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Pro-Contra Media Coverage -- Paid for by the CIA

SYNOPSIS: According to Edgar Chamorro, former head of the contra communications office, "approximately 15 Honduran journalists and broadcasters were on the CIA payroll and our influence was thereby extended to every major Honduran newspaper and television station." In his affidavit submitted to the World Court in September 1985, Chamorro also said that the same tactic was employed by the CIA in Costa Rica in an effort to turn the newspapers and television stations of that country against the Nicaraguan government.

Carlos Morales, a Costa Rican professor of journalism and editor of the University of Costa Rica's liberal weekly La Universidad, said at least eight Costa Rican journalists, including three "top editors," received monthly payments from the CIA, either directly or through contra groups with offices in Costa Rica.

In 1977, after a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report disclosed the CIA had maintained working relationships with 50 American reporters over a period of years, the agency announced new rules that barred it from entering into "any paid or contractual relationship" with U.S. journalists, including freelancers and stringers.

However, the regulations said nothing about entering into such relationships with foreign journalists, or about allowing agency operatives to pose as foreign journalists. It now appears the agency does both, thereby jeopardizing press credibility.

In his affidavit, Chamorro said he had been paymaster for the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN) and had received money from the CIA to bribe Honduran journalists and broadcasters to write and speak favor ably about the FDN and to attack the government of Nicaragua and call for its overthrow.


UPDATE: Given that the CIA once had 50 American journalists on its payroll-a policy banned in 1977-and subsequently paid Central American journalists, as noted in this Censored story, it should not be surprising that the CIA is now seeking official permission to hire journalists (Washington Post, 7/31/96). Nor should it be surprising that the Council on Foreign Relations, the predecessor to the Trilateral Commission (cited in the #l Censored story of 1976), would prepare a report, entitled "Making Intelligence Smarter," in early 1996, which recommended that the CIA resume the practice of using clergy or news correspondents. The report generated immediate concern from various human rights groups including the Maryknoll Sisters, who questioned whether there was even a need for "an agency such as the CIA" (National Catholic Reporter, 4/26/96).



President Reagan and the Fascist "World Anti-Communist League"

SYNOPSIS: Members of the World Anti-Communist League (WACL)- an extremist right-wing international cartel of sorts-include such luminaries as Ferdinand Marcos, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and Adolfo Calero, commander in chief of the armed forces of the FDN contras.

One of the most important people in the WACL is retired U.S. Major General John Singlaub. Singlaub began his military and intelligence career as an OSS member during World War II. In 1976, he became Chief of Staff of both the United Nations and U.S. Army Forces in South Korea. He was removed in 1977 after he publicly criticized President Jimmy Carter's withdrawal of troops from Korea.

Singlaub joined WACL in 1980 and formed an American Chapter called the United States Council for World Freedom. Singlaub subsequently was elected its president.

According to one expose, the WACL is so extreme that the ultra-conservative John Birch Society shunned it and advised its members to do like wise. The WACL was described by Scott and Jon Lee Anderson, authors of Inside the League, an expose of the WACL, as "largely a collection of Nazis, fasclsts, anti-Semites, sellers of forgeries, vicious racialists, and corrupt self seekers."

At the 17th Annual WACL Conference held in San Diego, California, Singlaub read a letter from President Ronald Reagan which said in part, "The World Anti-Communist League has long played a leadership role in drawing attention to the gallant struggle now being waged by the true freedom fighters of our day. Nancy and I send our best wishes for further success ."


UPDATE: John Singlaub and the World Anti-Communist League (WACL); now with a new name, are both still alive and spreading their venom around the world. On September 17, 1994, The Irish Times reported that the WACL was now known as The World League for Freedom and Democracy (WLFD). It may be assumed that the end of the Cold War in 1989 and the demise of worldwide communism initiated the name change. A delegate to a recent WLFD convention held, in of all places, Moscow, noted the WLFD is sponsored by Taiwan and South Korea, and now that communism is defeated, it would be turning its attention to "global affairs, the need for peace initiatives and co-operating with developing countries."

Since the 1986 Censored story cited above, the WACL/WLFD and Singlaub have been noted for producing "troops of killers" while ostensibly organized to provide support for Corazon Aquino from the right-wing in the Philippines (Village Voice, 2/27/96) and for supporting the vicious RENAMO movement in Mozambique (Guardian, 8/6/94).



Contragate: The Costa Rica Connection

SYNOPSlS: As 1986 ended, each day seemed to bring new evidence of the Reagan Administration's involvement in the Iran-contra arms scandal. But even now, one major chapter in the sordid story remains to be told.

It involves Lt. Col. Oliver North and those to whom he reported; it involves two American journalists and their $22 million lawsuit against a group of U.S.-backed mercenaries operating in Miami and Central America; it involves a conspiracy to murder dissident contra leader Eden Pastora and the U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, Lewis Tambs-and blame both acts on the Sandinistas; it involves a drug trafficking ring operating out of contra bases and airstrips on the property of a shadowy U.S. rancher in Costa Rica; it involves a cover-up that included the torture and murder of a key journalistic source; and it involves the continued threats against the lives of the two journalists who sought to expose the whole incredible plot.

The lawsuit was filed by the Christic Institute, a public interest law firm with a long track record of taking on, and winning, important political cases, like the successful Karen Silkwood suit against Kerr-McGee.

The two plaintiffs, Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey, are veteran journalists who had worked for news organizations such as ABC, The New York Times, The London Times, and the BBC. They started investigating the contra-Costa Rica connection after Avirgan was injured in the assassination attempt against Pastora on May 30, 1984, known as the La Penca bombing. It left three journalists dead and more than a dozen injured.

Michael Emery, author of the articles used as a source for this nomination, is the co-author of The Press and America, an authoritative book on press history. He also is a former UPI reporter, U.S. Army public information officer, and chair of the Journalism Department at California State University, Northridge.


UPDATE: The aftermath of the La Penca bombing produced a mystery story with a surprise ending and is well-documented by Martha Honey in the book, Hostile Acts: U.S. Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s (University Press of Florida, 1994). After years of investigations and trials, the Christic Institute suit was lost. Nonetheless, Honey, who was frustrated with the way Daniel Sheehan, head of the Christic Institute, handled the case, kept searching for the truth about La Penca. In the surprising conclusion of her search, she discovered definitively that the bomber was a Sandinista agent. However, there were still "too many questions left, too many cover-ups and lies by the U.S. government about La Penca, to rule out the possibility that the CIA may have been involved in some way" (The Progressive, January 1995). Please refer to Martha Honey's book for the full story.

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