From the Archives
Our Time Press – May 1998
by David Mark Greaves
Before stop and frisk and before the explosion in the prison population, there was the CIA, cocaine and what amounts to urban chemical warfare inflicted on African-Americans that brought the Black is Beautiful consciousness movement to a stuttering and painful stop, paving the way for the gangsta culture we see lionized today.
Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance: The CIA, The Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion is a detective mystery, a thriller, a study of history, but most of all, it is a horror story.
A horror story because it does not just say the government is immoral, Dark Alliance spends 468 pages backed up with an additional 79 pages of notes, going into exquisite detail on how immoral and corrupt elements of the government were as they pursued their war interests in Nicaragua in the 1970’s and 80’s.
And that’s putting the best face on it. At worst, it lifts a rock, exposing a corner of a genocidal white supremacist streak that runs through the American character.
The mainstream press had made a fuss that the story had no truth to it. They said that the original series, appearing in the San Jose Mercury News in the summer of ’96, was flawed and without merit. With the publication of Dark Alliance, Mr. Webb has dotted every “i” and crossed every “t”. There can be no claim that there is no proof of the complicity of elements of the government in drug dealing.
It is shown that at the highest levels of the CIA, DEA and the NSC, decisions were consciously made that resulted in the destruction of generations of African-Americans. Not since the Middle Passage and slavery itself have African-Americans been subjected to such a widespread killing -off and imprisoning. Men, women and children- whole families-were destroyed. Murdered by chemical bombardment, flown in by the tens of tons. Webb tells of fifty-five tons supplied by one man alone! Tons of cocaine flown in with government knowledge and proxy supervision, many in military transport planes.
Through the despairing streets of Black America, by human spirits intent on personal survival; young men determined to succeed at something in their lives. With other avenues to the American Dream cut off, they took to the local streets because it seemed like a shortcut. They sold the drugs there on the street and they did it because they were poor and Black in America, and that’s the hand they were dealt and they played it.
The fallout from those drug sales in the mid-80’s is as current as yesterday’s headline of 36-year- old Officer Anthony Mosomillo, father of two, killed by Jose Serrano. Serrano’s arrest history begins with a drug bust in 1987, and his girlfriend’s record begins with drugs in 1986. Had the CIA and the DEA kept the tons of cocaine out of the country, instead of helping bring it in, Officer Anthony Mosomillo might be alive today.
Webb’s story is woven together with depositions, testimony, court records, government files and interviews in such a way that it is told in the words of the participants. Gary Webb provides the connective tissue, rubbing his reams of proof in the face of all of those who wrote and swore that the story was not true. The heroic picture of Oliver North with his pressed uniform and right hand raised is a picture of a drug dealer, swearing to a lie, a person who profited from the prestige and power that accrues to someone willing to do whatever has to be done to accomplish his mission. Because he was only doing his job, Oliver North should stand before Black America on trial as a modern day war criminal.
Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance is a must-read for anyone who has been touched by the crack epidemic, anyone who cursed the dealers and the crimes— ministers who preached from pulpits, mothers and fathers who lost sons and daughters, sons and daughters who lost their parents. Crime victims and their families, and legislators intent on cracking down on crime. Dark Alliance is published by Seven Stories Press DG