In the wake of Watergate, it appeared that journalists were intent on exposing a wide range of government and corporate misdeeds. Scandalous activities of the Central Intelligence Agency seemed to be on top of the list … and deserved to be there.
These days, however, the investigative journalism successes of the Watergate era seem like a distant memory. And our national news media – in particular network television – have shown little interest in a number of scandals involving the CIA, including stories such as:
* The CIA and the savings and loan scam. Houston Post reporter Peter Brewton was virtually the only mainstream journalist to tackle this complex story. Brewton’s reporting traced the CIA’s involvement in the failure of dozens of thrifts, ranging from the use of fraudulent proceeds to finance covert operations, to CIA intervention in criminal investigations involving agency operatives.
* The CIA and drugs. Little media attention was paid to the 1989 Costa Rican Congressional Commission major investigation of narcotics in that country, which concluded that the contra resupply network, set up by Oliver North and CIA station chief Joseph Fernandez had facilitated cocaine traffic through Costa Rica into the U.S.
* The CIA’s role in the secret war on Nicaragua. Among other things, the agency was responsible for the mining of harbors, advising Contra rebels with handbooks on how to assassinate Sandanista officials, and the La Penca bombing.
* The CIA and Nelson Mandela. The Cox Newspapers’ mid-1990 report that the CIA, using an agent inside the ANC, gave the South African government the information it needed to find and arrest Mandela in 1962.
* The CIA’s role in the slaughter of suspected communists in Indonesia in 1965. The Spartanburg, S.C., Herald Journal’s May 1990 report that CIA and State Department officials passed lists of “possible communists” to the Indonesian government which were used in the extermination of more than 250,000 people.
Logic and experience tell us that it is time to question the system of secret government. It is a system alien to American principles and defective in practice. But to question it, we must first become aware of it. And if the media won’t expose it, who will?
SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER: BILL GIBBONS
SOURCE: FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY IN REPORTING (FAIR), 130 W 25th St., New York, NY 10001
DATE: 5/17/90 (published in The Oregonian)
TITLE: “National Media Ignoring CIA Misdeeds”
AUTHOR: MARTIN A. LEE
SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES, 229 West 43rd St., New York, NY 10036, DATE: 6/12/90
TITLE: “An Alien System”
AUTHOR: ANTHONY LEWIS
COMMENTS: Investigative author Martin A. Lee charges that the coverage of misdeeds by the Central Intelligence Agency received scant attention in the U.S. news media. The article itself, describing a variety of scandals involving the CIA, was published in the Portland Oregonian, San Jose Mercury, and the Seattle Times, but was not picked up by any major wire service. Nor has the subject matter been discussed to any significant degree in the national newspapers of record or national network news. Lee believes that the “major news media committed a great disservice to the general public by underreporting stories about CIA misdeeds – Mandela, CIA links with drug traffickers in Central America, and the involvement of CIA personnel in the S&L scandal. This information should have been widely discussed (in the press) at a time when Congress was considering legislation that would have, in effect, legalized many of the crimes committed by U.S. intelligence during the Iran-contra scandal. But this legislation, itself, was largely ignored by U.S. news media.” (See censored story # 25, page 67) According to Lee, “Corrupt elements of the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies, along with their knee-jerk apologists and supporters in Congress and the Executive Branch, certainly have benefited by the limited press coverage of CIA misdeeds. Neil Bush, the President’s son, also benefited, given that his S&L in Denver was linked to CIA personnel and organized crime. Senator Jesse Helms and other rightwing boosters of the South African apartheid system also benefited from poor reporting on this issue.”