Treason in Drug War

Treason in Drug War
Posted by FoM on July 18, 2000 at 07:35:32 PT
By the Editorial Board
Source: Kansas City Star
There have always been many questions surrounding the appropriation of U.S. funds to help the Colombian government fight drugs. Some of those dealt with alleged human-rights abuses by the Colombian military battling anti-government guerrillas. Now there's more. Last week, Col. James Hiett, former commander of the American military's anti-drug operation in Colombia, was sentenced to five months in prison for laundering cash from his wife's drug operation there. 
Hiett pleaded guilty in April to charges that he tried to launder $25,000 from drug shipments his wife, Laurie Hiett, made from a post office in the U.S. embassy in Bogota to New York. Consider this: The U.S. government's No. 1 military man in coca-rich Colombia was protecting his wife's heroin and cocaine operation. The U.S. Embassy was used as a point of transfer for the drug trade. It's an outrage. Five months in prison is far too lenient. Laurie Hiett pleaded guilty in January to charges she shipped packages containing $700,000 worth of heroin and cocaine to the United States. She is serving a five-year sentence. Thanks to the criminal acts by this couple, the work of honest and dedicated servicemen and women will be more difficult in Colombia. The Hiett scandal goes beyond a political embarrassment for Congress and the Clinton White House, which last week signed off on $1.3 billion in economic and military aid to Colombia. This "betrayal of trust," as U.S. District Judge Edward Korman said after sentencing the colonel, goes to the heart of what's wrong with the U.S. war on drugs in Colombia. The Hietts present another argument for re-examining American policy. Our government certifies or decertifies such governments as Mexico and Colombia on whether their anti-drug programs have been corrupted by narcotraffickers. How would other countries grade us? A man at Hiett's level has the ability to determine which narcotrafficking operations are targeted and which aren't. Such high-level involvement in the drug trade along with concerns about alleged Colombian military involvement in atrocities warrant a congressional review of the policy and a freeze on further funds to Colombia.E-mail: thestar kcstar.comPublished: July 17, 2000  2000 The Kansas City Star Related Articles: Nobody Questions The Colonel Angry Over 'Ridiculous' U.S. Sentence Colonel Sentenced for Not Reporting Smuggling Colonel Gets 10-Months in Colombia Drug Case Says U.S. Covered Up Heroin Scam of U.S. Army Colonel to Plead Guilty 
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