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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS -
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New and unkown deadly weapons used by Israeli forces

Posted in the database on Tuesday, August 08th, 2006 @ 14:30:51 MST (1599 views)
by Professor Paola Manduca    The Centre for Research on Globalisation  

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Intelligence Director John Negroponte Credit: AP

John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence for the United States, announced on Friday, August 18, 2006, the creation of a new special CIA mission to oversee intelligence activities in Venezuela and Cuba. Negroponte, who coordinates the entire intelligence community in the United States and reports directly to President George W. Bush, named CIA veteran J. Patrick Maher as Acting Mission Manager of this new important division.

According to a Press Release from the Directorate of National Intelligence, “Maher will be responsible for integrating collection and analysis on Cuba and Venezuela across the Intelligence Community, identifying and filling gaps in intelligence, and ensuring the implementation of strategies, among other duties.” According to Negroponte, “such efforts are critical today, as policymakers have increasingly focused on the challenges that Cuba and Venezuela pose to American foreign policy.”

Since early 2005, the CIA has named Venezuela as one of the “Top 5 Unstable Countries” in Latin America and has increased its intelligence personnel within the country by fifty percent.

The new CIA Mission Manager for Cuba and Venezuela will “be responsible for ensuring that policymakers have a full range of timely and accurate intelligence on which to base their decisions.” This implies a further increase in actual ground agents and field officers in both nations.

During the past two years, the Venezuelan Government has discovered and expelled four U.S. officials engaged in espionage activities. Two of these individuals were military attachés, Capitan John Correa and Lieutenant Humberto Rodriguez, and had been actively recruiting members of the Venezuelan armed forces to provide strategic and secret information about internal Venezuelan affairs to the U.S. government.

The other two accused spies are not publicly known, though President Hugo Chávez recently made reference to a “beautiful woman caught taking photographs in the city of Valencia”, indicating she was a CIA operative who had been detained and turned over to the U.S. Embassy.

J. Patrick Maher has been the National Intelligence Officer for the Western Hemisphere since August 2005. He will remain in that capacity as well as assume the role of Acting Mission Manager until a more permanent replacement is named. Maher was the Deputy Director of the CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence’s Office of Policy Support from 2003 to August 2005, and previously oversaw different CIA divisions in Latin America, including the Colombia Working Group, the Mexico Working Group and he served as Chief of the Latin America Branch’s Middle-Caribbean Division. He joined the CIA in 1974 after a two-year stint as a volunteer in the Peace Corp, where he was stationed in Colombia. The Peace Corp has often been viewed as a first step trial period for young perspective CIA officers.

The Mission Manager for Cuba and Venezuela is a position recommended by the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission of the Directorate of National Intelligence and has been endorsed by President George W. Bush. The Cuba and Venezuela Mission becomes the sixth of its kind, though the only other nations with such specific missions are Iran and North Korea. The other missions include one for counterterrorism, one for counter-proliferation and one for counterintelligence. The Missions are aimed at leading the intelligence community on a strategic and analytical level.

This latest development in the growing hostilities between Venezuela and the United States Government indicates the importance the Bush Administration is now placing on monitoring activities within Venezuela and developing new strategies of intervention. Despite excellent commercial relations between the two nations, the verbal rhetoric and behind the scenes preparations for a direct conflict are increasing. Top Secret CIA documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act in 2004 revealed the in-depth role the Agency played in the coup d’état against President Hugo Chávez in April 2002. Subsequently, direct U.S. intervention in Venezuela has grown through multi-million dollar funding to opposition groups via the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

It was long known that the CIA and other intelligence bodies were active in Venezuela, yet this latest confirmation from the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, affirms that Venezuela has taken a top priority role in the Bush administration’s intelligence and strategic defense planning.

Venezuela has presidential elections coming up on December 3, 2006, and is concerned that this new special CIA Mission will attempt to interfere with the electoral process

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US steps up anti-Castro TV

By Warren Richey | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Every evening from Monday to Saturday, a small twin-engine prop plane taxis down the runway past combat-ready jet-fighters at Naval Air Station, Key West.

The commuter aircraft takes off and banks to the south over the deep-blue Florida Straits as pilot and crew prepare for their nightly invasion of Cuba.

Their mission: to spread democracy there by serving as an airborne broadcast platform for a US Spanish-language television network known as TV Martí.

Welcome to the newest front in Washington's propaganda war against Fidel Castro and his brother, Raúl. With Cuba's leader said to be frail but recovering from surgery and his brother provisionally designated as his successor, US officials are stepping up efforts to encourage the Cuban people to end Mr. Castro's 47-year revolution with a revolution of their own.

Officials with the Miami-based Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), an arm of the US government, are quick to point out that their twin-prop Grumman G-1 at no time leaves international air space. Nonetheless, the Cuban government views the operation as the equivalent of a full-on invasion of Cuban sovereignty.

How effective this information 'invasion' may be is a matter of considerable debate. The Cubans have worked to jam TV Martí for years. The new plane and its high-powered transmitter were pressed into action Aug. 5 and are still in the testing phase. But officials say initial indications are positive.

"It is getting through. We have reports from Havana [and] Matanzas ... that it is being seen," says Alberto Mascaro, OCB's chief of staff. "Every day, it is getting better as they fine-tune the equipment."

Critics scoff at such claims. They see information warfare directed at Cuba as an expensive boondoggle related more to the political power of anti-Castro Cuban-Americans than to any demonstrable impact on bringing free elections to Cuba.

The US government has spent nearly $500 million to fund Radio Martí since 1985 and TV Martí since 1990. The Cuban government responded with an array of frequency jammers in and around Havana, and opponents of the propaganda effort say it has achieved little more than bringing very expensive "snow" to Cuban television screens.

"The bottom line is that TV Martí since the day it went on the air, regardless of the technology used, has virtually no audience. Every new technology that they have announced has not worked; it is very easy to jam," says John Nichols, a communications professor at Penn State University and coauthor of the book "Clandestine Radio Broadcasting."

Last month, a presidential commission recommended measures aimed at hastening the transition to democracy in post-Castro Cuba. One recommendation was to break Castro's information blockade. "The regime fears the day that the Cuban people have full access to independent information," it said.

Radio Martí programming has been somewhat more successful than TV Martí in evading jamming, but analysts say it nonetheless has failed to attract a large and loyal audience after more than 20 years in operation. One government estimate in 2005 said only 1.7 percent of Cubans were regular listeners.

But that hasn't slowed US efforts to find new and better ways to get information into Cuba. When TV Martí first started, it was broadcast from a blimp attached to a cable 10,000 feet above Cudjoe Key in the Florida Keys.

After the signals were easily blocked in Havana, the US responded with transmissions from a C-130 transport plane. Those broadcasts were also blocked. Now, TV Martí officials hope the new plane - with state-of-the-art equipment - will generate a signal strong enough to punch through the jammers.

That's not the only front in this information warfare. In 2003, TV Martí began beaming its signal throughout the island via satellite. The Cuban government tightly controls access to satellite broadcasts. But estimates are that there are perhaps 10,000 black- market satellite dishes island-wide.

"Now is the time to gear up and take action," says Stephen Johnson, a Cuba policy expert at the Heritage Foundation. He says the key to success at Radio and TV Martí is building credibility by offering reliable and useful information.

"What they need is information to help them realize that there are different ways of living out in the rest of the world, and that there are things they are missing out on," he says. "It is not to be anti-Castro, but to help plant seeds of change."

Professor Nichols says it won't work because no one in Cuba is listening. "The audience is the sender, not the receiver. The [attempted broadcasts] are making Cuba mad and the Cuban exile community happy," he says. "That is the real message."

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