Bush Orders More CIA Activity in Venezuela

Yesterday, CIA chief General Michael V. Hayden revealed President George W. Bush had requested his agency “pay more attention” to the activities of President Hugo Chávez and his government in Venezuela.

Caracas, January 19, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— During a briefing before the UnitedStates House of Representatives Committee on Intelligence, current CIA chiefGeneral Michael V. Hayden revealed President George W. Bush had requested hisagency “pay more attention” to the activities of President Hugo Chávez and hisgovernment in Venezuela.

General Hayden’scommentaries were directed to the House Committee on Intelligence afteroutgoing Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte had addressed thecongressional group. Negroponte, now sub-secretary of State under CondoleezzaRice, indicated to the committee that the United States was in a “good positionin terms of intelligence” regarding Venezuela and Cuba, implying that therecently-created special CIA Mission Manager on Venezuela and Cuba, overseen byveteran intelligence officer Norman A. Bailey since November 2006, was activeand functioning effectively.

Bailey, a ColdWar operative and Reaganite, was an intelligence officer and specialist in Latin America for over two decades. The new CIA Missionin Venezuela and Cuba, officially created in August 2006 byNegroponte’s National Directorate of Intelligence, is designed to enhance U.S.intelligence operations, information gathering and analysis in the twocountries. An August 16, 2006 press release by Negroponte’s office declared thenew CIA mission was “critical today, as policymakers have increasingly focusedon the challenges that Cubaand Venezuelapose to American foreign policy.”

Duringthe January 18, 2007 intelligence briefing in the House of Representatives,Republican congressman Darrell Issa requested that Negroponte and CIA DirectorHayden speak about how the United Statesis handling the “Chávez phenomenon” and whether or not the intelligencespecialists could guarantee that Venezuela will not become a“serious threat in our own hemisphere.” Intelligence czar Negroponte respondedthat Venezuela“is probably the second country in the hemisphere where we have concentratedthe majority of our intelligence and analysis efforts.” According toNegroponte’s comments, Cubamaintains its position as the “top” intelligence priority of the United StatesGovernment in this region.

Negroponte further remarked that USpolicymakers should be “worried about Mr. Chávez,” considering that “he hasliterally spent millions and millions of dollars to support his extremist ideasin various parts of the world…despite the fact that there is an enormous amountof poverty in his own country.”

Negroponte did not comment on howmany millions upon millions of U.S.taxpayer dollars were being used to undermine Venezuela’s re-elected President,who won the most recent presidential elections in December 2006 with alandslide 63% of the vote and record low voter abstention rates (around 25%).

Through the congressionally-fundedNational Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the State Department’s United StatesAgency for International Development (USAID), U.S.taxpayers pour more than $7 million of their dollars into funding Venezuela’sundemocratic and unpopular opposition movement each year.

Since 2001, almost 50 million inU.S. taxpayer dollars have been authorized by Congress and distributed throughthe NED and the USAID to fund a very unsuccessful coalition of anti-Chávezpolitical parties, NGOs, private media groups, labor unions and businessassociations, to aid in their efforts to oust Venezuela’s democraticallyelected and majority supported government.

These U.S.-funded groups led afailed coup against Chávez in April 2002 and later used taxpayer dollars to tryand force the Venezuelan president from office through a 64-day media war andbusiness lockout that sabotaged the oil industry and the economy. Subsequently,the millions of U.S. dollars have been used to fund the opposition’s electoraland media campaigns to try and oust Chávez through elections, despite clearviolations of both Venezuelan and U.S. laws that prohibit the foreignfunding of political parties and campaigns.

This funding does not include themillions that have been authorized by the Director of National Intelligence,the CIA, and the Pentagon to aid intelligence activities and covert action in Venezuela. PerCIA director Hayden’s revelation that under “President Bush’s instructions, wehave increased our work in Venezuela,”it is clear the U.S.government views Venezuelaas a major focus of attention and a threat to U.S. foreign policy in the region.

The recent elections in Ecuador, Nicaraguaand Bolivia indicate agrowing trend towards a more socialist-cooperative oriented foreign andnational policy in Latin America that follows Venezuela’slead and a clear rejection of U.S.domination in the hemisphere.