Are the Terrorists?
Paul V. Lombardi in Federal Court
Narco News '02
Unites U.S. Workers &
Farmers vs. Fumigation
I of a Series
By Al Giordano
class-action lawsuit filed in Washington, DC,
on behalf of 10,000 farmers in Ecuador and the AFL-CIO allied
International Labor Rights Fund has DynCorp CEO Paul V. Lombardi
running scared and lashing back with intimidation tactics.
Lombardi's DynCorp, one of the top
20 federal contractors, has already sprayed toxic herbicides
over 14 percent of the entire land mass of the nation of Colombia,
purportedly to eliminate coca crops.
Although DynCorp's taxpayer-sponsored
biological warfare has not made a dent in the cocaine trade,
it has caused more than 1,100 documented cases of illness among
citizens, destroyed untold acres of food crops, displaced tens
of thousands of peasant farmers, and harmed the fragile Amazon
ecosystem, all in the name of the "war on drugs."
DynCorp has also been exposed for contracting
mercenary soldiers-of-fortune for the covert activities of the
US-imposed "Plan Colombia."
But DynCorp may be about to get its comeuppance
in federal court, where Justice Richard W. Roberts is presiding
over a lawsuit brought by labor, environmental and indigenous
groups against the aerial herbicide program. The
text of the legal complaint is available online for all to
Narco News Bulletin has
learned that DynCorp's top corporate
director, Lombardi, attempted last October to intimidate the
International Labor Rights Fund, one of the plaintiffs in the
According to documents obtained by Narco
News, on October 25, 2001, Lombardi wrote to each of the
board members of the AFL-CIO allied Rights Fund in an unsuccessful
attempt to scare them off the lawsuit. In that letter (the full
text appears below), Lombardi accused the group, without offering
evidence, of fronting for illicit "drug cartels."
Lombardi also attempted, bombastically,
to portray the Rights Fund as an enemy in the war on terrorism.
"Considering the major international
issues with which we are all dealing as a consequence of the
events of September 11th, none of us need to be sidetracked with
frivolous litigation the aim of which is to fulfill a political
And DynCorp's Lombardi attempted to cause
the Rights Fund to drop the lawsuit, saying, "Clearly it
is NOT in our mutual best interests to continue politically charged
But Bishop Jesse DeWitt, president of
the International Human Rights Fund, responded in a November
5, 2001 letter to DynCorp's Lombardi, suggesting that it is DynCorp
that engages in terrorist actions. Narco News has obtained
that letter, too (full text below) . In it, Bishop DeWitt stated:
"We found your reference to September 11 particularly
apt, but for a very different reason.
Based on what appear to be uncontested facts, a group of at least
10,000 Ecuadoran subsistence farmers have been poisoned from
aerial assault by your company. Imagine that scene for a moment
- you are an Ecuadoran farmer, and suddenly, without notice or
warning, a large helicopter approaches, and the frightening noise
of the chopper blades invades the quiet. The helicopter comes
closer, and sprays a toxic poison on you, your children, your
livestock and your food crops. You see your children get sick,
your crops die. Mr. Lombardi, we at the International Labor Rights
Fund, and most civilized people, consider such an attack on innocent
people terrorism. Your effort to hide behind September 11 is
shameful, and breathtakingly cynical."
DeWitt put Lombardi on notice that
he and other DynCorp officials may be added as defendants in
the lawsuit, now having been officially informed of the harm
done by their fumigation program:
"If there is any further spraying
done that causes similar harm, we will amend the legal complaint
and name you and other DynCorp decision-makers as defendants
in your personal capacities, and will charge you with knowingly
conducting aerial attacks on innocent people. Again, based on
well-established principles of international law, that would
Thus, DynCorp's first line of defense
against the lawsuit - Lombardi's attempt to intimidate the International
Labor Rights Fund into backing off the case - backfired.
Part II of this series will report on
the failure of DynCorp's second line of defense against the lawsuit:
an Affidavit by U.S. State Department fixer Randall "Randy"
Beers on behalf of DynCorp that attempted to dismiss the lawsuit
claiming the need for "national security" secrecy regarding
the facts of the fumigation campaign.
Beers, according to sources close to the
lawsuit, has now been subpoenaed for a February 27th deposition,
in which attorneys for the Ecuador farmers and U.S. labor and
environmental organizations will interrogate Beers under oath.
As we write, Beers, the State Department
and DynCorp are desperately maneuvering to try and prevent the
deposition from happening.
In our next report, Narco News will bring
you Mr. Beers' Affidavit and report on his role in subverting
democracy and promoting terror in our América.
on Randy Beers:
looking for his photo, too...
that didn't take long!
2002, D.R. "Speedy González" for Narco News
Randy, You're on Candid Camera)
to an Alert Reader!
Text of October
25, 2001 letter
by DynCorp CEO
October 25, 2001
Mr. Terry Collingsworth
International Labor Rights Fund
733 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
Dear Mr. Collingsworth:
You may be unaware of the fact that on
September 11, 2001, the International Labor Rights Fund, of which
you are a director, officer or advisor, brought suit in the United
States District Court for the District of Columbia as counsel
to an alleged class of Ecuadorian citizens against DynCorp and
certain of its subsidiaries. The complaint is for alleged wrongful
death, crimes against humanity and infanticide in connection
with the alleged spraying of narcotic plant growth in Colombia
near the Colombian border with Ecuador. The Fund filed the complaint
on behalf of at least 10,000 Ecuadorian citizens who allegedly
live near the border.
A DynCorps subsidiary has provided operations
and maintenance support to the United States Department of State
since 1991 in connection with a joint US/Colombian program for
the eradication of illegal drug crops. A non-classified, abridged
version of our contract sith the DOS can be reviewed at the following
Department of State web address: www.usembassy.state.gov/bogota/wwwfdync.pdf.
I am assuming that, as a responsible director,
officer or advisor of the International Labor Rights Fund, you
will make a reasonable inquiry into the basis for the allegations
that appear in the complaint (a copy of which I am enclosing
with this letter.) I would encourage you in particular to give
careful consideration to the following:
-- All of the allegations in the complaint
arise from the performance of the above-referenced Department
of State contract. As the contract makes clear, the State Department,
in consultation with the Colombian government, provides detailed
specifications as to when, where and how eradication of illicit
crops is to take place. Additionally, any herbicides used in
the eradication effort are provided by the Department of State.
Indeed, any claims made against DynCorp and its subsidiaries
for actions relating to this contract are the equivalent of asserting
such claims against the federal government.
-- Considerable technical information
is available on the material that is used in spraying of Colombian
narcotic plant crops. The State Department has advised us that
all this information confirms that at the concentration used
and with the methods used to apply it, the glyphosate-based spray
mix is highly unlikely to harm human beings or animals who happen
to be in the coca fields at the time the fields are sprayed.
-- Each spray operation in Colombia is
directed by the State Department and the Colombian government.
-- All aerial spraying of coca in Colombia
is conducted under extremely stringent controls that give us
a very high degree of confidence that there is no drift into
The allegations of the complaint are unfounded
and irresponsible. In fact, considering the worldwide support
for the elimination of harmful drugs from our cities and schools,
it has been suggested by those who are aware of the lawsuit that
the most logical supporters of such an action would be the drug
cartels themselves. Notably, consistent with the drug cartels'
objectives, the complaint also seeks to permanently enjoin further
spraying of coca and opium poppy.
We are hardly in a position to preclude
the filing of such baseless litigation. But we can and will defend
against it. My purpose in writing is to request your personal
due diligence in satisfying yourself from a public responsibility
point-of-view that the suit is well founded and that you personally
endorse its goals. Considering the major international issues
with which we are all dealing as a consequence of the events
of September 11th, none of us need to be sidetracked with frivolous
litigation the aim of which is to fulfill a political agenda.
Subject to the typical restrains that
apply whenever litigation is pending, I would be happy to discuss
this letter with you if you would care to contact me. Clearly
it is NOT in our mutual best interests to continue politically
charged litigation with no substantive foundation.
Very truly yours,
Paul V. Lombardi
Cc: Dennis Gallagher, Esq.
Office of Legal Advisor
U.S. Department of State
Text of Bishop
November 5, 2001
To: Paul V. Lombardi
President and CEO
11710 Plaza America
Reston, VA 20190-6010
Re: DynCorp Human Rights Violations
Dear Mr. Lombardi,
This responds to your letter of October
25, 2001. First, please be assured that the International Labor
Rights Fund's decision to file a lawsuit against DynCorp for
human rights violations in Ecuador was well-considered, and the
Board of Directors has complete confidence in the legal judgment
of Terry Collingsworth, our Executive Director and General Counsel.
While all of us appreciate receiving a hard copy of the legal
complaint from you, if you wish alert others to the complaint,
please note that it is available on our Website, www.laborrights.org
We found your reference to September 11
particularly apt, but for a very different reason. Based on what
appear to be uncontested facts, a group of at least 10,000 Ecuadoran
subsistence farmers have been poisoned from aerial assault by
your company. Imagine that scene for a moment - you are an Ecuadoran
farmer, and suddenly, without notice or warning, a large helicopter
approaches, and the frightening noise of the chopper blades invades
the quiet. The helicopter comes closer, and sprays a toxic poison
on you, your children, your livestock and your food crops. You
see your children get sick, your crops die. Mr. Lombardi, we
at the International Labor Rights Fund, and most civilized people,
consider such an attack on innocent people terrorism. Your effort
to hide behind September 11 is shameful, and breathtakingly cynical.
I must also formally protest your distorted
representation of the facts. There is, as you well know, a growing
consensus that there are serious health effects from the fumigation
spray DynCorp is using. Further, there are numerous reputable
organizations, such as the Institute for Policy Studies, the
World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, the Latin American Working Group,
and Earthjustice, that oppose further spraying until adequate
testing is conducted. See, for example, www.fumigation.org. Likewise,
a number of U.S. Senators and Representatives, people not normally
viewed as the wild radicals you seem to think we are, are working
to stop all further spraying until proper, independent testing
is done to identify the health effects of spraying poison herbicide
Regarding the factual basis for the Complaint,
attached please find an October 12 letter sent by Terry Collingsworth
to your lawyers at Spriggs and Hollingsworth. Mr. Collingsworth
provided a copy of a declaration from Dr. Adolfo Maldonado (also
attached), a medical expert who is probably the only qualified
person to have examined actual victims of your aerial spraying
in Ecuador. Dr. Maldonado confirms with medical and legal certainty
that the people he examined were injured by the fumigant your
company sprayed on them. You might review his declaration carefully
before making further assertions that the case is baseless or
frivolous. Dr. Maldonado's findings are confirmed by Judge Gilberto
Reyes' recent ruling in Colombia enjoining further spraying based
on evidence of health and environmental impacts in Colombia.
We also have credible evidence that DynCorp
pilots have admitted that the spraying mechanism in the helicopters
also jams up, causing the fumigant to be sprayed on non-target
areas. In addition, we have evidence that the spray mechanism
is directed by a computer program that is designed in your U.S.
offices, and is utilized without regard to the specific wind
speed or direction on the day of spraying.
Please note that in the October 12 letter,
Mr. Collingsworth did attempt to facilitate discussion and stated
in the last paragraph, "(a)ssuming that your client is not
indifferent to whether the spraying is causing serious health
problems for our clients, we would be interested in having a
discussion about how to solve the problem before the litigation
escalates into a costly and very public dispute." The October
18 response of your lawyers is attached. Apparently, they are
not interested in discussing resolution of the case, at least
Mr. Lombardi, since you offered to discuss
the situation, let's begin with the key question of allowing
access to the spraying process. You place great weight on the
assurances from the Department of State as to the safety of the
fumigant you are spraying, but, again, as you well know, the
Department of State has been less than forthcoming in releasing
information about the actual mixture of chemicals being sprayed,
and continues to refuse access to these chemicals for testing.
A Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of State
initiated by Earthjustice, on behalf of the Amazon Alliance,
was refused, and is now the subject of litigation. Surely, if
the program is as safe as you assert, there is no reason to refuse
to provide available information and not to allow independent
investigators to conduct tests.
You must concede that, at a minimum, there
are some genuine issues of concern regarding the harmful effects
of your fumigation program. Absent your intervention to address
these concerns, we look forward to letting a Washington D.C.
jury decide whether DynCorp should be liable for the health effects
of spraying in Ecuador, where there was no contractual or political
authorization to fumigate. Please note that Mr. Collingsworth
has advised me that, in light of the clarity and certainty of
Dr. Maldonado's finding that your spraying is causing great harm
to people, you now have formal, actual notice of that harm. If
there is any further spraying done that causes similar harm,
he will amend the legal complaint and name you and other DynCorp
decision-makers as defendants in your personal capacities, and
will charge you with knowingly conducting aerial attacks on innocent
people. Again, based on well-established principles of international
law, that would be terrorism.
Bishop Jesse DeWitt
President of the Board of Directors
International Labor Rights Fund
Articles by Daniele Knight of the Inter
Press Service (IPS):
FILE U.S. SUIT
By Danielle Knight
WASHINGTON, Sep. 21 (IPS) -- Ecuadorian
Indians are taking legal action in federal court here, charging
that a U.S. company that was contracted to carry out fumigation
of illicit crops in neighboring Colombia recklessly sprayed their
homes and farms, causing illnesses and deaths, and destroying
crops. U.S.-based attorneys representing 10,000 individuals living
in the Amazon rainforest near the border with Colombia filed
a class action complaint against Virginia-based DynCorp Corporation
in federal court here Sep. 11.
A DynCorp spokesperson said the company has not been notified
about the complaint and declined to comment further.
The legal complaint is the latest in a
series of actions brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act, which
allows foreign citizens to sue U.S. companies in courts here
over acts committed abroad. "The spraying of a toxic herbicide
over people and land is a stupid and reckless action," said
Terry Collingsworth of the International Labor Rights Fund here,
one of the lead counsels in the case.
In addition to charging DynCorp with violating
the Alien Tort Claims Act, the complaint alleges the company
also breached the U.S. Torture Victim Protection Act, among others.
It seeks millions of dollars in compensation and an immediate
halt to spraying that allegedly affects Ecuador. The complaint
also calls into question Plan Colombia, the U.S.-funded strategy
to combat narcotics launched last year by Colombian President
Andres Pastrana. Plan Colombia involves $7.5 billion for social
and economic development and $1.3 billion, pledged by the United
States, mostly for military equipment and training, and aerial
fumigation of illicit coca, marijuana, and poppy crops.
Colombian politicians and officials have
said that although they favor eradicating narcotics crops, a
new strategy is needed because fumigation with the herbicide
glyphosate is causing illness, destroying pastures and food crops,
poisoning livestock, and displacing thousands of small farmers.
In March and July, Colombian legislators and governors came here
and told reporters that fumigation was not hurting the narcotics
industry but severely harming poor farming families. They said
planes spraying the crops blanket entire communities with the
herbicide and cause poor farmers to suffer illnesses and skin
Indigenous leaders in Colombia also have
voiced opposition to the spraying. Last year, Emperatriz Cahuache,
president of the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian
Amazon, came to Washington and showed reporters a map illustrating
how the areas of coca and marijuana cultivation overlaps with
indigenous territories and the areas that have been fumigated.
"These fumigations are contaminating the Amazon and destroying
the forest," said Cahuache.
Proponents of Plan Colombia said glyphosate,
marketed by the U.S.-based Monsanto company under the trade name
Roundup, is as safe as salt. Critics countered that directions
on glyphosate labels warn users not to allow the product to come
into contact with people or water sources.
The lawsuit against DynCorp is the second
time that indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon have
used the Alien Tort Claims Act to sue a U.S. company in U.S.
court for allegedly endangering human health and destroying crops.
In 1993, a group of Ecuadorian indigenous people filed a class
action suit against the Texaco oil company, charging that during
two decades of drilling in the Amazon, it dumped more than 3,000
gallons of crude oil into the rainforest. The plaintiffs claimed
that the company ignored oil industry standards and, instead
of re-injecting the waste back into the ground, dumped a toxic
cocktail of chemicals into unlined pits that eventually leached
into streams and rivers. Their lawsuit is still pending in federal
court in New York.
Cristobal Bonifaz, a Massachusetts-based
attorney originally from Ecuador, is one of the lead attorneys
in the case against Texaco. He is also a lead counsel representing
Ecuadorians in the new action against DynCorp. Bonifaz said he
became aware of the alleged fumigation in Ecuador after communication
with his clients in the lawsuit against the oil company. "In
the same region where Texaco devastated the environment and caused
untold suffering to the people of the rainforest, a new enemy
now comes from the air, poisoning the people, killing their crops,
and destroying their land," said Bonifaz.
From the Inter Press Service
January 16, 2002
SEEK U.N. PROBE
By Danielle Knight
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (IPS) -- Environmentalists
and indigenous organizations in the Amazon river basin have asked
the U.N. human rights commission to urge the United States and
Colombia to stop fumigating illicit crops in the Latin American
country. The aerial fumigation is part of the Plan Colombia anti-narcotics
strategy partly funded by Washington and launched in 2000 by
Colombian President Andres Pastrana. The effort includes $7.5
billion for social and economic development. The United States
has pledged $1.3 billion, mostly for military equipment and training,
and aerial fumigation of illicit coca, marijuana, and poppy crops.
Earthjustice, a U.S.-based law firm, wrote the request to the
Geneva-based U.N. commission on behalf of Amazon Alliance, a
network of indigenous communities and environmental organizations.
According to the document, a mixture of herbicides sprayed from
the air "drifts" over vast expanses of the countryside
in Colombia and neighboring Ecuador. Thus, the petition states,
deprives poor farmers and indigenous communities of their rights
to a clean and healthy environment, health, life, sustenance,
"The spray mixture and the manner
in which it is applied have resulted in numerous health problems
for residents, destruction of their food resources, contamination
of their surface water, damage to surrounding wilderness areas,
and tremendous deforestation," it says. The U.S. and Colombian
governments have said the herbicide used in the fumigation --
glyphosate, which is marketed by the U.S.-based Monsanto company
under the trade name Roundup -- is as safe as salt.
Critics have countered that directions
on glyphosate labels warn users not to expose humans and water
sources to the product. Even more toxic than the herbicide itself
are two additives, known as surfactants, that are added to enhance
its effect on plants, according to the complaint. Scott Pasternack,
an associate attorney with Earthjustice's international program,
said both governments have attempted to conceal this information
by only asserting that glyphosate is harmless.
"The State Department has concealed
information about the true toxicity of the spray mixture and
has failed to conduct proper environmental and assessments,"
said Pasternack. State Department officials could not be reached
The complaint says that although Monsanto
has recommended that aerial application not occur more than about
three meters above the top of the largest plants, Colombian anti-narcotics
police fly aircraft 10-15 meters above the tops of vegetation.
"This difference in altitude would be expected to greatly
increase drift of the mixture to non-target areas and communities
such as those in Ecuador," it says.
The document is the latest in a series
of efforts by environmentalists and indigenous organizations
to stop the aerial spraying. In September 2001, U.S.-based attorneys
filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of 10,000 Ecuadorean Indians
who charged DynCorp, a U.S.-based company, of recklessly spraying
their homes and farms, causing illness and deaths and destroying
food crops. That suit was brought under the Alien Tort Claims
Act, which allows foreign citizens to sue U.S. companies in courts
here over acts committed abroad.
"The spraying of a toxic herbicide
over people and land is a stupid and reckless action," said
Terry Collingsworth of the International Labor Rights Fund here,
one of the lead counsels in the case. Last year, Colombian legislators
and governors came to Washington to plead their case against
fumigation. They told reporters that fumigation was not hurting
the narcotics industry but was severely harming poor farming
Between August 2000 and May 2001, Colombia's
Public Ombudsman received 1,158 reports of damage to human health,
the environment, and food crops allegedly caused by fumigation,
they said. Planes spraying the crops, they added, blanket entire
communities with the herbicide, causing sickness and skin problems.
Indigenous leaders in Colombia also have voiced opposition to
Last year, Emperatriz Cahuache, president
of the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon,
came to Washington and showed reporters a map illustrating how
indigenous territories overlap with and are affected by areas
under coca and marijuana cultivation and targeted for fumigation.
"These fumigations are contaminating the Amazon and destroying
the forest," said Cahuache. In response, several U.S. legislators
have called for investigations into the impact of the spraying.
In July 2001, Representative Steve Rothman,
a Democrat, successfully added language to an appropriations
bill that required the State Department to report to Congress
on the health and environmental impacts of fumigation in Colombia.
The language also directed the State Department to establish
guidelines and verification methods to ensure that future aerial
fumigation efforts do not harm the health of Colombians, their
water supply, or legal crops.
Two years ago, U.S. lawmakers on a diplomatic
visit to Colombia gained first hand knowledge of the potential
impacts of fumigation. In December 2000, Democratic Senator Paul
Wellstone and several members of his staff were hit with a fine
mist of glyphosate from a helicopter demonstrating aerial fumigation.
Police officials said it was an accident, blaming the wind for
blowing the glyphosate from its intended path. Wellstone winced
and rubbed his eyes later, but managed a joke, saying he could
become a case study on possible dangers linked to the chemical.
Text of February 16, 2002
From the daily El Comercio, Quito, Ecuador
Translated by The
Narco News Bulletin
in U.S. vs. Fumigation
lawsuit was filed by Quichuas and farmers
from the state of Sucumbíos. The case proceeds in the
Court of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC. The judge
ruled on January 7th. Justice Richard W. Roberts accepted the
complaint presented by the indigenous and farmers of Sucumbíos,
inhabitants of Northeast Ecuador, on the border of Colombia.
In his order, Judge Roberts opined that
the investigation of Dyncorp, sued by the plaintiffs, will proceed.
Dyncorp was contracted by the U.S. Department of State to fumigate
coca crops in Colombia.
According to the complaint, Dyncorp has
committed crimes against humanity, torture and cultural genocide.
This lawsuit is based on an investigation that Acción
Ecológica published in June 2001.
The report indicated that herbicide spraying
in Colombia, near the Ecuador border, with the herbicide called
Round Up Ultra, caused "harm to the health and the crops
of 100 percent of the population within five kilometers of the
border with Colombia."
In July 2001, the U.S. Embassy in Quito
denied that the fumigations in Colombia use Round Up Ultra.
According to the Court's order, the "use
by DynCorp of the toxic herbicide in a prolongued and repetitive
form has caused continuous and severe harm to the plaintiffs,
which constitutes Crimes Against Humanity."
The Quichua indigenous and farmers of
Sucumbíos filed their lawsuit on September 11, 2001, as
a class action suit. They seek civil damages for harm caused
by the fumigations to the inhabitants of Ecuador communities
near the Colombian border.
DynCorp, which has a $600 million dollar
contract to fumigate, asked the judge to dismiss the case because
it involves national security interests of the United States.
For Lucía Gallardo of Acción
Ecológica, "the acceptance of this complaint is a
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Is As Terror Does