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Robert Parry is an American investigative journalist best known for his role in covering the Iran-Contra affair for the Associated Press and Newsweek, including breaking the Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (CIA manual provided to the Nicaraguan contras) and the CIA and Contras cocaine trafficking in the US scandal in 1985. He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984. He has been the editor of ConsortiumNews.com since 1995.
Parry joined the Associated Press in 1974, moving to its Washington bureau in 1977. After the 1980 presidential election he was assigned to its Special Assignment (investigative reporting) unit, where he began working on Central America. In 1982 Parry noted the treatment received by the New York Times' Raymond Bonner, who was vilified and pushed out after reporting on the El Mozote massacre, an incident deeply unhelpful to the US government's effort to support the El Salvador government.
Parry was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984 for his work with the Associated Press on Iran-Contra, where he broke the story that the Central Intelligence Agency had provided an assassination manual to the Nicaraguan Contras (Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare). In mid-1985 he wrote the first article on Oliver North's involvement in the affair, and, together with Brian Barger, in late 1985 he broke the CIA and Contras cocaine trafficking in the US scandal, helping to spark Senator John Kerry's interest in investigating Iran-Contra. The Associated Press had refused to publish the drug trafficking story, and only relented when its Spanish-language newswire service accidentally published a translation. Barger and Parry continued to press their investigation of North even as most of the media declined to follow it up, eventually publishing a story in mid-1986, based on 24 sources, which led to a Congressional committee asking questions of North. After North denied the allegations, Barger was pushed out of Associated Press, and Parry was unable to publish any further follow-ups to the story until after Eugene Hasenfus' plane (Corporate Air Services HPF821) was shot down in Nicaragua in October 1986. After finding out that his boss had been "conferring with [Oliver] North on a regular basis", Parry left AP in 1987 to join Newsweek. At Newsweek an early story concerned United States National Security Council staff being ordered by the White House to cover up aspects of the Iran-Contra affair, which Newsweek, under great political and media pressure, asked Parry to retract, despite his source holding firm. Parry refused, and he eventually left in Newsweek in 1990.
In August 1990 PBS' Frontline asked Parry to work on the October Surprise conspiracy theory, leading to Parry making several documentaries for the program, broadcast in 1991 and 1992. He continued to pursue it after a Congressional investigation had concluded the story was untrue, turning his Frontline research into a book published in 1993, and in 1994 he unearthed "a treasure-trove of government documents" supporting the theory, "showing that the [Congressional] task force suppressed incriminating CIA testimony and excluded evidence of big-money links between wealthy Republicans and Carter's Iranian intermediary, Cyrus Hashemi". In 1996 Salon.com wrote about his work on the theory, saying that "his continuing quest to unearth the facts of the alleged October Surprise has made him persona non grata among those who worship at the altar of conventional wisdom."
In November 1995, Parry established Consortium News as an online ezine dedicated to investigative journalism, describing it in 2004 as "a home for important, well-reported stories that weren't welcome in the O.J. Simpson-obsessed, conventional-wisdom-driven national news media of that time". From 2000 to 2004, he also worked for the financial wire service Bloomberg.
Subjects of Parry's articles and reports on Consortium News include the presidency of George W. Bush, the career of Army general and Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell (with Norman Solomon), the October Surprise controversy of the 1980 election, the Nicaraguan contra-cocaine investigation, the efforts to impeach President Clinton, right-wing terrorism in Latin America, the political influence of Sun Myung Moon, mainstream American media imbalance, United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the presidency of Barack Obama, the influence of Sarah Palin, efforts to rewrite history as well as international stories.