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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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