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War In Colombia

  • The House has appropriated $1 billion to fund an unpublicized war in Colombia. But peel back the layers and you'll find an interesting cast of characters -- including some from our "best ally" -- manipulating the situation for their gain.
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By Martin Mann

The Clinton administration is making plans to intervene in the most vicious, criminal and costly internecine bloodletting in the world: The Colombian civil war. Fighting between government forces and rebels continues, fueled by international drug dealing, oil, graft and an interminable armed struggle for power noted for its barbaric cruelty.

In the past 10 years, four Colombian presidential candidates, 200 judges, 1,350 policemen, half the sitting members of the nation's Supreme Court, and 161 journalists have been murdered, along with at least 300,000 citizens.

Venality is widespread. During the past 5 years, under the regime of a single reform-minded national-security director, Gen. Rosso Jose Serrano, some 11,400 police officers have been fired on corruption charges.

Driven by a steamroller lobbying campaign, Congress approved an emergency aid package of $1.3 billion to "upgrade" the Colombian army and national police. The funds are earmarked to pay for training and arming an elite anti-narcotics strike force, consisting of four rapid-reaction battalions and a fleet of special supporting aircraft, including 18 Blackhawk and 42 Huey helicopters along with hundreds of U.S. military and civilian "advisers," intelligence agents and pilots.

"We are on the road to an even worse disaster than Vietnam" warned Col. Lowell M. Shelton, a former U.S. Special Forces officer who served in both Bolivia and Colombia before retiring in l998. "The insurgency in Colombia, financed by hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money, is past the point where it can be defeated by military means.

"What is needed," Shelton added, "is a negotiated settlement of some sort -- and we have plenty of fresh, dire examples in the Middle East and Africa of the Clinton administration's ham-handed, hopeless inability to finesse diplomatic solutions."

Intense lobbying by U.S. defense contractors, pressure from the White House and a skillful promotional campaign by Colombia's ambassador in Washington, Luis Alberto Moreno, paved the way for passage of the measure, Congressional sources say.

Moreno, who as an experienced publicist renowned for throwing lavish dinner parties designed to court such veteran Capitol freeloaders as Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R.-N.Y.), chairman of the House International Affairs Committee, was especially effective at securing funding.

Gilman played a key role in supporting active U.S. intervention in the Colombian crisis after he formed a personal alliance with Serrano.

Serrano pledged to cover up the key role played in Colombia's booming cocaine traffic by Israeli narcotics dealers, drug-money financiers and gunmen, including Col. Yair Klein, a senior officer of the Mossad, the ministate's intelligence service .

Klein was spotted training squads of hit men for Colombian cocaine magnates. But soon after being exposed, he was discreetly deported back to Israel.

"Remember Col. Michael Harari, the Mossad officer who was the brains behind the drug crimes we blamed on Panama's former strongman Gen. Manuel Noriega?" asked Shelton. "After we invaded Panama, we grabbed Noriega and sent him to Miami, where he is still in prison. But Col. Harari and his men, who were as criminally guilty as Noriega -- perhaps even more so -- were quietly flown back to Israel in an un marked U.S. Air Force transport."

Serrano's determined policy not to embarrass Israel by jailing its drug-dealing citizens gained him the support of Gilman and congressional Zionists.

But once the vote was in and Congress had stamped its final approval on Colombia's emergency aid package, the general was unceremoniously fired by Colombian President Andres Pastrana, at the demand of Serrano's fellow-generals, who had come to resent the fa voritism the police chief reserved for alien criminals of a certain nationality.