Narco News 2001
Chief Admits to US Senate:
Traffic "Spillover" to Other Countries
"I don't know" about paramilitaries
and the money involved will simply move into these other places"
By Al Giordano
Central Intelligence Agency director
George Tenet admitted to the US Senate Intelligence Committee
last week that even if the $1.3 billion US-backed Plan Colombia
achieves the success against cocaine crops that has eluded it
so far, that the drug traffic would merely "spill over"
into Colombia's neighboring countries.
Tenet, who served under the Democratic
administration of Clinton and continues in that post under the
new Republican administration of Bush, also told Senators on
February 7th that he does not know whether there are connections
between Colombia military officials and violent paramilitary
squads that, in recent weeks, have increased the frequency of
massacres against unarmed civilians. "I don't know,"
said Tenet, "off the top of my head."
During the Senate Intelligence Committee
hearing, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), noted his own recent
travels to the Andean region as he questioned the CIA director.
"Interesting to me," said the
Senator, "when we started on Plan Columbia how lukewarm
the rest of South America was about that idea. How do you explain
"Part of it's us, part of it's our
involvement," answered Tenet. "But the truth is, they're
going to be a lot -- they're going to pay a lot more attention
because of the spillover, the potential spillover out of Colombia.
As you -- if, as we make progress against the FARC and the drug
trafficking organizations, which is our primary motivation, it's
going to spill over into those countries."
The CIA director added, "this amoeba
will just migrate, migrate out as you do this. And while production
numbers of cocaine for Peru and Bolivia are down this year compared
to Colombia -- Colombia is still rising -- those countries are
not immune from a resuscitation of all that, notwithstanding
the important work that they've done in trying to stop the drug
flow. But these cartels and the money involved will simply move
into these other places."
Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) asked
Tenet a direct question about US intelligence regarding Colombian
military alliances with the violent paramilitary organizations
that recently have stepped up massacres of unarmed civilians
in Colombia. "Do we believe," asked Levin, "that
the army, or elements of the army have, in effect, quietly, behind-the-scenes,
allied themselves with the private forces of the cartels to combat
the growing strength of that insurgency? Are they still doing
Tenet replied: "Well, we know historically
there have been linkages between the army and paramilitaries."
Levin followed up: "Do they exist
"You know," answered the director
of the largest governmental intelligence agency on earth. "I'll
have to get you an answer. I mean, we still look at that very
carefully but I don't know. I can't -- off the top of my head,
Senator, it is something that we are concerned with
Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), chairman
of the Intelligence Committee, closed the hearing by expressing
his doubts about Plan Colombia. "Director Tenet, you know
that Senator Hollings and I were just in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia,"
he explained. "And I can tell you, going to Colombia was
sobering because we both, as members of the Appropriations Committee
and the Senate, had supported the Colombia plan, the initiative
"It seems to me," added Shelby,
"just being there for a while, that perhaps they've lost
their fight to control their own country. They have lost, as
you well know and just described, much of their territory, and
not just in the rural areas but, you know, every -- people are
scared. They're scared to speak out in a legislative body. You
just about have anarchy there."
"And it concerns me, and I've told
the defense minister and I told the other people there that,
you know, they can't expect us to do their fighting for them.
We can help them, but they first have got to have a purpose,
to control their own country." Shelby concluded, "And
I don't believe they have it today."
A longer transcript of
the February 7th Senate Intelligence Committee hearing is available
from the COLOMBIAN LABOR MONITOR at http://www.prairienet.org/clm - we subscribe to CLM's mailing
of the Facts