JFP News 10/5: House Liberals Seek to Bar Troop Increase in Afghanistan

Just Foreign Policy News
October 5, 2009


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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Nearly two dozen House liberals have signed onto a bill that would prohibit an increase of troops in Afghanistan, The Hill reports. Rep. Barbara Lee and 21 lawmakers introduced H.R. 3699 on Thursday.

2) National security adviser Jones rebuked Gen. McChrystal's public campaign for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan, saying that "it is better for military advice to come up through the chain of command," the Washington Post reports. McChrystal had criticized as "short-sighted" an alternative strategy put forward by Vice President Biden that would not involve sending more troops. Jones indicated that the Obama administration expects McChrystal and his military superiors to broaden the range of alternatives for how best to proceed in Afghanistan.

3) IAEA chief ElBaradei said Iran had agreed to allow access to a newly disclosed nuclear enrichment facility on Oct. 25, the New York Times reports. "I see that we are shifting from confrontation into transparency and cooperation," ElBaradei said. Asked about a New York Times report that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable atom bomb, National security adviser Jones said the US stood by its intelligence assessment that Iran was still years away from such an accomplishment.

4) Iran agreed in principle Thursday to ship most of its current stockpile of enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be refined for exclusively peaceful uses, McClatchy reports. U.S. officials said the arrangement could set back the date by which Iran could acquire a nuclear weapon, because it had been feared Tehran would attempt to transform the same low-enriched uranium into the highly-enriched substance needed for a bomb.

5) A new CEPR study says policies implemented by the IMF during the global downturn exacerbated the crisis in many countries, the Guardian reports. Analysing the IMF's agreements with 41 borrowing countries during the crisis, CEPR found that 31 of the agreements contained "pro-cyclical" macroeconomic policies, which - in the face of a significant slowdown in growth or in a recession - would be expected to exacerbate the downturn.

6) U.S. officials say they've severely constrained al Qaeda's ability to operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that's being cited by some as evidence against sending more troops to Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some officials, including aides to Richard Holbrooke have argued that the Taliban wouldn't allow al Qaeda to regain its footing inside Afghanistan, since it was the alliance between the two that cost the Taliban their control of the country after Sept. 11.

7) President Obama pressed his military commanders over whether the Taliban still has close ties to al Qaeda and whether the international terrorist group would continue to have a haven should the Taliban regain control of parts of the country, the Wall Street Journal reports. [The two reports in the Journal suggest that the Administration is indeed revisiting key assumptions: the claim that Taliban resurgence would automatically lead to Al Qaeda resurgence threatening the U.S. was central to Obama's speech earlier this year announcing his policy - JFP.]

Honduras

8) The de facto Honduran government said it would repeal Tuesday an emergency decree that prohibited large street protests and limited other civil liberties, AP reports. The decree empowered police and soldiers to break up public meetings, arrest people without warrants and restrict the news media. The order closed down the two main pro-Zelaya media outlets, Radio Globo and Channel 36, and it blocked protest marches for several days. Radio Globo's owner said authorities seized his station's equipment and he did not know when it would be able to resume normal operations.

Pakistan
9) Two Pakistani generals say between 2002 and 2008 only $500 million of $6.6 billion in U.S. aid actually made it to the Pakistani military, AP reports. "We don't have a mechanism for tracking the money after we have given it to them," a Pentagon spokesman said.

Iraq
10) Iraqi politicians say they have put aside for the time being any plans to push for a referendum on the U.S.-Iraqi security pact governing the U.S. troop pullout, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some lawmakers said the referendum was no longer necessary because the U.S. is abiding by the security pact.

Colombia
11) Colombian prosecutors say paramilitary warlords extradited to the U.S. on drug-trafficking charges stopped cooperating with Colombian investigators of war crimes, the Washington Post reports. Colombia's Supreme Court recently halted the extraditions, saying that transferring warlords to the U.S. violated victims' rights.

Mexico
12) ATF agents said guns purchased at Houston-area stores have been traced to at least 55 killings in Mexico, including the deaths of police officers, the Houston Chronicle reports. Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden said in the last four months the ATF was able to investigate a backlog of 700 requests from the Mexican government to trace the history of guns from crime scenes to their original purchasers in US.

Contents:
U.S./Top News

1) House liberals float bill to bar troop 'surge'
Michael O'Brien, The Hill, 10/04/09
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/61543-house-liberals-float-bill-to-bar-surge-for-afghanistan

Nearly two dozen House liberals have signed onto a bill introduced this past week that would prohibit an increase of troops in Afghanistan. A bill introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) on Thursday would bar funding to increase the troop level in Afghanistan beyond its current level.

Lee and 21 lawmakers - largely from the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus - introduced the bill, H.R. 3699 on Thursday.
[...]
"History tells us that there will not be a military-first solution to the situation in Afghanistan," Lee told the Redding News Review. "Open-ended military intervention in Afghanistan is not in our national security interest and will only continue to give resonance to insurgent recruiters painting pictures of foreign occupation to a new generation."
[...]

2) McChrystal Faulted On Troop Statements
Public Campaign Hurts Review, Aide Says
Scott Wilson, Washington Post, Monday, October 5, 2009
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/04/AR2009100401879.html

National security adviser James L. Jones suggested Sunday that the public campaign being conducted by the U.S. commander in Afghanistan on behalf of his war strategy is complicating the internal White House review underway, saying that "it is better for military advice to come up through the chain of command."

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who commands the 100,000 U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, warned bluntly last week in a London speech that a strategy for defeating the Taliban that is narrower than the one he is advocating would be ineffective and "short-sighted." The comments effectively rejected a policy option that senior White House officials, including Vice President Biden, are considering nearly eight years after the U.S. invasion.

McChrystal's statement came a day after senior White House officials challenged him over his dire assessment of the war, and what it will take to improve the U.S. position there, during a videoconference from Kabul with President Obama and his national security team. Obama then summoned McChrystal to Copenhagen the day after the general's speech for a private meeting aboard Air Force One.

Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Jones said he had not spoken to Obama since the president met with McChrystal. But he indicated that the Obama administration, facing the most far-reaching foreign policy decision of its time in office, expects McChrystal and his military superiors to broaden the range of alternatives for how best to proceed in Afghanistan as the strategy review unfolds over the coming weeks.

"We will be examining different options," said Jones, a retired Marine general and former supreme allied commander in Europe. "And I'm sure General McChrystal and General Petraeus and Admiral Mullen will be willing to present different options and different scenarios in this discussion that we're having."
[...]

3) Iran Agrees To Allow Inspectors On Oct. 25
David E. Sanger and Nazila Fathi, New York Times, October 5, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/world/middleeast/05nuke.html

Washington - The chief of the world's nuclear inspection agency said during a visit to Tehran on Sunday that the Iranian government had agreed to allow access to a newly disclosed nuclear enrichment facility on Oct. 25, and Iran said it would enter talks earlier about temporarily exporting much of its low-enriched uranium to be converted into nuclear reactor fuel.

At a news conference, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, praised Iran for moving forward on agreements reached at a meeting last week with the United States and its allies, even while cautioning that his agency had "concerns about Iran's future intentions."

"I see that we are at a critical moment," Dr. ElBaradei said. "I see that we are shifting from confrontation into transparency and cooperation."
[...]
President Obama's national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that "for now, things are moving in the right direction," citing the forthcoming inspection and discussion on uranium exports as evidence that the new effort to deal with Iran was gaining momentum. But some administration officials expressed private skepticism that Iran would ultimately prove willing to allow the kind of widespread inspections that the United States and its Western allies have in mind.
[...]
Asked about a draft report written by staff members of the I.A.E.A. and reported in The New York Times on Sunday, concluding that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable atom bomb, General Jones said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the United States stood by its intelligence assessment that Iran was still years away from such an accomplishment.
[...]

4) Iran Agrees to Ship Its Enriched Uranium to Russia for Refinement
Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev, McClatchy Newspapers, October 05, 2009
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/76369.html

Geneva - Iran agreed in principle Thursday to ship most of its current stockpile of enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be refined for exclusively peaceful uses, in what Western diplomats called a significant, but interim, measure to ease concerns over its nuclear program.

The agreement was announced after seven and a half hours of talks in Geneva that included the highest-level official U.S.-Iranian encounter in three decades.
[...]
During a lunch break at the villa outside Geneva where the diplomats gathered, Undersecretary of State William Burns, the State Department's No. 3 official, met for about 45 minutes with Jalili. At that session, which officials described as businesslike, Burns broached the Qom facility as well as Iran's human rights record, the senior U.S. official said.

In a separate exchange with the Iranians, another U.S. diplomat, who wasn't identified, raised the issue of three U.S. hikers that Iran took into custody after they strayed over the border from Iraq.
[...]
Under the tentative uranium deal, Iran would ship what a U.S. official said was "most" of its approximately 3,000 pounds of low-enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be further refined, to 19.75 percent purity. That is much less than the purity needed to fuel a nuclear bomb.

French technicians then would fabricate it into fuel rods and return it to Tehran to power a nuclear research reactor that's used to make isotopes for nuclear medicine. Iran says the old reactor, which dates from the Shah's era, is running out of nuclear fuel.

A second senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity, said that Iran doesn't have the technology to convert the fuel rods back into bomb-making material.

U.S. officials, who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly, said the arrangement could set back the date by which Iran could acquire a nuclear weapon, because it had been feared Tehran would attempt to transform the same low-enriched uranium into the highly-enriched substance needed for a bomb. They said that Israel had been kept apprised of the deal.
[...]
Iran agreed to the deal "in principle," U.S. officials said, and there's to be a meeting in Vienna on Oct. 18 to work out details.
[...]

5) IMF policies deepened financial crisis, says CEPR
Thinktank report argues that fund's over-optimistic assumptions on economic growth exacerbated global downturn
Kathryn Hopkins, Guardian, Monday 5 October 2009 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/05/imf-policy-financial-crisis-recession

Policies implemented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the global downturn further exacerbated the crisis in many countries, a leading thinktank said today.

In a paper analysing the IMF's agreements with 41 borrowing countries during the crisis, the Washington-based Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) found that 31 of the agreements contained so-called "pro-cyclical" macroeconomic policies, which - in the face of a significant slowdown in growth or in a recession - would be expected to exacerbate the downturn.

"In many cases the fund's pro-cyclical policies were based on over-optimistic assumptions about economic growth," said the thinktank. This means the measures proposed were too restrictive for the countries involved and did not produce the longer-lasting economic growth predicted.

In nearly half of the countries that have had at least one review, the IMF's analysts had to lower their previous forecasts of real GDP growth by at least three percentage points, and in a few cases they had to correct forecasts that were at least seven percentage points overestimated. "Most likely there will be more downward revisions to come," the CEPR said.

"The fund might respond that it could not be expected to anticipate the depth of the world recession and its impact on developing countries through exports, capital inflows, remittances, access to trade credits and other channels.

"But the fund should have been more careful in its projections and should have anticipated a severe downturn that would have serious effects on low- and middle-income countries."

The CEPR suggested the IMF had learned few lessons from the past. For example, in Latvia the fund had encouraged the government to preserve a pegged exchange rate. This is similar to the IMF-supported policy in Argentina during its steep recession of 1998-2002, "where a fixed, overvalued exchange rate was supported with tens of billions of dollars of loans until it inevitably collapsed".

"In cases such as Argentina and Latvia, maintaining the peg means that adjustment must take place through shrinking the economy and real wage declines. Latvia's GDP is projected to shrink by 18% this year," the thinktank reports.
[...]

6) Al Qaeda's Diminished Role Stirs Afghan Troop Debate
Matthew Rosenberg and Siobhan Gorman, Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2009
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125469118585462615.html

Since first invading Afghanistan nearly a decade ago, America set one primary goal: Eliminate al Qaeda's safe haven. Today, intelligence and military officials say they've severely constrained al Qaeda's ability to operate there and in Pakistan - and that's reshaping the debate over U.S. strategy in the region.

Hunted by U.S. drones, beset by money problems and finding it tougher to lure young Arabs to the bleak mountains of Pakistan, al Qaeda is seeing its role shrink there and in Afghanistan, according to intelligence reports and Pakistani and U.S. officials.

Conversations intercepted by the U.S. show al Qaeda fighters complaining of shortages of weapons, clothing and, in some cases, food. The number of foreign fighters in Afghanistan appears to be declining, U.S. military officials say.
[...]
In Washington, the question of Al Qaeda's strength is at the heart of the debate over whether to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan. On Saturday, eight American troops and two Afghan soldiers were killed fighting Taliban forces - one of the worst single-day battlefield losses for U.S. forces since the war began.

Opponents of sending more troops prefer a narrower campaign consisting of missile strikes and covert action inside Pakistan, rather than a broader war against the Taliban, the radical Islamist movement that ruled Afghanistan for years and provided a haven to al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden. Their reasoning: The larger threat to America remains al Qaeda, not the Taliban; so, best not to get embroiled in a local war that history suggests may be unwinnable.

Military commanders pressing for extra troops counter that sending more forces could help translate the gains against al Qaeda into a political settlement with less ideologically committed elements of the Taliban. And, they argue, that would improve the odds of stabilizing Afghanistan for the long run.

A key point of contention in President Barack Obama's review of war strategy is the ability of al Qaeda to reconstitute in Afghanistan. Some officials, including aides to Richard Holbrooke, the U.S.'s special representative to the region, have argued that the Taliban wouldn't allow al Qaeda to regain its footing inside Afghanistan, since it was the alliance between the two that cost the Taliban their control of the country after Sept. 11.

A senior military official, however, characterized this as a minority view within the debate. He noted that even if the Taliban sought to keep al Qaeda from returning, it would have little means to do so.

Retired Gen. James Jones, the president's National Security Adviser, acknowledged on CNN Sunday that the links between the two groups had become a "central issue" in the White House discussion. He said he believed the return of the Taliban "could" mean the return of al Qaeda.
[...]

7) War Debate Addresses Taliban Ties To al Qaeda
Peter Spiegel and Jonathan Weisman, Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2009
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125448203426459131.html

Washington - Senior members of the Obama administration's national-security team immersed themselves in their wide-ranging review of Afghan war strategy on Friday, following signs the president is seeking to determine whether the resurgence of the Taliban would necessarily lead to an increased threat of a terrorist attack in the U.S.

President Barack Obama held a surprise meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal during a stopover in Copenhagen, the first face-to-face session between the two men since the general took command of the Afghan war in June.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met for four hours Friday afternoon with the State Department's top hands in the region, including Richard Holbrooke, the special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the U.S. ambassadors to Kabul, and Islamabad.

Obama, in a cabinet-level meeting on Wednesday, pressed his military commanders over whether the Taliban still has close ties to al Qaeda and whether the international terrorist group would continue to have a haven should the Taliban regain control of parts of the country, according to a senior administration official.

"There are people over there that think that there's a rift between the Taliban and al Qaeda," said a senior military official. "The logic is that since the Taliban once owned Afghanistan, and got kicked out of Afghanistan, they're not likely to make the same mistake twice."

But the official added that "it's a small number of people who think that," and that most officials involved in the debate are convinced that the Taliban "will at least be complicit in allowing al Qaeda back in" if they regain control.
[...]

Honduras
8) Honduras gov't revokes rights-limiting decree
Ben Fox, Associated Press, Monday, October 5, 2009 4:20 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/05/AR2009100501348.html

Tegucigalpa, Honduras - The interim Honduran government on Monday revoked an emergency decree that prohibited large street protests and limited other civil liberties following the return of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

The decree, which resulted in dozens of arrests and the closing of two pro-Zelaya media outlets, "has been completely revoked," Interim President Roberto Micheletti said at a news conference with U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican.

Micheletti did not say whether the lifting of the decree would take effect immediately. He had said in a morning television interview it would be formally repealed Tuesday when the new order is published in the government's official gazette.

Honduras' interim leaders issued the emergency order Sept. 27 in response to "calls for insurrection" by Zelaya as the ousted president sought refuge in the Brazilian Embassy after sneaking back into the country. He remains holed up in the Embassy with dozens of supporters amid international diplomatic efforts to end the crisis.

The decree empowered police and soldiers to break up public meetings, arrest people without warrants and restrict the news media, with armed troops stationed throughout the capital to enforce the order.

It drew criticism even from judges and congressional leaders who have backed Zelaya's ouster. Many complained it would disrupt campaigning for the November presidential election they hope will resolve the country's crisis.

The main effect of the order was to close down the two main pro-Zelaya media outlets, Radio Globo and Channel 36, and it blocked protest marches for several days. Zelaya supporters eventually ventured out to demonstrate, but in much smaller numbers than before.

While the decree was in force, the government also retook control of a government Agrarian Institute building that had been occupied by protesters. They detained about 55 people and lodged sedition charges against 38, who were still in custody over the weekend.

Police spokesman Orlin Cerrato said about 1,000 people were detained for violating a curfew that was imposed before the decree.

Radio Globo has been broadcasting over the Internet. The station's owner, Alejandro Villatoro, said authorities seized his station's equipment and he did not know when it would be able to resume normal operations.
[...]

Pakistan
9) Billions in US aid never reached Pakistan army
Kathy Gannon, Associated Press, Monday, October 5, 2009 12:00 AM http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/04/AR2009100401260.html

Islamabad, Pakistan - The United States has long suspected that much of the billions of dollars it has sent Pakistan to battle militants has been diverted to the domestic economy and other causes, such as fighting India. Now the scope and longevity of the misuse is becoming clear: Between 2002 and 2008, while al-Qaida regrouped, only $500 million of the $6.6 billion in American aid actually made it to the Pakistani military, two army generals tell The Associated Press.

The account of the generals, who asked to remain anonymous because military rules forbid them from speaking publicly, was backed up by other retired and active generals, former bureaucrats and government ministers.

At the time of the siphoning, Pervez Musharraf, a Washington ally, served as both chief of staff and president, making it easier to divert money intended for the military to bolster his sagging image at home through economic subsidies. "The army itself got very little," said retired Gen. Mahmud Durrani, who was Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. under Musharraf. "It went to things like subsidies, which is why everything looked hunky-dory. The military was financing the war on terror out of its own budget."
[...]
The details on misuse of American aid come as Washington again promises Pakistan money. Legislation to triple general aid to Pakistan cleared Congress last week. The legislation also authorizes "such sums as are necessary" for military assistance to Pakistan, upon several conditions. The conditions include certification that Pakistan is cooperating in stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons, that Pakistan is making a sustained commitment to combating terrorist groups and that Pakistan security forces are not subverting the country's political or judicial processes.

The U.S. is also insisting on more accountability for reimbursing money spent. For example, Pakistan is still waiting for $1.7 billion for which it has billed the United States under a Coalition Support Fund to reimburse allies for money spent on the war on terror.

But the U.S. still can't follow what happens to the money it doles out. "We don't have a mechanism for tracking the money after we have given it to them," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Wright said in a telephone interview.
[...]

Iraq
10) Iraq Vote On Pullout Put On Back Burner
Gina Chon, Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2009
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125470311713563191.html

Baghdad - Iraqi politicians say they have put aside for the time being any plans to push for a referendum on the U.S.-Iraqi security pact governing the American troop pullout here.

The threat of a referendum had clouded U.S. withdrawal plans. If Iraqi voters were given a chance to vote on the deal some U.S. officials feared they would reject it, forcing an accelerated U.S. withdrawal. Military officials have said they will comply with any quicker withdrawal in the case of a "no" vote in a referendum.
[...]
The security pact calls for all American troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. When the security treaty was approved, Sunni lawmakers insisted on a referendum as a condition of their support. Originally scheduled for last July, it was delayed.

Many observers suspected it might never happen. But in August, Iraq's cabinet set a new date of Jan. 16, coinciding with nationwide parliamentary polls. A "no" vote on the deal would trigger a termination clause, speeding up a full American troop withdrawal by almost a year. Lawmakers said Sunday there weren't any moves afoot to push through legislation authorizing the referendum. That, they say, means it will either be delayed once again, or dropped altogether.

Recent worry over Iraq's ability to take over security from the U.S. faster - should the referendum force an early American withdrawal - appears to have cooled some Sunnis' insistence on the referendum. "A fast withdrawal of American troops may create a security vacuum," said Sunni lawmaker Saleh Mutlaq, who had pushed for a referendum.

Lawmakers are also consumed with trying to pass a crucial elections law, and they have had no time to deal with legislation for a referendum vote, said Muther al-Hakim, a member of both the largest Shiite alliance in parliament and the legal committee, which would be responsible for putting together a referendum proposal.

Hakim and Rashid al-Azawi, a lawmaker and senior member of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, both said a referendum was no longer necessary because the U.S. military had so far abided by the security pact.
[...]

Colombia
11) As Colombian War Crimes Suspects Sit in U.S. Jails, Victims' Kin Protest
Juan Forero, Washington Post, Sunday, October 4, 2009
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/03/AR2009100303001.html

Bogota, Colombia - One by one and in gory detail, a former death squad commander, Hernán Giraldo, recounted at special judicial hearings how he killed his opponents in Colombia's long, murky war.

But in May 2008, Giraldo and 14 other paramilitary warlords were extradited to the United States on drug-trafficking charges and, according to Colombian prosecutors, stopped cooperating with Colombian investigators. Victims' families say they still do not know about the financiers and power brokers behind a paramilitary army that wreaked havoc until a recent disarmament.

Colombia's Supreme Court recently halted the extraditions, saying that transferring some of this country's most notorious warlords to the United States violated victims' rights by paralyzing an ambitious truth-seeking process designed to close a violent chapter in the conflict.
[...]
Nearly three years ago, commanders enticed by offers of leniency began outlining their crimes - many committed with help from military units and corrupt lawmakers - in specially tailored hearings in Colombia. More than 1,200 public depositions of commanders have since been held.

Investigators have determined that paramilitary militias are responsible for 24,000 killings, wide-scale disappearances and the theft of billions of dollars in land.

Victims' rights groups and some government investigators here say the results of the process have been mixed. No commander has been convicted of war crimes, and an effort to return stolen land to victims' families has been hamstrung by bureaucratic red tape.

For some victims, perhaps most troubling is that commanders with the broadest historical knowledge of the paramilitary movement, including details of its links to Colombia's power structure, are now in U.S. jails. The attorney general's office here said that only three of the commanders have continued giving testimony in depositions run by Colombian prosecutors and seen by victims in Colombia via closed-circuit television.
[...]
Among those frustrated by the process is the commander considered the most cooperative, Salvatore Mancuso, a former rancher whose militias are said to be responsible for 10,000 crimes. Now at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va., Mancuso complains that he does not have a phone to communicate with Colombian investigators or a computer to track details of his crimes.

Mancuso has participated in three depositions with Colombian investigators since arriving in the United States, Colombia's attorney general's office said. But Mancuso contends that he was extradited to keep him from revealing links between his organization and Colombian military, business and political leaders. "Once I started to tell truths, the government became uncomfortable," he said from jail, "and the way to stop that was to exile me."

Mexico
12) Guns from Houston tied to 55 Mexico deaths
Anti-cartel operation focuses on area's place in underworld crime
Dane Schiller, Houston Chronicle, Oct. 2, 2009 http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6648186.html

High-powered guns purchased at Houston-area stores by a Gulf Cartel cell and smuggled across the border for the syndicate's bloody warfare have been traced to at least 55 killings in Mexico, including the deaths of police officers, civilians and gangsters, federal agents said Thursday.

The recent tracking of firearms is the result of a four-month anti-cartel operation focused largely on Houston, which the federal government contends is the No. 1 spot in the United States for buying guns that later are used in underworld massacres and other crimes in Mexico. "As long as we are the cheapest, easiest place to buy guns, they'll keep doing it," said Dewey Webb, head of the Houston division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which includes the Rio Grande Valley and reaches to Del Rio. "These cartel armies want the best and newest available."

Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden, who was in Houston to announce results of the operation, said the ATF was able to investigate a backlog of 700 requests from the Mexican government to trace the history of guns from crime scenes to their original purchasers in United States. Also, agents seized 141,440 rounds of ammunition and 443 firearms, according to the Justice Department.

Agents inspected gun dealer records and knocked on doors to ask people what happened to guns they purchased that ended up in Mexico. Among the cases that have yet to be resolved are those involving a small-town Texas policeman who bought a few military-style rifles, left them in his car and - on the same night - forgot to lock a door. He couldn't explain why he had not filed a police report or why he visited Mexico the next day.
[...]

Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
www.justforeignpolicy.org

Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans.

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