And the puppet master, holding all the strings, decides when to effect a nod, a stoop, a crook, the twisting of the arm that will compel entire governments to dance.
The recent hostage release of Ingrid Betancourt and 14 others from Colombia's FARC rebels is not necessarily what it seems. To better understand the facts surrounding her kidnapping, her captors, and those behind the scenes who fought (or didn't) to free her, you first have to understand that what happened to Ingrid Betancourt is not an isolated incident. Her experience is part of a global epidemic of corruption, victimizing whole populations and individuals, alike. Second, you have to understand that much of what our mainstream U.S. media reports on these tragedies is propaganda -- a motley mix of partial truths, sins of omission, inexcusable ignorance, and outright lies -- all intended to deceive us into believing that the Bush-Cheney Administration and their puppets are the good guys in the "war on terror."
Whenever I read an international headline about whole populations being systematically oppressed, robbed, raped, kidnapped, tortured or murdered, I know that, somewhere in the equation, I’ll nearly always find the United States of America. If I consult the mainstream U.S. media for information, I’ll find that we are heroes, the good guys, working in some capacity to aid the oppressed. If I consult alternative and international media I’ll invariably find that we are, in fact, the bad guys, paying off other bad guys to do bad things to people. From here, I never have to scratch too far below the surface to find oil.
Most Americans are clueless to what the U.S. is doing inside their own country, much less inside other countries. (Editor's note: I admit that I am often equally clueless, as I am continually surpised to discover. For example, just this week, I discovered that, since December 2006, the U.S. has been at war in Somalia, having armed the the Ethopians in yet another "war on terror" for oil, which has resulted in genocide on the scale of Darfur. I guess our media overlooked this in their discussions of Cindy's credit card spending, Michelle's proud-of-America gaffe, Madonna's latest publicity stunt, and who's got the bigger flag pin, Obama or McCain.) In a nutshell, we are warmongering, both openly and covertly, to gain control of the world's oil supply. To this end, we buy, overthrow and blackmail other governments -- from rogue regimes to even our closest, best allies -- to comply with us. Using both oil and the international banking system as commodities of coercion -- combined with the threat of labeling dissenters as terrorist appeasers -- Bush-Cheney have so far been successful in staunching all credible opposition to our illegal wars.
Colombia is but one such place. The evils we've committed there did not begin with Bush-Cheney, or even the Clinton Administration. It’s that our global war for oil has grown more sophisticated over the past two decades. We now hire corporations to fight our wars.
Side-stepping legal, constitutional channels to war, the Bush-Cheney Administration evades scrutiny from the U.S. Congress, the U.S. citizenry and much of the international community by hiring its own private militaries from U.S. corporations who specialize in the war machine --mercenaries, as they were called in the old days -- to staff their covert wars. Knowing that these wars are illegal under our U.S. Constitution; knowing that they violate the Nuremberg Principles; knowing that they are illegal under U.N. treaties and conventions; knowing that, as such, these wars would never gain congressional approval, outright, our government hires, on the taxpayer's dime, mercenaries to conduct dirty wars in dark places.
These wars, not really so different from the war in Iraq, are always conducted under false flags: stopping drug trafficking, peacekeeping missions, or fighting terrorism/rogue regimes. This is how Bush-Cheney get official Congressional approval for funding their private militia, although it would be a lie to say that our lawmakers were doing anything but turning their own blind eyes to reality, whether from political pressure or for financial gain, as the corporations that staff our wars are also among the most powerful lobbyists in Washington. Whenever you hear of our government doing business with private contractors such as Halliburton, DynCorp, MPRI, Blackwater, United Technologies, Vinnell, SAIC, General Electric, Logicon/Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, General Dynamics, and Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) think: "mercenary." (That is, if you can get past some of these corporations' putrid dealings in the human sex trade of women and children).
By the same token, when you read about genocide in Darfur, think “oil.” When you hear of any U.S. government involvement in Africa -- be it Nigeria, Sudan, Angola, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Somalia -- think "oil." As a matter-of-fact, think "oil" anytime you read of a U.S. government involvement anywhere in the world: Abu Dhabi , Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrghistan, Think "oil" when you recall the role of Clinton (and now Bush-Cheney) in Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and the Balkans. Think “oil” when you consider the Bush-Cheney "wars on terror" in Afghanistan and Iraq. Think “oil” when you hear of the Clinton/Bush efforts to stop drug trafficking in Colombia (a rip-roaring success, costing U.S. tax payers billions, while -- to this day -- Colombia supplies about 90% of the cocaine consumed in the U.S.) Think "oil" when you hear Bush-Cheney's saber-rattling to go to war in Iran. And when you read about the kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt, and countless others in Colombia, think "oil." Think this sounds too far-fetched to be true? Think again.
Or, better yet, read and become an informed citizen, instead of one of the button-eyed puppets our government relies upon to swallow their fiction about their wars. Ask questions, even as you know that the important questions will go unanswered. Know that Bush-Cheney will summarily excuse and dismiss any inquiry or investigation into their illegal activities by pleading "national security" or "state secrets" or "executive privilege." Read alternative and international news to see what our government is up to, then protest this administration with everything you own, because what happened to Ingrid Betancourt could happen to you, or to someone you love.
And if this sounds too outrageous to be true, I suggest you listen to Sen. Chris Dodd's Oct. 2007 speech on the state of the Constitution and law in our country. Then read up on Bush-Cheney's updated 2007 contingencies to enact Martial Law in our country, plan PDD 51 . This bill, interfaced with H.R. 1955, also passed in 2007, gives our government the unprecedented authority to arrest and detain, en masse, U.S. citizens who it deems "homegrown terrorists." The definition of homegrown terrorists in H.R. 1955 is so ambiguous, as to encompass arresting and incarcerating any individual or group of U.S. citizens speaking out against our government. And the contingency of housing these populations, per the orders within PDD 51, has already been resolved, as Bush-Cheney contracted in 2001 and 2006, with Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown and Root, to build "resettlement" camps throughout the United States, enough to house millions, in the event of "humanitarian interventions, mass migrations, populations rapidly arriving in the United States, and other unforeseen situations." "Unforeseen" being the sort of ambiguous term that would make any constitutional scholar squirm. To this end, some on Capitol Hill at least questioned the funding for these these camps, but to no avail, as their existence -- believed to number between 600-800, each with a capacity to hold up to 5,000 -- is now a reality. (see footage of alleged camps in Indiana and Texas). Some in this country suggest that Martial Law plans are already being rehearsed in some states, under names such as Operation Sudden Impact, all under various guises of practicing or of actually routing out the terrorists among us. The many comparisons in recent years of Bush-Cheney to the Hitler regime have only served to trivialize the impact of this comparison, casting such thoughts to the realm of the conspiracy theorists. As Dodd alluded to in his speech, the comparisons are, nonetheless, legitimate.
Recent U.S. history stands as evidence: Unless oil interests are involved, our government turns a blind eye to the politics of a region, no matter how great the human suffering. If oil is involved, however, we will either allow the brutalization to continue (covertly aiding those who brutalize their citizens, fortifying our ties, while weakening the country) or will spare no effort and no cost to "save" a country with good old U.S. democracy, which always necessitates U.S. occupation of their country (read that: puppet regime). Is it a fledgling democracy or rogue regime? Only our government can say, and their interpretation can change overnight, depending on how well a country follows the Bush-Cheney script for oil. This same arbitrary allegiance applies to those individuals caught in the crossfire-- be they prisoners of war, or mercenaries working for the U.S. government in Colombia, who have been kidnapped, held hostage, tortured and/or murdered: these individuals are of no interest to our government. This is why Bush-Cheney have paid, at best, only a token interest in their release. Like the British Empire, once described by Prime Minister Palmerston:
The U.S. has "neither permanent friends, nor permanent enemies, only permanent interests."
History has recorded these "permanent interests" playing out all over the world, notably Iraq over the past 20 years, as U.S. allegiance flip-flopped according to Saddam Hussein's role in our oil strategy. The same is true in Colombia, a country already divided by 40 years of civil war. Having installed a puppet-regime base in Colombia, the U.S. focus is now -- as it is in the Middle East and the Caspian Sea region -- toward expansionism in Latin America, to weakening and overthrowing bordering countries of strategic oil field or pipeline interest.
Our Latin American focus is now on Venezuela and Ecuador -- which Bush accuses of having terrorist influences -- with both countries bordering Colombia and, coincidentally, of strategic, vital interest to the U.S. oil mandate. To you will always find before a war in any country (e.g. Iraq & Iran) Bush-Cheney are working to demonize the government with a flimsy smear campaign , alternately calling them terrorists or terrorist appeasers, who offer aid to the FARC guerrillas in Colombia -- an accusation denied by both countries. Demonizing rulers and countries is necessary, of course, to justify our attacks on them -- such as the April 2002, U.S.-backed military coup against democratically-elected Venezuelan president, Hugh Chavez. While the coup was short-lived, Chavez being restored to power within 48 hours, it sent a clear warning to other Latin American countries of what is to come. More recently, in March 2008, the U.S. sent armed forces into Ecuador --to the condemnation of Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan president, Chavez, continues to be demonized by Bush-Cheney as a rogue leader and a terrorist appeaser who, according to Bush, "squanders" their oil wealth, leaving his people to "face food shortages." Quite an irony, when you look at the conditions in the U.S. today, and compare them to Venezuela where -- since coming to power in 1998 -- the Chavez government has increased public spending dramatically, directing billions of dollars of oil revenue towards social programs that provide free education and health care to the poor, as well as providing low cost oil and unconditional aid to Latin American and Caribbean countries.
When Bush accuses Venezuela of squandering their oil, what he really means is that Venezuela is not following the Bush-Cheney script for compliance with U.S. oil interests...
...Unlike the Uribe regime in Colombia, which does follow the script; unlike Colombia, where all sides have been corrupted, due in great part to the U.S., which plays all sides, including the drug traffickers, from whom our government extracts both money and drugs. We fund whichever sides suit our purposes of the moment, be they the Colombian government, the military our own mercenaries, or our "enemies" -- the paramilitary death squads, the guerrillas, the drug lords. The only "good guys" left in Colombia are the powerless citizens, whose daily lives are terrorized by the lawlessness and greed of the powers-that-be, in their warring for oil and drugs, with the U.S. pulling all the strings. This was the corruption that Ingrid Betancourt fought for 8 years before her run for the presidency and her subsequent kidnapping. This is the sort of corruption that many in the U.S. are fighting, within our own government. As she, herself, said shortly before her kidnapping in 2002:
"All our big leaders have been killed in Colombia, all of them, they have been assassinated - so the challenge is to be alive till the end of the elections."
Sadly, there are many of us in America who increasingly feel the same way about our own country. The dismantling of our U.S. Constitution over the past 7 years has been aided and abetted by our own Congress, as our laws have been re-written by the very corporations that serve as foot-soldiers in the Bush-Cheney wars for oil. The majority of our representatives and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have either been bought and paid for by these corporations, or they're just too damned afraid to speak out. To those rare dissenters -- the courageous representatives on Capitol Hill who have maintained the patriotic integrity of their sworn dutes -- the costs can be enormous to their careers, their campaigns and their reputations. Adding insult to injury, any one on Capitol Hill who votes against the Bush-Cheney agenda will find their integrity smeared with the same brush as any rogue leader: terrorist appeaser.
Is it any wonder then that, lacking the protection of our Constitution or our lawmakers, some in this country feel as powerless as any citizen in the jungles of Colombia, when we read our own government's "contingency plans" for martial law in the U.S., via the Defense Authorization Act of 2007, the REX 84 plan, Operation Garden Plot , the Civilian Inmate Labor Program, PDD 51 H.R. 1955 and the myriad Executive Orders associated with these plans? Is it any wonder that some of us in America fear our own government? Is it any wonder that some of our own politicians fear our government's martial law plans -- even as our own representatives, in the course of their sworn duties, are denied access to these plans? The Bush-Cheney Administration spent the past 7 years polishing their contingency plans to deal with "dissidents" and other national emergencies by possibly suspending the Constitution, imposing martial law, suspending the 2008 election, and excusing Congress from duty, while rounding up the "disorderly" elements in our society -- from immigrants, to dissidents, to victims of a national "emergency" -- into internment camps. Those who ask questions are either silenced or ridiculed as part of the lunatic fringe.
Should Bush-Cheney's PDD 51 come to fruition this fall, our country would not be so different from the Colombia described by Ingrid Betancourt. Only, in the U.S., our corrupt executive branch would be the pathogens to the infection, as described by Betancourt's husband, Juan Carlos LeCompte: "The guerrillas, the paramilitary, the violence in Colombia... are like the fever a person gets because of an infection. The infection is what causes the fever. The real infection Colombia has that must be cut out of the country is corruption. Corruption is the infection. If you get rid of the corruption, you get rid of the fever. You get rid of the violence."
Of course, our Congress had a golden opportunity to clean our country of these pathogens that have delivered an epidemic of terror around the globe, but Congress turned away from it. Was it greed or fear that prompted our Congress to table impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney for war crimes and treason? Perhaps one day the history books will make these truths known. For now, most of the facts -- past, present and future -- can only be gathered piecemeal, drawn together by a willingness of the human mind to suspend incredulity that our government, that any government, could be guilty of the atrocities ours commits in the name of oil.
Note: This piece is being edited on an ongoing basis, with word-links being added for reference, over the next week or so. Please feel free to ask questions or request sources.