Categotry Archives: Government

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Harvey Miller

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Categories: Government, Military

Tech Sgt. Harvey B. Miller, a decorated World War II airman who was dubbed “The Jinx of the 15th Air Force” by The New York Times, died on Dec. 12 of a lung ailment. He was 84.
A native of Lititz, Pa., Miller enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941. He soon grew tired of working as a file clerk and volunteered to fly. Miller earned his unlucky moniker while serving as a combat photographer and door gunner on Consolidated B-24 “Liberators.” His first mission involved flying over Vienna on a Friday the 13th. The plane landed safely, but returned to base with 75 bullet holes. Miller was eventually shot down six times — twice on his first four bombing missions — and suffered two flak wounds.
Stories quickly spread about Miller’s close calls. Upon learning his identity, several crew captains refused to fly with him. Planes with no brakes, no hydraulics and leaking gasoline that were forced to land on the Isle of Vis, just off the German-occupied Yugoslav coast, were called “Miller Specials.”
After completing 27 missions, Miller moved back to his hometown and put his war experiences behind him. He earned a dozen medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Purple Hearts, but gave them all away. Pictures from his time in the service were also destroyed.
Miller spent 31 years working for the Defense Department and retired as a logistical management officer. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ethel Miller, three children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

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Gary Webb

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Categories: Government, Media, Writers/Editors

gwebb.jpgGary Webb, an award-winning investigative journalist, committed suicide on Dec. 10. He was 49.
Born in Corona, Calif., Webb was only 15 when he launched his journalism career as an editorialist for his high school newspaper. He dropped out of college just before graduation, opting to work for The Kentucky Post instead. Webb covered state politics and private sector corruption for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, then moved back to California to write for the San Jose Mercury News.
From 1988 to 1997, Webb wrote about computer software problems at the California DMV and abuses in the state’s drug asset forfeiture program. He contributed to the newspaper’s detailed coverage of the 1989 Bay Area earthquake, which earned the staff a Pulitzer Prize for general news reporting in 1990. Webb also won the H.L. Mencken Award, a Journalist of the Year Award from the Bay Area Society of Professional Journalists and a Media Hero Award.
The biggest story of Webb’s career also lead to his downfall. In August 1996, Webb published “Dark Alliance: The Story Behind the Crack Explosion,” in the San Jose Mercury News. The 20,000-word investigative series claimed that Nicaraguan drug traffickers based in San Francisco had sold tons of cocaine in Los Angeles ghettos during the 1980s and used the profits to fund the CIA-supported Nicaraguan Contras. Webb never accused the CIA of aiding the drug dealers, but he implied that the Agency was aware of the transactions.
Webb used numerous sources for his story, including a 450-page declassified report from the Senate Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations. The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the CIA later conducted independent investigations that discredited Webb’s reporting. Nine months after the story’s publication, the San Jose Mercury News issued a public apology and reassigned Webb to cover local news in a suburban bureau. He quit in 1997.
Webb stood by the story, however, and in 1999 he published the book “Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion.” He worked for the California Assembly Speaker’s Office of Member Services and for the Joint Legislative Audit Committee before taking a reporting job with the Sacramento News and Review, an alternative weekly newspaper.
On Dec. 10, a moving company arrived at Webb’s Carmichael, Calif., home and found a note on the front door that read: “Please do not enter. Call 911 and ask for an ambulance.” Although rumors spread on the Internet that Webb had met with foul play, the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office reported on Dec. 15 that he died from two self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head. A handwritten suicide note was found near the body.
Webb’s ex-wife, Sue Bell, told the Sacramento Bee that Webb had been distraught in recent weeks over his inability to land another job at a major newspaper. In the final year of his life, Webb paid for his own cremation, named Bell as the beneficiary of his bank account and sold his house because he could no longer afford the mortgage payments.
Watch an Interview With Webb

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John H. Waller

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Categories: Government, Writers/Editors

John Henry Waller, an historian, author and the former inspector general of the CIA, died on Nov. 4 of complications from pneumonia. He was 81.
Born in Paw Paw, Mich., and raised in Detroit, Waller graduated from the University of Michigan. An ear disorder kept him from serving in the military during World War II so he took a job as a diplomatic courier for the Foreign Service. In 1943, Waller joined The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA, and worked in counterespionage.
Waller spent the post-war years as a CIA operative in Iran, Sudan and India. He was the deputy chief of the Africa division at CIA headquarters from 1964 to 1968, and chief of the Near East division from 1971 to 1975. Waller finished his career at the agency as the CIA’s inspector general.
After retiring in 1980, Waller became a full-time historian and author. He wrote six books, but was best known for penning “Beyond the Khyber Pass: The Road to British Disaster in the First Afghan War,” an historical text published in 1992 that examined Britain’s failed efforts to rule Afghanistan in the 1840s. His final book, “The Devil’s Doctor: Felix Kersten and the Secret Plot to Turn Himmler Against Hitler,” was published in 2002.
Waller was the chairman of the OSS Society and a past president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. He was also the recipient of the Distinguished Intelligence Medal and the National Civil Service Award.

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Pierre Salinger

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Categories: Government, Media, Military, Writers/Editors

psalinger.jpgPierre Emil George Salinger, a veteran journalist and former White House spokesman, died on Oct. 16. Cause of death was not released. He was 79.
The California native spent a year at San Francisco State College before dropping out to enlist in the Navy. During World War II, he commanded a sub chaser in the Pacific theater and reached the rank of lieutenant. Salinger returned to the states in 1946, finished college and resumed his journalism career.
After writing for the San Francisco Chronicle and editing Collier’s Magazine, Salinger joined Robert F. Kennedy’s senatorial staff. He served as chief investigator for the Select Committee to Investigate Improper Activities in Labor-Management Relations, then rose to the press secretary position when John F. Kennedy won the presidential election.
Salinger ran the first live presidential press conference in 1961 and encouraged Kennedy to appear on television, then a new medium. Salinger stayed on to serve as President Lyndon B. Johnson’s press secretary when Kennedy was assassinated. He left the post in 1964 to complete the term of Sen. Clair Engle (D-Calif.), who died in office. Five months later, Salinger lost his bid to stay in the Senate to actor George Murphy.
Salinger attempted a few commercial ventures in the late 1960s before landing a job as a roving correspondent for the French news magazine L’Express. In 1977, he switched to broadcast journalism and joined ABC News. Over the next two decades, Salinger would serve as the network’s Paris bureau chief, chief foreign correspondent and senior editor in London.
One of his most memorable stories was the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island. Salinger said he possessed government documents that showed the Navy was testing missiles off the coast of New York that day, and claimed the plane was accidentally brought down by friendly fire. The National Transportation Safety Board found no evidence of a missile strike and concluded that a center fuel tank explosion destroyed the Paris-bound jumbo jet and killed its 230 passengers.
Salinger and his wife moved to France in 2000 to protest George W. Bush’s presidency and to run an inn. He received numerous honors during his lifetime, including the George Polk Award and the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian award. The author of more than a dozen books, Salinger published his autobiography, “P.S.: A Memoir,” in 2001.
Listen to a Tribute From NPR

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George Snyder

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Categories: Government

Decades before the Americans With Disabilities Act passed in 1990, George Howard Snyder was an outspoken advocate for physically handicapped people. He understood the cause intimately, having become a quadriplegic in 1961 while serving with the Navy in the Philippines.
After moving from New Jersey to Fort Lauderdale in 1966, Snyder joined forces with the Paralyzed Veterans Association of Florida. He served two terms as president of the nonprofit organization, and actively worked to improve the lives of veterans with spinal cord injuries. By writing letters and speaking to government officials, Snyder was able to explain the unique needs of the handicapped community and offer suggestions on how to create better accessibility. He also served as the chairman of the Broward County Advisory Board for the Disabled.
Snyder won gold medals in the air gun, bowling and javelin events, a silver in the discus and a bronze in the shot put at the 1993 Veterans Wheelchair Games in Texas. In his spare time, he participated in the American Wheelchair Bowling Association, and invented a ball holder attachment for wheelchairs.
Snyder died on June 20. Cause of death was not released. He was 65.

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