FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Final Shots: the Clintons and Colombian Death Squads

by

shutterstock_107412170

From 1993 to 2001, Alexander Cockburn and I wrote dozens of articles on the political corruption of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their cronies in DC and Arkansas. In many ways, those years represented the golden age of political journalism, with a fresh scandal ripening each month. As Hillary cruises toward the Democratic nomination, if not the White House, it’s time to dig into the Clinton Files and resurrect the stories of sleaze, malfeasance and transgression from that feculent decade. — JSC

If ever there was a couple 
who left a sour taste in the mouth by the manner of their parting it was surely 
Bill and Hillary Clinton. From time to time, against our better judgment, we’ve tried to summon some sympathy for them, and time after time they’ve brusquely brought us back to Earth
 with some bleak reminder of their all-round rottenness.

Try 
Colombia.

Less than 48 hours before Bill and Hillary quit the White House, with a legal 
deal covering his own ass, his administration announced that it would employ
 a highly questionable legal interpretation of “Plan Colombia”–the
 $1.3 billion in aid going mostly to the Colombian military. The interpretation 
allowed the administration to dodge entirely any certification or waiver of
 human rights conditions attached to the aid, thus circumventing the whole certification 
process in providing money to the Colombian government.

Now, these human rights certifications were the object of fierce lobbying by human
rights groups all through the year 2000. After the certification was added, proponents of the
 plan tried to undermine human rights stipulations by adding the “waiver” 
option to the aid. You can argue that the experience of similar lobbying in
the 1980s over aid to Central America should have instructed the groups in the 
folly of expecting any administration to honor such commitments, but this doesn’t
 diminish the squalor and cynicism of what the Clinton team did in its dying 
hours.

In August of 2000, Clinton waived four of the five human rights criteria laid out by Congress 
to release the first chunk of $781.5 million. A certification or waiver was
also required for the second installment of $56.4 million. Two Democratic senators, Paul Wellstone and Tom Harkin, called on Clinton to reject 
a waiver for the second slice because the Colombian government had “failed 
to make significant progress” on human rights. But the State Deptartment’s 
Richard Boucher said the Clinton administration had decided that because the 
second slice of aid was not included in “regular funds,” but rather 
in an emergency spending bill, the certification and waiver process did not
apply.

With virtually no opportunity for the human rights community to
respond, the Clinton administration effectively created a way to avoid the
whole question of human rights in Colombia. As 
Jack Laun of the Colombia Support Network said bitterly, “This unilateral 
interpretation trivializes the role of Congress in allocating funds and undermines
the work of countless human rights organizations that have testified time and
again to the need to consider human rights abuses in Colombia.”

There’s
 bipartisanship for you, in the deeper sense. George Bush the Elder left office in 1993, having signed Christmas pardons for Reagan-Bush era officials who’d 
broken the law by breaching congressional prohibition on aid to the Nicaraguan Contras.

Here we have the Clintons and Madeleine Albright doing a last-minute end run around
 a modest congressional roadblock against sending U.S. dollars destined in considerable 
part to Colombia’s paramilitary death squads. One final parting shot, taken while no one was watching, just to show you where they really stand.

This column originally appeared in the January 2000 edition of CounterPunch.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail