Drugs, Atrocities and Suicide: Gary Webb and Iris Chang


Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Gary Webb, whose 1996 San Jose Mercury News series “Dark Alliance” described links between CIA-supported contra rebels and the U.S. drug trade, was found dead last week of an apparent suicide. He was 49.

Webb’s series touched off controversy and a huge backlash by the CIA and the mainstream media. LA Weekly now reports that the resentment Webb triggered has managed to outlive him, at least in his Los Angeles Times obituary.

While acknowledging flaws in Webb’s series, the Weekly points to a CIA inspector general’s report that, in its second part, indicated that the CIA did have information linking some contras to the drug trade.

Last month, Iris Chang, another writer who had exposed inconvenient facts, apparently also took her own life.

Chang authored the 1997 book The Rape Of Nanking, detailing atrocities that Japanese troops allegedly carried out during their 1937 attack on Nanjing, a Chinese city.

Like “Dark Alliance,” The Rape of Nanking was assailed for inaccuracies. Those flaws aside, Chang—like Webb—shined light on a forgotten piece of history.