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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-16-05 06:12 AM
Original message
U.S. soldier pleads guilty to smuggling drugs from Colombia
U.S. soldier pleads guilty to smuggling drugs from Colombia
07:11 AM EDT Sep 16

FORT BLISS, Texas (AP) - A U.S. soldier who was stationed in Colombia to help fight drug-trafficking was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty for his role in smuggling cocaine into the United States using military planes.

Army Staff Sgt. Kelvin Irizarry-Melendez pleaded guilty to conspiracy, wrongful importation of cocaine and a charge related to taking money to Colombia. A military judge sentenced him to six years, reduced his rank to private and ordered a dishonourable discharge.

Irizarry-Melendez and three other soldiers from the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion were accused of smuggling cocaine from a U.S. base in Colombia. All four were arrested earlier this year.

In a deposition, accused ringleader Staff Sgt. Daniel Rosas told investigators the soldiers smuggled more than 45 kilograms of cocaine with relative ease.
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wordout Donating Member (355 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-16-05 06:26 AM
Response to Original message
1. proving once again..
"It's not who you know it's who you BLOW"

Thing I don't understand is why wasn't he promoted to General?

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Make7 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-16-05 08:37 AM
Response to Original message
2. Know thy enemy.
Traditionally, the military is sent to protect or liberate assets. (i.e. oil in Iraq.) Maybe that's why they thought they were going to Columbia. It's an easy mistake to make.

:smacks forehead: Oh... War ON Drugs.

How is one expected to overcome an adversary, without understanding that adversary. Let's all partake in some information gathering, shall we? Let's really get to know this enemy.
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RUMMYisFROSTED Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-16-05 08:43 AM
Response to Original message
3. Did he have Cheney's phone number in his wallet?
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Say_What Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-16-05 06:17 PM
Response to Original message
4. Meanwhile, Bushwipe Uribe is in Washington pandering for more
Edited on Fri Sep-16-05 06:19 PM by Say_What
Plan Colombia $$$$. Plan Colombia is set to expire early next year.

Worst human rights record in the Western Hemisphere, but Colombia is the third largest recipient of US military aid after Egypt and Israel. Your tax dollars at work...


...The Bush administration and Republicans in Congress say President Uribe's leadership has been crucial to turning around the situation in Colombia.

Colombia receives bilateral assistance from the United States under a multi-year program called Plan Colombia, and the Andean Counter-Drug Initiative, for which Congress is providing more than $700 million in the 2006 fiscal year.

The Bush administration says aid has contributed to more seizures of narcotics, and an increase in cultivation of crop alternatives to coca.

The United States has given Colombia about $4 billion since the inception of Plan Colombia, which preceded the regional Andean Initiative also covering Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and three other countries.

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-16-05 06:40 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Accurate illustration of the wolf in sheep's clothing.
The "drug" disguise doesn't really confuse people who have recognized Bush has been using Colombia as a base of operations for a lot of U.S. personel at an unbelievable expense to the U.S. public.

It was a hoot learning the high-ranking U.S. officer's wife was smuggling cocaine a couple of years ago, too.

Bush is very clear to Latin Americans. They understand his goals. They don't support them, any more than they support any of the vile loads Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush have picked and funded.

It's good some Democrats are able to speak out about Colombia. We lost a valuable voice on Colombia when Wellstone was killed. From your article:
Congressman James McGovern spoke during House debate last June, urging that assistance to Colombia be reduced. "This policy has failed as an anti-drug policy, it has failed as a human rights policy, and it has failed to have any impact whatsoever in reducing the availability, price or purity of drugs in the streets of America," he said.

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Say_What Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-16-05 07:14 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. UriBush!! That's a good one and how true...
I heard that in Colombia they refer to Uribe's 'peace' plan as "Immunity and Impunity", which it absolutely is.

more about Plan Colombia...Plan of Death


...That six-year program, known as Plan Colombia, is set to expire at the end of this year.

Although the Bush administration and Congress have signaled a willingness to continue funding at current levels for at least another year, some are questioning whether the money has been effective in stemming the tide of drugs to the United States.

The Colombians point with pride to the hundreds of thousands of acres of coca and poppy fields they've destroyed and the tons of drugs seized at their airports and borders. Kidnappings and murders are down.

But a report from the United Nations showed that while coca cultivation in Colombia is down, it has risen in neighboring Peru and Bolivia.

And the efforts in Colombia seem to have had little measurable effect on the drug supply in the United States. The Justice Department's National Drug Threat Assessment for 2005 found that heroin and cocaine were still readily available throughout the United States. Data from the Drug Enforcement Administration shows that the purity of wholesale cocaine being smuggled in from South America has actually increased slightly.

Drawing by Colombian children in Putumayo of the before and after effects of fumigation on their lands (photo courtesy of Witness for Peace-Colombia).

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-16-05 07:47 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. The picture is haunting. I'm stashing it away, too, to use elsewhere.
Very sad, isn't it, when children can grasp the consequences of our presence there, and our Republicans won't have it any other way, pretending it's in a noble interest. Christ.

From the article:
Still the continuing costs of the war in Iraq and the huge budget deficit have caused the aid to Colombia to come under more than the usual scrutiny this year. And the foreign policy landscape has changed since the Sept. 11 attacks so that the Middle East has consumed most of America's attention.

A telling symbol of that comes in real estate. The fortresslike U.S. Embassy in Bogota is the largest in the world. But it will eventually be surpassed by an even more massive new facility planned for Iraq.
A lot of people don't know how much money has been plowed into Colombia, and what's really happening there. It's a real shame.
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Say_What Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-17-05 07:21 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. Censorship in the US press about Colombia....
The fact that paras are killing people in Colombia with chainsaws never seems to make its way in the MSM, yet we've known about these attrocities for some time. US funds the Colombian military and the military trains and advises the paras. Now UriBush (love that name) is granting the paras Immunity and Impunity. Our tax dollars at work! :puke:

Dontcha just love the 'free press' in the USSA? :sarcasm:

The paramilitary AUC has been demobilising its fighters

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-17-05 10:05 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Yeah, "free press." Sure. I've NEVER seen them printing even a syllable
leading to a reference to the Colombian paramilitaries' fiendish love and use of chain saws to terrorize and control the Colombian citizens. Too many people knowing about this might lead to their putting pressure on their Congressmen, then Bush has to contend with public outrage, and he doesn't want to be bothered. So much for "freedom" and "democracy" as he "spreads" it around the world.

Concerning the chainsaws use by the Colombian right-wing paramilitaries:
AUC fighters routinely induced fear in the rural population by entering villages and rounding up the residents in the town plaza. They would then brutally kill a handful of villagers, often dismembering them with machetes and chainsaws, before ordering the rest of the people to leave the region. By forcibly displacing the rural population in this manner, the paramilitaries hoped to eliminate local support for the guerrillas. This strategy has aggravated the already grossly inequitable distribution of arable lands as large landowners, as well as multinational corporations interested in oil, coal and natural gas resources, have taken over much of the abandoned land. More than 2.5 million rural Colombians have been displaced by the conflict in the past 15 years, many of them fleeing to the impoverished shantytowns that are rapidly encircling many of Colombia's cities.

In recent years, however, Castao has become increasingly conscious of his organization's public image. The normally reclusive militia chief has recently given several interviews to U.S. and Colombian journalists. And in an attempt to gain political legitimacy, the paramilitaries have begun implementing a strategy of selectively assassinating one or two victims at a time over a prolonged period instead of perpetrating a single large massacre. Because a massacre is defined as three or more people killed at the same time, in the same place, for the same reason, this tactic allows a smaller percentage of Colombia's massacres to be attributed to the right-wing death squads. It has also resulted in fewer negative news stories by media organizations that often only deem mass killings to be newsworthy.

In an attempt to cleanse his personal image, Castao resigned from his position as the AUC's military commander in June 2001 in order to distance himself from the atrocities regularly committed by his fighters. He retained his position as political head of the organization until one year later when, in another apparent public relations ploy, Castao announced he was dissolving the AUC because of the inability of the national command to control the drug trafficking activities and kidnappings committed by regional paramilitary groups. Meanwhile, he has continued as commander of Colombia's largest regional paramilitary force, the ACCU. It is obvious that the limiting of massacres, Castao's resignation as the AUC's military chief, and the disbanding of the AUC are all steps in an ongoing process intended to legitimize the paramilitary leader.

But there are still two more obstacles to overcome before Castao can complete the reinvention of himself. One concerns the 27 warrants for his arrest that have been issued by Colombian authorities. The other involves human rights groups and a handful of representatives in the U.S. Congress concerned about the atrocities committed by the paramilitaries.

Carlos Castao, chain-saw loving F### dispenses terror to the captive citizens of Colombia.
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Say_What Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-18-05 07:22 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. What a guy!!! Immunity and Impunity for chainsaw murderers...
that link is filled with great information about Colombia that will never make the light of day in the USSA press. Here's another:


Colombias Rural Counterinsurgency Propaganda

...The Colombian Army has become well-versed in the vocabulary of psychological operations, or psy-opspartially as a result of the training it has received from the U.S. Special Forces detachments in Colombia and at the U.S. Armys School of the Americas (renamed in 2000, in a psy-op of its own, as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). As the state forces enter and occupy regions of rural Colombia long under the sway of the guerrillas, they are deploying a hearts and minds propaganda campaign that relies more on human interaction than on high-tech tools. At the same time, state authorities collect images and information about their successes, which are then passed to the national media for transmission to the Colombian public.

It is important to note that rural Colombians have tended to adjust to life under a given armed group as long as that group remained the unchallenged authority in a given region; it is at the point when regions are contested that violenceand displacementsurge. Thus, in the immediate aftermath of the Colombian militarys successful seizure of a town or village once held by the guerrillas, much of the population of that community will flee; they do so either out of fear of reprisals from the conquering state forcesfrequently accompanied by the arrival of right-wing paramilitariesor because they are forced to leave by the guerrillas. But since the Colombian militarys overriding mission in guerrilla-controlled areas is ultimately one of state-building, the state forces begin immediate efforts to cleanse the scene and coax back the residents, if possible.

Once a conquered town is secured, alleged members of the guerrillas captured during the fighting are photographed and detained. As some soldiers search for bombs or other booby traps, other soldiers or members of the Colombian state intelligence agency, the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), interview any remaining residents and take videos and photographs of the surroundings, including battle damage and any dead enemy combatants. Invariably, enemy weapons or war materiel captured by the state forces are sorted and arranged for photographs with jocular soldiers standing guard over the rows of bullets, two-way radios, pistols, and other war booty. Soldiers frequently pose with the corpses of killed enemy combatants, too.

Within a short time, selected images are incorporated into official press releases that include hyper-detailed accounts of all seized materials and captured or killed enemy combatants. These are soon passed to members of the Colombian and international press. Within weeks, if security conditions hold, the army may arrange press junkets, flying or driving in selected members of the press to inspect the cleansed town. For example, the army captured La Unin Peneya, Caquet on January 4, 2004; on January 25 a first-hand write-up of the town appeared on page A-14 of the Washington Post, a Colprensa story including army photos hit Colombian papers the same week, and an English-language Associated Press story followed a few days later.

Independent reporting is not helped by the generalized hostility of the armed actors toward the press, and Colombian journalists in particular have been ruthlessly targeted by the various sides in the conflict. Colombia routinely ranks as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, and often the only way for reporters to gain access to conflict zones is with a military escort. This de facto embedding of the press corps offers the state considerable influence on what stories get reported and how. As the editor-in-chief of El Tiempo, Colombias leading daily, told the BBC: To move in these regions we have to ask permission from the army. You go in as a group and you try to do your job. You even have to confront the armed groups to say Are you going to let us do our job? It is always risky. You never know what is going to happen.

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