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This is a 10-page summary of the revealing accounts of 18 award-winning journalists from the book Into the Buzzsaw, compiled by Kristina Borjesson. All of these courageous writers were prevented by corporate media ownership from reporting major news stories. Some were even fired or laid off. These journalists have won numerous awards, including several Emmys and a Pulitzer. Join in building a better world. Spread this news across the land.
Jane Akre spent 20 years as a network and local TV reporter for news operations throughout the country. Recently, she and her husband, investigative reporter Steve Wilson, were awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for their struggle with the story told in this chapter.
By February 1997 our story was ready to air. It attempted to answer some troubling questions: Why had Monsanto sued two small dairies to prevent them from labeling their milk as coming from cows not injected with [growth hormone rBGH]? Why had two Canadian health regulators claimed that their jobs were threatened?and then said Monsanto offered them a bribe to give fast-track approval to the drug? Why did Florida supermarkets break their much-publicized promise that milk in the dairy case would not come from hormone-treated cows ?until it gained widespread acceptance? among the wary public? And why was the US the only major industrialized nation to approve the use of this controversial genetically engineered hormone? P. 40, 41
Station managers were so proud of our work that they saturated virtually every Tampa Bay-area radio station with thousands of dollars? worth of ads urging viewers to watch what we?d uncovered about ?The Mystery in Your Milk.? But then, our Fox managers? pride turned to panic. [Monsanto lawyer] John Walsh wrote in a letter that some points of the story ?clearly contain the elements of defamatory statements which, if repeated in a broadcast, could lead to serious damage to Monsanto and dire consequences for Fox News.? P. 41. 42
It was not long after our [unsuccessful] struggle to air an honest report had begun that Fox fired both the news director and the general manager [of our station]. The new general manager, Dave Boylan, explained that if we didn?t agree to changes that Monsanto and Fox lawyers were insisting upon, we?d be fired for insubordination within 48 hours. We pleaded with Dave to look at the facts we?d uncovered, many of which conclusively disproved Monsanto?s claims. We reminded him of the importance of the facts about a basic food most of our viewers consume and feed to their children daily. His reply: ?We paid $3 billion dollars for these TV stations. We?ll tell you what the news is. The news is what we say it is!? Steve [the author?s husband and coworker] was firm but respectful when he made it clear we would neither lie nor distort any part of the story. P. 43-45
[The Dairy Coalition?s director] took great pride in bragging that the Coalition ?snowed the station with paperwork and pressure to have the story killed.? Fox threatened our job every time we resisted the dozens of changes that would sanitize the story and fill it with lies and distortions. [Fox lawyer] Forest finally leveled with us. ?You guys don?t get it. It doesn?t matter whether the facts are true. This story isn?t worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars to go up against Monsanto.? P. 47, 48
Fox?s general manager presented us with an agreement that would give us a full year of salaries and benefits worth $200,000 in no-show ?consulting jobs,? but with strings attached: no mention of how Fox covered up the story and no opportunity to ever expose the facts Fox refused to air. We turned down this second hush money offer. We were both finally fired, allegedly for ?no cause.? P. 49
The controversy over rBGH has traveled recently to Canada and the European Union, both of which decided to reject the drug for use in those countries. P. 61
Kristina Borjesson has been an independent producer and writer for almost 20 years. Among her many accomplishments besides editing this volume, she worked at CBS network where she won an Emmy and a Murrow Award for her investigative reporting on ?CBS Reports: Legacy of Shame? with Dan Rather and Randall Pinkston.
You don?t choose to have the kind of experience I had while trying to report on the demise of TWA Flight 800. You fall into it. At CBS, I?d recently picked up an Emmy for investigative reporting when I was assigned to investigate the crash. I had no idea that my life would be turned upside down and inside out?that I?d be assigned to walk into what I now call ?the buzzsaw.? P. 103
The buzzsaw is what can rip through you when you try to investigate or expose anything this country?s large institutions?be they corporate or government?want kept under wraps. The system fights back with official lies, disinformation, and stonewalling. Your phone starts acting funny. Strange people call you at strange hours to give you strange information. The FBI calls you. Your car is broken into and the thief takes your computer and your reporter?s notebook and leaves everything else behind. You feel like you?re being followed everywhere you go. P. 103,104
Pierre Salinger announced to the world on November 8, 1996, that he?d received documents from French intelligence proving that a US Navy missile had accidentally downed [TWA Flight 800]. That same day, FBI?s Jim Kallstrom called a press conference to deny Salinger?s allegations. [At the press conference,] Kallstrom rattled off a prepared speech, and then it was time for questions. A man raised his hand and asked why the Navy was involved in the recovery and investigation while a possible suspect. Kallstrom?s response was immediate; ?Remove him!? he yelled. Two men leapt over to the questioner and grabbed him by the arms. There was a momentary chill in the air after the guy had been dragged out of the room. Kallstrom acted as if nothing had happened. P. 110, 111
A few weeks after the FBI?s visit to CBS, I received my walking papers. Law enforcement consultant Paul Ragonese eventually got his walking papers, too. Ragonese was replaced by none other than the FBI?s TWA 800 task force chief, James Kallstrom. P. 127
Michael Levine is a 25-year veteran of the DEA turned best-selling author and journalist. His articles and interviews on the drug war have been published in numerous national newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Esquire.
When President Nixon first declared war on drugs in 1971, there were fewer than 500,000 hard-core addicts in the entire nation, most of whom were addicted to heroin. Three decades later, despite the expenditure of $1 trillion in tax dollars, the number of hard-core addicts is shortly expected to exceed five million. Our nation has become the supermarket of the drug world, with a wider variety and bigger supply of drugs at cheaper prices than ever before. The problem now not only affects every town and hamlet on the map, but it is difficult to find a family anywhere that is not somehow affected. P. 258
The Chang Mai factory the CIA prevented me from destroying was the source of massive amounts of heroin being smuggled into the US in the bodies and body bags of GIs killed in Vietnam. P. 264
My unit, the Hard Narcotics Smuggling Squad, was charged with investigating all heroin and cocaine smuggling through the Port of New York. My unit became involved in investigating every major smuggling operation known to law enforcement. We could not avoid witnessing the CIA protecting major drug dealers. Not a single important source in Southeast Asia was ever indicted by US law enforcement. This was no accident. Case after case was killed by CIA and State Department intervention and there wasn?t a damned thing we could do about it. CIA-owned airlines like Air America were being used to ferry drugs throughout Southeast Asia, allegedly to support our ?allies.? CIA banking operations were used to launder drug money. P. 265
In 1972, I was assigned to assist in a major international drug case involving top Panamanian government officials who were using diplomatic passports to smuggle large quantities of heroin and other drugs into the US. The name Manuel Noriega surfaced prominently in the investigation. Surfacing right behind Noriega was the CIA to protect him from US law enforcement. As head of the CIA, Bush authorized a salary for Manuel Noriega as a CIA asset, while the dictator was listed in as many as 40 DEA computer files as a drug dealer. P. 266
The CIA and the Department of State were protecting more and more politically powerful drug traffickers around the world: the Mujihadeen in Afghanistan, the Bolivian cocaine cartels, the top levels of Mexican government, Nicaraguan Contras, Colombian drug dealers and politicians, and others. Media?s duties, as I experienced firsthand, were twofold: first, to keep quiet about the gush of drugs that was allowed to flow unimpeded into the US; second, to divert the public?s attention by shilling them into believing the drug war was legitimate by falsely presenting the few trickles we were permitted to indict as though they were major ?victories,? when in fact we were doing nothing more than getting rid of the inefficient competitors of CIA assets. P. 266
On July 17, 1980, drug traffickers actually took control of a nation. Bolivia at the time [was] the source of virtually 100% of the cocaine entering the US. CIA-recruited mercenaries and drug traffickers unseated Bolivia?s democratically elected president, a leftist whom the US government didn?t want in power. Immediately after the coup, cocaine production increased massively, until it soon outstripped supply. This was the true beginning of the cocaine and crack ?plague.? P. 267
The CIA along with the State and Justice Departments had to combine forces to protect their drug-dealing assets by destroying a DEA investigation. How do I know? I was the inside source. I sat down at my desk in the American embassy and wrote the kind of letter that I never myself imagined ever writing. I detailed three pages typewritten on official US embassy stationary enough evidence of my charges to feed a wolf pack of investigative journalists. I also expressed my willingness to be a quotable source. I addressed it directly to Strasser and Rohter, care of Newsweek. Two sleepless weeks later, I was still sitting in my embassy office staring at the phone. Three weeks later, it rang. It was DEA?s internal security. They were calling me to notify me that I was under investigation. I had been falsely accused of everything from black-marketing to having sex with a married female DEA agent. The investigation would wreak havoc with my life for the next four years. P. 268, 271
In one glaring case, an associate of mine was sent into Honduras to open a DEA office in Tegucigalpa. Within months he had documented as much as 50 tons of cocaine being smuggled into the US by Honduran military people who were supporting the Contras. This was enough cocaine to fill a third of US demand. What was the DEA response? They closed the office. P. 274, 275
Sometime in 1990, US Customs intercepted a ton of cocaine being smuggled through Miami International Airport. A Customs and DEA investigation quickly revealed that the smugglers were the Venezuelan National Guard headed by General Guillen, a CIA ?asset? who claimed that he had been operating under CIA orders and protection. The CIA soon admitted that this was true. If the CIA is good at anything, it is the complete control of American media. The New York Times had the story almost immediately in 1990 and did not print it until 1993. It finally became news that was ?fit to print? when the Times learned that 60 Minutes also had the story and was actually going to run it. The highlight of the 60 Minutes piece is when the administrator of the DEA, Federal Judge Robert Bonner, tells Mike Wallace, ?There is no other way to put it, Mike, [what the CIA did] is drug smuggling. It?s illegal.? P. 288, 289
The fact is?and you can read it for yourself in the federal court records?that seven months before the first attempt to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993, the FBI had a paid informant named Emad Salem who had infiltrated the bombers and had told the FBI of their plans to blow up the twin towers. Without notifying the NYPD or anyone else, an FBI supervisor ?fired? Salem, who was making $500 a week for his work. After the bomb went off, the FBI hired Salem back and paid him $1.5 million to help them track down the bombers. But that?s not all the FBI missed. When they finally did catch the actual bomber, Ramzi Yousef (a man trained with CIA funds during the Russia-Afghanistan war), the FBI found information on his personal computer about plans to use hijacked American jetliners as fuel-laden missiles. The FBI ignored this information, too. P. 291
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