"...there has always been, and is today, a profound conflict of interest between the government and the people of the United States. This thought startles most people, because it goes against everything we have been taught." Howard Zinn (1)
If anyone were wondering what might lie at the end of the infernal Bush regime darkness visible rainbow, a good part of the answer was given on February 7th by unlikely leprechaun Mike McConnell when he presented his crock of fearmongering, special pleading and false witness (2) for Congressional unscrutiny . It is impossible to forget that McConnell and his colleagues represent an intelligence community that comprehensively failed the US people prior to September 11th 2001. Likewise these sinister insecurity specialists - along with their colleagues in the corporate news media - have consistently colluded to mislead the US people as regards both the motives of the US government and its perennial corporate owners, about the global political, economic and commercial environment and about the place of the United States in that world context.
As might be expected, McConnell's preamble is an apologia for ever greater powers for government intelligence outfits, extending immunity to private sector collaborators via a beefed-up extension of the Protect America Act which strips US citizens of virtually all rights to privacy in their communications. McConnell calls this wholesale Constitution-chewing, belch...: "more innovative and rigorous analysis and wider and more far-reaching collaboration." His sales pitch was the time-honoured rationale of the secret policeman, "The nation, as I indicated last year, requires more from our Intelligence Community than ever before and consequently we need to do our business better, both internally, through greater collaboration across disciplines and externally, by engaging more of the expertise available outside the Intelligence Community"..... burp. So much for the Bill of Rights.
McConnell went on then to throw up the customary Western Bloc shopping list of bogeymen and Here-Be-Monsters. He could have made things much simpler by directing Congress to order a SWAT team down the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to apprehend the gangsters holed up there. Heading the Intelligence Community bestiary this year again was Al-Qaeda, the intelligence community's very own protege of yore. "They are everywhere - and they are nowhere", would be a fair precis of McConnell's account. Not once does he observe that US insecurity is inescapably tied up with the history of US government foreign policy.
National Security State - more insecurity than ever
McConnell's essential dishonesty resides in that tacit advocacy of conflict-generating policy, prioritizing a military and security response rather than a political response. On one level, secret policemen always prioritize policy-responses that make them more important and yield them more resources. But on another level this is yet more Bush regime corporatist jamboree dressed up as National Security. National Security State ideology had almost dropped into oblivion after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Well, it is back with a vengeance now, with one of its leading proponents, John Negroponte, micro-managing US foreign policy in the State Department.
Negroponte modelled McConnell's secret policeman's outfit during his death squad career-matinee in Honduras. It ended up shop-soiled on the bloody catwalks of Baghdad. But with McConnell's cynical attempt at home-down police-state moth-eaten chic, it looks as though Congress will fall over themselves to wear it too. Repeated so many times in modern US history, this perverse ritual has irreversibly subjugated policy to false military and security imperatives, plunging the United States into ever wider conflict. The corporate driven obsession with military power and national security has made people in the United States dramatically less safe and betrayed their fundamental interests.
Nor is this unprecedented hijacking of the Republic by Bush regime mediocrities and long-distance corporatist runners like Dick Cheney and John Negroponte a chance event. It coincides with what may well be US corporate capitalism's worst crisis since the Great Depression, accelerated by systematic financial fraud and appalling economic mismanagement. The US people's security betrayal by their government marches along with their economic betrayal by that government's corporate owners.
McConnell acknowledges as much when he observed in his preamble, "...many of the key topics I touch on are not traditional “national security” topics. Globalization has broadened the number of threats and challenges facing the United States." Like any competent conjuror McConnell then distracts his audience from the fundamental trick - covering up the stupendous policy betrayal of the people of the United States. Over that betrayal he casts a cleverly worked mantle of hypocritical analysis, deliberately conflating challenges to misguided or downright criminal US government policy with threats to the people of the United States, the standard gambit of Americanism.
Government duplicity - a voluntary, unforced disappearance
Whether in the remarks on Iraq and Afghanistan, on Palestine, Lebanon and Iran or on Colombia and Venezuela, cynical omissions of fact, banal managerial presumption and a clear determination to cover up failure, subverted whatever relationship to reality McConnell's report to Congress might have had. His unpardonably scant reference to multiple issues in Africa completely omitted US involvement in wars in the Congo and the Central African Republic or support for allies like Rwanda and Uganda and proxies like Ethiopia. A brief review of McConnell's account of Latin America gives an idea of the thorough dishonesty underlying McConnell's general exposition and the outright deceit of most of his country specific remarks.
McConnell's spare and to-the-point style is a model of how a practiced confidence-man can plausibly string together skewed assertion, purposeful omission and outright falsehood so as to disappear reality. The discussion of Latin America virtually ignores the dramatic effects on people in the United States of Mexico's drugs wars, consequences for the United States of catastrophic demographic effects on millions of Mexican rural families of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the social tension generated by Felipe Calderon's fraudulent electoral win in 2006. Nor does McConnell mention the challenge to US credibility in the Caribbean of the continuing disastrous effects on human rights in Haiti of the 2004 coup.
On Cuba, McConnell parrots a mindless reflex squawk about democracy. "Senior Cuban officials have made clear that there are no plans to permit competitive elections or otherwise alter the Communist Party’s monopoly of power." Cuba this year held national elections in which anyone who wanted to could put themselves forward as a local councillor or national assembly member. A massive turnout elected 614 deputies to the national parliament and 1200 delegates to the country's provincial assemblies. The Communist Party does not put forward candidates. Elected representatives receive the same salary they earn in their normal occupation. Cuban elections are at least as democratic in terms of choice as the effective single party system run by the US corporate plutocracy, offering a Hobson's choice to the US people between some corporate plutocrat-approved candidate or none.
McConnell's main remarks on Latin America had the following focus, "Inspired and supported by Venezuela and Cuba, leaders in Bolivia, Nicaragua, and—more tentatively—in Ecuador are pursuing agendas that undercut checks and balances on presidential power, seek lengthy presidential terms, weaken media and civil liberties, and emphasize economic nationalism at the expense of market-based approaches." Applied to Nicaragua such an account is truly laughable. The FSLN-led coalition government there faces a pro-US majority in the legislature and a media dominated by powerful anti-government business interests. Its extremely proactive Vice-President, ex-Contra leader Jaime Morales, pursues a vigorous market-based approach to international relations in tandem with President Daniel Ortega's development of relations with Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela and Cuba.
At the same time McConnell's testimony omits that the US government's narco-terror puppet in Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, is angling to gain a third presidential term. Nor does it mention that the Bolivian, Venezuelan and Ecuadoran governments' electoral wins represented an overwhelming rejection of two decades of failed US-government imposed neoliberal economic policy. In Bolivia and Ecuador pro-US governments provoked massive popular resistance. Since the elections in 2005 and 2006, all fundamental changes in those countries have been sought via democratic constituent assemblies or referendums.
Setting up intervention in Venezuela
On Venezuela, McConnell wants it both ways. Chavez accepted defeat in a referendum on constitutional reform but, warns McConnell, "Chavez will not abandon his goals for sweeping change toward socialism in Venezuela but may be compelled to spend more time bolstering his domestic support." So on McConnell's criteria, even if Chavez does persuade a majority in Venezuela to support his programme he will still be "authoritarian". Clearly McConnell shares the Kissinger doctrine vis-a-vis Chile, "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves."
McConnell's tendentious account is bolstered by outright falsehoods, like "Without question, policies being pursued by President Chavez have Venezuela on a path to ruin its conomy." In fact, by the standard measures of success, Venezuela's economy has outperformed almost every other economy in the region in terms of growth, poverty reduction, infrastructure investment or improved access to healthcare and better access to education. Its problems are the problems of conventional success, not failure, despite the best efforts of the United States and its local allies to sabotage economic progress in the country. The only possible reason for such downright untruth by McConnell is the imperative to prepare for a military provocation, probably using Colombia as a proxy.
When McConnell slyly slipped in the assertion , "We expect Chavez to provide generous campaign funding to the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) in El Salvador in its bid to secure the presidency in the 2009 election" he was flagging two things. Firstly, the US government recognizes that the FMLN in El Salvador may well win power in that election because successive right wing ARENA governments have failed to deliver on their promises of prosperity. In particular, the Central American Free Trade Agreement has categorically not benefited the poor majority in El Salvador. Secondly, to that pre-emptive excuse for US government policy failure, he is adding a bogus explanation for the increasing attraction to countries like Honduras and Guatemala of the Alternativa Bolivariana de las Americas economic cooperation agreement, initiated by Venezuelan and Cuba.
McConnell is too dishonest to acknowledge that Venezuela is helping Central American and Caribbean countries cope with the energy crisis, regardless of ideology. Meanwhile the US government can offer nothing but long-discredited neoliberal gobbeledygook nostrums and its own pathetic example of economic mismanagement. The crux of US government hatred for Venezuela's government is the Chavez administration's determination to pursue precisely the kind of South-South solidarity-based cooperation that offers countries, both within Latin America and beyond, the best chance to solve their problems of under-development. For example, Venezuela's relations with Iran are almost completely focused on energy, trade and investment. But McConnell attempts to stress the insignificant element of military cooperation.
Spinning for Colombia
Accusing Venezuela of instigating a regional arms race, McConnell conveniently omits Colombia's arms order of a couple of years ago enabling it to increase its complement of Israeli Kfir fighter-bombers to over 20 which are in the process of delivery now. If there is a single country in the region that can be said to threaten other countries, it is Colombia. Colombia is currently aggressively trying to bully Nicaragua over a centuries old dispute in relation to maritime boundaries which Nicaragua has pursued in recent years through the International Court of Justice.
Referring to US$3bn of Venezuelan arms orders from Russia, McConnell omits to note that Venezuela was barred from purchasing arms from Spain and Brazil by...the US government. This is the same US government that has pumped well over US$3bn in military aid into Colombia over the last seven years. One might reasonably conclude that the US government is provoking a regional arms race and applying hypocritical double standards to potential victims while arming its own ally - Colombia's narco-terrorist government - to the teeth.
His most egregious falsehoods McConnell reserves for a treatment of regional narcotics dealing. Here he turns reality completely on its head, adducing absolutely nothing to substantiate allegations of Venezuelan soft-pedalling on anti-narcotics operations. He covers up the reality that the US Drugs Enforcement Agency in the region itself has a dreadful record of corruption (3) and that Venezuela has been dramatically more successful in intercepting drugs shipments since it kicked out the DEA in 2005. (4) The UN Office on Drugs and Crime wrote in its Drugs Report for 2007, "The third largest cocaine seizures were reported by Venezuela (59 mt or 8 per cent), up 88 per cent from the previous year, ranking Venezuela third globally for the second time. These seizures are a consequence of the long common border with Colombia as well as intensified efforts in both countries."
On Colombia too, McConnell's false witness deliberately misled Congress about the country's civil war, alleging that the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces have been significantly weakened. In fact the FARC are operating throughout Colombian territory to the extent that both the Ecuadoran and Venezuelan authorities have asserted that along large stretches of their borders with Colombia the effective authorities seem to be the FARC rather than the Colombian government. (5)
On human rights in Colombia, McConnell trots out one of John Negroponte's and Thomas Pickering's favourite lines to Congress from the days when they propped up death squad regimes in Honduras and El Salvador, "Stepped-up efforts to prosecute human rights violators, including in the security services, have contributed to a gradually improving human rights picture." This will be of little comfort to the 3.7 million people the United Nations High Commission for Refugees reports displaced in Colombia.
The UNHCR web site currently carries a link to a report on Colombia by the far from radical Human Rights Watch, "Paramilitary commanders have not taken significant steps to give up their massive illegally acquired wealth, return stolen land, or show that they have ceased their lucrative criminal activities. Disturbing indicators of their persistent influence in 2006 included: reports of paramilitary infiltration of the Intelligence Service; increasing threats against academics, union leaders, human rights defenders, and journalists; and the formation of new paramilitary groups, as reported by the Organization of American States' (OAS) Mission to Support the Peace Process." (6) Very little changed through 2007 and yet McConnell's deceitful gloss on the situation is "The second major prong of Uribe’s security strategy - demobilizing and reintegrating paramilitaries into civilian society - also has yielded important benefits."
Colombia remains the world's biggest producer of cocaine and South America's biggest producer of heroin. THe UN Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report for 2007 states "In 2006, Colombia remained the country with the world’s largest coca growing area, which represented one half of the global area under coca bush. Coca cultivation in Colombia declined by 9 per cent from 86,000 hectares in 2005 to only 78,000 hectares in 2006. Overall, despite the increases and decreases observed in recent years, coca cultivation in Colombia has proven to be relatively stable at around 80,000 hectares since 2003." Colombia still produces over 600 metric tonnes of cocaine a year.
Narcotics + government + big business = betrayal
But for McConnell, the dog-and-pony shows seem to be all that really matter, "Bogota’s counterdrug program continues to show impressive results, particularly in interdiction, arrests of major drug traffickers, and extradition." The US people will never get a genuine accounting for the billions of dollars their crooked governments have poured into the regime of narco-terror regional proxy Alvaro Uribe. Just as in the days of the Nugan Hand Bank, BCCI and Iran-Contra, US intelligence services from Colombia to Afghanistan are covering up their own sordid involvement in the narcotics business and its derivative money-laundering.
On this, Michael Ruppert in an article from October 2000 (7), helpfully cites an article called "Crime, The World's Biggest Free Enterprise" in Le Monde Diplomatique by Christian de Brie and Jean de Maillard. They wrote that "By allowing capital to flow unchecked from one end of the world to the other, globalization and abandonment of sovereignty have together fostered the explosive growth of an outlaw financial market. It is a coherent system closely linked to the expansion of modern capitalism and based on an association of three partners: governments, transnational corporations and mafias." The financial collapse in the United States and its global ramifications bear out this analysis.
Naturally given the actors involved, little or no hard evidence exists for accusations against people like McConnell that they are helping conceal covert government involvement in crime - narcotics and the laundering of its profits. All one can do is point to well documented precedents and remind people, as Salim Lamrani does; "the United States continues to be the most important consumer of drugs on the planet and has never acted against financial institutions implicated in laundering the proceeds of narcotics trafficking." (8) The USAfghanistan and Iraq but they seem unable to control money laundering in Anguilla, or the Isle of Man or Liechtenstein or any of the other tax haven minnows used to grease the gear wheels of major financial centres with illicit transactions of one kind or another.
The betrayal of the United States people by their government could not be deeper. Powerful individuals like McConnell facilitate that betrayal by presenting a self serving account of the United States security situation. They falsely present themselves as acting in the country's best interests when what they are really doing is systematically deceiving their fellow citizens in accordance with the needs of their political masters, currently the Bush regime. Very little will change after the next Presidential inauguration. A different set of plutocrat phonies will tell the same old untruths to the endlessly deceived people of the United States as living standards and opportunities there diminish at a steadily accelerating rate and a National Security State is erected in front of their very eyes.
toni solo's articles are achived at http://toni.tortillaconsal.com
1. "America's Blinders", Howard Zinn, The Progressive, in ZNet, February 13, 2008
2. "Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence 7 February 2008"
3. "Leaked Memo: Corrupt DEA Agents in Colombia Help Narcos and Paramilitaries", Bill Conroy, Narco News Bulletin, January 9th 2006 - http://www.narconews.com/Issue40/article1543.html (thanks to Salim Lamrani for this reference)
4. "Washington y Bogotá contra Hugo Chávez ", Salim Lamrani, Rebelión 14-02-2008 - http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=63246
5. "Chávez: "Venezuela limita con las FARC no con Colombia"", EUGENIO MARTÍNEZ, EL UNIVERSAL - http://www.eluniversal.com/2008/02/05/pol_art_chavez:-venezuela-l_701658.shtml
"Ecuador también limita con las Farc", ABN, 08/02/2008 - http://www.abn.info.ve/go_news5.php?articulo=119430
6. Human Rights Watch World Report 2007 - http://www.hrw.org/englishwr2k7/docs/2007/01/11/colomb14884.htm
7. "THE BUSH-CHENEY DRUG EMPIRE ", Michael C. Ruppert, From The Wilderness, October 24th, 2000 - http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ciadrugs/bush-cheney-drugs.html
8. See note 4. government and its allies can destroy countries like