All Notebook Entries

  • Simón Bolívar and the Art of a Country Called América

    Atop the webpage of Narco News is our motto, as originally spoken by General Simón Bolívar, who led the battles that liberated much of this hemisphere from foreign rule and imposition, a credo that guides our vision for this half of the world where we live and report: “The Name of Our Country Is América!”

    Last year a group of artists and readers of Narco News contacted me about their desire to bring this motto to a larger audience inside the United States, where General George Washington – who led the liberation of another large part of our hemisphere from European rule and imposition – appears on every dollar bill but the legacy of General Bolívar is largely unknown.

    Bolívar’s (and Narco News’) credo now appears prominently in Los Angeles, California (formerly part of Mexican territory), where the artists responsible for bringing this concept to a wider audience, Sabine Bitter and Helmut Webber, have raised it high above 6150 Wilshire Boulevard…

    The artists’ statement about this Boliviarian work, North of the Border, appears at the jump…

  • Elections and Protests Part III

    Elections and Protests Part III
    By Nancy Davies         December 26, 2004

        “Big Tent”, inclusionary politics is another word for tolerance. Tolerance is shorthand for “We’re different but we can tolerate each other.” It suggests, as the very word “party” suggests, that in a particular short-term situation we can get along. Historically, tolerance has implied that the top dog was willing to admit the bottom dog, that the ones with superiority or control were willing to bend.
        Disparities in power were never addressed by inclusion, and are not addressed now. How many of us screamed at Kerry to denounce the Iraq war? How many marched in the streets? How many letters and e-mails flew around the globe? And so what?
        Participatory politics intends to be a bottom up proposition. Participation is construction, of a different kind of entity, with all contributions equally valued and all contributors involved in the decision-making. If participation becomes “we’ll let you in” it has reverted to the bad old days and lost it’s meaning. Participation must do more than step over the gap of “irreconcilable differences”.

  • Federal Sentencing Guidelines and Mandatory Minimums

    At the time, I had no idea just how fortunate I was to have been busted when I was. The year was 1986, the arrest my second after a year spent as a fugitive in the remote mountains of Northern Mexico, an area referred to as the despoblado.

    While I awaited my sentence, the “new law” came into effect. I saw people coming in for similar offenses—smuggling drugs—only they were subject to a different standard than I was. Many of these inmates were unable to understand the legalese so I studied the guidelines to help decipher what they were facing. Not even their defense attorneys fully understood the implications of this new law.

  • Running out of minutes in the war on terror

    Do you feel safer since 9/11?

    Apparently the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) thinks we’re back to business as usual. How else can we explain the new national cell-phone contract recently put into place within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?

    Remember, ICE is one of the DHS agencies on the front lines of the so-called wars on terror and drugs. But according to sources within DHS, federal bureaucrats apparently don’t want ICE agents to do much talking among themselves, or with their confidential informants, in the course of going into the battlefield in those wars.

  • Authentic Journalism Hasn't Arrived in the United States

    Today is Thursday, January 6, the day of the certification of the electors, and after this (part-time) reporter got home from his paying job he sought some true news about the challenge to this in Congress and the protests on the streets.  Where to look but the internet?  After trying,, and, I was forced to go to to find the bury-the-news headline "Bush carries Electoral College after delay" and the nearly information-free story that followed it.

    That CNN story proves the need for a network of authentic journalism that can at least report honestly on public events.

  • Congress Must Investigate Ohio Vote, say House Judiciary Democrats

    Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives called for thorough investigation of the disenfranchisement of voters in Ohio before the U.S. presidential election is certified in a report released yesterday:

    We have found numerous, serious election irregularities in the Ohio presidential election, which resulted in a significant disenfranchisement of voters. Cumulatively, these irregularities, which affected hundreds of thousand of votes and voters in Ohio, raise grave doubts regarding whether it can be said the Ohio electors selected on December 13, 2004, were chosen in a manner that conforms to Ohio law, let alone federal requirements and constitutional standards.

    When Congress meets in joint session to certify the electoral college vote today, it appears "all but certain [as of early evening yesterday] that House Democrats had secured the support of up to half a dozen Senators to formally challenge the Electoral College slate from Ohio," reported Keith Olbermann at yesterday.

  • Portrait of a dope-smuggling cowboy

    Don Henry Ford Jr. is a polite fellow. He’s likely to end most sentences with “sir” or “ma’am” and has all the mannerisms of a down-to-earth Texas cowboy.

    And like many cowboys I’ve run across, Ford has a knack for telling stories. But in this cowboy’s case, the stories are true.

    Ford has a love for nature, for ranching, for growing crops, herding cattle and tending to horses. He’s ridden bucking broncos that can break your back, stared down bulls that will rip open your abdomen and delivered foals in the open range. Ford also can make refried beans from scratch, serve up a mouth-watering plate of Texas barbeque, raise crops on the scorched earth of West Texas and find water in the parched desert of northern Mexico.

    Yes, he is a true cowboy, who spent a good part of his youth on a ranch in West Texas along the Pecos River, where he learned that the only cash crop in that part of the world is the one that takes money out of a rancher’s pockets.

    That economic reality helped drag Ford into the heart of the drug war. That is Ford’s story, which he tells from the heart in his new book: Contrabando, Confessions of a Drug-Smuggling Texas Cowboy.

  • A Response to George Salzman's Open Letter

    My friend and fellow expat George has written me an “open letter” and published it on the Internet.

    I’ve never had an open letter addressed to me before. And neither Emily Post’s nor Quentin Crisp’s guides to good manners indicate what is the proper etiquette when receiving one. So I’ll improvise and respond simply as if it is a regular letter or email from a valued colleague and truth-teller…

  • Kerry Wins Ohio and the Presidency, Counting Uncounted and Prevented Votes

    People stand in place in a line turning a corner from the Shepard Branch Library, into the rain and the dark, down a hill and then a path in the woods.  "Oh my goodness," said the volunteer from Election Protection, four times, as she walked up the line and videotaped the citizens of this part of Columbus, Ohio.  Another volunteer who has monitored the situation all day at this precinct, 6C, explained that there were just three voting machines for more than 1,100 registered voters.  Waits have ranged from one to two-and-a-half hours, which is where it stood at 6 o'clock with at least 150 people in the line.  "Are you going to pass out food?" someone jokes to the Election Protection volunteer.  "We're waiting in line to vote.  We're waiting in line to vote," a Black woman's voice calls from the darkness.
  • Gary Webb on Military Penetration of Civilian Society

    They're doing it with video games.

    In Gary Webb's final weeks, The Sacramento News & Review published his piece on the U.S. military's devising and releasing some video games to recruit, profile its recruits, and generally penetrate civilian society. cover.asp.  Released so far are the shooter games "America's Army," "Tactical Ops: Assault on Terror," and the more tightly targeted recruitment tool "Special Forces."

    Some quotations from Webb's article:

  • The New Year's Military-Civilian Uprising in Peru

    "We may be through with the past but the past is not through with us."

    - Ricky Jay (from the film "Magnolia")

    A New Year's Eve rebel uprising takes the police station, and several blocks, by surprise, in the Peruvian town of Andahuyalas. The insurgents include - according to a report by Reuters - at least seven women soldiers. Their spokesman - Major Antauro Humala - is one of two brothers who led a similar rebellion against president-dictator Alberto Fujimori, a largely symbolic uprising that led to Fujimori's downfall.

    The other brother - Ollanta Humala - was recently purged from Peru's military and is in a kind of reserve exile in South Korea, where he had been sent as the military attaché of his country's Embassy.

    The rebels, according to Reuters, believe "in nationalizing industry and legalizing the coca crops that make cocaine." And they call for the resignation of President Alejandro Toledo - currently at only nine-percent support according to public opinion polls - as they did against Fujimori in the year 2000.

    Today, in the town square, after shaking the nation and the hemisphere with this bold act, Major Antauro Humala announced that at noon tomorrow (Monday) his 200-plus soldiers will lay down their arms and turn themselves in.

    There are two recent historic parallels: One in Mexico, the other in Venezuela... And history, again, as a New Year begins, knocks on the door of our América...

  • Connecting the dots in the House of Death

    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a press release earlier this month announcing a plea agreement had been reached with an accused cigarette smuggler, Jorge Abraham. What the press release does not mention is that the Abraham case is linked to another major smuggling case involving Heriberto Santillan-Tabares, who, U.S. prosecutors allege, is a top lieutenant in Vicente Carrillo Fuentes’ Juárez drug organization.

    Santillan is charged with cocaine and marijuana smuggling along with five counts of murder allegedly carried out as part of a continuing criminal enterprise – a crime that can get him a death sentence in the U.S. justice system. A confidential informant, who allegedly had attained high standing within the Juarez organization, played a critical role in snaring Santillan.

    The informant’s name is Jesus Contreras, who is also known by the nickname “Lalo.”

    Narco News published a major exposé in late April of this year (called The House of Death) that revealed Contreras, as part of his role in infiltrating the Santillan organization, was implicated in a series of murders in Ciudad Juárez -- located just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

    Between August 2003 and mid-January 2004, about a dozen people were tortured, murdered and then buried in the yard of a house in the Mexican border town. Contreras, according to sources, participated in many of those murders.

  • The Narco-Terrorist Who Came in From the Cold

    U.S. authorities have remained strangely silent regarding the Colombian government's decision to delay or cancel the extradition of AUC Chief Salvatore Mancuso on cocaine trafficking and money laundering charges.
  • Elections and Protests Part II

    Participation and  Democracy: Why aren’t the people the government?

    In the USA if you bring an uninvited guest to a sit-down meal you’re violating a profound commitment to exclusion. In Oaxaca, on the other hand,  the host is appreciative. The more the people who participate, the more confirmed everyone feels. One has support in what one undertakes, one is part of a community, and everyone provides mutual reification.

  • Bush's "victory" strongly contested in Ohio. Don't give up!

    The election is being strongly contested. Join in! Don't give up!

          This is not the time to fall into a state of depressed resignation over Bush’s supposed victory. Although the mainstream media has continued for almost two months now to foster a belief in the inevitability of renewed Republican rule for another four years, the chips aren’t all in yet. The corporate media is struggling mightily to hide them.

          Representative John Conyers of Michigan and his Democratic colleagues on the House Committee on the Judiciary have held meetings in Washington DC and in Columbus OH revealing the presence of massive fraud in Ohio. The website has substantial coverage, but in the so-called mainstream these revelations are . . .

  • Bolivian Bill to Nationalize Gas Feared by Foreign Interests

    The subhead of the December 20 Miami Herald article "Bolivia approves natural gas law" is enough to know that the proposed law is a victory, of sorts, for the social movements: "Law may stop investment in the sector, cause massive lawsuits."

    In November, Herald reporter Tyler Bridges wrote, the House gave preliminary approval to a Movement Toward Socialism measure to have the state unilaterally seize control of the natural gas reserves and impose an immediate and much higher tax than President Carlos Mesa proposed.

  • Guantanamo: Detainee torture in US operated prisons

    Here are some documents obtained under FOIA by the ACLU, detailing some of the torture techniques employed by the army investigators in Irag and at Guantanamo Bay. They are heavily edited and they don't reveal a lot of new information (it's been known for a while that the prisoners are being tortured), but they do link some of the torture techniques with executive orders signed by Bush.

  • En Bolivie il y a de l'eau dans le gaz...

    Comme dans beaucoup de pays dits « en développement » la question de la gestion de ressources naturelles et le coût d’accès à celles-ci est au cœur des conflits politiques boliviens. Un an après la « Guerre du Gaz », la gestion des hydrocarbures boliviens oppose de plus en plus les boliviens entre eux et sert de miroir de la ségrégation de plus en plus criante – non seulement dans la société bolivienne, mais des pays.

    Loin de se prétendre exhaustif, cet article retrace les événements qui ont conduit à la situation actuelle, où il y a de l’eau dans le gaz…

    *NOTA A LOS NARCONUSISTAS: Se trata de un articulo que intenta dar cierta perspectiva al problema del gas en Bolivia, destinado al publico francés que conoce poco la cuestion. Una version corregida aparecera en una revista trimestral independiente francesa. Una version en español estara disponible dentro de poco*

  • New Video - "Gary Webb: In His Own Words"

    This morning the Guerilla News Network released a new video, "Gary Webb: In His Own Words."  Based on interview footage shot during the 2003 School of Authentic Journalism, it's both a moving tribute to a hero of authentic journalism and a plainspoken discussion of the Dark Alliance CIA/contra/cocaine story; what it meant and how it was attacked.  

    Watch it online at the GNN site here:

  • Haiti: Large Peaceful Demonstration for Aristide's Return

    More than 10,000 people poured into the streets in Cap Haitian, Haiti's second-largest city, to demand Aristide's return and an end to repression reported the Haiti Information Project (HIP).  The December 16 event marked the anniversary of Aristide and Lavalas' first electoral victory in 1990.  It was one of the first large demonstrations allowed to be held peacefully since a U.S.-chosen government took power after the February 29th coup de etat.

    UN troops publicly guarded businesses' private property from the protesters.  Two days before the demonstration, UN and government troops had done nothing while paramilitaries seized Aristide's home.

    Moise Jean-Charles, founder of a local peasant movement called Movement of Milot Peasants (MPM) and popular mayor of the town of Milot, quietly joined the crowd to very loud joy as people realized his presence.  He has been in hiding since Haitian police and UN troops invaded his home on June 14th.  At least 700 political prisoners remain in jail in Haiti, even after the high-profile arrest and release of Father Gerard Jean-Juste.

  • Gary Webb drew blood

    It's funny how things come back to you when you lose a friend.

    As I was smoking a cigarette on my patio the other night, thinking about Gary Webb and how everything I stood for in journalism was now quaking under my feet, I recalled that Gary told me there was one person, in particular, that he trusted completely: journalist Chuck Bowden.

    Gary had once told me that he would “trust Chuck Bowden with his life.”

    So in the wake of Gary’s recent death, I decided to look up Bowden and give him a call.

  • An Anonymous Eulogy for Gary... and Truth

    From a former journalist in the United States, to my mailbox, to your eyes…

    I never met Gary Webb, or, really, knew much about him. I remember hearing about how he was fired from the California Assembly staff, and the back-stabbing way in which it was done -- he was an investigator, he was out in the field investigating, and when he got back they told him he was fired because he wasn't in the office (the real reason of course being that the new Speaker of the Assembly wanted to clean house and put his own cronies in place, cronies who wouldn't dig up embarrassing dirtlike Gary did) -- but did not think much about it at the time. Gary had, after all, been effectively dead for all intents and purpose since 1997, when the entire newspaper industry turned its collective back to him and shat upon him. This was just another case of Gary getting comfortable, doing things the way he had always done them under the assumption that his bosses would support him because he was doing a good job, then getting shat upon for doing his job too well. CYA was never, apparently, Gary's thing. I figured he'd shrug, and move on to something else.

    As we know now, he didn't...

  • Colombian Oil, Texas Profits

    Texas companies with ties to the Bush administration are reaping profits in Putmayo...
  • Let Gary Webb Speak.../Permita que Gary Webb hable...

    When I heard Gary was gone, my first instinct was to go to the tape.  My biggest regret of the 1st J-School was that I didnt take part in, or record, his investigative journalism workshop--at the time, I thought I would benefit more from learning web skills.  But I knew I had a recording of him speaking on a panel discussion in Merida--the theme was "How to Write on Deadline"--Gary spoke first, followed by Maria Botey Pascual.  I listened intently, hoping for some jewels, some insight into his mind, but most of the discussion was nuts and bolts of how to write under pressure--Gary was there to teach, not preach or wax philosophical.  But then came a student asking about the "dilemma" that the more time a reporter spends on a story, the more emotionally involved they become--It ended wiith the question---Do you believe In objectivity?

    Gary's words...

    palabras de Gary...

  • Corruption alleged in U.S. Customs' Miami operations

    A respected attorney who fought the system for years to prove that one of his clients had been framed by the mob and FBI has leveled serious corruption charges against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

    Those charges are outlined in a letter the attorney, John Cavicchi, sent last month to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. In addition to raising the corruption allegations, Cavicchi’s letter also advocates that the current commissioner of CBP, Robert Bonner, be replaced by Mark Conrad, a former U.S. Customs regional supervisor who has earned a reputation as a government whistleblower.

    CBP, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, employs some 41,000 people charged with managing, controlling and protecting the U.S. borders. Cavicchi’s charges take aim at the South Florida operations of CBP -- specifically Miami, one of the busiest seaside entry points in the country.

    Cavicchi gained national prominence as the lawyer for Louis Greco, who was convicted in Boston of being party to a 1965 mob-related assassination. Greco, a disabled WWII veteran, spent some 30 years in prison, all the while contending he was innocent.

  • Gary Webb: Do What He Did

    LACANDON JUNGLE, CHIAPAS, MEXICO, DECEMBER 15, 2004: I keep imagining the last moments of Gary’s life. He is looking down the barrel of a gun. His eyes are puffy from the swell of too many tears. The moving van is coming to his house near Sacramento, a place he never wanted to be in the first place, to which he was exiled years ago for the crime of telling a powerful but uncomfortable truth. Everyone he has ever trusted or loved has abandoned him: By that I mean everyone, including you and me. What he is about to do requires the utmost in courage: to pull the trigger and plunge into the unknown, perhaps into nothingness, never to write or report or tell his truth to the post-human mortals who couldn’t handle his truth anyway.

    The hand on the trigger at that moment – his – is not the first, nor is he acting alone. Gary had to wait in line and take a number behind all those who set his suicide in motion years ago. It was a miracle he didn’t do this back when San Jose Mercury News editor Jerry Ceppos, now 58 and vice president of the Knight-Ridder news company, cocked the shotgun and pulled the trigger on the most authentic journalistic career of the late 20th Century. That was the day that the bullet flew out of the cartridge and, as if in very slow motion, took years to reach Gary’s head...

  • Authentic Journalism: The flip side, the torturing thorns of rosy Internet.

    Quot homines tot sententiae

    The opinions of a libertarian anarchist in Austin, TX.
    « The Hypocrisy of Daily Kos | Main | Lynne Stewart's Violent Motives »

    Monthly Archives | Recent Entries
    November 11, 2004
    Franz J. T. Lee is a Flailing Moron

    From South African Apartheid to North American Fascism

  • Elections and Protests

    Elections have a certain similarity in many countries and all over the world; a certain aura of corruption succeeding on the back of public indifference and/or ineffectiveness.
  • Gary Webb, ¡Presente!

    (English translation follows)

    Querido Gary: Esta noche volví a la casa y en cuatro líneas George Sanchez me explicó por qué esta vez no podrás contestar a mi palabras. Simplemente, como decía el poeta salvadoreño Roque Dalton, decidiste pasar a mejor vida... y eso, por supuesto, no nos incluía a mí, a George y a Reed Lindsay, que mucho te debemos y tanto te hemos querido. Está bien, Master Webb, no contestes, solamente lee...

  • Gary Webb - R.I.P.

    Excerpt from an obituary in the Sacramento Bee:

    Gary Webb, a prize-winning investigative journalist whose star-crossed career was capped with a controversial newspaper series linking the CIA to the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles, died Friday of self-inflicted gunshot wounds, officials said.

    Mr. Webb, 49, was found dead in his Carmichael home Friday morning of gunshot wounds to the head, the Sacramento County Coroner's Office said Saturday.

    He left a note, but officials would not disclose its contents.

    "I'm still in a state of shock," said Tom Dresslar, who works as a spokesman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and had known Mr. Webb for 15 years.

    "He was a hard-core, no-fear investigative reporter," Dresslar said. "He wasn't afraid to stand up to whatever authority."

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