Gary Webb’s 1996 “Dark Alliance” stories for the San Jose Mercury News asserted that the CIA “looked the other way” as cocaine from Central America was imported into the United States, beginning in the Reagan years. Profits from the drugs helped fund the right-wing counterrevolution in Nicaragua, the stories alleged. The cocaine, Mr. Webb wrote, contributed to a crack epidemic in U.S. cities and a surge of black inmates into U.S. prisons. Mr. Webb was hounded from his job at the Mercury News and, arguably, to his death by suicide in 2004.
Now comes the film story of Mr. Webb’s reporting, “Kill the Messenger,” and, close behind, The Post’s Jeff Leen with “An amazing story that didn’t hold up” [Outlook, Oct. 19]. When Mr. Webb’s series ran in the Mercury News, Mr. Leen was working at the Miami Herald.
Mr. Leen wrote that Mr. Webb’s articles were characterized by “overblown claims and undernourished reporting,” a perspective expressed by major newspapers at the time, including The Post. But a 2006 Los Angeles Times article walked back that paper’s criticism of Mr. Webb, and even in 1996, The Post’s ombudsman wrote that The Post was overzealous in its efforts to discredit Mr. Webb.
Mr. Leen has shoveled more of the same old dirt on the story that Mr. Webb beat him to in the first place.
Jeff Epton, Washington