In 1996 San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb published an explosive three-part series, “The Dark Alliance”, on the connection between the genesis of the crack cocaine epidemic in California and across the U.S., to the contras, the CIA-run and Reagan-backed guerrilla army operating out of Nicaragua. The firestorm surrounding Webb’s controversial series prompted outrage among African American communities hard hit by the epidemic, attempts by the media to discredit Webb, three federal investigations, and inspired the recent Hollywood “newsroom thriller” Kill the Messenger.
In 1998 the National Security Archive – in its second ever Electronic Briefing Book – posted a collection of declassified documents obtained through the FOIA concerning the meat of Webb’s reporting: that there was official U.S. knowledge of, and collusion with, known drug traffickers connected to the contras. The documents include handwritten notes by National Security Council staffer Oliver North showing North unequivocally knew money being used to fund the contras was drug money, and the Kerry Committee Report, which found in 1989 that “senior U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras’ funding problems.”
DARK ALLIANCE: THE STORY BEHIND THE CRACK EXPLOSION