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AFA 29–34: The Iran-Contragate Scandal

Pt. 1: The Drug Con­nec­tion (AFA 29)
Part 1a
41:28 | Part 1b 41:46 | Part 1c 37:20 | Part 1d 36:57 | Part 1e 41:40
(Orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast June 14, 1987)

Focus­es on the role of drug prof­its and the cocaine trade in financ­ing the Con­tra sup­port effort. In addi­tion to exam­in­ing the Chris­tic Insti­tute’s affi­davit, the dis­cus­sion focus­es on the “Piz­za Con­nec­tion” and its ties to the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal.

Pt. 2: Ter­ror In Latin Amer­i­ca (AFA 30)
Part 2a
44:14 | Part 2b 42:00 | Part 2c 44:35 | Part 2d 42:24 | Part 2e 15:04
(Orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast June 28, 1987)

Extends dis­cus­sion of the Ter­pil-Wil­son oper­a­tion cov­ered in AFA num­ber 4 to events in Cen­tral Amer­i­ca. The pro­gram presents evi­dence of Cen­tral Amer­i­can provo­ca­tions planned by Ter­pil & Wilson’s asso­ciates and the group’s cen­tral posi­tion in the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal.

Pt. 3.1: The Desta­bi­liza­tion Of Pres­i­dent Carter (AFA 31‑A)
Part 3a
47:09 | Part 3b 41:35 | Part 3c 41:02 | Part 3d 42:54 | Part 3e 14:07
(Orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast August 30, 1987)

Exam­ines how indi­vid­u­als dis­cussed in AFA pro­gram num­bers 4 and 30 coop­er­at­ed in a num­ber of oper­a­tions aimed at desta­bi­liz­ing the pres­i­den­cy of Jim­my Carter by manip­u­lat­ing the Iran­ian hostage cri­sis of 1979 — 80. The broad­cast cen­ters on the role of Amer­i­can polit­i­cal fig­ures in effect­ing that cri­sis, the fail­ure of the “Desert One” hostage res­cue attempt of April 1980 and the appar­ent “Octo­ber Sur­prise” deal to delay the release of the hostages and assure Carter’s reelec­tion defeat.

Pt. 3.2: An Inter­view with Farah Man­soor (AFA 31–2)
(Orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast 1987; 450 min­utes)

This series of inter­views cov­ers the land­mark research of Farah Man­soor, a mem­ber of the Iran­ian resis­tance whose his­toric research on the rise of the Khome­i­ni regime doc­u­ments the deci­sive role of the Unit­ed States in devel­op­ing Islam­ic fun­da­men­tal­ist forces in that coun­try as the anti-com­mu­nist suc­ces­sors to the Shah’s gov­ern­ment. Farah has doc­u­ment­ed that U.S. Ambas­sador to Iran, Richard Helms, learned that the Shah had can­cer in 1974. For­mer Direc­tor of Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Helms prompt­ly informed the CIA and Depart­ment of State with the result that, by 1976, George Bush’s CIA was active­ly sup­port­ing and groom­ing the Khome­i­ni forces. The sub­se­quent takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, the with­hold­ing of the U.S. hostages until after Pres­i­dent Carter’s defeat was assured, the Khome­i­ni gov­ern­ment itself and the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal prop­er were all out­growths of this pro­found and long-stand­ing rela­tion­ship. It should be not­ed that parts of this rela­tion­ship have been mis­un­der­stood as what has become known as “the Octo­ber Sur­prise.” Although there was, mas­sive col­lu­sion between the Rea­gan-Bush cam­paign and the Khome­i­ni forces dur­ing the 1980 elec­tion cam­paign, there was no “deal” cut dur­ing the cam­paign. Rather, the “deal” was part of a covert oper­a­tion begun years before and the col­lu­sion dur­ing the cam­paign was an out­growth of it. These inter­views are also part of AFA pro­gram num­ber 38 (Part 5).

Pt. 4: Stag­ing the Fourth Reich (AFA 32)
Part 4a
44:00 | Part 4b 40:54 | Part 4c 42:01 | Part 4d 35:54 | Part 4e 29:16
(Orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast Sep­tem­ber 13, 1987)

Sets forth evi­dence that the U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment may have been plan­ning a fas­cist coup in response to a ter­ror­ist inci­dent or provo­ca­tion. The pro­gram deals pri­mar­i­ly with the “Rex 84” mar­tial-law con­tin­gency plan and its imple­men­ta­tion in response to a ter­ror­ist “inci­dent”. Rex ’84 appears to stem from a con­tin­gency plan to intern black Amer­i­cans in con­cen­tra­tion camps.

Pt. 5: The Cov­er-up, Part A (AFA 33)
Part 5a
45:26 | Part 5b 40:14 | Part 5c 44:49 | Part 5d 37:06 | Part 5e 14:10
(Orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast Octo­ber, 1987)

Sets forth evi­dence that the U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment may have been plan­ning a fas­cist coup in response to a ter­ror­ist provo­ca­tion. The pro­gram deals pri­mar­i­ly with the “Rex 84” mar­tial-law con­tin­gency plan and its imple­men­ta­tion in response to a ter­ror­ist “inci­dent”. Rex ’84 appears to stem from a con­tin­gency plan to intern black Amer­i­cans in con­cen­tra­tion camps.

Pt. 6: The Cov­er-up, Part B (AFA 34)
Part 6a
44:34 | Part 6b 38:40 | Part 6c 45:13 | Part 6d 39:49
Part 6e 8:10 | Part 6f 43:28 | Part 6g 40:07 | Part 6h 13:15
Part 6i 9:59 | Part 6j 28:24 | Part 6k 25:28 | Part 6l 17:21
Part 6m 6:24 | Part 6n 29:23
(Orig­i­nal­ly broad­cast Decem­ber 13, 1987)

Explores con­nec­tions between Iran-Con­tra­gate “inves­ti­ga­tors” and the peo­ple and insti­tu­tions they were sup­posed to exam­ine. Vital sup­ple­men­tary infor­ma­tion con­nects the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal with the 1981 shoot­ing of the Pope and events described in AFA pro­gram num­bers 18 — 21. Includes numer­ous adden­da.

Discussion

11 comments for “AFA 29–34: The Iran-Contragate Scandal”

  1. Dave;
    While lis­ten­ing to AFA #34 (part 6c I believe) you men­tion infor­ma­tion about the killing of Judge Wood and the Cha­gra broth­ers. Specif­i­cal­ly, that Jim­my Cha­gra had ties to the Nugen-Hand Bank. The show you ref­ered to is RFA 26 and part of RFA 32, which I can not find in the archives. Can you direct me to the cor­rect pro­gram?
    Also curi­ous if you were aware that Jer­ry Wil­son, inven­tor of the Soloflex exer­cise machine was one of the Cha­gra drug pilots, detailed in Wilson’s biog­ra­phy:

    http://www.viva-la-revolucion.org/hello-world/

    I would like to find that archive on Woods, Har­rel­son and the Cha­gra’s to cross-ref­er­ence with oth­er info I have,

    Thanks,

    Posted by Swamp | January 5, 2013, 11:39 am
  2. @swamp–

    The RFA shows have been renamed “AFA.”
    The shows you are inter­est­ed in are AFA #26 and AFA #32.

    They’re there.

    Best,

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | January 5, 2013, 7:43 pm
  3. Look who’s com­ment­ing on the Bergdahl pris­on­er swap:

    TPM Livewire
    Oliv­er North Of All Peo­ple Blasts Oba­ma For Financ­ing Ter­ror­ist Orgs In Bergdahl Swap

    Tom Kludt – June 4, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT

    Nat­u­ral­ly, Lt. Col. Oliv­er North has plen­ty to say about the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

    ...

    Speak­ing to for­mer Rep. J.D. Hay­worth (R‑AZ) on his News­max pro­gram, North demand­ed to know if a ran­som was paid to ter­ror­ists in order to exe­cute the swap.

    “Was there a ran­som paid?” North said. “Did the gov­ern­ment of the Unit­ed States, either direct­ly or indi­rect­ly, finance a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion?”

    North went even fur­ther in an inter­view with News­max host Steve Malzberg..

    He strong­ly dis­put­ed the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Bergdahl as a “pris­on­er of war,” assert­ing that he was in fact a “hostage” of the Haqqani ter­ror­ist net­work, which is allied with the Tal­iban.

    More­over, North esti­mat­ed that the ran­som paid for Bergdahl must have been in the range of $5-$6 mil­lion, giv­en that he had heard it was around $1 mil­lion at some point in the past. North did­n’t pro­vide any evi­dence that a ran­som was paid in con­junc­tion with Bergdahl’s release.

    “Some­one paid a ran­som,” North said. “Whether the Qataries paid it, or some big oil sheik, or some­body used our petrodol­lars, but there was a ran­som paid in cash for each one of them, my guess some­where in the round num­bers of $5 or 6 mil­lion to get Bergdahl freed. I know that the offer that was on the table before was close to a mil­lion.”

    North had more to say on Tues­day night, join­ing his pal Sean Han­ni­ty on Fox News to sug­gest that Oba­ma might believe “uni­lat­er­al sur­ren­der is the way to end the war.” He once again demand­ed to know whether a ran­som was paid to the Haqqa­nis.

    “And if a ran­som was paid, either at our behest or with Amer­i­can tax dol­lars, it means this gov­ern­ment is caus­ing to be fund­ed a crim­i­nal enter­prise that kills Amer­i­cans, the Haqqa­nis,” North said.

    He also expressed con­cern that “five Tal­iban king­pins” were released from Guan­tanamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl and blast­ed the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion for skirt­ing the law that required him to noti­fy Con­gress with­in 30 days of such a release.

    North then tried to offer an his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive, remind­ing Han­ni­ty that he knows “a lot about hostage nego­ti­a­tions.” To that end, he said it’s wrong to sug­gest the Unit­ed States nev­er nego­ti­ates with the ene­my.

    “That’s the way it works,” North said. “The real­i­ty is, they nev­er talk about it. Ronald Rea­gan did­n’t and this guy should­n’t have done it. It’s a dis­as­ter the way this has all come out.”

    In fact, North’s own his­to­ry makes these com­ments pret­ty rich. It was North who, along with oth­er Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials, helped engi­neer the ille­gal sale of arms to Iran in an effort to secure the release of Amer­i­can hostages and then ille­gal­ly used the pro­ceeds to finance rebels in Nicaragua. North and oth­ers were indict­ed on mul­ti­ple charges in 1988, but his con­vic­tion was ulti­mate­ly appealed and over­turned.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 4, 2014, 9:17 am
  4. Thom Hart­mann has a new piece that rais­es a very intrigu­ing pos­si­ble fac­tor in how the nuclear deal with Iran will be received in the US: Could a lift­ing of sanc­tions and the fur­ther open­ing of Iran to the world com­mu­ni­ty also result in an open­ing up of his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments and evi­dence regard­ing cer­tain sen­si­tive his­tor­i­cal top­ics that some would rather keep under wraps? A cer­tain par­ty with a cer­tain ‘saint’ is prob­a­bly won­der­ing about all that right about now:

    Alter­Net
    Don’t Count Out the GOP from Try­ing to Sink Oba­ma’s His­toric Iran Deal: They’ve Done It Before
    Repub­li­can attempts to sab­o­tage a Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­t’s deal with Iran are noth­ing new.

    By Thom Hart­mann
    July 15, 2015

    Ronald Rea­gan – or at least his cam­paign – com­mit­ted trea­son to become pres­i­dent, and nor­mal­iz­ing rela­tions with Iran may expose the whole thing.

    As news of a US-Iran­ian nuclear deal spread like wild­fire this week, the main­stream media began to ask its usu­al set of ques­tions. Is the deal for real? Can we trust the Ira­ni­ans? And the Repub­li­cans in Con­gress are going total­ly nuts.

    Repub­li­can attempts to sab­o­tage a Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­t’s deal with Iran are noth­ing new, how­ev­er. Just ask Jim­my Carter.

    In the ear­ly fall of 1980, Carter thought he had reached a deal with new­ly elect­ed Iran­ian Pres­i­dent Abdol­has­san Bani-Sadr over the release of the 52 hostages held by rad­i­cal stu­dents at the Amer­i­can Embassy in Tehran. Pres­i­dent Bani-Sadr was a mod­er­ate, and as he explained in an edi­to­r­i­al in the Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor pub­lished on March 5, 2013, he had suc­cess­ful­ly run for pres­i­dent of Iran on the pop­u­lar posi­tion of releas­ing the hostages:

    “I open­ly opposed the hostage-tak­ing through­out the elec­tion cam­paign.... I won the elec­tion with over 76 per­cent of the vote.... Oth­er can­di­dates also were open­ly against hostage-tak­ing, and over­all, 96 per­cent of votes in that elec­tion were giv­en to can­di­dates who were against it [hostage-tak­ing].”

    Pres­i­dent Carter was con­fi­dent that with Bani-Sadr’s help, he could end the embar­rass­ing hostage cri­sis that had been a thorn in his polit­i­cal side ever since it began in Novem­ber 1979. But Carter under­es­ti­mat­ed the lengths his oppo­nent in the 1980 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Cal­i­for­nia gov­er­nor Ronald Rea­gan, would go to win the pres­i­den­cy.

    Behind Carter’s back, the Rea­gan cam­paign had pre­vi­ous­ly worked out a deal with the leader of Iran’s rad­i­cal fac­tion, Supreme Leader Aya­tol­lah Khome­i­ni, to keep the hostages in cap­tiv­i­ty until after the 1980 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in order to humil­i­ate Carter and hand the elec­tion to Rea­gan. This was noth­ing short of trea­son.

    As Pres­i­dent Bani-Sadr wrote for the Mon­i­tor, “I was deposed in June 1981 as a result of a coup against me. After arriv­ing in France, I told a BBC reporter that I had left Iran to expose the sym­bi­ot­ic rela­tion­ship between Khome­in­ism and Rea­gan­ism. Aya­tol­lah Khome­i­ni and Ronald Rea­gan had orga­nized a clan­des­tine nego­ti­a­tion, lat­er known as the ‘Octo­ber Sur­prise,’ which pre­vent­ed the attempts by myself and then-US Pres­i­dent Jim­my Carter to free the hostages before the 1980 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion took place.”

    The Rea­gan cam­paign’s secret nego­ti­a­tions with Khome­i­ni — the so-called “Octo­ber Sur­prise” — were suc­cess­ful in sab­o­tag­ing Carter and Bani-Sadr’s attempts to free the hostages. And as Pres­i­dent Bani-Sadr told the Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor, “The fact that they were not released tipped the results of the [1980] elec­tion in Rea­gan’s favor.”

    Iran released the hostages on Jan. 20, 1981, at the exact moment Ronald Rea­gan was sworn into office, by way of say­ing, “We kept up our part of the deal; now we expect you to start ship­ping us those weapons you promised.”

    That Octo­ber Sur­prise embold­ened the rad­i­cal forces inside Iran. A polit­i­cal­ly weak­ened Bani-Sadr was over­thrown in June 1981 and replaced with Mohammed Ali Rajai, a favorite of Khome­ini’s.

    The Octo­ber Sur­prise also led to the deaths of thou­sands of inno­cent peo­ple around the world, and in Cen­tral Amer­i­ca in par­tic­u­lar. Rea­gan took mon­ey from the Ira­ni­ans and used that mon­ey to desta­bi­lize Nicaragua, Hon­duras and El Sal­vador in ways that still haunt the region. And he set the Supreme Court (by appoint­ing Scalia and two oth­er right-wingers) and the nation on a course that would see the destruc­tion of much of the New Deal and the evis­cer­a­tion of America’s mid­dle class.

    But those are just the most obvi­ous results of the Octo­ber Sur­prise. If Carter were able to free the hostages like he and Bani-Sadr had planned, Carter would have won re-elec­tion. After all, he was lead­ing in most polls in the months lead­ing up to the elec­tion, and most Amer­i­cans saw Rea­gan as a right-wing rad­i­cal shill for the bil­lion­aire class (his­to­ry proved them right).

    So, now that the doors of Tehran may be thrown open to the press, Repub­li­can lead­er­ship is fac­ing a huge cri­sis: Saint Ron­nie could be exposed. If for­mer Iran­ian pres­i­dent Bani-Sadr is telling the truth – and all the evi­dence (includ­ing the fact that Rea­gan was sell­ing weapons to Iran in vio­la­tion of US law) points to his trea­son — then there’s cer­tain­ly evi­dence of it float­ing around in Tehran. If that evi­dence sur­faces, it could make for con­sid­er­able dis­com­fort on the Repub­li­can side of the aisle.

    Of course, this is not the first time a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date com­mit­ted trea­son to gain the White House. Con­sid­er the case of Richard Nixon.

    ...

    You also have to won­der what the actu­al impact would be on Saint Ron­nie’s lega­cy even if indis­putable evi­dence did emerge of an arms-for-not-releas­ing-hostages-until-Ron­nie-is-in-the-White-House scheme. Would it be the polit­i­cal equiv­a­lent of explod­ing a nuclear weapon on the myth of Rea­gan? It cer­tain­ly would be explo­sive.

    But let’s also keep in mind that even if future expo­sure does take place and it is the polit­i­cal equiv­a­lent of a nuclear weapon, it had bet­ter be a nuclear bunker buster if it’s going to do any real dam­age to that unre­al­i­ty-com­plex.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 15, 2015, 12:14 pm
  5. Thanks for all your great research. I’ve been lis­ten­ing to these invalu­able archives for months. I’m about 75% done. I’m a fel­low resarcher but I’ve only been going 3 years, not thir­ty-six plus. Cur­rent­ly I’m writ­ing about Iran Con­tra, which of course turned into a night­mare, as there is so much to cov­er. Obvi­ous­ly, many of your archive shows–WACL Who Shot the Pope, CIA mil­i­tary and Drugs, and this one were a huge help in mak­ing my task even more com­pli­cat­ed :) I’ll be sure to give you a plug. For your lis­ten­ers let me rec­om­mend Peter Dale Scot­t’s “Iran Con­tra Con­nec­tion”, “Road to 911”, and “Amer­i­can War Machine,” as well as Sibel Edmonds’ Glad­io Inter­views, to see how Iran Con­tra gave birth to 911.

    Posted by Hugo Turner | May 8, 2016, 11:46 am
  6. Sott repub­lished my Iran/Contra arti­cle. I gave you a nice plug in the sources sec­tion as the worlds fore­most anti-fas­cist researcher with links to 3 of your archives shows
    https://www.sott.net/article/319254-Beyond-the-Iran-Contra-Affair-Part-1-The-secret-team?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
    The Orig­i­nal is at
    http://anti-imperialist‑u.blogspot.com/2016/05/irancontra-pt-1-secret-team.html
    Also found some fun sources like the com­ic “brought to light” and the trad­ing cards which, despite the medi­ums cho­sen were quite edu­ca­tion­al at least for review pur­pos­es. Plus the “Cov­er-Up” doc­u­men­tary, and of course Peter Dale Scott and Russ Bak­er and oth­er authors. Your “Fam­i­ly of Secrets” inter­views with Russ Bak­er were great for expos­ing Bush’s intel con­nec­tions.

    Posted by Hugo Turner | May 30, 2016, 3:45 pm
  7. Final­ly Fin­ished my Iran Con­tra part 2
    http://anti-imperialist‑u.blogspot.com/2016/06/irancontra-pt-2-world-war‑3.html
    Where I dis­cuss the many covert wars of the 80’s. I drew on the Anti-Fas­cist archives for a brief his­to­ry of fas­cist death squads from the black hun­dreds, to the Frei corps, to SS, to CIA and also men­tioned the great Sea­graves inter­views. Plus my thoughts on the destruc­tion of USSR. The arti­cle is over but the research on Iran/Contra nev­er ends. Just start­ed lis­ten­ing to your recent update on Fara Man­soor and the deep Octo­ber sur­prise.

    Posted by Hugo Turner | June 7, 2016, 11:32 am
  8. What are the chances this Hob­by Lob­by arti­fact smug­gling case is part of some sort of Con­tra-style oper­a­tion where mon­ey and weapons are going to extrem­ist forces in the Mid­dle East?

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/hobby-lobby-smuggled-thousands-of-ancient-artifacts-out-of-iraq/532743/

    Posted by Sampson | July 7, 2017, 6:42 am
  9. Thanks. Fan­tas­tic pro­grams. Been lis­ten­ing to Dave since the mid-1980’s. Haven’t come across these archives yet. I’m guess­ing one of the goals of REX 84 — or what­ev­er for­mat name it has now — is to imple­ment Earl Turn­er’s “Day of the Rope.” We’re wit­ness­ing a low inten­si­ty ver­sion of that now with almost 500 mur­dered by police so far in 2017. Have you seen the 2006 declas­si­fied FBI intel­li­gence assess­ment on white suprema­cist infil­tra­tion of law enforce­ment? It’s avail­able online.

    Posted by Emily DICKERSON | July 7, 2017, 7:59 pm
  10. There’s also a very intense, recent Dal­las Morn­ing News series on the Texas Aryan Broth­er­hood. Think it was pub­lished in May or ear­ly June. Absolute­ly bru­tal stuff.

    Posted by Emily DICKERSON | July 7, 2017, 8:04 pm
  11. Here’s a rather dis­turb­ing report that’s extra dis­turb­ing in the con­text of the assas­si­na­tion attempt against Venezue­lan pres­i­dent Nicolás Maduro via explo­sive-laden drones last month, which Maduro ini­tial­ly blamed on Colom­bia and the US but fol­lowed up with the arrest of a num­ber of Venezue­lan mil­i­tary offi­cer who were charged with tak­ing part in the assas­si­na­tion attempt: Accord­ing to inter­views with 11 cur­rent and for­mer US offi­cials and a for­mer Venezue­lan com­man­der, the US gov­ern­ment held sev­er­al meet­ings with a group of rebel offi­cers last year and ear­li­er this year. The offi­cers were inter­est­ed in US assis­tance on exe­cut­ing a coup.

    The offi­cers did­n’t have any par­tic­u­lar plans dur­ing the first meet­ing in the fall of 2017 and US offi­cial got the sense that they were hop­ing the US would pro­vide guid­ance. The Venezue­lan offi­cer asserts that the the offi­cers nev­er asked for a US mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion. The offi­cer says they were con­sid­er­ing a plot last sum­mer, then anoth­er in March of this year, but that plan got leaked. Then they were look­ing at the May 20 elec­tions this year, but that plot also leaked out.

    The offi­cer claims that the one thing they want­ed from the US was a way to com­mu­ni­cate secure­ly. Dur­ing their sec­ond meet­ing the offi­cers report­ed­ly specif­i­cal­ly request­ed encrypt­ed radios that they could use to com­mu­ni­cate secure­ly as they devel­oped a plan to install a tran­si­tion­al gov­ern­ment.

    We are told that, in the end the US nev­er pro­vid­ed any assis­tance to the plot­ters. So about a month after there’s a failed drone assas­si­na­tion attempt that Maduro blamed on Colom­bia and the US, we have a report from 11 cur­rent and for­mer US offi­cials and one of these coup plot­ters talk­ing to the world about how they dis­cussed a coup but nev­er actu­al­ly fol­lowed through on the attempts:

    The New York Times

    Trump Admin­is­tra­tion Dis­cussed Coup Plans With Rebel Venezue­lan Offi­cers

    By Ernesto Lon­doño and Nicholas Casey
    Sept. 8, 2018

    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion held secret meet­ings with rebel­lious mil­i­tary offi­cers from Venezuela over the last year to dis­cuss their plans to over­throw Pres­i­dent Nicolás Maduro, accord­ing to Amer­i­can offi­cials and a for­mer Venezue­lan mil­i­tary com­man­der who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the talks.

    Estab­lish­ing a clan­des­tine chan­nel with coup plot­ters in Venezuela was a big gam­ble for Wash­ing­ton, giv­en its long his­to­ry of covert inter­ven­tion across Latin Amer­i­ca. Many in the region still deeply resent the Unit­ed States for back­ing pre­vi­ous rebel­lions, coups and plots in coun­tries like Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil and Chile, and for turn­ing a blind eye to the abus­es mil­i­tary regimes com­mit­ted dur­ing the Cold War.

    The White House, which declined to answer detailed ques­tions about the talks, said in a state­ment that it was impor­tant to engage in “dia­logue with all Venezue­lans who demon­strate a desire for democ­ra­cy” in order to “bring pos­i­tive change to a coun­try that has suf­fered so much under Maduro.”

    But one of the Venezue­lan mil­i­tary com­man­ders involved in the secret talks was hard­ly an ide­al fig­ure to help restore democ­ra­cy: He is on the Amer­i­can government’s own sanc­tions list of cor­rupt offi­cials in Venezuela.

    He and oth­er mem­bers of the Venezue­lan secu­ri­ty appa­ra­tus have been accused by Wash­ing­ton of a wide range of seri­ous crimes, includ­ing tor­tur­ing crit­ics, jail­ing hun­dreds of polit­i­cal pris­on­ers, wound­ing thou­sands of civil­ians, traf­fick­ing drugs and col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Armed Forces of Colom­bia, or FARC, which is con­sid­ered a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion by the Unit­ed States.

    Amer­i­can offi­cials even­tu­al­ly decid­ed not to help the plot­ters, and the coup plans stalled. But the Trump administration’s will­ing­ness to meet sev­er­al times with muti­nous offi­cers intent on top­pling a pres­i­dent in the hemi­sphere could back­fire polit­i­cal­ly.

    Most Latin Amer­i­can lead­ers agree that Venezuela’s pres­i­dent, Mr. Maduro, is an increas­ing­ly author­i­tar­i­an ruler who has effec­tive­ly ruined his country’s econ­o­my, lead­ing to extreme short­ages of food and med­i­cine. The col­lapse has set off an exo­dus of des­per­ate Venezue­lans who are spilling over bor­ders, over­whelm­ing their neigh­bors.

    Even so, Mr. Maduro has long jus­ti­fied his grip on Venezuela by claim­ing that Wash­ing­ton impe­ri­al­ists are active­ly try­ing to depose him, and the secret talks could pro­vide him with ammu­ni­tion to chip away at the region’s near­ly unit­ed stance against him.

    “This is going to land like a bomb” in the region, said Mari Car­men Aponte, who served as the top diplo­mat over­see­ing Latin Amer­i­can affairs in the final months of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion.

    Beyond the coup plot, Mr. Maduro’s gov­ern­ment has already fend­ed off sev­er­al small-scale attacks, includ­ing salvos from a heli­copter last year and explod­ing drones as he gave a speech in August. The attacks have added to the sense that the pres­i­dent is vul­ner­a­ble.

    Venezue­lan mil­i­tary offi­cials sought direct access to the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment dur­ing Barack Obama’s pres­i­den­cy, only to be rebuffed, offi­cials said.

    Then in August of last year, Pres­i­dent Trump declared that the Unit­ed States had a “mil­i­tary option” for Venezuela — a dec­la­ra­tion that drew con­dem­na­tion from Amer­i­can allies in the region but encour­aged rebel­lious Venezue­lan mil­i­tary offi­cers to reach out to Wash­ing­ton once again.

    “It was the com­man­der in chief say­ing this now,” the for­mer Venezue­lan com­man­der on the sanc­tions list said in an inter­view, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty out of fear of reprisals by the Venezue­lan gov­ern­ment. “I’m not going to doubt it when this was the mes­sen­ger.”

    In a series of covert meet­ings abroad, which began last fall and con­tin­ued this year, the mil­i­tary offi­cers told the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment that they rep­re­sent­ed a few hun­dred mem­bers of the armed forces who had soured on Mr. Maduro’s author­i­tar­i­an­ism.

    The offi­cers asked the Unit­ed States to sup­ply them with encrypt­ed radios, cit­ing the need to com­mu­ni­cate secure­ly, as they devel­oped a plan to install a tran­si­tion­al gov­ern­ment to run the coun­try until elec­tions could be held.

    Amer­i­can offi­cials did not pro­vide mate­r­i­al sup­port, and the plans unrav­eled after a recent crack­down that led to the arrest of dozens of the plot­ters.

    Rela­tions between the Unit­ed States and Venezuela have been strained for years. The two have not exchanged ambas­sadors since 2010. After Mr. Trump took office, his admin­is­tra­tion increased sanc­tions against top Venezue­lan offi­cials, includ­ing Mr. Maduro him­self, his vice pres­i­dent and oth­er top offi­cials in the gov­ern­ment.

    The account of the clan­des­tine meet­ings and the pol­i­cy debates pre­ced­ing them is drawn from inter­views with 11 cur­rent and for­mer Amer­i­can offi­cials, as well as the for­mer Venezue­lan com­man­der. He said at least three dis­tinct groups with­in the Venezue­lan mil­i­tary had been plot­ting against the Maduro gov­ern­ment.

    One estab­lished con­tact with the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment by approach­ing the Unit­ed States Embassy in a Euro­pean cap­i­tal. When this was report­ed back to Wash­ing­ton, offi­cials at the White House were intrigued but appre­hen­sive. They wor­ried that the meet­ing request could be a ploy to sur­rep­ti­tious­ly record an Amer­i­can offi­cial appear­ing to con­spire against the Venezue­lan gov­ern­ment, offi­cials said.

    But as the human­i­tar­i­an cri­sis in Venezuela wors­ened last year, Amer­i­can offi­cials felt that hav­ing a clear­er pic­ture of the plans and the men who aspired to oust Mr. Maduro was worth the risk.

    “After a lot of dis­cus­sion, we agreed we should lis­ten to what they had to say,” said a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial who was not autho­rized to speak about the secret talks.

    The admin­is­tra­tion ini­tial­ly con­sid­ered dis­patch­ing Juan Cruz, a vet­er­an Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency offi­cial who recent­ly stepped down as the White House’s top Latin Amer­i­ca pol­i­cy­mak­er. But White House lawyers said it would be more pru­dent to send a career diplo­mat instead.

    The Amer­i­can envoy was instruct­ed to attend the meet­ings “pure­ly on lis­ten­ing mode,” and was not autho­rized to nego­ti­ate any­thing of sub­stance on the spot, accord­ing to the senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial.

    After the first meet­ing, which took place in the fall of 2017, the diplo­mat report­ed that the Venezue­lans didn’t appear to have a detailed plan and had showed up at the encounter hop­ing the Amer­i­cans would offer guid­ance or ideas, offi­cials said.

    The for­mer Venezue­lan com­man­der said that the rebel­lious offi­cers nev­er asked for an Amer­i­can mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion. “I nev­er agreed, nor did they pro­pose, to do a joint oper­a­tion,” he said.

    He claimed that he and his com­rades con­sid­ered strik­ing last sum­mer, when the gov­ern­ment sus­pend­ed the pow­ers of the leg­is­la­ture and installed a new nation­al assem­bly loy­al to Mr. Maduro. But he said they abort­ed the plan, fear­ing it would lead to blood­shed.

    They lat­er planned to take pow­er in March, the for­mer offi­cer said, but that plan leaked. Final­ly, the dis­si­dents looked to the May 20 elec­tion, dur­ing which Mr. Maduro was re-elect­ed, as a new tar­get date. But again, word got out and the plot­ters held their fire.

    It is unclear how many of these details the coup plan­ners shared with the Amer­i­cans. But there is no indi­ca­tion that Mr. Maduro knew the muti­nous offi­cers were talk­ing to the Amer­i­cans at all.

    For any of the plots to have worked, the for­mer com­man­der said, he and his com­rades believed they need­ed to detain Mr. Maduro and oth­er top gov­ern­ment fig­ures simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. To do that, he added, the rebel offi­cers need­ed a way to com­mu­ni­cate secure­ly. They made their request dur­ing their sec­ond meet­ing with the Amer­i­can diplo­mat, which took place last year.

    The Amer­i­can diplo­mat relayed the request to Wash­ing­ton, where senior offi­cials turned it down, Amer­i­can offi­cials said.

    “We were frus­trat­ed,” said the for­mer Venezue­lan com­man­der. “There was a lack of fol­low-through. They left me wait­ing.”

    The Amer­i­can diplo­mat then met the coup plot­ters a third time ear­ly this year, but the dis­cus­sions did not result in a promise of mate­r­i­al aid or even a clear sig­nal that Wash­ing­ton endorsed the rebels’ plans, accord­ing to the Venezue­lan com­man­der and sev­er­al Amer­i­can offi­cials.

    Still, the Venezue­lan plot­ters could view the meet­ings as tac­it approval of their plans, argued Peter Korn­bluh, a his­to­ri­an at the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Archive at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty.

    “The Unit­ed States always has an inter­est in gath­er­ing intel­li­gence on poten­tial changes of lead­er­ship in gov­ern­ments,” Mr. Korn­bluh said. “But the mere pres­ence of a U.S. offi­cial at such a meet­ing would like­ly be per­ceived as encour­age­ment.”

    In its state­ment, the White House called the sit­u­a­tion in Venezuela “a threat to region­al secu­ri­ty and democ­ra­cy” and said that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion would con­tin­ue to strength­en a coali­tion of “like-mind­ed, and right-mind­ed, part­ners from Europe to Asia to the Amer­i­c­as to pres­sure the Maduro regime to restore democ­ra­cy in Venezuela.”

    Amer­i­can offi­cials have open­ly dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Venezuela’s mil­i­tary could take action.

    On Feb. 1, Rex W. Tiller­son, who was sec­re­tary of state at the time, deliv­ered a speech in which he said the Unit­ed States had not “advo­cat­ed for regime change or removal of Pres­i­dent Maduro.” Yet, respond­ing to a ques­tion after­ward, Mr. Tiller­son raised the poten­tial for a mil­i­tary coup.

    “When things are so bad that the mil­i­tary lead­er­ship real­izes that it just can’t serve the cit­i­zens any­more, they will man­age a peace­ful tran­si­tion,” he said.

    Days lat­er, Sen­a­tor Mar­co Rubio of Flori­da, who has sought to shape the Trump administration’s approach toward Latin Amer­i­ca, wrote a series of Twit­ter posts that encour­aged dis­si­dent mem­bers of the Venezue­lan armed forces to top­ple their com­man­der in chief.

    “Sol­diers eat out of garbage cans & their fam­i­lies go hun­gry in Venezuela while Maduro & friends live like kings & block human­i­tar­i­an aid,” Mr. Rubio wrote. He then added: “The world would sup­port the Armed Forces in #Venezuela if they decide to pro­tect the peo­ple & restore democ­ra­cy by remov­ing a dic­ta­tor.”

    In a speech in April, when he was still White House pol­i­cy chief for Latin Amer­i­ca, Mr. Cruz issued a mes­sage to the Venezue­lan mil­i­tary. Refer­ring to Mr. Maduro as a “mad­man,” Mr. Cruz said all Venezue­lans should “urge the mil­i­tary to respect the oath they took to per­form their func­tions. Hon­or your oath.”

    As the cri­sis in Venezuela wors­ened in recent years, Amer­i­can offi­cials debat­ed the pros and cons of open­ing lines of dia­logue with rebel­lious fac­tions of the mil­i­tary.

    “There were dif­fer­ences of opin­ion,” said Ms. Aponte, the for­mer top Latin Amer­i­ca diplo­mat under Mr. Oba­ma. “There were peo­ple who had a lot of faith in the idea that they could bring about sta­bil­i­ty, help dis­trib­ute food, work on prac­ti­cal stuff.”

    But oth­ers — includ­ing Ms. Aponte — saw con­sid­er­able risk in build­ing bridges with lead­ers of a mil­i­tary that, in Washington’s assess­ment, has become a pil­lar of the cocaine trade and human rights abus­es.

    Rober­ta Jacob­son, a for­mer ambas­sador to Mex­i­co who pre­ced­ed Ms. Aponte as the top State Depart­ment offi­cial for Latin Amer­i­ca pol­i­cy, said that while Wash­ing­ton has long regard­ed the Venezue­lan mil­i­tary as “wide­ly cor­rupt, deeply involved in nar­cotics traf­fick­ing and very unsa­vory,” she saw mer­it in estab­lish­ing a back chan­nel with some of them.

    “Giv­en the broad­er break­down in insti­tu­tions in Venezuela, there was a feel­ing that — while they were not nec­es­sar­i­ly the answer — any kind of demo­c­ra­t­ic res­o­lu­tion would have had to have the mil­i­tary on board,” said Ms. Jacob­son, who retired from the State Depart­ment this year. “The idea of hear­ing from actors in those places, no mat­ter how unsa­vory they may be, is inte­gral to diplo­ma­cy.”

    But what­ev­er the ratio­nale, hold­ing dis­cus­sions with coup plot­ters could set off alarms in a region with a list of infa­mous inter­ven­tions: the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency’s failed Bay of Pigs inva­sion to over­throw Fidel Cas­tro as leader of Cuba in 1961; the Amer­i­can-sup­port­ed coup in Chile in 1973, which led to the long mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship of Augus­to Pinochet; and the Rea­gan administration’s covert sup­port of right-wing rebels known as the con­tras in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

    In Venezuela, a coup in 2002 briefly deposed Mr. Maduro’s pre­de­ces­sor, Hugo Chávez. The Unit­ed States knew a plot was being hatched but warned against it, accord­ing to a clas­si­fied doc­u­ment that was lat­er made pub­lic. The coup took place any­way and the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion opened a chan­nel to the new leader. Offi­cials then backed away from the new gov­ern­ment after pop­u­lar anger rose against the coup and coun­tries in the region loud­ly denounced it. Mr. Chávez was rein­stat­ed as pres­i­dent.

    In the lat­est coup plot, the num­ber of mil­i­tary fig­ures con­nect­ed to the plan dwin­dled from a high of about 300 to 400 last year to about half that after a crack­down this year by Mr. Maduro’s gov­ern­ment.

    The for­mer Venezue­lan mil­i­tary offi­cer wor­ries that the 150 or so com­rades who have been detained are prob­a­bly being tor­tured. He lament­ed that the Unit­ed States did not sup­ply the muti­neers with radios, which he believes could have changed the country’s his­to­ry.

    ...

    ———-

    “Trump Admin­is­tra­tion Dis­cussed Coup Plans With Rebel Venezue­lan Offi­cers” by Ernesto Lon­doño and Nicholas Casey; The New York Times; 09/08/2018

    “Estab­lish­ing a clan­des­tine chan­nel with coup plot­ters in Venezuela was a big gam­ble for Wash­ing­ton, giv­en its long his­to­ry of covert inter­ven­tion across Latin Amer­i­ca. Many in the region still deeply resent the Unit­ed States for back­ing pre­vi­ous rebel­lions, coups and plots in coun­tries like Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil and Chile, and for turn­ing a blind eye to the abus­es mil­i­tary regimes com­mit­ted dur­ing the Cold War.”

    Yeah, was quite a gam­ble for the US. A gam­ble that the US has tak­en many times before in Latin Amer­i­ca and has his­tor­i­cal­ly has result­ed in some sort of far right night­mare gov­ern­ment for the affect­ed coun­try. Omi­nous­ly, one of the Venezue­lan mil­i­tary com­man­ders involved with the secret talks was, in him­self, on the US sanc­tions list for cor­rupt offi­cials. And he has even been accused by DC of f a wide range of seri­ous crimes, includ­ing tor­tur­ing crit­ics, jail­ing hun­dreds of polit­i­cal pris­on­ers, wound­ing thou­sands of civil­ians, traf­fick­ing drugs and col­lab­o­rat­ing with FARC. So it already was look­ing like a replay of that pat­tern of the US sup­port­ing a mil­i­tary jun­ta run by hor­ri­ble peo­ple who are obvi­ous­ly going to do hor­ri­ble things because that’s their track record:

    ...
    The White House, which declined to answer detailed ques­tions about the talks, said in a state­ment that it was impor­tant to engage in “dia­logue with all Venezue­lans who demon­strate a desire for democ­ra­cy” in order to “bring pos­i­tive change to a coun­try that has suf­fered so much under Maduro.”

    But one of the Venezue­lan mil­i­tary com­man­ders involved in the secret talks was hard­ly an ide­al fig­ure to help restore democ­ra­cy: He is on the Amer­i­can government’s own sanc­tions list of cor­rupt offi­cials in Venezuela.

    He and oth­er mem­bers of the Venezue­lan secu­ri­ty appa­ra­tus have been accused by Wash­ing­ton of a wide range of seri­ous crimes, includ­ing tor­tur­ing crit­ics, jail­ing hun­dreds of polit­i­cal pris­on­ers, wound­ing thou­sands of civil­ians, traf­fick­ing drugs and col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Armed Forces of Colom­bia, or FARC, which is con­sid­ered a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion by the Unit­ed States.
    ...

    And not the com­ments from the for­mer Oba­ma and Bush admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials. The Oba­ma offi­cial remarked on how the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion saw “con­sid­er­able risk in build­ing bridges with lead­ers of a mil­i­tary that, in Washington’s assess­ment, has become a pil­lar of the cocaine trade and human rights abus­es.” And while the Bush admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial agreed with that assess­ment, she still saw mer­its in estab­lish­ing this back chan­nel:

    ...
    As the cri­sis in Venezuela wors­ened in recent years, Amer­i­can offi­cials debat­ed the pros and cons of open­ing lines of dia­logue with rebel­lious fac­tions of the mil­i­tary.

    “There were dif­fer­ences of opin­ion,” said Ms. Aponte, the for­mer top Latin Amer­i­ca diplo­mat under Mr. Oba­ma. “There were peo­ple who had a lot of faith in the idea that they could bring about sta­bil­i­ty, help dis­trib­ute food, work on prac­ti­cal stuff.”

    But oth­ers — includ­ing Ms. Aponte — saw con­sid­er­able risk in build­ing bridges with lead­ers of a mil­i­tary that, in Washington’s assess­ment, has become a pil­lar of the cocaine trade and human rights abus­es.

    Rober­ta Jacob­son, a for­mer ambas­sador to Mex­i­co who pre­ced­ed Ms. Aponte as the top State Depart­ment offi­cial for Latin Amer­i­ca pol­i­cy, said that while Wash­ing­ton has long regard­ed the Venezue­lan mil­i­tary as “wide­ly cor­rupt, deeply involved in nar­cotics traf­fick­ing and very unsa­vory,” she saw mer­it in estab­lish­ing a back chan­nel with some of them.

    “Giv­en the broad­er break­down in insti­tu­tions in Venezuela, there was a feel­ing that — while they were not nec­es­sar­i­ly the answer — any kind of demo­c­ra­t­ic res­o­lu­tion would have had to have the mil­i­tary on board,” said Ms. Jacob­son, who retired from the State Depart­ment this year. “The idea of hear­ing from actors in those places, no mat­ter how unsa­vory they may be, is inte­gral to diplo­ma­cy.”
    ...

    It also sounds like this group of coup plot­ter has been try­ing to get US sup­port for a while. They appar­ent­ly sought access to the US gov­ern­ment dur­ing Oba­ma’s admin­is­tra­tion but were rebuffed. It was­n’t until last year, when Trump declared that the US had a “mil­i­tary option” for Venezuela, that the offi­cers decid­ed to reach out to the US again, telling US offi­cials that they rep­re­sent­ed a few hun­dred mil­i­tary mem­bers and ask­ing for encrypt­ed radios. :

    ...
    Venezue­lan mil­i­tary offi­cials sought direct access to the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment dur­ing Barack Obama’s pres­i­den­cy, only to be rebuffed, offi­cials said.

    Then in August of last year, Pres­i­dent Trump declared that the Unit­ed States had a “mil­i­tary option” for Venezuela — a dec­la­ra­tion that drew con­dem­na­tion from Amer­i­can allies in the region but encour­aged rebel­lious Venezue­lan mil­i­tary offi­cers to reach out to Wash­ing­ton once again.

    “It was the com­man­der in chief say­ing this now,” the for­mer Venezue­lan com­man­der on the sanc­tions list said in an inter­view, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty out of fear of reprisals by the Venezue­lan gov­ern­ment. “I’m not going to doubt it when this was the mes­sen­ger.”

    In a series of covert meet­ings abroad, which began last fall and con­tin­ued this year, the mil­i­tary offi­cers told the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment that they rep­re­sent­ed a few hun­dred mem­bers of the armed forces who had soured on Mr. Maduro’s author­i­tar­i­an­ism.

    The offi­cers asked the Unit­ed States to sup­ply them with encrypt­ed radios, cit­ing the need to com­mu­ni­cate secure­ly, as they devel­oped a plan to install a tran­si­tion­al gov­ern­ment to run the coun­try until elec­tions could be held.
    ...

    We are told that the US nev­er end­ed up pro­vid­ing mate­r­i­al sup­port and that the plans unrav­eled after a recent crack­down that led to the arrest of dozens of the plot­ters:

    ...
    Amer­i­can offi­cials did not pro­vide mate­r­i­al sup­port, and the plans unrav­eled after a recent crack­down that led to the arrest of dozens of the plot­ters.
    ...

    Again, note that the arrests took place fol­low­ing the drone assas­si­na­tion attempt and were direct­ly relat­ed to the inves­ti­ga­tion of the respon­si­bil­i­ty for that drone attack. So it does appear to be the case that the Maduro gov­ern­ment at least sus­pects this par­tic­u­lar net­work of rogue offi­cers was involved with the attack. And giv­en that their coup plots unrav­eled after these arrests it sure sounds like they prob­a­bly were involved.

    And while we are told that the US nev­er end­ed up back­ing a coup plan or pro­vid­ing sup­port, as many not­ed, sim­ply meet­ing with them could have been see as a green light by the US to pro­ceed with the plans:

    ...
    The Amer­i­can diplo­mat then met the coup plot­ters a third time ear­ly this year, but the dis­cus­sions did not result in a promise of mate­r­i­al aid or even a clear sig­nal that Wash­ing­ton endorsed the rebels’ plans, accord­ing to the Venezue­lan com­man­der and sev­er­al Amer­i­can offi­cials.

    Still, the Venezue­lan plot­ters could view the meet­ings as tac­it approval of their plans, argued Peter Korn­bluh, a his­to­ri­an at the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Archive at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty.

    “The Unit­ed States always has an inter­est in gath­er­ing intel­li­gence on poten­tial changes of lead­er­ship in gov­ern­ments,” Mr. Korn­bluh said. “But the mere pres­ence of a U.S. offi­cial at such a meet­ing would like­ly be per­ceived as encour­age­ment.”
    ...

    And that implic­it US approval of the plot would have been strong­ly backed by the open rhetoric used by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and oth­er Repub­li­cans, like Mar­co Rubio and Ted Cruz, who have been open­ly talk­ing about sup­port­ing a mil­i­tary coup:

    ...
    In its state­ment, the White House called the sit­u­a­tion in Venezuela “a threat to region­al secu­ri­ty and democ­ra­cy” and said that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion would con­tin­ue to strength­en a coali­tion of “like-mind­ed, and right-mind­ed, part­ners from Europe to Asia to the Amer­i­c­as to pres­sure the Maduro regime to restore democ­ra­cy in Venezuela.”

    Amer­i­can offi­cials have open­ly dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Venezuela’s mil­i­tary could take action.

    On Feb. 1, Rex W. Tiller­son, who was sec­re­tary of state at the time, deliv­ered a speech in which he said the Unit­ed States had not “advo­cat­ed for regime change or removal of Pres­i­dent Maduro.” Yet, respond­ing to a ques­tion after­ward, Mr. Tiller­son raised the poten­tial for a mil­i­tary coup.

    “When things are so bad that the mil­i­tary lead­er­ship real­izes that it just can’t serve the cit­i­zens any­more, they will man­age a peace­ful tran­si­tion,” he said.

    Days lat­er, Sen­a­tor Mar­co Rubio of Flori­da, who has sought to shape the Trump administration’s approach toward Latin Amer­i­ca, wrote a series of Twit­ter posts that encour­aged dis­si­dent mem­bers of the Venezue­lan armed forces to top­ple their com­man­der in chief.

    “Sol­diers eat out of garbage cans & their fam­i­lies go hun­gry in Venezuela while Maduro & friends live like kings & block human­i­tar­i­an aid,” Mr. Rubio wrote. He then added: “The world would sup­port the Armed Forces in #Venezuela if they decide to pro­tect the peo­ple & restore democ­ra­cy by remov­ing a dic­ta­tor.”

    In a speech in April, when he was still White House pol­i­cy chief for Latin Amer­i­ca, Mr. Cruz issued a mes­sage to the Venezue­lan mil­i­tary. Refer­ring to Mr. Maduro as a “mad­man,” Mr. Cruz said all Venezue­lans should “urge the mil­i­tary to respect the oath they took to per­form their func­tions. Hon­or your oath.”
    ...

    We’ll see if there are more coup plots on the way for this par­tic­u­lar net­work of rogue mil­i­tary offi­cers. But per­haps one of the most omi­nous fun-facts in the arti­cle had to do with the fact that this net­work of rogue offi­cers was only one of at least three net­works active­ly plot­ting against the Maduro gov­ern­ment. That’s accord­ing to this mys­te­ri­ous Venezue­lan com­man­der who was will­ing to talk to reports. It’s quite an admis­sion:

    ...
    The account of the clan­des­tine meet­ings and the pol­i­cy debates pre­ced­ing them is drawn from inter­views with 11 cur­rent and for­mer Amer­i­can offi­cials, as well as the for­mer Venezue­lan com­man­der. He said at least three dis­tinct groups with­in the Venezue­lan mil­i­tary had been plot­ting against the Maduro gov­ern­ment.
    ...

    So we have an assas­si­na­tion attempt in ear­ly August, fol­lowed by a crack­down on rogue offi­cers. And a few weeks lat­er we get this report involv­ing inter­views of 11 for­mer and cur­rent US offi­cials and one of the coup plot­ters describ­ing a series of meet­ings with the coup plot­ters that did­n’t result in any US assis­tance and went nowhere. And then the coup plot­ter com­ments on how there are at least three dis­tinct groups of mil­i­tary plot­ters, which is cer­tain­ly believ­able but it’s a remark­able admis­sion to make to the New York Times right after your own group just got cracked down on.

    It’s all quite mys­te­ri­ous, with per­haps the biggest mys­tery being why any of these peo­ple decid­ed to talk to the New York Times at all about all this.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 11, 2018, 3:14 pm

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