Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Kill the Messenger 
ChicagoTribune/Variety (A. Barker) review
RogerEbert.com (G. Kenny) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review
Kill the Messenger  (directed by Michael Cuesta, screenplay by Peter Landesman based on the books Dark Alliance by Gary Webb [IMDb] and Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou [IMDb]) tells the story of San Jose Mercury-News reporter Gary Webb [IMDb] (played in the film by Jeremy Renner) who reporting on some of the trials of various mid-level California drug traffickers walked into an investigative journalists' dream / conspiracy of a lifetime:
It turned out that some of the key government informants against some of these mid-level California drug traffickers worked for the CIA and had been involved _in protecting_ some of these same mid-level drug traffickers from prosecution in the 1980s because these drug-traffickers were moving "bargain priced" cocaine that was being converted to _crack cocaine_ which _due to its "bargain price"_ EXPLODED then onto the drug scene in AFRICAN-AMERICAN GHETTOS ALL ACROSS THE U.S., AND (yes, there's an and) THE PROFITS FROM THE SALES OF THIS DIRT-CHEAP CRACK COCAINE WERE BEING USED TO FINANCE THE CIA SUPPORTED CONTRAS (IN NICARAGUA).
I warned you, this was ONE HECK OF A CONSPIRACY, originally reported by Gary Webb in a three part series printed in the San Jose Mercury-News between August 18-20, 1996 and is available in full (on the Libertarian-leaning / anti-Drug War website "NarcoNews.com").
For those too young to remember the Contra War / Controversies of the 1980s, the then Reagan Administration was basing a good part of its strategy in fighting the expansion of Communism in Central America on supporting the "Contra" rebels fighting the pro-Soviet Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, the Sandinistas having successfully overthrown the decades-old pro-U.S. Samosa family dictatorship there in 1979 under then U.S. President Jimmy Carter. The then Democratic Party dominated U.S. Congress, however, refused to fund the Contras. So the Reagan Administration / C.I.A. and affiliated right-wing groups looked for all sorts of "creative" ways to fund the Contras without using U.S. taxpayer money to do it.
The most (in)famous scandal of the time in this regard was the Iran-Contra Affair, in which the U.S. supplied Iran (at that time in the midst of a deadly war with neighboring Iraq) with U.S. weaponry IN PART in return for release of U.S. hostages held by Iran-supported Shia groups in Lebanon AND IN PART FOR MONEY which _technically not_ from U.S. taxpayers was then used to finance the Contras. At subsequent Congressional hearings, U.S. Col. Oliver North working on President Reagan's National Security Council Staff, (in)famously called this scheme "a neat idea."
Getting hundreds of thousands to millions of African-American youths addicted to crack cocaine and turning around and JAILING AS FELONS said hundreds of thousands to millions of African American youths for everything from competing drug-gang shoot-outs TO SIMPLE POSSESSION and SUBSEQUENTLY DENYING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF THEM (AS "FELONS") THE RIGHT TO VOTE EVER AGAIN would have seemed like ONE HELL OF AN IDEA for SOUTHERN RIGHT-WING RACISTS still smarting from their loss of their past power to deny Blacks the right to vote throughout the South thanks to the passage of the Johnson Era 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Consider simply that G.W. Bush "won" the 2000 election by a few hundred votes in Florida WHILE THERE WERE OVER A MILLION OF _PETTY_ "FELONS" IN FLORIDA DENIED THE RIGHT TO VOTE _FOR LIFE_ FOR SIMPLY BEING ARRESTED WITH A ROCK OR TWO (PLANTED?) IN THEIR POCKET.
Imagine what this country could have been like WITHOUT the G.W. Bush Presidency:
(1) A BALANCED FEDERAL BUDGET and PERHAPS EVEN A COMPLETELY PAID DOWN FEDERAL DEBT (we were ON TRACK FOR THAT at the end of the Clinton Administration),
(2) NO 9/11 -- (!!) -- The Bush Adminstration was simply not concerned about terrorism until those planes crashed into the WTC and the Pentagon. Instead, they were focused on missile defense against North Korea, and a still secret "energy task force" that could have very well plotted the division of oil spoils a "post-invasion" Iraq. By contrast, the Clinton / Gore Administration did take their National Security advisors seriously with regard to terrorism and did break-up a fairly major plot on the homeland around the turn of the Millenium.
In any case, we'll never know what could have happened because hundreds of thousands of African Americans who could have voted in Florida (and would have certainly voted for Gore rather than G.W. Bush) were not allowed to vote because they were "Convicted Felons" even if their convictions were for possession of trivial amounts of (even _planted_) crack cocaine.
Again, selling AFRICAN AMERICAN YOUTHS cut-rate "crack cocaine" and using the funds to finance the Contras was ONE HELL OF AN "NEAT" IDEA ...
And Gary Webb, who stumbled onto this story, was eventually destroyed for writing it, and even died, somewhat mysteriously, in 2004 -- of suicide WITH TWO BULLETS IN HIS HEAD (possible, but ...)
Anyway, enjoy look the film up and read. Again, Webb's whole original expose is available here.
Excellent articles about how the Felony "loophole" has been used to deny millions of (mostly people of color) the right to vote in the U.S. and especially Florida can be found here:
Susan Greenbaum, Restore Voting Rights to Ex-Felons, Aljazeera America, Feb 14, 2014
Did Florida's Felon Disenfranchisement Laws Cause Al Gore from Losing the 2000 Election? (procon.com)
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