10. Haiti: Drugs, Thugs, The CIA And the Deterrence
Sources: THE NEW YORK TIMES, Date: 11/1/93,
Title: "Key Haiti Leaders Said To Have Been In The C.I.A.'s Pay," Author:
Tim Weiner; PACIFIC NEWS SERVICE, Dates: 10/20/93; 11/2/93, Titles: "What's
Behind Washington's Silence on Haiti Drug Connection?;" "A Haitian Call
to Arms," Author: Dennis Bernstein; SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN, Date: 11/3/93,
Title: "The CIA's Haitian Connection," Authors: Dennis Bernstein and
Howard Levine; LOS ANGELES TIMES, Date: 10/31/93, Title: "CIA's Aid Plan
Would Have Undercut Aristide in `87-88," Author: Jim Mann
SYNOPSIS: After the October 30, 1993 deadline to restore duly
elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide passed unrealized, observers
reported an increasing sense of fear and despair. More than 4,000 civilians
have been killed since the 1991 bloody military coup which ousted Aristide.
Few Americans are aware of our secret involvement in Haitian politics,
nor the impact those policies have had on the U.S.
of the high military officials involved in the coup have been on the CIA's payroll
from "the mid-1980s at least until the 1991 coup...." According to one
government official, "Several of the principal players of the current situation
were compensated by the U.S. government."
Further, the CIA "tried
to intervene in Haiti's election with a covert-action program that would have
undercut the political strength" of Aristide. The aborted attempt to influence
the 1988 election was authorized by then President Ronald Reagan and the National
Security Council. The program was blocked by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
in a rare move.
Next, a confidential Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) report revealed
that Haiti is "a major transshipment point for cocaine traffickers"
who are funneling drugs from Colombia and the Dominican Republic into
the United States. The DEA report also revealed that the drug trafficking,
which is bringing one to four tons of cocaine per month into the U.S.,
worth $300-$500 million annually, is taking place with "the knowledge
and active involvement of high military officials and business elites,"
According to Patrick
Elie, who was Aristide's anti-drug czar, Haitian police chief Lt. Col. Michel
Francois is at the center of the drug trade. Francois' "attaches" reportedly
have been responsible for a large number of murders and violence since the coup.
The revelations offer a disturbing look into CIA and State Department
policy toward Haiti. Elie stated that he was constantly rebuffed by
the CIA when he tried to alert it to the military's drug trafficking:
"All we were met with was stonewalling, and in fact we were told
there was going to be no more cooperation between the U.S. and Haiti,
but at the same time... the CIA continued to cooperate with the Haitian
military." Elie reported how the CIA-created Haitian National Intelligence
Service (NIS) -- supposedly created to combat drugs -- was actually
involved with narcotics-trafficking, and "functioned as a political
intimidation and assassination squad."
The Clinton administration's silence on the Haitian drug flow has led
some congressional critics, such as John Conyers (D-MI), to suggest
that this silence reflects de facto support for the drug-trafficking
Haitian military and a reluctance to substantively support the democratically-elected
Researcher: Sunil Sharma
COMMENTS: Investigative author Dennis Bernstein charges that
the U.S. government's ongoing relationship with drug-trafficking dictators
and their associated henchmen is perhaps one of the most important and
under-reported stories of our time.
"President Clinton's continuing silence on the Haitian military's
involvement in a one-billion-dollar a year illegal cocaine operation
and the mainstream media's acceptance of this silence -- is causing
untold suffering in Haiti and the U.S.," Bernstein said. "In
fact," he continued, "it is this silence about the drugs that
allows the military to continue to skirt the embargo with massive amounts
of drug-money, to torture and assassinate thousands of Haitians, and
to wreak havoc in this country by continuing to import tons of cocaine
onto U.S. soil. The U.S. created, funded, and trained Haiti's drug-dealing
death-squad -- the National Intelligence Service -- which apparently
was conceived to destabilize President Aristide.
doesn't exist without a free and unfettered press that isn't afraid to ask the
difficult questions and then to publish the answers to those questions without
checking informally with the state department and the CIA. The press's continuing
failure to report adequately on illegal intelligence operations and CIA-sponsored
drug-running and assassination coup teams may ultimately lead to the death of
democracy, not only in Haiti but in the U.S.
"The only people to gain
from the press's limited reporting of the Haiti drug story and related U.S. complicit
silence are drug-traffickers and their supporting death-squads and dictators,
as well as collaborating smugglers and related criminals involved in a billion
dollar drug operation."
Bernstein concludes that "The soaring number of crack addicts
in the U.S. and Haiti -- and their families -- and the victims of addict
robberies and murders will definitely not benefit from the silence ...
and lack of good reporting."
PBS's "Frontline," one of the
nation's most acclaimed investigative television programs, produced a well-documented,
hour-long special, on November 9, titled "Showdown in Haiti," which
examined President Clinton's foreign-policy initiative in Haiti. Ironically, the
otherwise hard-hitting documentary didn't mention drugs or the CIA.
the media tend to focus on the Haitian boat people, little attention is given
to the CIA's involvement with the overthrow of Haiti's first freely elected president
and the smuggling of cocaine from Colombia and the Dominican Republic into the
"WHAT'S BEHIND WASHINGTON'S SILENCE ON HAITI DRUG CONNECTION?"
by Dennis Bernstein; Pacific News Service, 10/20/93
At stake in the
U.S. confrontation with the Haitian military regime is a cocaine smuggling operation
that earns millions of dollars for Haitian military officials while dumping tons
of the deadly white powder on American streets. Yet while the country debates
the merits of armed intervention in Haiti, the Clinton administration has remained
mum on the Haitian "drug connection."
A confidential report by
the Drug Enforcement Agency obtained by Pacific News Service describes Haiti as
"a major transshipment point for cocaine traffickers" funnelling drugs
from Colombia and the Dominican Republic into the U.S.-with the knowledge and
active involvement of high military officials and business elites.
of the Haitian military "is substantial enough to hamper any significant
drug investigation attempting to dismantle" illicit drug operations inside
Haiti, the report states. Echoing the report's findings, exiled Haitian President
Jean Bertrand Aristide recently blamed the military's role in the drug trade for
Despite extensive DEA intelligence documenting Haiti's drug
role, neither the Clinton administration, nor the Bush administration before it,
have ever raised that role publicly. Now critics of U.S. policy on Haiti, including
one Congressman, are questioning that silence, suggesting it reflects de facto
U.S. support for the Haitian military and a reluctance to offer unqualified support
"I've been amazed that our government has never talked
about the drug trafficking...even though it is obviously one of the major reasons
why these people drove their president out of the country and why they are determined
not to let him back in. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal
profits that are having disastrous consequences for the American people,"
says Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
Larry Burns, head of the Washington, D.C.-based
Council on Hemispheric Affairs, claims, "From the moment Aristide was overthrown
two years ago, Washington has equivocated on whether it wanted him back or not..."
To secure the military "as an anchor to Aristide's sail," Burns charges,
Washington "turned a blind eye to the corruption charges, and pretended that
it could be reformed through professionalization and U.S. training."
senior administration official at the National Security Council dismisses the
charge but when asked why the administration has failed to publicize DEA allegations
of drug trafficking, the spokesman had no comment.
The DEA first established
a Country Office (CO) in Port-au-Prince to assist the Haitian government with
its anti-narcotics activities in November 1987. Throughout Aristide's brief tenure
in office, DEA agents worked closely with Haitian military narcotics services,
investigating an illegal cocaine network estimated to be moving some $300-$500
million worth of cocaine into the U.S. per year. Although the DEA office was shut
down after the 1991 coup, it reopened in the fall of 1992. But soon after DEA
intelligence prompted the arrest of a member of Haiti's ClA-linked National Intelligence,
DEA local agent Tony Greco received death threats from a man identifying himself
as the National Intelligence member's boss.
A Congressional source familiar
with the DEA's history in Haiti told PNS that Greco had also "connected (Lt.
Colonel Michel) Francois to the drug trafficking operations in Haiti." Francois,
the current chief of police, is alleged to be behind the current campaign of terror.
disturbs Rep. Conyers is that none of this information ever reached the public.
"By turning a deaf ear to what is obviously a prime force behind Aristide's
ouster, we raise questions about our own involvement in drug activities,"
Conyers says. He is currently investigating how it is that the ships and aircraft
necessary to sustain such a large operation evade detection and interdiction,
while the U.S. government has managed to spot, stop and turn back almost every
ramshackle boat carrying refugees.
Indeed the DEA report shows that after
the 1991 coup sent Aristide into exile, there were virtually no major seizures
of cocaine from Haiti as compared to nearly 4,000 pounds seized in 1990.
Levine, author of "Deep Cover" and a decorated DEA agent with 25 years
of experience fighting drugs overseas, says what's going on in Haiti is "just
another example of elements of the U.S. government protecting killers, drug dealers
and dictators for the sake of some political end that's going to cost a whole
bunch of kids in this country their lives.
"I saw the drug traffickers
take over the government of Bolivia in 1980, ironically with the assistance of
the CIA, and we (the DEA) just packed up our office and went home."
CIA'S HAITIAN CONNECTION"
by Dennis Bernstein and Howard Levine; San
Francisco Bay Guardian, 11/3/93
Although the Clinton administration insists
it is making every effort to return ousted Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide
to power, covert connections between Haiti's military junta and the CIA may be
helping to keep the regime in place.
Confidential government documents obtained
by the Bay Guardian show that the CIA helped establish and finance Haiti's powerful
National Intelligence Service, which played a key role in the 1991 coup and continues
to provide paramilitary muscle for the anti-Aristide dictatorship. As recently
as February 1993, a confidential congressional report described the NIS as "working
closely" with the CIA.
The documents-along with interviews with members
of Congress, senior administration sources, and a high-ranking member of Aristide's
cabinet-in-exile-raise troubling questions about Clinton's policy toward the tiny,
impoverished Caribbean nation and provide strong evidence to support critics who
claim the United States is giving little more than lip service to the cause of
Among other things, the Bay Guardian has learned:
Lt. Col. Joseph Michel Francois-the reputed kingpin behind the military junta-was
trained at a clandestine U.S. Army combat facility known as the "coup school,"
whose alumni also include jailed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and former
Salvadoran president Roberto d'Aubuisson.
Paramilitary death squads controlled
by Francois and Frank Romain, the former mayor of Port-au-Prince, are carrying
out what some critics call a systematic attempt to wipe out Aristide's base of
support, making it difficult if not impossible for the ousted president to reclaim
political power. The death squads, known as attaches have been linked to roughly
4,000 murders since the coup.
Former Haitian officials and congressional
sources link Francois and the NIS to a massive drug-smuggling and money-laundering
operation that sends at least a billion dollars worth of cocaine a year to the
United States. Aristide's attempt to crack down on the drug ring may have helped
spark the coup-and since the military junta took power, cocaine exports have soared.
fact, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency operative who was investigating an NIS officer
allegedly involved in drug smuggling had to flee Haiti in 1992 after receiving
death threats on a private telephone line with a secret number known only to a
few top government officials.
At least two senior members of Congress, Rep.
Charles Rangel and Rep. Major Owens, both New York Democrats, told the Bay Guardian
they have enough reason to suspect CIA involvement in the Aristide coup that they
are calling for a full congressional investigation.
HALF HEARTED EFFORTS
the crisis in Haiti drags on and the military junta refuses to relinquish power,
critics have charged that the United States is making only token efforts to restore
Aristide to office.
Larry Burns, an analyst at the Washington, D.C.-based
Council on Hemispheric Relations, pointed out that the United States has not fully
participated in the United Nations embargo of Haiti (unlike most other countries,
the U.S. has exempted its own companies in Haiti from the embargo). It's also
curious, he told the Bay Guardian, that the Clinton administration has failed
to make a public issue of the military regime's role in drug trafficking-a tactic
that the Bush administration used extensively to discredit Panama's Manuel Noriega.
would think that the White House would want, as one of its major points, to pin
the drug tail on the military donkey in Haiti," Burns said. "It would
be their best opportunity to rally the American people to a pro-Aristide position.
Yet they never used it."
White House Deputy Press Secretary Don Steinberg
told the Bay Guardian that "there's nothing halfhearted about our administration's
commitment to returning democracy to Haiti and Aristide to power."
sent military trainers to Haiti, we've supported the embargo, and we've fully
supported the Governor's Island accords," which were supposed to lead to
Aristide's return, Steinberg said. "This administration has not for a second
coddled Francois or Cedras." Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras heads the military junta.
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said he was worried that the administration's silence
on the military's connection to the drug trade would only embolden the junta and
tighten its grip on power.
"We have turned a very deaf ear to what
is obviously a moving force," he said. "It leads you to wonder if our
silence is because we knew this was going on and that our complicity in drug activity
may parallel the accusations that were raised about our involvement in drug activities-that
is, our government and the Central Intelligence Agency's-during the Vietnam conflict."
they admit they have no hard evidence, both Rangel and Aristide's exiled interior
minister, Patrick Elie, told the Bay Guardian they see shadows of the ClA's hidden
hand behind the September 1991 coup, which overthrew Aristide after only seven
months in office.
"I don't have a specific answer as to whether the
CIA was involved," Rangel said. "But I do know that our feelings against
Aristide were made pretty clear before the coup."
Rangel was referring
to the Bush administration's open backing of former World Bank official Marc Bizan
against Aristide. But in a show of popular support that caught the Bush administration
by surprise, Aristide received 67.5 percent of the vote, while Bizan captured
only 13 percent.
Elie told the Bay Guardian that the relationship between
the CIA and Haiti's National Intelligence Service went far beyond mere cooperation.
fact," he said "the NIS was created by the Central Intelligence Agency.
It was created by it and funded by it."
Elie, whose job included oversight
of the NIS, launched an investigation shortly after taking office that revealed
that the CIA had covertly given the NIS $500,000-twice what the U.S. government
was providing Haiti overtly for drug interdiction.
He said that although
the NIS was supposed to be used to combat drug smugglers, "in fact, all the
NIS has done has been political repression and spying on Haitians."
of the Drug Enforcement Administration confirm that the NIS operates with CIA
assistance. According to a confidential DEA document titled "Drug Trafficking
in Haiti," presented to members of Congress in February 1993 and obtained
by the Bay Guardian, the NIS "is a covert counter-narcotics intelligence
unit which often works in unison with the CIA."
On Sept. 26, 1992,
the report states, the DEA itself was driven from Haiti when its main agent was
forced to flee the country after receiving death threats. DEA attaché Tony
Greco received the threats on his private line in the U.S. embassy, "given
out to only a few trusted individuals," the memo says, within a week of his
providing information that led to the arrest of a NIS officer for drug trafficking.
"The unidentified threat," the report states, "came from an individual
who claims to control many Haitian soldiers in the narcotics distribution trade."
Major Owens (D-N.Y.), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus task force on
Haiti, told the Bay Guardian: "I worry about the CIA having had a role in
the overthrow of the Aristide government. The Congressional Black Caucus has joined
with congressman Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.) in calling for a full-scale investigation.
Bay Guardian phone calls to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.,
were not returned. Steinberg said he knew nothing about possible CIA involvement
in the coup and was "hearing about it for the first time." He refused
to comment on the allegations of drug smuggling.
THE SCHOOL OF COUPS
who has traveled several times to Haiti and is close to the deposed administration
of Aristide, told the Bay Guardian that although Cedras heads the junta, Francois,
who is also Port-au-Prince's chief of police, wields the real power.
Rangel said, "has been targeted as being directly responsible for the recent
murder of [Justice Minister] Guy Malary," who was dragged out of church,
beaten, and killed on Oct. 14.
Michel Francois learned some of his skills
right here in the United States. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army's School of
the Americas (SOA), which Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch in Columbus
Georgia, described as a "combat and counterinsurgency training facility for
soldiers from Central and South America and the Caribbean."
spokesperson Steinberg didn't deny that Francois had attended the Army training
school. "But just because he graduated from SOA doesn't mean he has U.S.
government intelligence connections," Steinberg said. "A lot of people
graduate from that school."
Bourgeois said SOA was founded in 1946
and operated in Panama until it was kicked out in 1984 as part of the canal treaty.
It was reestablished in Ft. Benning, Ga.
"In Latin America," he
said, "it's known as La Escuela de Golpes, the school of coups," because
of the achievements of some of its 55,000 graduates, including d'Aubuisson; Noriega,
who is serving 40 years in federal prison for drug trafficking; Gen. Hugo Banzer,
who ruled as Bolivia's dictator from 1971 to 1978; and Hector Gramajo, Guatemala's
former defense minister who helped oversee years of
brutal repression in
that country and was the guest speaker at SOA's graduation in December 1991.
March 15, 1993, the United Nations Truth Commission released its report on El
Salvador and, Bourgeois said, "about 75 percent of the officers cited in
the most serious massacres, including the killing of six Jesuit priests, the assassination
of Archbishop Oscar Romero, and the rape and murder of four U.S. nuns, were SOA
Bay Guardian calls to SOA were not returned.
The coup and resulting embargo may have left thousands of Haitians
dead and created terrible hardship for many thousands more, but it's apparently
been quite profitable for the drug traffickers.
According to a Feb. 10,
1993, memo from one of Conyers' congressional staffers, a copy of which was obtained
by the Bay Guardian, "the wholesale value of Haiti's drug industry on the
U.S. market is now equal to $1 billion a year, which equals the entire revenue
of Haiti's population of six million.
"Haiti has become the second
most important transshipment point, after the Bahamas, for cocaine shipments from
Colombia to the U.S.," the memo states.
The DEA's "Drug Trafficking
in Haiti" document also says that Haiti is believed to be a main center for
laundering of drug money.
One of Elie's key tasks was to have been overseeing
the drug interdiction efforts, and he had developed an extensive program that
included close cooperation with U.S. agencies. But the program was barely off
the ground when the coup drove him into hiding in Haiti-and five months later,
into the United States. (He has since fled the U.S., fearing for his life, and
called the Bay Guardian from an undisclosed location because he was told there
is a $750,000 contract on his head. Three pro-Aristide radio broadcasters have
been murdered in Florida.)
"While I was in hiding," he said, "I
monitored Michel Francois over the airwaves directing the landing of a [drug smuggling]
plane right in the middle of Port-au-Prince. I immediately notified the U.S. embassy
in Port-au-Prince. I was in touch with the CIA main agent there at the time, and
I gave him the time and date of that landing.
"I don't know if he did
anything with it. Since the coup, despite our repeated attempts to continue this
collaboration with the U.S. as the legitimate government of Haiti, we were met
Elie's account is supported by the memo to Conyers,
which stated that after the coup, "all those jailed for drug-trafficking
have been released and...Michel Francois has personally supervised the landing
of planes carrying drugs and weapons."
And a September 1992 State Department
report titled "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report: Mid-Year
Update" noted that "although President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was planning
new policies and institutions to combat narcotics trafficking, his ouster...crippled
narcotics control efforts in Haiti."
Meanwhile, observers say, the
violence continues-targeted largely at the popular organizations that helped bring
Aristide to power. As part of the reign of terror, death lists are being posted
in small Haitian villages, Liam Mahoney, an independent human rights monitor in
Haiti, told the Bay Guardian by phone on Nov. 3.
The military regime so
far has ignored the Governor's Island accords that on Oct. 30 called for Aristide's
return to power, leading some to speculate that the junta wants to completely
destroy Aristide's power base before they allow him to return-if they allow him
to return at all.
"If something is not done soon, there will be no
Aristide supporters left," said Rep. Owens. "They will all be destroyed."
Bernstein is coproducer of KPFA's Flashpoints and an associate editor at Pacific
News Service. Additional reporting by Greg Saatkamp and Julie Light.