Information Warfare: Terrorist Friends in Congress


April 23, 2007: Colombia's fight against the FARC and ELN terrorists has become harder, due to the fact that $55 million in military aid has been frozen by a U.S. Senate subcommittee led by Senator Patrick Leahy. This freeze holds the potential to greatly aid FARC and ELN, simply by preventing Colombia from keeping up the pressure, and shows how the change in control of Congress affects the global war on terror. How?

The answer lies in the fact that the new congressional majority is led by people who tend to view FARC and ELN in a more sympathetic light. The U.S. and Colombian government consider FARC and ELN to be terrorist organizations. Senator Leahy is a long-time outspoken critic of aid to the Colombian government that went for both counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics efforts as well.

Leahy, though, needed an excuse, and the recent scandal involving alleged connections to right-wing paramilitaries like the AUC provided just that. This came about through a leaked CIA report, among other things, that claimed one senior military leader had connections with the paramilitaries, a charge that has been leveled against many, including Colombian president Uribe. Much of the connections were due to officers in the field taking the view that the enemy of their enemy was their friend.

As a result, there was significant pressure from groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Both groups have been major players in the lawfare surrounding Guantanamo Bay, and Amnesty International sued the CIA in 2001 to force the release of information on activities of the group Los Pepes, during the hunt for drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar. The freeze in aid, sought by those groups, could not have come at a worse time. Why?

The answer is that Colombia's efforts, backed by U.S. aid, not only have managed to get the AUC to disarm, but they also have put FARC and ELN on the ropes. FARC has, in recent months, fled across the Colombian-Ecuadorian border, seeking a safe haven. While a number of left-leaning parties and officials in Europe have abandoned FARC and ELN, recognizing their status as terrorists, they still draw a lot of sympathy, particularly among the American left. In the 1980s, that sympathy manifested itself in two forms: One was the Boland Amendment and other restrictions. The other was a series of leaks that were intended to undermine the Reagan Administration's policy in Latin America.

That residual sympathy, combined with reflexive opposition to Bush Administration policies, means that FARC now has a chance to recover. How bad has FARC had it? In recent moths, they had to shift to bombing attacks due to the need to conserve their trained gunmen. With the reduction in military aid to Colombia by sympathetic Congressmen, they now have the chance to replenish their forces. The success the Colombian government has had in pushing back FARC has also resulted in an economic recovery.

The human rights groups and those in Congress who support their agenda have once again shown that they have more concern about terrorists and their support networks than they do about the people that FARC and ELN kill, kidnap, or maim. This is despite the fact that for years, the State Department has considered FARC and ELN terrorist groups. This means the war in Colombia will go on longer, with more casualties. - Harold C. Hutchison ([email protected])




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