Same old CIA.
The advent of the Cold War called for new, more subtle tactics even as it widened the arena of U.S. contention in the world. As our Government wrestled with the Soviet Union's for the hearts and minds of people everywhere, we could no longer jeopardize our "democratic" image by imposing our will at bayonet-point, so the new intelligence establishment born in World War II was pressed into covert action. When the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, threatened the interests of the United Fruit Company, the CIA arranged to have him overthrown by military coup. And so it went when Mohammed Mossadegh menaced U.S. oil interests in Iran, and when Salvador Allende proved in Chile that a socialist government could be installed by popular demand.
With the end of the Cold War and the proclamation of a New World Order presumably devoted to democratic values, there was reason to hope that our spies would cease their international meddling. After all, a nation that would send its armed forces to defend nationhood and self-determination in Kuwait would surely refrain from having its secret agents subvert nationhood and self-determination in, say, Haiti.
Or would it?
The recent disclosures about Haiti show how the CIA - despite the end of the Cold War, despite the advent of a new Administration in Washington - is still plying its old tricks. Even as the Clinton Administration put on a show of restoring the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the rightfully elected president of Haiti, the CIA was maneuvering behind the scenes to undermine Aristide and aid the military junta that had ousted him.
Late in October, Brian Latell, a high-level Latin America specialist in the CIA, presented selected members of Congress with a classified report on Aristide that depicted the Haitian leader as a murderer and a psychopath. The report was false, but it was immediately pounced upon, of course, by such stalwart champions of democracy as North Carolina's Senator Jesse Helms, who demanded that Secretary of State Warren Christopher come up with proof that the CIA was mistaken. Meanwhile, the allegations against Aristide were leaked to the press and made headline news everywhere.
In Haiti, the military junta that had overthrown Aristide and was blocking his return made the most of the propaganda coup presented by the CIA. The Haitian officers are, after all, themselves veterans of CIA training and were (and perhaps still are) on the CIA's payroll - a practice that drew this curious endorsement from Representative Robert G. Torricelli, a New Jersey Democrat who sits on the House Intelligence Committee: "The U.S. Government develops relationships with ambitious and bright young men at the beginning of their careers and often follows them through their public service. In includes people in sensitive positions in the current situation in Haiti."
Christopher Hitchens, writing in The Nation, quoted a member of Aristide's entourage: "All the world knows there has been a military coup in Haiti. But who would believe there has been a silent coup in the United States? This is the Bush Administration policy, determined by the military."
But this is the Clinton Administration, and the question is whether the CIA'S despicable conduct reflects the Administration's policy toward Haiti or is, indeed, the action of a rogue intelligence agency wholly out of control. The answer seems to be - both: The CIA, freewheeling as always and contemptuous of democratic norms, goes its own way, and the Clinton Administration lets it do so. The President issued a low-key disclaimer of the CIA's anti-Aristide report, but no one in the agency was fired or disciplined or demoted for defying official U.S. policy, which supposedly seeks Aristide's swift return to office. In fact, the CIA is still led by the same cloak-and-dagger crowd of conspirators and assassins who presided over it in the Cold War years.
Neither the President nor Congress can, apparently, even contemplate the idea of dispensing with this profoundly antidemocratic agency. As Mary McGrory wrote recently in The Washington Post, they can't imagine life without the CIA: "They like the excitement, the feeling of knowing what nobody else can know."
Even when it isn't so.
Post-Cold War Folly
The Cold War is over; the Soviet Union is no more," Defense Secretary Les Aspin told reporters at a recent Washington news conference. It was good to have the Secretary's official confirmation - not all of his predecessors have been in such close contact with reality. No sooner had those reassuring words passed his lips, however, than Aspin felt compelled to add, "But the post-Cold War world is decidedly not post-nuclear."
It isn't? Why not?
Evidently, the widely heralded overhaul of the forty-five-year-old U.S. nuclear weapons strategy will require a much wider rethinking than the Pentagon is willing to undertake and the military-industrial complex is willing to allow.
In reconsidering its post-Cold War strategy, the United States appears determined to keep most of its nuclear arsenal intact, while selecting a different set of targets. We already have some clues to where nuclear weapons will be pointed. The Pentagon insists we must guard against terrorists and "renegade states" such as Libya and North Korea. The main worry, defense strategists say, is of a terrorist attack carried out with a nuclear bomb. But it makes no sense at all to invoke the threat of a terrorist bomb to justify perpetuation of the nation's massive nuclear arsenal. What's more, nuclear weapons are dangerous not only in the hands of terrorists or "renegade states"; they are equally destructive in our own.
So long as the United States and its allies maintain tens of thousands of nuclear warheads, the world will remain under the threat of nuclear destruction. So long as the former Soviet Republics cling to their nuclear arsenals in the hope of gaining international prestige, other nations will similarly seek to enhance their status by acquiring nuclear weapons capability. So long as the world's nuclear powers export deadly weapons technology across the globe, the risk of deliberate or inadvertent catastrophe will increase. And so long as any nation retains a single nuclear bomb, there will be no moral force to deter such nations as Libya or North Korea, Pakistan or Iraq from joining the nuclear "club." The Clinton Administration's policy ought to be, in Aspin's words, "decidedly post-nuclear." But it isn't yet - not by a long shot.
During the 1992 Presidential election campaign, Bill Clinton won the support of organized labor. What has labor won in return? A NAFTA nightmare, a game of hide-and-go-seek on the striker-replacement bill, and a major Clinton backslide on his promise to raise the minimum wage.
In late October, the Administration sounded the latest retreat: It would not propose a minimum-wage increase this year. The Administration was blunt about its motivation: It doesn't want to antagonize business leaders," as The New York Times reported, since it is seeking their support for health-care reform. But Clinton always finds excuses for postponing pro-labor legislation; the excuse for shelving the striker-replacement bill was that he needed to pass his budget. The basic fact is Clinton doesn't care about labor issues - or not enough to offend the business community, which holds extraordinary sway over his Administration.
Meantime, millions of people who work at minimum-wage jobs are suffering. The current minimum is $4.25, and it hasn't been raised since April 1991, while inflation has kept biting away. Indeed, as Clinton's own Secretary of Labor Robert Reich points out, the current minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is 30 per cent below where it was twenty-five years ago!
Reich urged an increase of $1 an hour in the minimum wage when Clinton took office. Then he backpedaled to a measly twenty-five-cent-an-hour proposal. Now, under pressure from the White House political hacks, he's abandoned even that. (Reich is Bill Clinton's George Ball, an aide who urges the President to do the right thing - as Ball did with Lyndon Johnson during Vietnam - but then goes along when the President does the wrong one.)
Labor has gotten a raw deal from Clinton, and people who make $4.25 an hour - the equivalent of $8,840 a year - have Clinton to blame the next time they try to pay their bills.
Lurch to the Right
The results of the November 2 elections in states and cities across the country indicate an increasingly harsh, rightist mood. It's scapegoat time again.
In Virginia, Republican George Allen defeated Democrat Mary Sue Terry for the governorship. Allen ran with the support of the National Rifle Association and campaigned simultaneously for tougher crime laws. Terry ran as a pro-choice candidate; Allen is in favor of restricting abortions. And Allen's supporters - including the odious Oliver North, who may yet serve in the U.S. Senate - questioned Terry's credentials for discussing such issues as abortion and education because unlike Allen she has never married.
In New York City, Rudolph Giuliani defeated the incumbent, David Dinkins, for mayor in a contest marked by subtle - and sometimes not so subtle - invocation of racial themes. Dinkins won more than 90 per cent of the black vote, but Democratic whites deserted him in droves. Giuliani also capitalized on the crime issue, itself highly charged with racist overtones. Running against crime and for law and order was a winning strategy for politicians around the country who followed the cheap and easy course of serving up simplistic solutions.
The appetite to get tough on criminals - without doing anything to address the root causes of crime - continues unabated. In Texas, voters approved a I billion bond issue to build yet more prisons. And the state of Washington may need a bond issue soon, since it passed a law requiring a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment for three-time felons.
Along with criminals, welfare recipients made easy targets around the country. Even in San Francisco, voters passed a rule requiring all welfare applicants to be fingerprinted and forcing all those who are able-bodied to work up to eighteen hours each week sweeping sidewalks or cleaning buses.
Gays and lesbians also fell into the losing column. Voters repealed legislation that had protected the rights of lesbians and gays in Cincinnati and Lewiston, and in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, voters rejected a referendum protecting lesbian and gay rights.
The rightward lurch is not surprising. The national economy has limped along for the past five years, and for the past thirteen years, the Federal Government has slashed revenues to states and municipalities, which have been left to enforce the austerity imposed by Washington.
Hard times rule, and the ideology of these hard times is deeply conservative: There is no agreed-upon higher purpose of government other than national defense; there is no sympathy for those who are worse off or different. There is only anger, resentment, and insecurity - the hatcheries of the Right.
The September firebombing of a Planned Parenthood office in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the October arson at a clinic in Houston are among the latest in a series of terrorist attacks on women's health centers by opponents of abortion.
Such attacks, which are creating an oppressive climate of fear among women and medical-service providers, highlight the hideous absurdity of the antiabortion zealots. One would think that such ugly incidents would run counter to the spirit of a movement whose purported aim is to end the "violence" of abortion. But heavy security and bulletproof vests are now a way of life for many abortion providers.
Providing basic reproductive-health care to women in this country is now a mortally dangerous proposition. (The Lancaster office itself did not even provide abortions; simply offering family-planning services, including referrals for women seeking abortions, was enough to place it in the line of fire.) While most American women consider having an abortion at one time or another in their lives, the anti-abortion activists have succeeded in placing a surreal and alienating climate of fear around this very private, commonplace decision.
"These attacks are not isolated incidents," says Pamela Maraldo, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "They represent an ongoing conspiracy of violence against women's reproductive - health clinics."
The attacks are a natural outgrowth of the strident, self-righteous rhetoric of right-to-lifers, who position themselves as the saviors of innocent babies in danger of being "murdered" by callous women and doctors. By erasing the difference between actual murder (as in the shooting death of a doctor who performed abortions) and a woman's choice to have surgery on her own body to end a pregnancy, anti-abortion groups have fueled the hysteria and mayhem now spreading around the country.
The Freedom of Access at Clinic Entrances Act, now before Congress, would help protect medical workers and their families and patients from the onslaught of anti-abortion violence.
Meanwhile, these incidents should awaken all of us to the necessity of marching for safe and legal abortion, of demonstrating support for the people who provide it, and of meeting the protesters wherever they attempt their clinic attacks and blockades.
More Ugliness at the INS
In light of its long history of absurd stunts and outrageous violations of ethics, it's amazing that our immigration service can keep on topping itself. But a recently concluded court case involving efforts to return an illegal immigrant to Nigeria - bound, gagged, and drugged into a stupor - is a real stand-out.
In December 1991, Tony Ebibillo Epken was dragged onto an American Airlines plane - almost unconscious, in a straitjacket, with ten-pound weights on his ankles, and his mouth taped shut - by four immigration officers, one of them carrying a syringe. Only after the pilot refused to take off with Ebibillo on board did the immigration officers unload him. The INS then tried to charge Ebibillo with assault, but subsequently dropped the charges.
"The reason they dismissed the charges against Tony is that the INS doped him up with thorazine," says Lori Barrist, the public defender assigned to the case.
During the court hearing, it emerged that Ebibillo had been strapped to a bed for two days at Miami's Krome Detention Center after he resisted deportation, and was injected repeatedly with tranquilizers and anti-psychotic drugs. Ada Rivera, the detention center official who ordered that Ebibillo be drugged, testified that the INS makes a practice of tranquilizing violent or mentally ill detainees. But medical records showed that Ebibillo was not mentally ill, and the drugs used on him were medically inappropriate, not to mention a gross violation of human decency.
Ebibillo's only crime was being in the United States illegally, and refusing to board a plane back to Nigeria. When the INS tried to deport him, Ebibillo struggled against his guards, kicking and biting them. Then he was taken to the detention center.
"First, in my cell, about five agents tied me in chains and humiliated me with handcuffs, shackles, and chains around my waist and neck," he testified. "Then they took me to the clinic, removed the chains, tied me face down to the bed with padlock belts. As they gave me injections, they were saying, |You're going to wake up in Nigeria.'"
The real hero in this case is the airline pilot, who recognized an inhumane and immoral situation when he saw it. The INS, on the other hand, has adopted the alarming attitude that it is above such considerations when dealing with people who enter this country without the proper papers.
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|Title Annotation:||U.S. Central Intelligence Agency smear campaign against Jean-Bertrand Aristide|
|Date:||Dec 1, 1993|
|Previous Article:||Second opinion.|
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|Bon voyage, Aristide.|
|Ask the Haitians.|
|Tying Aristide's hands.|
|Imposing 'democracy' in Haiti.|
|The Haiti model.|
|Carter go home.|