What is CIA trying to hide in Colombia?

Nil Nikandrov - http://en.fondsk.ru
July 8, 2010
What is CIA trying to hide in Colombia?
A group of intelligence agents who worked at Makyhelados ice-cream factory undercover for Colombian DAS were arrested in the town of Barinitas in Venezuela in April. The group was leaded by Luis Carlos Cossio, who has dual Colombian-Canadian citizenship. Transportation of goods to the most distant areas of the country offered him unique opportunities for espionage.

Cossio was arrested by the Venezuelan police after he had been seen taking photographs of electricity substations, transmission systems and highways. Frequent cases of sabotage resulted in tight security measures at the country's energy infrastructure. The police searched Cossio`s house and discovered some 100,000 digital photos which are said to have been transmitted to Colombia via satellite and were addressed to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

There is hardly anyone in Colombia who has never heard about DAS. The Administrative Department of Security is controlled personally by the president. Under Alvaro Uribe, DAS has more than once been at the center of political and criminal scandals. In fact, DAS agents obeyed to the CIA and helped the US implement its 'plan Colombia'.

The US-funded 'plan Colombia' aims at curbing drug smuggling and combating a left-wing insurgency (FARC and ELN rebel groups). Washington expected prompt results and thus allowed its ally play a game without rules. How President Uribe could be criticized in any way since he was loyal and reliable and used the most effective means to fight 'enemies of democracy and freedom'?

Under George W. Bush, Uribe`s bloody policies were taken as something natural. They thought the main thing was to achieve good results, even at the cost of victims among civilians. That is why the US administration turned a blind eye on numerous reports by human rights organizations about genocide and thousands of victims of state terrorism in Colombia. Neither had they unveiled any details on links between DAS and ultra-right militants from the AUC (the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia).

Through its agents, DAS transmitted information on guerrillas and their aides among the locals to AUC chiefs. Punitive measures did not take long to follow. Scorched earth policy was used against the local population so that guerrillas had no support there. Those measures repeated schemes used by the CIA against left-wing insurgents in Central America in 1960-1980s. AUC brigades were sponsored by cocaine lords, which was a well-known fact for both CIA agents and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in Bogota.

When Mr. Bush was expected to leave his post, Washington focused on DAS reforming and steps to abolish AUC. Since the Democrats were the most likely winners in the presidential elections in U.S, it was important to 'settle all issues'. To encourage the Colombian authorities to cooperate on such a delicate matter, the White House issued an ultimatum: no more subsidies to DAS until it undergoes required reforms! Washington saw no chances for achieving a bilateral free trade agreement unless AUC was abolished and DAS transformed into a modern special task force, employees with criminal past banned from joining in.

President Uribe had to organize a 'show' with demobilization of AUC militants, who, watched with television cameras, 'surrendered' and 'returned to normal life'. Later it turned out that most of them did not give up criminal activities-murdering, drug trafficking and racket. They are still active and strong enough to boost insurgency in neighboring countries, first of all in Venezuela.

The fact that Colombian paramilitares have moved (as refugees) to the states bordering Venezuela makes the Bolivarian special task services think that CIA and the US military intelligence have been preparing to topple the Venezuelan government. Militants are being recruited secretly to be later used in campaigns aimed at undermining the regime and combating Socialist activists, union leaders and law-enforcement officers.

It is easy to guess what ideology do these ‘refugees’ have. During the recent presidential elections in Colombia, election commissions attached to consulates gained overwhelming support to an ultra-right candidate Manuel Santos from members of this ‘refugee camp’. Do they all comprise a ‘fifth column’ waiting for the time to act?

Local political analysts keep on discussing this phenomenon. The Bolivarian government has done everything to help ‘Colombian brothers and sisters’, who escaped repressions, to comfortably settle in Venezuela and even get national ID cards there. But paradoxically, the ‘refugees’ who gained such overwhelming support, cast their ballots for Santos, a successor to Uribe. It was Santos who ordered to bomb a FARC camp in Ecuador, cooperate with AUC chiefs and, above all this, is an influential man in DAS circles. These ‘suspicious refugees’ could hardly be trusted since chances that they will fire at the backs of Bolivarians are too high.

‘Demobilization’ of troops and their dislocation to Venezuela was enough to settle the problem with AUC. But DAS reforming turned out to be a really difficult task. Plans to reform the Administrative Department of Security were first unveiled by President Uribe in 2006, when details on assassination of Hugo Chavez and his closest allies leaked to the media. Then the scandal was hushed up, and the Venezuelan leader accused of ‘paranoid fear for his life’.

But reports on illegal DAS activities in the sphere of drug trafficking, political murders and terror attacks involving FARC and ELN militants, continued to appear in the media. DAS agents stood behind explosions in cafes, night clubs and on buses, while pro-American journalists said ‘Marxists-terrorists’ were to blame. The CIA knew about the DAS-led operations beforehand but would not prevent them, and even initiated some of them. Unstable situation in Colombia had always been used to justify the US military presence in the region, fight ‘populist regimes’, mount pressure on Brazil, and prevent Chinese and Russian expansion in Latin America.

Experts think the DAS reform will allow withdrawal of discreditable CIA materials covering the 2000-2009 period. What are US intelligence agents trying to hide? Involvement in mass killings of guerillas in Colombia, or cooperation with DAS agents to carry out attacks all across Latin America? Or, maybe, their active role in inciting hostility between Colombia and its neighbors-Ecuador and Venezuela? Statistics show that in the past 10 years 60% of union leaders` killings took place in Colombia!

Currently, DAS employs some 6,000 people, more than 2,000 of them taking part in strategic operations. They possess equipment which allows them tap about 1700 telephone lines. DAS archives contain data on 28 million Colombians and 700,000 foreigners. The DAS annual budget is $1.6 million.

Current DAS director Felipe Muñoz is responsible for the reform. He is a well-known expert on international finances, and has been in close coopeation with oligarch Santos and his family. Muñoz is also Uribe`s friend, and that was he who once persuaded him to head DAS. Muñoz is a welcome guest at the US embassy. He has been already instrcuted by the CIA on how to handle the reform and what decision to make. US experts were given access to some of the DAS archives and have been studying them “for human rights purposes”.

Muñoz says he is overloaded with work. 150 officials have been fired on corruption charges, another 100 are being interrogated. A probe has been launched into the use of chuzadas (bugging devices) to tap phones owned by prominent journalists, judges, opposition leaders, e.t.c. A group of experts have been examining DAS guides on how to discredit potential critics of the governemnt, who are accused of having links to FARC and Chavez`s Cabinet, as well as stnading behind so-called ‘sex traps’.

Muñoz expects the U.S. to help Colombia create a ‘renewed intelligence organization’- Agencia Central de Inteligencia-The Central Intelligence Agency of Colombia.