FBI’s
strong-arm request to seize computers. The judge rejected that part of the
government’s motion and to this day has not reconsidered that decision. However,
he did rule that the public court documents should be redacted and sealed.
(Lau’s case is currently on appeal.)

But Gary didn’t stop there. He took up the charge and dove into Lau’s story
himself and several weeks later published a long expose on the case through the
Asia Times Asia Times. He had advanced the story even further and in the process
provided me with more shelter from the storm.

Gary and I stayed in touch over the course of this past year, off-and-on by
e-mail. He was a big Roxy Music fan, and I remember sending him some obscure
stuff I hunted down on the Web about the band’s history. We also communicated
about the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism held this past summer in
Bolivia. He had been a professor at the school the prior year and was invited
back again. I was looking forward to finally meeting him in person.

Unfortunately, Gary said he couldn’t swing the trip to Bolivia. I figured we
would hook up another time for a beer and a war story or two. His final words to
me were to make sure I said hello to Narco News’ Luis Gomez, a fellow authentic
journalist for whom Gary had great respect.

So I never met Gary before his untimely death this past weekend, but I didn’t
need to. He was a friend in my heart, as he continues to be, even now.

And as I read the obits in the commercial media about his death, all of which
mention his famous series for the San Jose Mercury News exposing the CIA/Contra
crack connection -- and all of which go to great lengths to discuss how the “big
dogs” of the commercial press discredited the series -- I keep in mind the words
of social theorist Erich Fromm :

Historically...those who told the truth about a particular regime have been
exiled, jailed, or killed by those in power whose fury has been aroused. To be
sure, the obvious explanation is that they were dangerous to their respective
establishments, and that killing them seemed the best way to protect the status
quo. This is true enough, but it does not explain the fact that the truth-sayers
are so deeply hated even when they do not constitute a real threat to the
established order. The reason lies, I believe, in that by speaking the truth
they mobilize the (psychological) resistance of those who repress it. To the
latter, the truth is dangerous not only because it can threaten their power but
because it shakes their whole conscious system of orientation, deprives them of
their rationalizations, and might even force them to act differently. Only those
who have experienced the process of becoming aware of important impulses that
were repressed know the earthquake-like sense of bewilderment and confusion that
occurs as a result. Not all people are willing to risk this adventure, lest of
all those people who profit, at least for the moment, from being blind.

Gary did speak the truth, and in so doing, opened many eyes and has changed the
world in the process. His story continues...
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