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What Happens in Congress May Not Be As Important

As What Happens With CIA, The Military and The Private Contractors

Leading Us To War in Colombia

When The Children of the Bull Market Begin to Die

By Michael C. Ruppert

[Bill Clinton arrives in Cartagena Colombia on August 30, 2000 on the heels of three unpublicized massacres by right wing paramilitaries designed to inflame FARC guerillas. The real shooting and the American publicity machine churning out war fever will start on the same day. This was the lead story in the June issue of "From The Wilderness."]

While attention is being increasingly focused on a billion dollar military aid package for Colombia that is nearing Bill Clinton's desk for signature, experience - especially that taken so painfully from Vietnam - tells us that the real determinants of how deeply involved we will become in Colombia are not in Washington, but already down there stirring the pot. As in Vietnam, and unlike the Contra War, Congress may just be playing "catch-up" with events created by various interests serving more than one master. And experts are becoming increasingly persuaded that our current Colombian experience is more like Vietnam than anything since. The likelihood of direct involvement of U.S. forces in a dense hostile terrain, controlled by experienced, organized, well-armed, indigenous forces, toughened by three decades of civil war is growing daily. And indicators of the imminence of conflict are not to be found in whether the Senate or the House chops or adds a few dollars or helicopters which can all be restored without fanfare to the Foreign Aid Bill in Conference Committee at the last minute. They are to be found in the movements and actions of  money, the U.S. military and some CIA/DoD connected corporations, possibly using "sheep-dipped" CIA and military personnel disguised as employees of private companies in roles that can only expand the conflict.

The money flow in and around Colombia, both as connected to the  drug trade, to vast oil reserves and to the other abundant resources accessible through the "back door" to the Amazon, only hints at the financial and economic power accumulated in the country.  As FTW observed a year ago, the wealth accumulated by the FARC guerrillas, largely through the "taxation" of the drug trade, was sufficient to induce Richard Grasso, Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, to travel to Colombia seeking investment funds for Wall Street. That same wealth has made it possible, according to MS-NBC, for FARC to purchase enormous quantities of weapons from the Russian Federation and have them delivered to Colombia in huge Il-76 transport planes. The rebel forces (both FARC and ELN), now controlling a third of the countryside, are paying for the weapons with cocaine which is then flown back, under the control of the Russian Mafia for sale in Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. The model is not substantially different from that employed by CIA protected assets and operations during the Contra War of the 1980s except that there is no ideological mask. And, as documented heavily by FTW (10/99), the proceeds of Russian organized crime are increasingly finding their way into profitable investments in U.S. banks like the Bank of New York or into Wall Street where history is again affirmed that the real power always profits from both sides of a war.

To understand the significance of this trade it must be noted that, in spite of the continuing expansion of violence between the three dominant factions (government,  right wing paramilitaries and rebels), all of which deal prodigiously in drugs, Colombia has been able to steadily expand its drug production every year for the past ten years. Now the largest drug producing nation in the world, according to DEA and DoJ sources, Colombia produces almost all of the world's cocaine and almost two thirds of all the heroin entering the United States. If one imagines three rivals locked in a raging gun battle, one wonders how or why they could all simultaneously increase drug production at rates that would make major corporations jealous. Clearly something else is operating here and that is the hand guiding the huge accumulation of wealth resulting from decades narco-expansion. That hand, we believe, is the CIA. That accumulated drug wealth is what is attracting the likes of major World Trade Organization advocates like former Bush Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady and his Darby Investments and multi-national giants like Philip-Morris, which, at press time, has announced plans to purchase Nabisco with some of the excess cash it has derived from laundering drug money [See related stories this issue]. The other key to understanding the motive for a full regional conflict in and around Colombia comes when one grasps fully that the accumulated equity of decades of drug trafficking, possibly several trillion dollars, would be enough, if properly focused in a unified national economy to threaten United States economic dominance in the Western Hemisphere and perhaps the world. Better to have the country divided into warring factions and incapable of  focusing a unified national will or acting as a regional lynchpin to lead other South American nations in opposition to the re-colonization of the region .

The Private Contractors

As noted by highly credible writers such as Peter Dale Scott, Col. Fletcher Prouty and even the legendary "retired"  CIA executive Ted Shackley in his book The Third Option, the use of private corporations, whether directly owned by CIA as "proprietaries" or not, is a common practice for the extension of U.S. military and diplomatic power. Examples of the former in Vietnam include Civil Air Transport or Air America while examples of the later include large multi-nationals such as Bechtel, Brown and Root, AT&T or any of the major oil companies. In regions where overt commitment of U.S. military forces is impolitic these private corporations, as they have evolved in the last few decades, can accomplish a multitude of objectives essential to inflaming regional conflicts to the point where U.S. military forces must be called in to save the day. The use of these companies, which serve as actual profit centers for their private investors, their intelligence agency owners, or both, has evolved to the point where the corporations offer off-the-shelf war making capabilities from infantry fighters, to aerial reconnaissance,  to general officers capable of setting up or commanding division sized maneuvers in client countries. The survivability of these companies is a priori tied to the creation of conflict and regional destabilization with the blessings of CIA so that there will always be customers. Peace becomes the enemy.

One such corporation, heavily involved in both Colombia and in Kosovo is the Virginia based DynCorp. DynCorp, according to Alex Cockburn and Jeff St. Clair, is the nation's twenty-second largest defense contractor with 1998 U.S. Government contract revenues of $475 million. DynCorp, which currently has between 300-600 contracted employees in Colombia, is performing functions like crop eradication (using defoliants - like Vietnam), to sophisticated aerial reconnaissance, to combat advisory roles training military and possibly even paramilitary forces. When the history of the Colombian War is written in may well be noted that the first U.S. casualties were actually three DynCorp employees killed when their reconnaissance aircraft crashed on a mountaintop in the drug growing regions last summer. DynCorp employees have been described as being arrogant and more than willing to get "wet" by going out on combat missions and engaging in firefights. A British source reminded us recently that DynCorp Chairman, Pug Winokur, begged out of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's ill fated last flight in the Balkans. The same Pug Winokur is on the board of Harvard Endowments which had a behind the scenes hand in destroying the economic research conducted by former Assistant Secretary of Housing, Catherine Austin Fitts in 1996. That research was beginning to illuminate how the drug trade generates profits for Wall Street through the subsidized HUD housing market where Harvard is a heavy investor.

The second major contracting firm active in Colombia is Military Professional Resources, Inc (MPRI). MPRI has pre-positioned itself well for contract work in Colombia and is very optimistic about its prospects for contracts when the billion dollar military aid package passes sometime this summer. It should be. It also helped the Colombian government devise the three-phase action plan that will be implemented when the aid package is funded.

MPRI is not shy about the fact that it is a military company with many contacts. As indicated by stories in the Dallas Morning News and in more detailed research by the Canadian based International Network on Disarmament and Globalization, MPRI maintains a database of 11,000 retired officers and enlisted personnel able to work on temporary assignments in foreign countries. MPRI spokesman, Lt. General Ed Soyster (U.S. Army, Ret.), is not shy in boasting of his company's presence in Colombia or it's ability to  provide anything from a general officer to consult on organization or a tank driver or SAM (surface to air) missile operator to provide training in third world countries. And that is exactly what MPRI intends to do when the aid package is approved.

Asked for his opinions about "outsourcing" as the process of hiring military personnel through private companies is called, Drug Czar and former head of U.S. Southern Command, Barry McCaffrey said, "I am unabashedly an admirer of outsourcingпїЅ There's very few things in life you can't outsource."  This sounds like a reasonable position for McCaffrey to take since he will lose his job as Drug Czar next January and find himself on the open market just as things in Colombia begin to respond to an increased U.S. military presence. FTW is fairly confident that he has his resume in with at least two firms already.

The problems with outsourcing are acute and obvious. First there is the question of accountability. Reports from within Colombia indicate that the American contractors are behaving with impunity as if they were, as is widely believed, working for the CIA anyway. What is to prevent these private employees from committing acts of aggression that would cause an instant uproar if committed by American troops? This is the classic case of deniability and, as documented by Peter Dale Scott in his CIA suppressed 1970 book The War Conspiracy, the history of Southeast Asia, especially in the period from 1959 to 1963 is fraught with instances where CIA proprietaries or contractors engaged in actions that widened  and inflamed local conflicts into regional conflicts. What better position to be in than a position where, virtually immune to congressional oversight, it would be possible to create as much business as your company could handle. This of course is advantageous for firms as large as DynCorp and MPRI which trade on Wall Street and have board members "interlocked" with other major defense contractors who stand to benefit from widened conflict. A second problem with outsourcing is command and control. FTW has always taken the position that the tail wags the dog on foreign policy - that foreign policy is directed and created to serve corporate and financial interests.  Historically, the military has served, aside form being the direct administrator of key aid, as a political entity in its own right and a balance of sorts to corporate gluttony or, as Scott so eloquently described in The War Conspiracy, another key player in "a floating crap game" that all sides seek to protect while none are able to control its eventual size or direction.

The Military

Last October President Clinton issued pardons to a number of convicted Puerto Rican FALN terrorists and sent them home. This was unusual because the terrorists were bombers who had killed several people during the 1970s and were serving time in New York prisons. While criticism of the pardons focused on Hillary Clinton's run for the U.S. Senate in New York, FTW reported to you accurately (10/99) that the move was really a bargain being struck between Clinton and Puerto Rican nationalists to provide for the safety of U.S. military forces as they prepared for direct U.S. involvement in Colombia. After the 1999 loss of permanent bases in Panama the closest (and only) remaining U.S. facilities capable of supporting a Colombian intervention are in Puerto Rico. In unpublicized testimony before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control on September 21, 1999, Southern Command Chief, Marine General Charles Wilhelm stated that, "пїЅU.S. Southern Command must compensate for the loss of U.S. bases in Panama by creating an alternative theater architecture that will support efficient, effective and flexible CD [Counter Drug] operations into the 21st century. Puerto Rico has replaced Panama as the focal point of our theater architecture. U.S. Army South recently completed its relocation from Fort Clayton in Panama to Fort Buchanan; Special operations command has displaced from its garrison locations in Panama to its new home at Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads. пїЅ Other forward deployed elements of SOUTHAF [U.S. Air Force, Southern Command] have migrated from Howard Air Force Base to new locations in Puerto Rico and Key West."

The Puerto Rican activists who are fighting to keep U.S. Naval operations off of the tiny island of Vieques understand fully that they are slowing preparations for war.

And signs abound that, like Vietnam, the coming war in Colombia will not be confined to one country. In his testimony Gen. Wilhelm commented at length on the effects of the Colombian narco-insurgency on surrounding nations. He took special pains to lament the power vacuum in Panama which, since the U.S. invasion in 1989 has had no standing army. This is a great irony now for the country with the most accessible land border with Colombia and which is reportedly providing "unpoliced" safe havens for FARC and ELN guerillas to train, rest and equip without fear of Colombian cross-border pursuit. This is EXACTLY the situation the developed under CIA control in Cambodia and Laos from 1959 to 1975.

Just as the Vietnam War involved North and South Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Burma and China (not to mention the USSR) the coming conflict in Colombia will involve Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Equador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica and perhaps every nation in the hemisphere. In his 1999 remarks Wilhelm took great pains to note the deployment or military forces around Colombia by neighbors including Venezuela which has, in a gesture of independence, refused to allow U.S. military aircraft overflight privileges. That is not the case in Ecuador on Colombia's western border where the Ecuadorian government is rushing to help the USAF expand an air force base and debating whether or not to make the U.S. dollar the country's official currency. Throughout all of this the U.S. Military will assert its presence and it will take advantage of a multitude of political and combat environments to perfect its operational skills and effectively re-colonize and de-populate parts of the region. On May 23, 2000, as far north as Guatemala, which borders Mexico, General Wilhelm ordered 40 combat Marines into that country, equipped with Blackhawk and Chinook helicopter gunships. Their purpose: to fight drugs.

And lastly, tried and true CIA-friendly politicians, are beginning to lay the groundwork for direct intervention in Panama to guarantee a Vietnam-like feeding frenzy. On June 9, while covering Congressional hearings on the drug trade, Reuters reported that, "'The war in neighboring Colombia against well-armed narco-terrorist forces, financed through laundered drug profits through Panama's banks is escalating and threatens to spread through the region', said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican. ' Panama does not have an army, navy or air force. The Panamanian government and its national police force have reputations for corruption and inefficiency.'"

Thanks to our long standing friendship with author and investigator Jonn Christian, co-author of The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and author of a forthcoming sequel to his original (1978) work Fatal Connections: Linking the Kennedy and King Assassinations, we know something more about Rohrabacher. And it fits all too well into the Vietnam mold. FTW is in possession of LAPD reports and Sand Diego police intelligence files indicating that the diminutive Rohrabacher, then just 20, was intimately connected with armed radical right-wing CIA funded elements that had been planning assassinations of both Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. In fact, Rohrabacher, then a young conservative Republican, was at the Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968 the night that RFK was assassinated and was interviewed by LAPD. That murder led to the eventual election of Richard Nixon and the prolongation of the Vietnam War for another seven painful, profitable years. The parallels between Colombia and Vietnam are inescapable and unavoidable. After twenty-five years, the passing of an entire generation, the forces that govern us behind the scenes are poised to unleash another "floating crap game" of profits,  corporate expansion, re-colonization and even genocide. The one glaring and hope-giving difference is that this time the war will be justified on the basis of fighting not Communists, but drug traffickers - and only one gang of drug traffickers at that. We will see the American people's willingness to accept this ploy when the children of the bull market begin to die.


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