Colombia Anti-Drug Plan Draws Hill Fire

Colombia Anti-Drug Plan Draws Hill Fire
Posted by FoM on February 15, 2000 at 22:46:07 PT
By Karen DeYoung, Washington Post Staff Writer
Source: Washington Post
Members of Congress opened fire on the Clinton administration's $1.6 billion anti-drug plan for Colombia yesterday, with wide-ranging concerns that it is too little, too much, too late, too ambitious and not ambitious enough.In a taste of what the administration can expect as it seeks quick approval of the two-year package, including an emergency supplemental appropriation this year of nearly $1 billion, senior defense and diplomatic officials were sharply questioned on past failures and potential pitfalls.
Testifying before a House Government Reform subcommittee on drug policy were many of the administration's front-line troops on Colombia, including White House drug policy director Barry R. McCaffrey; Gen. Charles Wilhelm, head of the U.S. Southern Command; Peter Romero, the assistant secretary of state for Latin America; William Ledwith, director of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Agency; and Ana Maria Salazar, deputy assistant secretary of defense for drug policy.Subcommittee members asked pointed questions that reflected years of involvement in the issues of drug trafficking and Colombia policy, with specific concerns about human rights, leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries, coca crop yields, the relative merits of various types of military helicopters, and problems with lengthy delays in delivering military equipment as well as procuring any equipment at all after years of shrinking defense budgets.Most of the testimony in the day-long hearing went over well-plowed ground in the ongoing Colombia debate, which has been the subject of numerous hearings and investigations in recent years.Noting that "surplus material" promised the Colombian military "back to 1997 hasn't been delivered," subcommittee Chairman Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.) asked McCaffrey how the administration could guarantee new equipment and training would arrive as promised.Acknowledging an "enormously legitimate concern," that "we'll screw this up seriously if we don't put together a mechanism that's adequate to the challenge," McCaffrey said the administration hoped to put together a permanent secretariat to manage the aid process.In response to questions, Wilhelm acknowledged the U.S. military presence in Colombia "will change in subtle ways" with the new package, the majority of which consists of military equipment and training. But he and Salazar insisted that the force level was unlikely to rise above the 80 to 250 U.S. military personnel now on the ground, and that close monitoring would prevent U.S. involvement in Colombia's long-running counterinsurgency.Wilhelm said he hoped to replace the U.S. Army colonel heading the American military group in Colombia with a general. He acknowledged that U.S. ability to monitor drug flights in and out of Colombia and the surrounding region with airborne surveillance had been severely undercut by the U.S. withdrawal from Howard Air Force Base last year under final implementation of the Panama Canal Treaties. The United States has reached agreement with Ecuador to use base facilities there, Romero said, and is negotiating with the Netherlands Antilles government for additional assets. By Karen DeYoungWashington Post Staff WriterWednesday, February 16, 2000; Page A18  Copyright 2000 The Washington Post CompanyRelated Articles:Doubts Over US-Colombia Policy Colombia Cocaine Production Up A School That Should Be Closed 
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Comment #4 posted by CongressmanSuet on February 16, 2000 at 20:38:36 PT
We might not get this opportunity again for....
 ...awhile. Tears came to my eyes when I heard Donna Shalala skirt around the medical issue on "WashingtonToday".I was so enthralled that someone was able to get thru. This is a GREAT opportunity, Kap, are you going to be busy tomorrow morning.....Im going to try and get thru, and if by some miracle I do, my prewritten list of questions will accompany me....wish me luck.
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on February 16, 2000 at 13:21:08 PT
Beware the screeners!
Friends, this is a heaven-sent opportunity. A few useful tips about trying to get on: Use a Rep or Dem line; "Other" is just too much of a giveaway, and screeners are very wary of letting anyone on from the "Other" category for fear of getting a nutcase. It's unfair, but that's how they do things.If you *really* do represent a group, fine; otherwise, it's just 'private citizen' time.It looks like he will propbably get on the tube to lobby the American people to accept US military involvemnet in Colombia. Remind him that his boss Slick Willie kept us in Somalia, and what a bloodbath that was for our troops.And, finally: point out what the IoM study is, how McCaffrey had to be prodded to initiate it, and how he has ignored it ever since it didn't validate his premises. The vast majority of people who will tune in at this time will probably not even know what it is. Keep at it. Wear him down; if a caller gets on and gets to ask him, and Good Ol' Bary dissembles and mutters, the next one should press him on the same question. He's good at what I call the faux-compassionate gaze: sincere looking eyes, earnest expression as he (supposedly) listens to you, and then he will make some sympathetic noise... and go right on blathering his propaganda. Point out that his professations of compassion for the sick are not being matched by his locking up medical cannabis users. Stick it to him, and keep sticking it to him. The DrugWarriors are deathly afraid of any public contact which is spontaneous because it *is* spontaneous; they have no way of controlling any damage that is done by foot-in-mouth-syndrome. The spin-doctoring has to wait, and by then, the damage is already done.This is a perfect opportunity for Barry to shoot himself in the foot, publicly. And C-Span has handed him the gun. Let's give him some ammo.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 16, 2000 at 08:51:14 PT
Thanks! I will keep my eyes open! I'll check out C-Span too!Peace, FoM!
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Comment #1 posted by Trash on February 16, 2000 at 08:12:26 PT
McCaffrey on C-SPan 2/17/00
Our illustrious leader in the failed drug war will be appearing on C-Span, fielding our questions, Thursday, February 17, 2000. Get up early and call in. 
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