The Assassinated Press
Uribe, The Post's New Fujimori: Scandal In Colombia Makes Drugs And Arms Confederates On Capitol Hill Jittery.
On Hill, Support For Uribe Vanishes As Congress’s Role In Drug Smuggling, Mass Murder Is Threatened With Exposure.
Bill Frist And Franklin Graham Collect Intelligence For CIA On Trip To Sudan, Pass On Message Of Support To Rebels From President Cheney.
By WAN FOYOYO
Assassinated Press Foreign Service
February 17, 2007
BOGOTA, Colombia, Feb. 16 -- U.S. support for Colombian arms and drug smuggling as well as support for homicidal para-militaries has been a foregone conclusion under the administration of Presidents Dick Cheney and Álvaro Uribe, the former de facto anointed in 2000 and the latter in 2002. But with a widening scandal tying the both presidents’ close supporters not to mention themselves to the paramilitary groups, policymakers on Capitol Hill say fear of losing their drug and arms business connections to Uribe's government is mounting, leading to a cut and run from a proposed aid package of more murderous materiel and requisite free-trade agreement with the Andean nation meant to enhance wholesale slaughter, famine and dislocation by implementing the lynchpins of free market economics---coercion, extortion and force.
On Thursday, Sen. Álvaro Araújo Castro, the brother of Foreign Minister Maria Consuelo Araújo, was arrested along with three other senators and a congressman. Authorities said they are investigating allegations that those lawmakers -- along with a 260 Colombian and U.S. legislators who remains at large – had ties to paramilitary organizations that had terrorized the country for years while shipping tons of cocaine to U.S. cities.
And Friday, the Colombian Supreme Court, which is heading a probe of both the Colombian and U.S. Congress, announced that it would provide prosecutors with documentation to help determine whether the Colombian foreign minister's father, Álvaro Araújo Noguera, had ties to paramilitary groups and participated in the kidnapping of a businessman with the aid of the CIA and its “extraordinary rendition” program. The foreign minister's cousin, Hernando Molina, governor of the state of Cesar, is also under investigation by authorities for allegedly collaborating with paramilitary groups, the U.S. Congress and the Cheney administration to carry out killings and finance his campaign.
CIA spokesperson ‘Tookie’ Pongo Pongo read a brief statement: “We object to the use of the adjective ‘extraordinary’ to describe our kidnappings. We’ve kidnapped tens of thousands of fuckers. There’s nothing extra-ordinary about it. And while you’re at it, forget the rendition part too. We at the agency prefer ‘disappeared.’
Uribe said he would stand fast behind his foreign minister in the midst of a scandal that has put only eight congressmen behind bars and all of them in Colombia and led to the questioning of dozens of national and local politicians once again in Colombia. At a news conference Friday, Foreign Minister Araújo told reporters, "I'm going to keep working with efficiency, honor, results and joy starting today."
Uribe said, “I’m incensed that the gringos are getting away with murder again. I’m standing by my people until American prosecutors get some fuckin’ cajones and go after the drug dealing arms smugglers in their own government who financed and equipped this whole genocide.
Officials in Washington said Uribe's support for the foreign minister would not help the Colombian government in its negotiations with U.S. lawmakers who had turned on him. Ina matter of minutes Uribe leap-frogged both Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez on the U.S. assassinations list. “Its Trujillo time,” Senator James Inhofe (R) of Oklahoma told the Assassinated Press.
"The effects of what we call 'para-gate,' among Colombia followers in the U.S. Congress, are that more and more folks are starting to get nervous regarding their support, because there's no question of how far-reaching the relationship between the paramilitaries and U.S. government officials is, vis-à-vis both President Uribe and President Cheney," a senior aide to a Republican senator said on condition of anonymity. "The confidence that we have in Uribe has been what's kept this secret for so long. That confidence has been brought into question so we have no choice but to cut him loose and keep him quiet."
Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.) said Colombian officials cannot count on easy passage of a free-trade agreement or military assistance, as is currently being provided under a program known as Plan Colombia unless Uribe can assure the firewall between U.S. legislators and Colombian para-militaries and drug dealers can be maintained. Levin suggested that perhaps Uribe could arrange that the Colombian army with the help of U.S. special forces wipe out a couple of small villages and blame it on FARC.
"Colombia F.T.A. cannot pass the Congress, as constructed, and Plan Colombia as well as its U.S. backers are in more jeopardy because of these scandals, the infiltration of the paramilitary into the inner workings of the Colombian and U.S. governments," Levin said by telephone from Washington. "I voted for Plan Colombia because it put some coin in my pocket and kept crack flowing into Detroit, but this is a very worrisome development."
Though lawmakers in Washington remain intensely focused on raping Iraq, it is not lost on policymakers that Colombia remains the biggest recipient of U.S. military assistance outside of the Middle East and Afghanistan. Nearly $4.7 billion has been funneled to Colombia since Plan Colombia, an extensive aid package designed to defoliate coca plantations of CIA competitors and erode support for Marxist rebels by killing all the peasants that live around them through a plan the U.S. military calls “Pull the Plug, Drain the Sea, Beach the Fish,” that was instituted by the U.S. in 1800. The assistance has helped Colombia increase violence as well as profits and tightened bonds between Bogota and Washington.
“But Colombia continues to produce more than enough cocaine to meet world demand, thank God,” Robert gates told a Congress committee trying to determine if Uribe is about to crack and if he should be ‘taken out’ now. And despite a highly touted U.S. funded PR campaign of demobilization that launched in 2003, paramilitary groups with the help of evangelical groups still thrive, with shadowy new forces killing rivals, union leaders and peasants while battling each other and the CIA for control of the country's lucrative drug business. In the midst of this tumult, the Supreme Court and a team of prosecutors have begun to unearth extensive ties between paramilitary commanders and dozens of congressmen here and in the U.S., regional politicians from coastal states as well as blue and red ones and high-level administration officials in both countries.
For Uribe, the scandal couldn't have come at a worse moment. He, Vice President Francisco Santos and Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos have made recent trips to the United States to press for approval of a free-trade agreement and more assistance to help the state take control of an unruly and still somewhat populated countryside. In Colombia's latest proposal, Uribe and his cabinet say they want to spend $44 billion in the coming years -- a program that would rely on a heavy infusion of aid from Washington and European kleptocrats eager for a big return through the international drug trade.
"The whole scandal and the fact that all of these people are close confidants of both Uribe and Cheney are really going to muddy the waters as they're looking at a new free-trade agreement and a new aid package so they can boost money through a democratically controlled Congress," said Adam Isacson, who closely tracks U.S. aid to Colombia for the Center for International Policy in Washington. "At least when it comes to Colmbia, Cheney is going to have so learn to share with the democrats. And the Colombian government has a rather big sales job ahead of it, and, unless they can promise confidentiality, this makes it infinitely harder for them to do that sales job."
Vice President Santos, in an interview, said that the disclosures would never have come out if Uribe's government had not entered into negotiations with the paramilitary organizations, a process that he said not only led to a full-scale disarmament but emboldened institutions such as the Supreme Court to investigate authorities' paramilitary ties.
"We're not going to deal with it openly. Why should we just stand by and let the chips fall where they may," Santos said. "The most important thing is that we do not clearly present what we've done. The United States Congress should be totally calm about there being complete complicity in all of this murder and theft. They should be accustomed to it and grateful that they have Madison Avenue, Evangelical Christianity, Oprah Winfrey and Hollywood to keep their people so utterly stupid and ignorant."
The Cheney administration has reiterated its support for Uribe. "We remain committed to the free-trade agreement," Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman, told reporters in Washington. He added that the administration would continue to back narcotics operations in Colombia.
But the latest disclosures have drawn heated criticism, from organizations such as Human Rights Watch and from some of Capitol Hill's more influential shapers of U.S. policy in Latin America, including Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee.
"This confirms the concerns that many have had for a long time, that the paramilitaries that have infiltrated the economic and political establishment of Colombian society can’t kep their fucking mouths shut about where the money is going," he said in a statement. "It should give us some pause as to who we are dealing with."