The Illegal War on Latin American (!) Terrorism

I linked to this Jeremy Scahill post already, but I wanted to point out a few things about Scahill’s elaboration on the WaPo’s covert ops story of the other day.

First, Scahill provides a list of locations where Obama’s expanded special operations war has deployed:

The Nation has learned from well-placed special operations sources that among the countries where elite special forces teams working for the Joint Special Operations Command have been deployed under the Obama administration are: Iran, Georgia, Ukraine, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Peru, Yemen, Pakistan (including in Balochistan) and the Philippines. These teams have also at times deployed in Turkey, Belgium, France and Spain. JSOC has also supported US Drug Enforcement Agency operations in Colombia and Mexico. The frontline for these forces at the moment, sources say, are Yemen and Somalia. “In both those places, there are ongoing unilateral actions,” said a special operations source. “JSOC does a lot in Pakistan too.”

I’m not sure about you, but I, for one, have never heard of “Al Qaeda in Ecuador” or “Al Qaeda in Belgium.” While some of these deployments likely do have ties to fighters just one step removed from al Qaeda (later in the article, Scahill describes JSOC partnering with Georgia to pursue Chechens), others might be more likely to have ties to terrorist financing (Belgium) or illicit trade (including drugs) that might fund terrorism. Or hell, maybe just oil and gas, since they’re pretty criminal and we’re addicted, so it’s practically the same thing.

Which brings me back to the UN report on targeted killings. When describing the target of these covert ops, the WaPo story said the ops are directed “against al Qaeda and other radical organizations.” As I highlighted from the WaPo story, John Bellinger believes many of those targeted have nothing to do with 9/11.

Many of those currently being targeted, Bellinger said, “particularly in places outside Afghanistan,” had nothing to do with the 2001 attacks.

Which is a concern the UN report expresses: that the US has declared itself to be in a non-international armed conflict that is sufficiently vaguely defined as to include many people whose targeting would be illegal under international humanitarian law.

53. Taken cumulatively, these factors make it problematic for the US to show that – outside the context of the armed conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq – it is in a transnational non-international armed conflict against “al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other associated forces”107 without further explanation of how those entities constitute a “party” under the IHL of non-international armed conflict, and whether and how any violence by any such group rises to the level necessary for an armed conflict to exist.


55. With respect to the existence of a non-state group as a “party”, al-Qaeda and other alleged “associated” groups are often only loosely linked, if at all. Sometimes they appear to be not even groups, but a few individuals who take “inspiration” from al Qaeda. The idea that, instead, they are part of continuing hostilities that spread to new territories as new alliances form or are claimed may be superficially appealing but such “associates’ cannot constitute a “party” as required by IHL – although they can be criminals, if their conduct violates US law, or the law of the State in which they are located.

56. To ignore these minimum requirements, as well as the object and purpose of IHL, would be to undermine IHL safeguards against the use of violence against groups that are not the equivalent of an organized armed group capable of being a party to a conflict – whether because it lacks organization, the ability to engage in armed attacks, or because it does not have a connection or belligerent nexus to actual hostilities. It is also salutary to recognize that whatever rules the US seeks to invoke or apply to al Qaeda and any “affiliates” could be invoked by other States to apply to other non-state armed groups. To expand the notion of non-international armed conflict to groups that are essentially drug cartels, criminal gangs or other groups that should be dealt with under the law enforcement framework would be to do deep damage to the IHL and human rights frameworks. [my emphasis]

The UN reports that the US has admitted to using drones to take out Afghan drug lords; Scahill notes we’ve used these covert teams to target drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia. And the inclusion of so many Latin American countries on Scahill’s list suggests further possible drug ties (while the presence of Georgia and Ukraine on Scahill’s list suggest the possibility of organized crime targets).

In other words, precisely the concern the UN report lays out may be reflected in Scahill’s list.

All that begs the question of what specific legal authorization the Obama Administration claims to be using here. The WaPo story suggests this all goes back to the Authorization to Use Military Force, which specifically limits its application to those who executed or supported 9/11.

Former Bush officials, still smarting from accusations that their administration overextended the president’s authority to conduct lethal activities around the world at will, have asked similar questions. “While they seem to be expanding their operations both in terms of extraterritoriality and aggressiveness, they are contracting the legal authority upon which those expanding actions are based,” said John B. Bellinger III, a senior legal adviser in both of Bush’s administrations.

The Obama administration has rejected the constitutional executive authority claimed by Bush and has based its lethal operations on the authority Congress gave the president in 2001 to use “all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons” he determines “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the Sept. 11 attacks.

Many of those currently being targeted, Bellinger said, “particularly in places outside Afghanistan,” had nothing to do with the 2001 attacks. [my emphasis]

Scahill reports that it goes back to a 2004 Rummy order (which, since Scahill describes it as being drafted in 2003, would have been developed while Bellinger was the Legal Advisor for then National Security Advisor Condi Rice).

Sources working with US special operations forces told The Nation that the Obama administration’s expansion of special forces activities globally has been authorized under a classified order dating back to the Bush administration. Originally signed in early 2004 by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, it is known as the “AQN ExOrd,” or Al Qaeda Network Execute Order. The AQN ExOrd was intended to cut through bureaucratic and legal processes, allowing US special forces to move into denied areas or countries beyond the official battle zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The ExOrd spells out that we reserve the right to unilaterally act against al Qaeda and its affiliates anywhere in the world that they operate,” said one special forces source. The current mindset in the White House, he said, is that “the Pentagon is already empowered to do these things, so let JSOC off the leash. And that’s what this White House has done.” He added: “JSOC has been more empowered more under this administration than any other in recent history. No question.”

The AQN ExOrd was drafted in 2003, primarily by the Special Operations Command and the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict and was promoted by neoconservative officials such as former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone as a justification for special forces operating covertly–and lethally–across the globe. [my emphasis]

But according to Scahill’s source, the AQN ExOrd was directed at Al Qaeda and its affiliates (as the name itself would suggest). Not, presumably, Latin American drug cartels.

And then there’s the authorization first described in the NYT, which is what first intensified this focus on Obama’s covert wars, and which I’ve unilaterally nicknamed–in an act that surely violates the international rules of acronomery–the “JUnc-WTF.”

The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents.

The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.

While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said. Its goals are to build networks that could “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” Al Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to “prepare the environment” for future attacks by American or local military forces, the document said. The order, however, does not appear to authorize offensive strikes in any specific countries.


General Petraeus’s order is meant for small teams of American troops to fill intelligence gaps about terror organizations and other threats in the Middle East and beyond, especially emerging groups plotting attacks against the United States. [my emphasis]

Now, it’s not clear what relationship the JUnc-WTF has with the AQN ExOrd and the operations Scahill describes. Both describe clandestine teams operating in countries that are both friendly and unfriendly to us. Both describe partnering, in some cases, with local forces. The NYT described JUnc-WTF as operating primarily in countries close to the Middle East (even leaving out an obvious counterterrorism target, Philippines), though the NYT did describe JUnc-WTF as targeting developing threats in the “Middle East and beyond,” and Scahill did say the operations were focused on Yemen and Somalia, as well as Pakistan. Also, the NYT admits that it withheld information about operations in certain countries, so it’s possible they’re not presenting all they know about geographic scope. And the NYT described JUnc-WTF to be focused on collecting intelligence, though the code phrase “prepare the environment” suggests it is far more than that. Finally, the NYT describes the associational scope of JUnc-WTF to be “to build networks that could ‘penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy’ Al Qaeda and other militant groups“–suggesting that the order applies to groups beyond al Qaeda, but by not quoting the document directly on that point, not clarifying precisely how JUnc-WTF defines those other militant groups.

The UN has vague concerns and Bellinger very specific ones about the way in which we’re using cover of a war on terrorism (which has, after all, been renamed a war against violent extremism, with no specificity to al Qaeda or terrorism) to target people we’ve got no legal basis targeting.

There are two very specific ways to think of the danger of this. Scahill makes it clear that these teams are operating in Iran; so this covert war could present an opening front on a war there. And once you consider they’ve been targeting Mexican drug cartels–operating on the border, then you’re deploying covert teams in places like Juarez, on the border of the United States.

Nope, I can’t see any way this would all go horribly wrong. Not at all.

63 replies
    • bobschacht says:

      You remind me of C. Northcote Parkinson’s Law, i.e., that work will expand to fill the available space. Sounds like a similar principle is at work.

      EW, thanks for connecting the dots for us on this!

      Bob in AZ

    • fatster says:

      I think it’s called “looking forward.” To understand some of the origins for bringing in Latin America, however, you have to look backward, too. However wild (or not) it might be, speculation about alQaeda activities in Latin America is not new; it goes back to BushCo (surprise surprise) and much of it is associated with Paraguay (more surprise surprise). Here are a few articles from the previous era: Here, here, here, and here.

      Thanks ever so much, EW, for focusing on this. We seem to be in a segue from “communists under every bed” to the new international enemy.

      • MadDog says:

        …In which I note that the problem with CVE is it can be applied to a whole range of other roles.

        Marc Lynch over at Foreign Policy made a similar point:

        What replaces the GWOT? There is not yet a clear intellectual frame to replace the unmourned Global War on Terror. I find myself often saying “what used to be called the GWOT.” If it isn’t GWOT, what is it? “Combatting Violent Extremism (CVE)”, which appears to still be the term of art, is better — but also enormously flexible, in a bad way. If CVE includes everything from COIN in Afghanistan to after-school programs in Birmingham, it just might be too broad…

  1. MadDog says:

    …I’m not sure about you, but I, for one, have never heard of “Al Qaeda in Ecuador”…

    Back in 2003, the Library of Congress published this critter:

    Terrorist And Organized Crime Groups In The
    Tri-Border Area (TBA) Of South America
    (90 page PDF)

    The TBA consists of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.

    While part of the US government actors’ expansion into places like Ecuador might just be “mission creep” and “institutional self-promotion”, it also wouldn’t surprise me in the least that over the last 7-8 years the DOD, CIA, DEA, etc. would posit further connected dots (whether substantiated or spurious) of Al Qaeda loci in South America (and perhaps in Central America and North America as well).

    “Transnational” is another favorite buzzword in foreign policy and intel circles which apparently embodies not just “across borders” for terrorism actors, but the concept of “No Borders” for state counterterrorism actors.

    As in “The entire world is our battlefield.”

    • bobschacht says:

      As in “The entire world is our battlefield.”

      The old philosopher’s adage is, when you’ve got a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

      Some of the Bush era executive orders that have been taken over by Obama are like the proverbial hammer, inviting all manner of things to be classified as nails.

      Bob in AZ

      • MadDog says:

        Part of the puzzle as to why there appears to be little difference between the Bush/Cheney regime and the Obama administration is that for the most part, our policies and actions are conceived, driven, and executed by a cast of tens of thousands who permanently inhabit our foreign policy, defense and intelligence institutions.

        These institutions are chock full of tens of thousands of people with guns that make up that “hammer”.

        Just because you swap Captains on the Titanic, doesn’t mean the ship isn’t still on course to hit the very same iceberg.

        While we get little glimpses of their thought processes, their policies, and their actions now and then, for the most part, we, the public, are the proverbial mushrooms deliberately kept in the dark and fed BS.

        Whether one calls them our Overlords or something more benign, the fact of the matter is that we, the public, aren’t allowed to play in their sandbox.

        • bobschacht says:

          I think you are on to something there, but please allow me to reframe it a little.

          No matter how much Obama wanted to change things, there are two realities a new president must face:
          (1) Only the top level at each agency is staffed by political appointments. The vast majority of staff at each agency are civil service appointments, etc. that the new president inherits from the old president– and in this case, a president who has had 8 years to get his people in place at the middle levels of each agency.
          (2) The top level of appointments at each agency are political and subject to presidential appointment, but most of these require approval by Congress, and Congress ain’t approving hardly anyone, even with Democrats “in charge,” because of secret holds and other tools the Republicans are using to thwart most of Obama’s appointments. And then there is also the fecklessness of Obama’s administration itself, as in the case of Dawn Johnsen’s “appointment.”

          I think Obama knew this, but even so, with a few exceptions (e.g., Supreme Court nominees), Obama has not been pressing hard enough.

          If Obama is smart, he’ll take advantage of the BP disaster, and the problems at MMS, to seize on some appointment that the Republicans are holding up, and make a ‘federal case’ out of it, as a way to attack Republican holds in general. At any rate, I’m sure this has been a factor in his thinking.

          Bob in AZ

        • ghostof911 says:

          the fact of the matter is that we, the public, aren’t allowed to play in their sandbox.

          We did have a peek into the sandbox once. We learned it’s all about creating “business opportunities.”

          • ghostof911 says:

            Note who’s sitting behind the Congressman (?) grilling Secord.

            Examine Secord’s face. He represents that class of individuals for whom the people slaughtered in the pursuit of “business opportunities” are of no consequence whatsoever.

            • ghostof911 says:

              Note who’s sitting behind the Congressman (?) grilling Secord.

              Secord had absolutely nothing to worry about. He was among friends.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    We are fielding a global police force, except these people aren’t police, they have a license to kill and none of them are limited by rules of law, only by the assassin’s code, which has one rule: there are no rules. Somehow, I don’t think the AUMF covers that.

    I wonder what a competent Congress would do if it ever heard about our sending thousands of 007’s around the world with orders to take out whomever comes over the the wire, the fax, the phone, the satlink, whatever.

    • MadDog says:

      Whether we will ever have a “competent Congress” is not something I’d bet on.

      Given the Congresses that we have had and do have, it is very likely that their lack of oversight interest is deliberate and with malice aforethought.

      They implicitly support these policies and actions while at the same time, they choose not to know about them so as to keep their own hands clean.

      Tis one of the older proverbs known to humankind: “Ignorance is bliss.”

    • thatvisionthing says:


      Before the sentence was formally pronounced, McVeigh addressed the court for the first time and said simply:[60]

      If the Court please, I wish to use the words of Justice Brandeis dissenting in Olmstead to speak for me. He wrote, ‘Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example.’ That’s all I have.

    • Mary says:

      I wonder what a competent Congress would do

      I think it was early last year I lost my ability to even imagine such a thing.

  3. Jeff Kaye says:

    An amazing job, Marcy, of tracking this massive expansion of U.S. military force all over the globe, including this observation:

    “JSOC has been more empowered more under this administration than any other in recent history. No question.”

    Obama is one of the weakest presidents in the national defense arena I’ve ever seen. He not only has given away the keys, I don’t think he even knows where they are. It’s carte blanche now in the Pentagon.

    Too many “leftist” regimes in South America… last time that happened, the U.S. helped sponsor Operation Condor, which ended in an orgy of disappearances, torture, and assassinations. The handwriting was on the wall when the U.S. nodded tut-tut over the coup in Honduras.

    It is my fervent hope that most progressives will soon recognize that Obama is not our friend (at least when it comes to military and intelligence issues). I understand the wish to believe that the president is stalled somewhere on the learning curve… But, did not Obama basically LIE about closing black sites? Did he not basically LIE about abuse of prisoners? Giving him advice is like pissing into the wind.

      • b2020 says:

        “When he said he admired Reagan, we should have taken him literally.”

        Why? Reagan at least was dead-serious about nuclear abolition. Obama, with respect to the NPT and the nuclear policies expressed in the National Security Strategy, is, as usual, just another fraud.

    • b2020 says:

      “It is my fervent hope that most progressives will soon recognize that Obama is not our friend (at least when it comes to military and intelligence issues).”

      As opposed to what? Privacy? Civil rights? Constitutional issues? Transparent government? Torture? Accountability? Employment? Financial industry regulation? Oil industry regulation? Disaster response? Choice? Collective bargaining? Social Security?

      Torture alone – AFM-M and Bagram alone – condemns the man to any decent human being, progressive or conservative. Hostis humanis generis. Some deeds cannot be tolerated, they cannot be excused, they cannot be forgiven, and they certainly cannot be part of some kind of “package deal”.

  4. BoxTurtle says:

    We’re gonna hunt down those scary brown people wherever they may be. They’re all terrorists or drug lords. And they talk funny.

    You know, you’d the the above would offend somebody in power enough to do something about it. But they’re all pretending that brown has nothing to do with it.

    We really need to stop treating terrorists and drug smugglers as invading armys. This is not war, this is pest control.

    Boxturtle (Nevertheless, if I were UPS I might consider repainting my scary brown trucks)

  5. ghostof911 says:

    “Funny talking scary brown people” really do have nothing to do with it. That image is merely a device used to frighten the sheeple, so that the overlords are given carte blanche to pursue their “business opportunities.”

    Fatster recently posted this link to the list of US interventions in Latin America. It’s nothing new. It started in 1846!

    • BoxTurtle says:

      That image is merely a device used to frighten the sheeple

      100% agree. Which is why I highlight it so often. Nobody worries about drug smugglers of white european descent. Or white terrorists, as long as they have Christian motivations.

      I sometimes think I should use a word other than people in that phrase, since part of the whole image is dehumanizing them. But I have yet to find a substitute that isn’t to offensive for me, even used sarcastically.

      Boxturtle (I do have some limits)

      • kindGSL says:

        Nobody worries about drug smugglers of white european descent. Or white terrorists, as long as they have Christian motivations.

        I do.

    • ghostof911 says:

      Who will counter them?

      Not who, the question should be, what will counter them? The answer: honesty. Just a small amount of it surfacing here and there will put the punks in their place.

  6. Frank33 says:

    JSOC has also supported US Drug Enforcement Agency operations in Colombia and Mexico.

    How about Pakistan? David Headley was a DEA spy for years after being released from prison for heroin smuggling. Headley copped a guilty plea for murdering nearly 200 people in Mumbai. Headley is knee deep in drugs, murder, and spies. Only his handlers know where he was on Nov. 26, 2008.

  7. Rayne says:

    There’s been plenty of potential authorization provided by three or more previous presidents, with regard to U.S. use of military resources in Central and South America. Look at these executive directives, most of which are still classified or partially classified which refer to Central/South/Latin America:


    NSDD 17 Cuba and Central America 04Jan82

    NSDD 37 Cuba and Central America 28May82

    NSDD 37a Cuba and Central America 28May82

    NSDD 59 Cuba and Central America 05Oct82

    NSDD 71 US Policy Toward Latin America in Wake of Falklands Crisis 30Nov82

    NSDD 82 US Policy Initiatives to Improve Prospects for Victory in El Salvador 24Feb83

    NSDD 124 Central America: Promoting Democracy, Economic Improvement and Peace 07Feb84

    NSDD 263 Central America 25Feb87

    NSDD 264 Central America 27Feb87

    NSDD 285 Central America 15Oct87

    NSDD 291 US Policy Toward Mexico 16Dec87

    NSDD 294 Central America – Transfer of FY 1988 Funds for Nicaraguan Resistance to CIA 06Jan88

    NSDD 300 US Policy Toward Mexico 11Feb88


    National Security Directive 13 — Cocaine Trafficking (07JUN89)

    National Security Directives 17 (22JUN89), 21 (01SEP89) 32, 33, 34 (24JAN90) wrt to Panama


    PDD/NSC 14 Counter-Narcotics “Andean Strategy” 02Nov93

    PDD/NSC 28 Latin America Policy (? – no text) (believed to be Aug 94)

    PDD/NSC 44 Heroin Control Policy (no text) Nov 95

    I haven’t checked to see if Carter and Nixon had any executive orders/directives on the same topic which are also relevant and classified.

    Cannot believe that after the scandal of Iran Contra that so much remains classified from the Reagan era; it should have been opened up for review since the directives may have aided criminal activity.

  8. JThomason says:

    I wish I were presently versed in a way sufficient to say something intelligent about the Monroe Doctrine here. From a political perspective the authority for South & Central American intervention is not a given.

      • JThomason says:

        Thanks for the link. It is pretty good.

        I found this item of particular relevance:

        President Grover Cleveland through his Secretary of State, Richard Olney cited the Doctrine in 1895, threatening strong action against the United Kingdom if the British failed to arbitrate their dispute with Venezuela.

        In a July 20, 1895 note to Britain, Olney stated, “The United States is practically sovereign on this continent, and its fiat is law upon the subjects to which it confines its interposition.”

        • fatster says:

          This is a biggie. It was born of sheer arrogance, backed up by fierce firepower and “influence.” This wiki article also is a pretty good introduction to it, with links to much more if you’re interested.

  9. Mary says:

    Ya know, Bellinger seems to forget about the American assasinations, unrelated to 9/11, that took place on his watch.

    The Bushies in Peru in 2001 targeted a US missionary plane to be shot down, resulting in the killing of the missionary’s wife and infant son, with the intent of killing all aboard. Of course, the intent to kill all aboard was based on the wonderful “intel” (i.e., plane profiling) that it was a drug plan – summary execution by blowing up planes. And apparently, there were other non-drug planes blow up as well, just not without American infants on board.

    A CIA aircraft followed the Bowers for almost two hours and called in the Peruvian Air Force to intercept the Cessna. In dramatic video footage of the incident, a fighter can be seen “buzzing” the Cessna before opening fire a few moments later. Mrs Bowers and Charity were killed.

    After nine years of investigation, however, the CIA insisted that none of its officers had acted inappropriately when the aircraft was mistakenly attacked as part of a covert anti-drug effort called the Airbridge Denial Programme.

    “I am sick and tired of this Government. There is nothing but a bunch of liars up there,” Garnett Luttig, who lost his daughter and granddaughter, told The Times from his home in Pace, Florida. “They have lied. They have covered up,” he said. “My opinion is some people need to go to prison — a bunch of them.”

    Unable to speak Spanish except for a few phrases, the CIA team had difficulty calling off the operation

    Investigations revealed that the Cessna was one of 15 small civilian aircraft shot down during the covert programme from 1995 to 2001. The CIA inspector-general said in November that in most cases the flights were shot down “without being properly identified, without being given the required warnings to land, and without being given time to respond to such warnings as were given to land”.

    It’s too much to hope that a narcissist like Bellinger dreams of an infant named Charity getting a Bullet in the brain, courtesy of his “good guys” every night, just like it’s too much to hope that Obama sits down with his girls and explains how he authorizes assassinations of grandbabies.

  10. Mary says:

    IRRC, although I can’t find a link, one of the stories that came out re the warrantless wiretapping program, with lots of anonymous sourcing, also slid in a reference to the fact that the Clinton admin had been involved in a large, warrantless wiretapping program involving US to latin america and vice versa calls. I remember thinking at the time that it was a heads up to the Dems on what rocks not to turn over and its one of the factors that swayed me more towards Obama than Hilary – that he wouldn’t have a vested interest in protecting the Clinton era renditions to torture and Clinton era warrantless wiretapping. As soon as he appointed Hilary SoS, it was really clear that was they pie in the sky I had thought it would be, but hoped it would not be.


      • Mary says:

        Rub it in.

        Not that I ever was very illusioned to be disillusioned. I lost a few friends when I pointed out that Obama’s rhetoric was Bush’s, a conservative compassionate to replace the compassionate conservative. And I never really bought into the brilliance – I saw lots of finger steepling and posing, not much substance or even desire for substance.

    • john in sacramento says:

      Was it something about Plan Columbia?

      Communications Interception Program

      Another program, funded by $5 million in Justice Sector Reform money, gives the CNP the ability to gather law enforcement intelligence by intercepting communications within Colombia with appropriate judicial authorization. Resulting leads and information are shared with DEA domestic offices through the Special Operations Division to pursue and expand investigations in the United States and play a critical role in investigating major drug trafficking, money laundering and precursor chemical organizations. Operation Encore began with wiretap intercepts relating to a major heroin trafficking organization in Pereira, Colombia, expanded to wiretaps in New York, and ultimately led to 31 arrests in the United States and Colombia and the dismantlement of the organization.

      • Mary says:

        No – although that’s a pretty interesting thing as well. This was buried in one of the propaganda outlets for anonymous sources, WaPo or NYT I think, and from several years back. It was primarily a story about the *al-Qaeda calling* program being fine and hunky dory and buried down in the story was this very passing reference to the fact that when Clinton was in office, he engaged in a warrantless wiretap program for calls between the US and Latin America in his war on drugs program.

        There had been some earlier stories that had referenced his (Clinton’s)warrantless searches that were based on intelligence gathering justifications, but this was the one and only time I (and that doesn’t say a lot, bc I don’t see everything) saw a reference to Clinton having a warrantless wiretap progrm of his own.

        I wish I were either a better googler or that about 3 years ago I started keeping files and references on all this stuff.

        • Rayne says:

          Recommend setting up an account using a tool like or Evernote, or both. They have different purposes, might not hurt to have an account at both.

 is a bookmarking tool which is far more useful than your browser bookmarks; you can save interesting links and comments in your own online account, file under your own personal tags. The cautionary note about using is that links can degrade depending on source, although if a link breaks you may be able to look up the content using the Wayback Machine internet archive using the link you’ve saved. The upside to is that one can access it with any internet-connected computer, and if you have a Yahoo account, it may use the same userid and password as it’s in the Yahoo family. also has extensions/plug-ins which can be added to your browser to make bookmarking easier. I’m debating about setting up a new, separate account dedicated to research material for content related to foreign policy content which can then be shared with others — another nice feature.

          Evernote is great for saving entire pieces of content, or multiple pieces into note pages. One can easily pull related content into a note page which makes sense to the user, and content can be emailed to one’s notes without having to log in.

          You can imagine how much stuff I have squirreled away in resources like these. Unfortunately nothing about Clinton wiretaps, though, sorry to say.

  11. TalkingStick says:

    It’s all about power and expanding it. Most government leaders/military/law enforcement believe they must have details of the lives of every person and the power of life or death over them. The invention of “terrorism” and some ill defined enemy was likely the most consequential act of the Bush administration. I never expected Obama to voluntarily give up the expanded unlimited powers but I am somewhat surprised to see just how far he is expanding both the definition of terrorist and scope of violence.

    I only hope exposure by such good reports as this will eventually stir enough outrage to turn him back. I am not optimistic.

    • bmaz says:

      But the AUMF gives us no jurisdiction in that regard; Hezbollah did not attack us on 9/11. Not that we have bothered to do anything in the country where most of those who did attack us on 9/11 came from or anything…..

      • AZ Matt says:

        I didn’t say that it did just that they are there.

        Is it a 110 degrees in Phoenix? We are supposed to get about 96 where I am at.

  12. ubetchaiam says:

    Ecuador because Correa kicked out the Manta airbase and sides more often than not with Chavez re the U.S.
    “U.S. counternarcotics efforts in Paraguay have focused on providing training, equipment and technical assistance to strengthen the country’s National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD), and to combat money laundering and corruption. The United States assisted in the completion of a helicopter pad and support facilities for SENAD. According to the State Department’s February 2009 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, SENAD continued to make progress against illegal narcotics trafficking in 2008 with record seizures of marijuana, although cocaine
    seizures were markedly down. The report notes that President Lugo has said he wants to reverse Paraguay’s status as a “major drug transit country.” Currently, SENAD agents are civil servants and they are not issued weapons. The Paraguayan Senate rejected a bill that would have made the SENAD an autonomous institution with the power to regulate its agents as law enforcement agents who can carry and use weapons. The bill had passed the Chamber of Deputies. This defeat is considered by some to be a major setback. Finally, INCSR notes that SENAD’s work is limited
    by budget constraints, weak laws and pervasive corruption. After President Evo Morales of Bolivia kicked out the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in late 2008, 10 of the 56 agents working in that country were redeployed to Paraguay in early 2009.
    In April 2009, bills entitled the “U.S.-Paraguay Partnership Act of 2009” were introduced in the House (H.R. 1837) and Senate (S. 780). On September 14, 2009, the ATPDEA Expansion and Extension Act of 2009 (S. 1665) was introduced in the Senate.52 Each of these bills would amend the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (Title XXXI of the Trade Act of 2002, P.L. 107-210) to extend trade preferences to Paraguay. Currently, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru benefit from the ATPDEA in exchange for cooperation under anti-narcotics agreements. Bolivia
    lost its eligibility for the program in 2008 when the Bush Administration determined that Bolivia no longer met the anti-narcotics cooperation requirements.”

    From here(PDF); the JSOC are the ‘jackals’.

  13. Praedor says:

    C’mon, everyone knows that in Latin America the enemy is made up of labor unions, labor activists, indigenous people, advocates for social justice, and advocates for the environment. Of course you send SpecOps troops down to “train” locals how to suppress those “dangerous terrorists”. They are saving lives (on Wall Street)!

Comments are closed.