GOLINGER: US Intelligence Report Classifies Venezuela as “Anti-US Leader”

Posted on February 3, 2010

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US Intelligence Report Classifies Venezuela as “Anti-US Leader”
By Eva Golinger

3 February 2010 – As is custom at the beginning of each year, the
different US agencies publish their famous annual reports on topics
ranging from human rights, trafficking in persons, terrorism,
threats, drug-trafficking, and other issues that indicate who will be
this year’s target of US aggression. Yesterday, it was the
intelligence community’s turn. Admiral Dennis Blair, National
Director of Intelligence, presented the Annual Threat Assessment of
the US Intelligence Community before the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence.

The report details the principle threats to the interests and
security of the US worldwide. This year, in addition to mentioning
the usual suspects – Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, Al Qa’ida and
Iraq – the report dedicates significant space to Venezuela.

In the section referring to threats in Latin America, which carries
the title “Latin America Stable, but Challenged by Crime and
Populism”, a large portion is dedicated to Venezuela. “In…countries
such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua, elected populist leaders
are moving toward a more authoritarian and statist political and
economic model, and they have banded together to oppose US influence
and policies in the region. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has
established himself as one of the US’s foremost international
detractors, denouncing liberal democracy and market capitalism and
opposing US policies and interests in the region.”

Classifying President Chavez as “one of the US’s foremost
international detractors” already gives indication that the US
intelligence community considers the Venezuelan president as an
enemy. But following that paragraph, further down, a section titled
“Venezuela: Leading Anti-US Regional Force”, further confirms the
official US vision of Venezuela as a major adversary. “President
Chavez continues to impose an authoritarian populist political model
in Venezuela that undermines democratic institutions. Since winning a
constitutional referendum in early 2009 that removed term limits and
will permit his reelection, Chavez has taken further steps to
consolidate his political power and weaken the opposition in the run
up to the 2010 legislative elections.”

The mention of the congressional elections in Venezuela this year
evidences how deeply involved US intelligence agencies are in
internal Venezuelan affairs. The US is not always interested in
legislative elections in a foreign nation. Such a focus only occurs
when the US has some kind of investment in the outcome of the
electoral process, as in this case. There is no question that the
flow of US dollars will increase this year to fund campaigns of
opposition candidates and aid in the execution of strategies to
undermine the Chavez government.

In the following paragraph, the intelligence assessment utilizes
every claim made by opposition groups and media in Venezuela against
Chavez, “The National Assembly passed a law that shifted control of
state infrastructure, goods, and services to Caracas in order to
deprive opposition states and municipalities of funds. Chavez has
curtailed free expression and opposition activities by shutting down
independent news outlets, harassing and detaining protestors, and
threatening opposition leaders with criminal charges for corruption.
Chavez’s popularity has dropped significantly in recent polls as a
result of his repressive measures, continued high crime, rising
inflation, water and power shortages, and a major currency
devaluation, raising questions about his longer term political
future.”

Not only is the US intelligence community demonstrating poor
intelligence collecting and analyses here, but also evidencing its
clear dependency on opposition sources inside and outside Venezuela.
No news outlets have been shut down in Venezuela. Some have been
fined and sanctioned for not following legal regulations, but that
happens frequently in the US as well. The US Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) imposes sanctions on hundreds of media outlets in
the US each year. No one classifies those actions as violating
freedom of expression, but rather merely enforcing the law.

Furthermore, not only has the Chavez administration not detained
protestors that regularly violate all kinds of laws by blocking
highways and vital roads throughout the nation, marching without
permission from local authorities, calling publicly for the overthrow
of the government, throwing molotov cocktails and other deadly
objects at state security forces, but President Chavez himself has
actually ordered police to refrain from carrying deadly weapons when
dealing with public protests and to respect demonstrators’ human
rights. In the US, protestors are regularly detained and violently
repressed by police forces – almost at every demonstration – and
constantly denied permission to march or protest near any government
building.

Also, Chavez’s popularity has not “dropped significantly”. It remains
well above 60%, as it has been during the past several years.

But the report goes on to accuse Chavez of forming an “anti-US
alliance” in Latin America. “On foreign policy, Chavez’s regional
influence may have peaked, but he is likely to continue to support
likeminded political allies and movements in neighboring countries
and seek to undermine moderate, pro-US governments. He has formed an
alliance of radical leaders in Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, an
until recently, Honduras.” (Note: Honduras was part of the Bolivarian
Alliance of the Americas “ALBA”, until the recent Washington-backed
coup d’etat. This statement in the intelligence report evidences the
US’s clear satisfaction with Honduras’ withdrawal from the alliance).

In the following phrase, the US intelligence report also relates
Chavez and ALBA nations to drug-trafficking and terrorism, “He and
his allies are likely to oppose nearly every US policy initiative in
the region, including the expansion of free trade, counter drug and
counterterrorism cooperation, military training and security
initiatives, and even US assistance programs.”

“Chavez’s relationship with Colombia’s President Uribe is
particularly troubled. His outspoken opposition to Colombia’s Defense
Cooperation Agreement with the US has led to an increase in border
tensions. Chavez has called the agreement a declaration of war
against Venezuela. He has restricted Colombian imports, warned of a
potential military conflict and continued his covert support to the
terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).”

In the above statement, the US again accuses the Chavez government of
supporting the FARC, yet has never presented any solid evidence to
back this claim, which has been repeatedly denied by the Venezuelan
government. Cynically, the US is also accusing Chavez of somehow
“increasing tensions” with Colombia because he opposes the
establishment of seven US military bases in Colombia right across the
Venezuelan border. A May 2009 US Air Force official document detailed
how one of the Colombian military bases in Palanquero would be used
by US armed forces to “combat the constant threat of anti-US
governments in the region” and would improve the US’s capacity to
execute “Expedentiary Warfare”.

Clearly, as the report classifies Venezuela as the “anti-US leader”
in the region, that would indicate, as outlined in the US Air Force
document, that the increased US military presence in Colombia is
precisely to threaten and/or attack Venezuela.

Finally, the US intelligence report discusses the perceived threat
surrounding Chavez’s relationship with Iran, Russia and China.
“Chavez will continue to cultivate closer political, economic and
security ties with Iran, Russia and China. He has developed a close
personal relationship with Iranian President Ahmadinejad and they
have signed numerous agreements…Most of the agreements Moscow has
signed with Chavez relate to arms sales and investments in the
Venezuelan energy sector…On paper, Venezuela’s acquisitions are
impressive, but their armed forces lack the training and logistics
capacity to use these to their full capability. Yet, the scale of the
purchases has caused concern in neighboring countries, particularly
Colombia, and risks fueling a regional arms race.”

The report ends by mentioning Venezuela in the section on
“Significant State and Non-State Intelligence Threats”, claiming that
“North Korea and Venezuela posess more limited intelligence
capabilities focused primarily on regional threats and supporting the
ruling regime…Venezuela’s services are working to counter US
influence in Latin America by supporting leftist governments and
insurgent groups.” The other countries mentioned in this section are
China, Russia and Cuba, along with non-state actors Al Qa’ida and
Hizballah.

Apparently, now the US formally views Venezuela as a threat in the
same class as Al Qa’ida.

What this intelligence report really means is that operations against
the Chavez government will substantially increase this year.
The report will be used to justify a larger budget allocation to
intelligence missions against Venezuela. But even more dangerously,
the focus in the report on Hugo Chavez, the man, evidences that he
has become the principal target of US aggression. Placing such an
emphasis on one individual as the cause of major threats to US
interests raises the possibilities of an assassination attempt or
other tactic to rid Empire of an individual perceived as an “anti-US
leader”.