When Andreas Papandreou assumed his ministerial duties in 1964 in the Greek government led by his father George Papandreou, he was shocked to discover an intelligence service out of control, a shadow government with powers beyond the authority of the nation’s nominal leaders, a service more loyal to the CIA than to the Papandreou government.
This was a fact of life for many countries in the world during the Cold War, when the CIA could dazzle a foreign secret service with devices of technical wizardry, classes in spycraft, vital intelligence, unlimited money, and American mystique and propaganda. Many of the world’s intelligence agencies have long provided the CIA with information about their own government and citizens.
The nature of much of this information has been such that if a private citizen were to pass it to a foreign power he could be charged with treason. [ WILLIAM BLUM, Killing Hope, pages 217-8.]
Leftist Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa declared in April that Ecuador’s intelligence systems were “totally infiltrated and subjugated to the CIA,” and accused senior Ecuadoran military officials of sharing intelligence with Colombia, the Bush administration’s top (if not only) ally in Latin America.
The previous month missiles had been fired into a camp of the Colombian FARC rebels situated in Ecuador near the Colombian border, killing about 25. One of those killed was Franklin Aisalla, an Ecuadorean operative for the group. It turned out that Ecuadorean intelligence officials had been tracking Aisalla, a fact that was not shared with the president, but apparently with Colombian forces and their American military advisers.
“I, the president of the republic, found out about these operations by reading the newspaper,” a visibly indignant Correa said. “This is not something we can tolerate.” He added that he planned to restructure the intelligence agencies so he would have greater direct control over them. [New York Times, April 21, 2008.]
The FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) is routinely referred to in the world media as “Marxist”, but that designation has not been appropriate for many years. The FARC has long been basically a criminal organization — kidnapings for ransom, kidnapings for no apparent reason, selling protection services to businesses, trafficking in drugs, fighting the Colombian Army to be free to continue their criminal ways or to revenge their comrades’ deaths.
But Washington, proceeding from its declared ideology of “If you ain’t with us, you’re against us; in fact, if you ain’t with us you’re a terrorist”, has designated FARC as a terrorist group. Every stated definition of “terrorist”, from the FBI to the United Nations to the US criminal code makes it plain that terrorism is essentially a political act.
This should, logically, exclude FARC from that category but, in actuality, has no effect on Washington’s thinking. And now the Bush administration is threatening to add Venezuela to its list of “nations that support terrorism”, following a claim by Colombia that it had captured a computer belonging to FARC after the attack on the group’s campsite in Ecuador.
A file allegedly found on the alleged computer, we are told, suggests that the Venezuelan government had channeled $300 million to FARC, and that FARC had appeared interested in acquiring 110 pounds of uranium. [New York Times, March 4, 2008]
What next? Chavez had met with Osama bin Laden at the campsite?
Amongst the FARC members killed in the Colombian attack on Ecuador were several involved in negotiations to free Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate who also holds French citizenship and is gravely ill. The French government and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez have been very active in trying to win Betancourt’s freedom. Individuals collaborating with Chavez have twice this year escorted a total of six hostages freed by the FARC into freedom, including four former Colombian legislators.
The prestige thus acquired by Chavez has of course not made Washington ideologues happy. If Chavez should have a role in the freeing of Betancourt — the FARC’s most prominent prisoner — his prestige would jump yet higher. The raid on the FARC camp has put an end to the Betancourt negotiations, at least for the near future.
The raid bore the fingerprints of the US military/CIA — a Predator drone aircraft dropped “smart bombs” after pinpointing the spot by monitoring a satellite phone call between a FARC leader and Chavez. A Colombian Defense Ministry official admitted that the United States had provided his government with intelligence used in the attack, but denied that Washington had provided the weapons. The New York Times observed that “The predawn operation bears remarkable similarities to one carried out in late January by the United States in Pakistan.”
So what do we have here? Washington has removed a couple of dozen terrorists (or “terrorists”) from the ranks of the living without any kind of judicial process. Ingrid Betancourt continues her imprisonment, now in its sixth year, but another of Hugo Chavez’s evil-commie plans has been thwarted.
And the CIA — as with its torture renditions — has once again demonstrated its awesome power: anyone, anywhere, anytime, anything, all laws domestic and international be damned, no lie too big.
WILLIAM BLUM is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.
He can be reached at BBlum6@aol.com