GOP Worry Colombia Could Become Another Vietnam

GOP Worry Colombia Could Become Another Vietnam
Posted by FoM on August 06, 1999 at 14:00:27 PT
Breaking News
Source: Miami Herald
WASHINGTON -- (AP) -- Republican lawmakers said Friday advances in Colombia by ``narco-guerrillas'' could lead to a Vietnam-type debacle for the United States and blamed feeble Clinton administration policies.
Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, said he has visions of Americans someday fleeing Colombia by helicopter from the roof of the U.S. Embassy, duplicating the nightmarish U.S. departure from Saigon in April 1975 as the city fell to communist forces.Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., said Colombia is in some ways more of a headache for the United States than was Vietnam, because drugs that originate in Colombia threaten the lives of countless Americans. That, he said, never was an issue in Vietnam.He also drew a parallel between assistance to Colombia and U.S. efforts to defeat communism in Vietnam. ``There is just enough to never quite win,'' he said.The lawmakers spoke at a House Government Reform subcommittee hearing that exposed deep, often partisan divisions over the deteriorating situation in Colombia. A powerful 25,000-member Colombian leftist guerrilla movement, largely financed by drug trafficking, has been scoring battlefield gains of late.The Clinton administration supports counternarcotics efforts by Colombian forces but has avoided involvement in counterinsurgency activities.There were expressions of alarm Friday about the situation, especially by Republicans. A letter to President Clinton from Senate majority leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., was introduced at the hearing. They said recent developments in Colombia threaten democracy and, if unchecked, ``will have severe implications for the United States of America.'' They demanded that Clinton develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the situation.The subcommittee's chairman, John Mica, R-Fla., said, ``Our hemisphere and the United States are facing one of the greatest challenges to regional and national security as the situation with Colombia continues to deteriorate.''Some Democrats expressed doubt whether an expansion in U.S.-backed interdiction efforts would make a difference. They suggested that U.S. resources focus on education of American youth and an expansion of treatment centers.Rep. Janice Schakowsky, D-Ill., said there has been no net reduction in drug flows from Colombia despite outlays of $625 million in recent years. ``Why should we believe that investing more in this plan will achieve a different result?'' she asked.Deeper U.S. involvement in Colombia could aggravate the problem, Rep. Edolphus Townes, R-N.Y. , suggested.He said U.S. resources should be devoted to prevention programs at home, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., agreed. ``If you didn't have demand, you wouldn't have to worry about Colombia,'' Cummings said.Tempers flared briefly at the hearing as House International Relations Committee chairman Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y. disagreed on points of fact with White House drug control chief Barry McCaffrey.Gilman charged that only two of 30 Black Hawk helicopters authorized by Congress for Colombia in 1996 have been delivered. McCaffrey replied that seven have been delivered to the Army and 13 to the Air Force. Six more will be sent to the Colombian police, some in October and the rest in March, he said.Gilman also charged that ineffective counternarcotics policy in Colombia has led to a heroin epidemic on the East Coast. McCaffrey said only a tiny percentage of heroin traffic comes from Colombia, compared with Burma and Afghanistan.There also was a difference of opinion as to how much leftist guerrillas in Colombia derive from the narcotics trade. Burton said the figure could be as high as $1.2 billion a year. McCaffrey said it could be as low as $215 million.Copyright 1999 Miami HeraldPosted at 4:15 p.m. EDT Friday, August 6, 1999 Clinton Blamed for Heroin Crisis - 8/06/99
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on August 06, 1999 at 16:59:42 PT:
Colombian Coke Caper - Related Article
Thursday, August 5, 1999 7:45pm By William Bastone of U.S. Anti-Drug Commander Nabbed in Smuggling Case  The wife of the Army commander leading the U.S. government's antidrug efforts in Colombia has been charged in connection with a cocaine smuggling ring that shipped the drug from an American military base in Bogotá to New York City, the Voice has learned.Click the link to read the whole article.
Colombian Coke Caper - Related Article
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 06, 1999 at 14:13:13 PT:
Related Article
Wife of Army Counterdrug Commander Charged With Smuggling CocaineWASHINGTON (AP)Posted at 10:29 a.m. EDT Friday, August 6, 1999  The wife of an Army colonel who oversaw the U.S. military's counternarcotics operations in Colombia faces charges of shipping cocaine to the United States, U.S. officials said.Laurie Hiett, wife of Army Col. James Hiett, was charged in June with conspiracy to distribute narcotics after the U.S. Customs Service found parcels containing cocaine, including one package in New York that carried Mrs. Hiett's name as its return address, the officials said Thursday.A warrant for her arrest has been issued by the U.S. Eastern District Court in New York, according to Navy Lt. Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Southern Command in Miami.James Hiett was U.S. military group commander at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota at the time. In that job, he was in charge of all U.S. military activities in Colombia, including counterdrug operations, according to Col. Ron Williams, a Southern Command spokesman.Williams said Hiett requested to be removed from the post after the allegations arose and his transfer is pending.An investigation by the Army Criminal Investigation Division in Panama found ``no prior knowledge'' by Hiett of cocaine shipments to the United States involving his wife, Williams said. The investigation cleared Hiett of any involvement in criminal activity, he added.Williams referred a reporter to the New York prosecutor's office for information about Mrs. Hiett.The Village Voice newspaper reported on its Internet Web site Thursday that a search warrant application said Mrs. Hiett admitted to federal investigators she had mailed six packages for ``her husband's chauffeur,'' but claimed that she did not know the contents of the parcels.On May 23, according to the Village Voice, one of those parcels was searched by U.S. Customs agents in Miami and was found to contain 2.7 pounds of cocaine. Later a second parcel was intercepted in New York and also found to contain cocaine.The first package carried Mrs. Hiett's name as its return address and was mailed from Bogota, the newspaper reported.Colombia ranks third on the list of U.S. aid recipients with $289 million earmarked for counterdrug activity this year. Barry McCaffrey, the White House drug control chief, said recently an additional $1 billion was needed because current efforts were falling short. He said the situation had reached ``emergency'' proportions.The drug war also is costing the United States in other ways: Five U.S. soldiers were killed two weeks ago when their U.S. Army spy plane crashed into a Colombian mountainside while on a counternarcotics mission.Copyright 1999 Miami Herald 
Wife of Army Counterdrug Commander Charged
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