“Two shots to the head suicide” : a movie review
… by John Hankey, with an introduction by Kevin Barrett, Veterans Today Editor
When Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Gary Webb – subject of the new movie Kill the Messenger – died of a “two shots to the head suicide,” John Hankey hired renowned forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht to do an autopsy.
As far as I was concerned, you didn’t have to be Cyril Wecht to know that Gary Webb was murdered. Gary Webb had exposed the CIA drug mafia, and he paid the ultimate price.
But it would have been nice to have Cyril Wecht’s testimony that yes, of course it was murder, not suicide.
That’s why John Hankey was so shocked when 9/11 truth superstar Mike Ruppert went all-out to prevent an autopsy, trumpeting the ludicrous “yes it was suicide” cover story and even convincing the Webb family to have Gary cremated before the autopsy could begin.
I’m convinced Ruppert’s psychology was the root cause of this shameful episode in an otherwise mostly brilliant career. But John Hankey isn’t so sure. On the contrary, he suspects foul play on Ruppert’s part.
John Hankey debated this issue with me and Gordon Duff (who shares my view) on Friday night’s Truth Jihad Radio. Gordon’s high-level abilities in profiling and understanding people are on display during the last twenty minutes of the first hour. (The show will be posted here by Sunday – and available sooner than that to TruthJihad subscribers.)
Meanwhile, here is John Hankey’s review of the new film about Gary Webb.
Movie Review: Kill the Messenger – the life and death of Gary Webb; and more lessons about CTKA and other guardians of “the truth”
… by John Hankey
I think Kill The Messenger is perhaps the best movie that was ever made. And I would like to urge you to stop reading this review, and run out to see it. My wife does not watch political movies, and she loved it. So take a date! All the reviews I have seen, in the LA Times, The New Yorker magazine, the Huffington Post, etc. have been full of the highest praise – astonishing for a film that lays the blame for the crack epidemic at the door of the Reagan administration: that is, CIA protected mega-dealers provided virtually ALL of the cocaine that destroyed millions of lives in in the US inner-cities in the 1980’s. Such films are typically ignored or attacked. And it is worth stopping to make some observations about what is going on. In addition, it is a quirk of fate that I know some things about the story. You are not going to read these things anywhere else.
Gary Webb was a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News (an up-and-coming, highly ambitious, but still relatively small-town paper at the time) when he was accidentally confronted by the story that the CIA was involved in protecting Danilo Blandon, by far the biggest cocaine dealer in the history of the world. Rick Ross was Los Angeles’ biggest dealer, and got 100% of his trade from Danilo Blandon, a CIA protected affiliate of Reagan “Contras”.
With help from Gary Webb, Ricky Ross’s attorney got Blandon to admit that money from his sales were going to the CIA’s “Contra” terrorists, who were attacking mainly unarmed citizens in Nicaragua. Because of the outrageous atrocities committed by the Contras, and other CIA-created death squads in Central America, the Congress had specifically outlawed US support for such operations. (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4iMJcX8DMs at 19:26 for some horrifying details of these atrocities) Webb won the Pulitzer Prize for his work…and then suffered the professional consequences he knew were bound to come when he decided to write the article in the first place: he was fired. He got so depressed that he shot himself in the head. Twice.
When I heard that Gary’s two-head-shot death had been ruled a suicide, with no autopsy, I was beside myself. When I found that none of his “friends” were doing anything to demand an autopsy, I lost my cool altogether. And decided that I would do whatever I could.
I was able to contact Cyril Wecht, a leading forensic pathologist of national stature. Wecht told me that he had heard of the case and was fascinated, to the extent that he agreed to do the autopsy for $5000, half his usual fee; and he put me in contact with his assistant to arrange the transport of the body to his facilities in Pennsylvania. The assistant told me that Wecht told him that in 35,000 autopsies, he’d never encountered a two-head-shot suicide. Dr. Wecht explained to me that veins and arteries are like balloons, very greatly expanded by blood pressure, and tight, when we are alive; and deflated and limp like empty balloons when we are not; and that determining whether Gary was alive or dead when the second shot was fired would be a simple and routine matter.
I contacted a friend, who is a private investigator in San Francisco, to try to help make arrangements to obtain the body for shipping to Wecht. He immediately drove to the Sacramento funeral home where Gary’s body was located, and encountered the ex-wife and two sons in the parking lot. They agreed to the autopsy and signed a document saying so; and then allowed the investigator to examine and photograph the body. His surmise, supported by the photos he took, was that Gary was shot twice in the right ear canal, and that both bullets exited his left cheek. (You can see the key photo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4iMJcX8DMs at 24:46)
The investigator told me that of Gary’s two sons, the younger brother did not believe his father had committed suicide (I have been attacked for saying that “the brother thought it was murder”. Not Gary’s brother. His younger son.) Perhaps the key portion of this story is that the extant photos show clearly that there was no autopsy of any kind performed.
I was also put in touch with an attorney who, because of the cases she was involved in, had been forced to become an expert in gunshot wounds to the head. She explained the history of the weapon with which Gary is alleged to have taken his own life, his father’s “police special”. It seems that police were being killed by suspects, who had already been mortally wounded, but who, in their last moments of life, got off fatal shots at the pursuing officers. The police wanted a weapon that was so powerful that it would knock a person to the ground, whether or not it killed them. The attorney assured me that no one could shoot themselves in the head twice with such a weapon. She said that a person would be killed by the explosion, before they were hit by the bullet; that being shot with a blank in the head would be like being hit in the head with a sledge hammer – and would be unsurvivable.
However, at the memorial service, vultures (including Lisa Pease, from CTKA) descended upon the family urging them to cremate the body; which they did.
Gary’s ex-wife called me to apologize. I assured her that no such apology was necessary: I understood that if Gary were murdered, his killers would not take kindly to her obtaining an autopsy; but that no autopsy was necessary. That is, if Wecht had examined the body and found that Gary was dead when the second shot was fired, that would show Gary had been murdered, but it would not tell us much more about who murdered him. Whereas, the mere fact that there had been no autopsy, in a case that screamed more loudly for an autopsy than perhaps 99% of the cases where an autopsy is performed, told us much more than any autopsy ever could. That is, anyone could have killed Gary: any disgruntled member of the Contras, for example, could have taken it upon himself to kill Gary, without official sanction. But only very powerful people could have ordered the coroner not to perform an autopsy in such a case as this one.
The last frame of the movie was particularly gratifying for me, because it avoided calling Gary’s death a suicide. The movie’s director merely puts up white letters on a black screen, saying that Gary was killed by two shots to the head, and that it was ruled a suicide. After all the scenes of Gary being threatened with death, and told he would be killed, no one in the audience believe this was a suicide.
What Is Going On Here?
Obviously, whenever I see anything written about Gary’s death, I pay very close attention. No one, NONE of Gary’s “friends” or “colleagues” has EVER questioned that his death was a suicide. As incredible as that sounds, it is not a small exaggeration. Robert Parry may be my favorite journalist. The work he did, documenting GHW Bush’s role in the sabotaging of Jimmy Carter’s negotiations to free the Iranian hostages, was really fabulous. It chills me to the bone, that such a journalist is scared to death to even suggest that there might be a controversy over the issue of Gary’s two-head-shot death, suggest that he was more likely murdered; in his recent review of the movie, Parry blandly refers to it as a “suicide”, “nothing to see here, folks!” Well, we shouldn’t be too surprised that Parry is afraid to see the obvious in regards to what happened on 9/11.
However, the Huffington Post reviewer does more than question. She defies the conclusion: “Suicide? How could he pull the trigger twice after he had shot himself once in the brain?” The New Yorker, in a review titled “Dangerous Words” (What danger are they referring to? The title implies that Gary was murdered) concludes with these lines about Gary, “In 2004, …he was found dead in his home, with two bullets to the head, and a suicide note at his side. Even his skeptics would have to admit that he must have been a very strong-willed man to shoot himself in the head twice.” Well. They are the New Yorker, America’s premiere literary magazine. They are not trying to make the case that Gary was strong-willed. That is their stylized way of saying that a 2-head-shot suicide is not credible: that Gary’s critics have to admit that his “suicide” is not credible; and his murder lends credibility to his charges. Far from sweeping the ridiculous finding of suicide under the rug, they refer to it in the title, and satirize it in the final sentence.
Do you see the issue that I see? Gary’s “friends” and “colleagues” have NEVER questioned his suicide; none of the journalists on the left have EVER questioned his suicide. The Nation magazine did not review the movie. And suddenly, these reviewers from the mainstream are speaking more boldly than Gary’s “friends” in the non-mainstream “truth-telling” community”. How can we account for this?
Of course, these reviewers are not investigative journalists, but movie critics; they have probably never considered the notion that something they might write could possibly put their lives in danger. In their ignorance of the threat, perhaps, they speak words too dangerous for people like Parry. But wait. They had just seen a movie, telling a true story, where a reporter was murdered for speaking the truth. How could they miss the danger of speaking the truth? How could they not think that it applied to them? So that’s not a good answer. I think, then, that watching this tale of Gary Webb’s heroism and ultimate sacrifice inspired them to walk and talk dangerously. Gary would be gratified, I think, to know his life and death inspired such actions by journalists, even if they are “just” movie critics.
But what a world we live in! Where the best of the investigative reporters, who we come to admire etc. are cringing cowards, outshone by mainstream movie critics!
Not to mention the heroism of the people who made the movie. The threats against Gary are given sufficient and sufficiently dramatic play, that you are on the edge of your seat. Gary wakes up in the middle of the night to find Ray Liota in his bedroom. He looks for his gun and sees that it has been moved out of reach, but that all the bullets have been taken out in any case. Liota is a CIA guy who has come to confess (“Who else can I confess to?” he asks Gary), not to kill him, as we all suspected at first. But they create a context in which it takes a seriously twisted demeanor to see Gary’s death as anything but murder.
However, no one is perfect. We all have our limits, in terms of courage. The movie attacks Ollie North; and Ronald Reagan. But it leaves out George H. W. Bush, who, according to Ollie’s appointment book, chaired all the meetings where these matters were discussed. When Eugene Hassenfus was shot down in a CIA plane over Nicaragua, Felix Rodriguez was immediately dispatched to the scene. Felix himself is heavily connected to the biggest of the Medellin cartels; but on arrival in Nicaragua, his first phone call back to the US was to Bush. Cele Castillo, a front-line DEA agent, has described, on camera, confronting Bush, when he visited the Central America, about the CIA planes loaded with cocaine. Bush just smiled and walked away, says Castillo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4iMJcX8DMs at 13:28). Gary did not leave any of this out of his reporting. And I don’t even mean to complain that the movie leaves out Bush. Just to make the point that there are limits to everyone’s courage, even the best of us.
The question is, are there any limits to the depths of some people’s craven villainy, as
WE NOW DESCEND INTO THE SWAMP OF CTKA
I think it besmirches the name and life of Gary Webb to speak of him in the same article as Jim DiEugenio and CTKA, and in lieu of the preferred approach, of just leaving them out, I have removed this discussion to the very end, and I invite you to ignore the whole stinking swampy mess.
Jim DiEugenio and I have differences involving Bush’s role in the Kennedy assassination. I struggle long and hard, on a very regular basis, to persuade myself that these are honest differences, and that Jim is an honest player in this. I think it is desperately important for people like us to allow room for honest disagreement. Given the overwhelming evidence connecting Bush to the assassination, I often have a hard time cutting Jim the necessary slack to maintain this positive attitude towards him. But I try. God knows I try.
I’m going to try right now. Perhaps Jim is merely being manipulated, by Lisa Pease, to act so despicably, as I will describe. Pease is Jim’s close friend and associate; and toward Pease I make no effort at understanding or appeasement. After participating in the efforts, led by Mike Ruppert, to push Gary’s family into burning his body, rather than allowing Cyril Wecht to perform an autopsy, Lisa called me up screaming about what a horrible person I was, and about how upset the family was. Wecht said that in 35,000 autopsies, he had never seen a two headshot suicide. But I am the monster in the story.
Having mentioned Mike Rupert, I should say a few words about him, besides that he worked hand-in-hand with Lisa in this despicable endeavor to deny Gary an autopsy (Ruppert is also mentioned by someone claiming to be DiEugenio, in his discussion of Gary Webb’s death). Ruppert produced the first, to my knowledge, video alleging that 9-11 was an inside job (Unanswered Questions from 9-11), and in so-doing, became my hero. He crusaded, along side Gary, alleging that the LAPD was also involved in narcotics trafficking. (I know of no evidence to support this charge, btw.) Ruppert starts his 9-11 video with a clip of himself, at Locke High School in South Central Los Angeles, confronting CIA Director John Deutch, in which he introduces himself as an LAPD narcotics detective. When I heard about Gary’s murder, I tried desperately to contact Ruppert, to tell him that he had to lead an investigation.
You can today find Ruppert’s attacks on me on the internet. That was his response to my pleas — to attack me. I did a double take. I couldn’t believe what was happening. But as I’ve described above, I took matters into my own incapable hands and did the best I could. (I should have had the body moved the day I got the signatures.) After the body was cremated, I had another look at Mike Ruppert. He had mentioned somewhere that both his parents were CIA. I thought nothing of it before. Now I applied this knowledge to the rest of what I knew about him. His employment records with the LAPD show that, right out of the academy, where he had NOT distinguished himself, he got a job as assistant to the chief. That suggests he was well connected.
His record shows that the only narcotics work he was involved in was as a patrolman, stopping random citizens for DWB, the offense of Driving While Black, then searching them, and arresting them for possession of minor quantities of regulated substances. Period. Anyone who worked with Ruppert will tell you that as a person, he was a raving asshole. So it’s not surprising that his application for promotion to detective was denied, and he quit. He worked, badly, at some minor job, not related to police work. But when Gary Webb’s story broke, he suddenly became a truth-telling dissident and a narcotics detective. I was one of the people who sent him money ($200) to support his courageous efforts.
I suppose it was Ruppert who told Lisa Pease to scream at me. Maybe she did it on her own. Maybe she ran Ruppert. Like she runs DiEugenio. At the very least, she handed Jim DiEugenio the version of Gary Webb’s death, that DiEugenio repeats in his review of the movie, Killing the Messenger.
In taking up DiEugenio’s review of the movie (http://consortiumnews.com/2014/10/16/kill-the-messenger-rare-truth-telling/#comment-179130), let’s start with the small stuff. Ricky Ross was THE major crack dealer in Los Angeles. He was supplied by Danilo Blandon, who testified against Ricky, and walked out of court a free man (he’d been caught with two pounds of cocaine. Ricky Ross was caught with none), with a green card, and $40,000 in cash as a reward for testifying against his customer! (Right? You get the big fish to testify against the little fish. No? No. And that’s the first big stinking clue in the case. Anyway.) I consider Ricky Ross a friend. He has spoken to my students, at my different schools, on four different occasions; addressing a total in excess of 400 students.
I haven’t scored any points with my supervisors in doing so; but I don’t consider the needs of my supervisors to be of paramount importance in deciding what to teach my students, and I think Ricky Ross appreciates that fact about me. He lives in the neighborhood I live and teach in. Some of his closest friends work at the school. He brought cocaine to the ghetto, because he thought, “if it’s good enough for Beverly Hills, it’s good enough for my people”. He converted it to crack because it was more cost effective for his clients. When his sister tried to buy crack from him with her rent money, he quit selling it. While he was dealing, Danilo Blandon would call him and warn him of any impending busts, so he could steer clear. After he quit, that’s when he got busted. He was working on remodeling a house, his new profession, when the cops rolled up. They handcuffed him, and then sicked the dogs on him.
He has been called Freeway Ricky Ross since he was a child; not because he owned properties up and down the freeway, as DiEugenio alleges in his review, but because when he was a child, he lived in a house that was next to the freeway. The freeway was widened and the house is no longer there. He was just a kid. It was just his nick name. This is an extremely minor point, but because Jim takes me to task for errors much smaller than this, it rankles me that he would spout such stuff, when he clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t know where he gets it. I would bet it come to him from Ruppert, who got it from Lisa Pease.
Like I said, that’s a minor point.
Jim, in his review, regarding Gary’s death, tells us that “the first shot only wounded him, so he fired again.” This description is almost comforting. It makes Gary sound strong and serene in death. It feels authoritative, eye-witness. But there were no witnesses. There was no autopsy. There was not even an examination of the crime scene. No photos, except those in my possession. No search for where the bullets lodged after they exited Gary. Gary’s murder got NONE of the routine treatment customarily afforded any corpse. So, where does Jim get this authoritative-eye-witness-sounding bullshit?!!!!
I think I can answer that question. In fact, I think I already did: Lisa Pease. You see, some decent soul (and a fan of Jim D) attacked his review for pandering to the “suicide” conclusion. This person was shocked to find that DiEugenio could write such killer-pandering-drivel and that he would fail to investigate Gary’s murder himself. He signs himself, “WorkingHard” and he is my new hero.
And, in the comments section, a few comments later Lisa Pease responds: “The first shot, though his mouth, exited his cheek – no serious damage done. The second shot was at a higher angle and entered his brain, killing him instantly.” WTF??!! So. Three cheers for Jim D. He was not stupidly bold, or boldly stupid, enough to say such things without a shred of evidence. WorkingHard responds, “Your account of family statements and of the trajectory of the first bullet conflict with all other reports of his death I have seen. Please provide some references.” Damn. No response from Pease. Shot down. Cold. So. Pease’s credibility is obliterated. What can she do? Well, I say, she wrote the following response, and put DiEugenio’s name on it:
“Gary’s death, this is something I did not really want to get into, since its quite painful to discuss and it detracts from the main villains of the piece: the three papers and Ceppos.” The main villains are the papers? Not Bush? Not North? “I did not really want to get into Gary’s death.” What? They why DID you get into it? Why did you describe how he struggled heroically to get off the second shot. The makers of the movie didn’t go into it. No other review I could find, none, got into it, except to say it couldn’t have been suicide. But you got into it, describing it shot-byshot! So please. Save it. Put it on your roses.
“Gary had written letters to all three of his kids. He also wrote a letter to his ex wife. He even left a note on the door for no one except first responders to open it. [Let’s leave out that they were all typewritten – jh] If that is not convincing, I don’t know what is [well, a 1-shot suicide would be a small start-jh.] Anyway when Mike [Ruppert] and Lisa learned all this, they understood what had happened and scolded people like Alex Jones and John Hankey who had not done any work, but were demagoging the issue by talking about a “plot to murder Gary Webb.”
Let me make a few points. First, the authorities don’t care what the family thinks in deciding whether to do an autopsy. Nor should you. Did Gary have a life insurance policy? Was his wife the beneficiary? My point is, again, that the authorities, rightly, look at the circumstances of the death, not at what the family says.
Second, anyone is entitled to have an opinion, without being called a bunch of names, even if their opinion is not supported by any evidence. Ruppert and Pease called me all sorts of names, but really, I don’t care. I don’t think I have the right to call them names just because they disagree.
But most importantly, no one is entitled, I think, to oppose the collection of evidence. As I pointed out above, the fact that there was no autopsy, given who Gary was and given the nature of his death, is the most important piece of evidence indicating that the Bushes had him killed. And the FACT that Ruppert, and Pease, and now DiEugenio have attacked me for trying to get Gary an autopsy (by Cyril Wecht!) says more about them than any other piece of evidence that I can imagine!
Gary Webb knowingly risked his life in the service of the truth. He tried to attract as much attention, when he felt he was being readied for murder, as he could. (Ricky Ross told me that Webb told him that there were men on utility poles outside his house watching him. It freaked him out. He felt like he was being targeted.) As did Michael Hastings. (It seems to be the killers’ modus operandi, to terrorize their victims before hand.) And he died. And Ruppert and Pease and DiEugenio piss on his grave by their attacks on Gary, calling his death a suicide. I think suicide is cowardice. Two of his children were minors. He could have lived with his mother. Saying that, under those conditions, Gary opted for suicide, I feel, is an insult of the worst kind. Gary told friends that they should never accept a story that he’d killed himself. Jim left that out. But I have a very hard time speaking in civil words and tone about people who would piss on the grave of Gary Webb, by lying about his wounds, by attacking those who would try to bring out the facts, and by the developing of those facts by having an autopsy.
We’re not done. This is also from “Jim DiEugenio”‘s response:
“The truth is Gary did not need to be murdered. He posed no threat to the power elite at this time.” You don’t shoot a guy in the head twice, in order to keep him quiet. If you want to keep him quiet, you shoot him once, or blow up his car, etc. Why do you shoot him in the head twice? Think about it. You do it to send a message to all the living reporters out there who might consider saying something important. It’s really an enlightening exercise. You shoot the guy in the head twice, forbid any investigation of any kind, and then turn around and look at his colleagues and say, “Who’s next?” The killers did just exactly that; and the silence was deafening. No one, NONE of Gary’s colleagues said a flipping word about his death. Except for Ruppert and Pease, and now DiEugenio, attacking me for wanting an autopsy.
I mentioned Ray Liota catching Gary in his sleep, and disarming him. Gary wakes up and they’re in the room and they have his gun. That is the most likely scenario for what did actually happen. Do you suppose that the monsters who killed Gary did not toy with him first? Certainly Gary wrote of such things: these monsters, torturing their victims before they killed them. For example Gary wrote of how, after he denounced the CIA’s drug trafficking in Panama, the Panamanian minister of health was murdered. Gary wrote the following:
“His body bore evidence of unimaginable tortures. The thigh muscles had been neatly sliced so that he could not close his legs, and then something had been jammed up his rectum, tearing it apart. His testicles were swollen horribly, the result of prolonged garroting, his ribs were broken, and then, wile he was still alive, his head had been sawed off with a butcher’s knife.”
I will pardon you if you don’t contemplate what the killers did to him before they killed him. But Gary surely contemplated what might be done to him. And he pressed on. I won’t pardon DiEugenio for siding with the killers, against Gary.
Now, let me stand up for DiEugenio. I don’t think he wrote any of this crap. I’m sure that he did not write the following, which is also part of this same response posted at the same website above:
“In fact, they would probably have preferred he just live out his existence and die a natural death. That way, he served as a walking example of what happens to an honest reporter on a national security issue. Also, no one could write a book about him and turn him into a martyr like Schou did. Because that always means someone could make a film out of the story. Which is what happened.”
What? Did you follow that? Read it a dozen times or so. DiEugenio is pretty literate, in my experience. Pease, especially when she looses her cool (like when she is asked to produce the evidence for the lie she has just told) is often incomprehensible. I feel very confident in saying that DiEugenio did not write that stinker of a paragraph above.
But Jim has gone way out on a limb with some really very evil people: Ruppert and Pease, the grave pissers.
Let him disassociate himself from from them and from the remarks about Gary’s death that were written over DiEugenio’s signature.
And let YOU pay attention when he doesn’t, which he won’t.
This guy is not to be trusted. He writes like an op, he quacks like an op, he lays eggs, like an op, he hangs around in a flock of other ops. Ya think?
One final comment:
The perfessor, the GodFather, big Jim Fetzer — isn’t he afraid that they’re gonna kill him? Well, I think he knows that his reach is limited. He’s probably safe until he gets the Pulitzer Prize. Which I hereby nominate him for (No Lisa, I don’t want him dead.) I think he deserves it. If Big Jim Fetzer were afraid of those guys, he wouldn’t associate with the likes of me. As for me, two stories. Last year, one of my students came running up to me, all smiles and excitement: “Mr. Hankey! Mr. Hankey!! Your movie is on Netflix!!! Now they’re going to kill you!!!!” My kids will miss me when I’m gone. But they won’t have to mourn my failure to tell the truth, as I understood it, while I was alive.