The top two directors of Colombia's secret police were forced out this week as the government investigated allegations that the agency was mounting a money-making operation to sell intelligence and surveillance equipment to right-wing death squads.
The scandal at the agency, the Administrative Department of Security, comes as human rights groups and some legislators have exposed heightened paramilitary activity, including infiltrations of Congress and the attorney general's office. The paramilitaries also continue trafficking in cocaine, despite disarmament talks that underpin President Álvaro Uribe's effort to pacify Colombia with billions in American aid.
The 7,100-member intelligence agency has long been dogged by allegations that its agents have worked with paramilitaries of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, an illegal antiguerrilla organization that the State Department has branded a terrorist group. But the latest scandal has been especially explosive, coming amid international criticism that the government has been overly generous with paramilitaries who disarm by treating them leniently in prosecutions.
The above is from Juan Forero's "Two Top Directors Leave Colombia's Secret Police as Scandal Mounts" in this morning's New York Times. Francisco e-mailed to note that since this is Forero's first time addressing this scandal and should be filed under "things the littlest Judy Miller forgot to tell you."
I think pretty much everything Forero writes (other than his own name) could be filed under "things the littlest Judy Miller forgot to tell you." That includes his article earlier this week where he wrote:
New Tribes, made up of nearly 300 missionaries and their children, works with 12 Indian tribes in southern Venezuela, focusing on Bible translations and literacy training, not collecting information for the C.I.A., said Nita Zelenak, a spokeswoman for the church at its headquarters in Sanford, Fla. Speaking by phone, she said its missionaries remained in Venezuela awaiting a final expulsion order.
"Our goal has been to clarify what we really are doing in Venezuela, so that he understands that we are only there to help Venezuelan citizens," Ms. Zelenak said of Mr. Chavez.
New Tribes Ministries has a history in the area, a public history, a well known one to poli sci people. Again, I heard of them in my college days. But the littlest Judy Miller, writing about them by choice (there was no reason, other than propaganda, to mention them this week in any manner other than in passing since they weren't the focus of Forero's latest bit of stenography), still can't inform readers of the allegations, public allegations made by public officials for over fifty years now, so you have to wonder why that is? And you have to wonder why the littlest Judy Miller continues to get a pass from most media critics. Narco News and FAIR, among others, have not given him a pass. But I'm actually referring to all the people who suddenly figured out Miller's reporting was wrong. The same ones who take a pass on Matthew Cooper but harp over and over on Miller to the point that the net looks like cable news with it's one topic focus. Instead of a missing or dead blond, we're focused on Miller only. It's as though Grace and Greta have taken over the internet. The culture that allowed Miller's writings to go into print exists still and there are a lot of other people practicing the same sort of "reporting."
Maybe Gerth, et al don't result in outrage because there's a feeling of "no one died" but people die in the area Forero covers every day and a strong argument could be made that his "reporting" allows the killing to continue. Add in the Times long history of cover ups in this area and maybe some of the nonstop chatter on Miller should lead to a serious look at Forero's "reporting" or another's but instead it's monologue time with the best bits being recycled over and over.
Kat e-mails to note Stuart Hodkinson's "Bono and Geldoff: 'We Saved Africa!'" (CounterPunch):
Remember Make Poverty History, anyone? It seems a long time ago that some 200,000 people flocked to Edinburgh to rally G8 leaders as part of an unprecedented campaign for global justice. That same day, July 2, Bob Geldof organised free music concerts in nine countries under the Live8 banner.
The demands were straightforward and reasonable: rich countries should boost aid in line with their unmet 35-year-old promises; cancel the debts of the 62 poorest countries; set dates for the abolition of subsidies and other protectionist support to Western farmers, and stop forcing liberalization and privatization on poor countries, whether in trade negotiations or as conditions of aid and debt deals.
Six days later, in the shadow of the July 7 bombs that ripped through central London, the Gleneagles summit ended to rock-star cheers. "This has been the most important summit there ever has been for Africa," Bob Geldof said at the post-summit press conference. "There are no equivocations. Africa and the poor of that continent have got more from the last three days than they have ever got at any previous summit...
"On aid, 10 out of 10. On debt, eight out of 10. On trade ... it is quite clear that this summit, uniquely, decided that enforced liberalisation must no longer take place," he said, before finishing with a flourish. "That is a serious, excellent result on trade."
Bono, his voice cracking with emotion, concurred. "We are talking about $25bn of new money.... The world spoke and the politicians listened."
Journalists and campaigners broke into spontaneous applause; the next day's media coverage led with Geldof's "mission accomplished" verdict. But as the millions who signed up to Make Poverty History (MPH) and Live8 rejoiced, inside the upper echelons of MPH all hell was breaking loose. "They've shafted us," a press officer from a British development organization screamed down the phone.
Indeed they had. Moments earlier, Kumi Naidoo, the veteran South African anti-apartheid campaigner and current chair of MPH's international umbrella, the Global Call to Action against Poverty (G-Cap), had delivered the coalition's official response. "The people have roared but the G8 has whispered. The promise to deliver [more aid] by 2010 is like waiting five years before responding to the tsunami."
[. . .]
Geldof and Bono's endorsement of the G8 deal came as a blow to many within Make Poverty History, ensuring that the issues of Africa, poverty and development disappeared from the spotlight within days of the summit's end. Four months on, MPH's silence is deafening.
Kat: At The Third Estate Sunday Review, I talk about Bono in a roundup or a news review and they end up getting cry baby e-mails. "Bono did more good than bad!" whined one. I asked C.I. if e-mails came in on this here and they don't. I'm going to guess that's because this issue was addressed at length here before Bono and his ego stalked the Live 8 concert stage and continued to pop up after. I'd really appreciate it if community members would talk about the reality of those concerts to their friends because Jim passed on some of the most recent e-mails and there are a lot of people who have apparently not heard one word other than the nonsense praise from rags like the New York Times.
Kat's working on a review of Stevie Wonder's CD (for those who've e-mailed asking when it will be done, she hopes to have it ready to go up here Monday morning) and as such is just holding off from posting at her site until she has it completed. She called last night to ask if it was okay to weigh in on something here and of course it is, she's a member and she can highlight anything she wants here. And let's give credit to our European community members because they highlighted the issue of the concerts being nothing more than a vanity trip so the community has been informed on what the concerts did and what they didn't do.
Keesha e-mails to note Eleanor Smeal's "On the Withdrawal of Harriet Miers" (The Smeal Report, Ms.):
The withdrawal of Harriet Miers illustrates how much is at stake in the appointment and confirmation of the Supreme Court Justice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, the decisive vote on issues of grave concern to American people, especially women.
The public, on all sides of the political spectrum, was demanding more information on her judicial philosophy and her performance within the White House. The days of the blank slate strategy for stacking the Supreme Court are over.
Sabina e-mails to note Seth's "A Week of Milestones" (Seth in the City):
Now the Democrats need to wake up and realize that continuing to support this war will not do them any good. With so many now opposed to the war, I really wonder what it's going to take to wake them up to this reality. What are they waiting for, a time when the polls show 100% are against it?It's yet another failure of the Democratic party to LEAD on anything. That's largely why we ended up in this mess in the first place, but they don't seem to have learned any lessons.
Which is why I was loudly cheering Cindy Sheehan this week when she called on us all to oppose Hillary Clinton in 2008 if she continues to support the war. That needs to be our stance with all candidates for high office, both next year in the Mid Term elections and in 2008. If they're not in support of bringing our troops home now, they don't get our votes. It's as simple as that.
John Kerry, meanwhile, is finally starting to get the idea, as he called for the withdrawl of 20,000 troops in December after Iraqi elections. Bit late, John, and way too short of the necessary total withdrawl. But at least you're starting down the right path, at long last.
It's sad that a Senator calling for a reduction is such a big new story, though. We should be hearing multiple Senators (and Members of the House, and Governors, and State officials), not just a precious few, joining in the chorus of the American people calling for immediate and total withdrawl. We need to make these people realize that they serve at our pleasure and we'll be holding them accountable on election day.
We'll also note Betty's latest, "Thomas Friedman, Living on the Five Finger Discount" (Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man):
Thomas Friedman is on a China kick. It all started when the new buffet opened up down the street. Thomas Friedman is nothing if not an all you can eat type of man, as any photo of him will attest.
I knew something was up last Thursday when he came strolling into the kitchen in sweat pants and a t-shirt that said "Baby Likes" on it. For Thomas Friedman, it was practically formal wear.
Rare is the day he squeezes into anything other than his silk shorty robe.
Leaping to my feet, I was scrubbing the kitchen floor, I immediately asked who died and what funeral we needed to attend. Thomas Friedman assured me that other than Bill Keller being "brain dead" all was right in the world, that a new establishment had opened up down the street and to grab my purse because we were going.
The hostess' name was Liang though Thomas Friedman insists upon calling her "Soon-Yi" repeatedly. He also insists upon telling the same lame joke each time we go, "Soon-Yi, in America we call this 'Chinese food' but in your country it would just be 'food!'" Between that, his Soon-Yi comments, and just for being Thomas Friedman, Tuesday afternoon, Liang replied, "You know in China you would be called 'American bore' but in this country you are just a 'bore.'"
Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman continues the Un-Embed the Media tour:
* Amy Goodman in Cortland, NY: Wed, Nov 2
*TIME: 6 PM
SUNY College at Cortland
Event is free and open to the public
* Amy Goodman in Stonybrook, NY:
Thur, Nov 3 *TIME: 4 PM
7th Annual George Goodman Symposium
Provost Lecture by Phil Donahue and Michael Ratner
Stony Brook University
Student Activities Center Auditorium
Amy Goodman will attend, but will not be speaking
For more information, visit http://www.stonybrook.edu/sb/provlec
* Amy Goodman in Keene, NH:
Fri, Nov 4
*TIME: 7 PM
World Affairs Symposium on Globalization
Keene State University
Event is free and open to the public
For more information, visit www.keene.edu
* Amy Goodman in San Francisco, CA:
Sat, Nov 5
San Francisco Concourse
8th & Brannan St
San Francisco, CA 94123
Day Pass: $11 each ($15 at the door) good for either Sat or Sun
For more information, visit http://greenfestivals.com
* Amy Goodman in Redding, CA:
Sat, Nov 5
*TIME: 7:30 PM
Tickets:$10 reserved seating in advance,
$15 at the door
Available for sale at:
Bogbean Books & Music1740 California Street
and Graphic Emporium1965 Pine St.
$50--includes admission to event and Goodman's book, The Exception to the Rulers.
For more information, call (530) 245-3488, or visit www.peaceredding.org/TicketsforAmyGoodmanevent.htm
The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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thomas friedman is a great man