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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 09:54 AM
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Collateral Damage
Collateral Damage
U.S. hands out vast sums of money to combat terrorism while ignoring human rights records; lobbying key to funding flows

By Nathaniel Heller and Tom Stites
Data analysis by Ben Welsh

WASHINGTON Changes in United States foreign policy and military assistance programs that seemed so urgent after the September 11, 2001, attacks have paid off in the capture of dangerous terrorist suspects and the disruption of possible attacks. But five years on, the influence of foreign lobbying on the U.S. government, as well as a shortsighted emphasis on counterterrorism objectives over broader human rights concerns, have generated staggering costs to the U.S. and its allies in money spent and political capital burned.

For more than a year, the Center for Public Integrity, through its International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), conducted an investigation to assess the impact of foreign lobbying and terrorism on post-9/11 U.S. military training and assistance policies. Among the findings:

Attracted by the gusher of new U.S. military aid, governments ― including Ethiopia; the Philippines; and Indonesia, which hired former senator and 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole ― spent millions on Washington lobbyists to persuade Congress and the Pentagon to open the spigots. In doing so, they took advantage of a policymaking process that was ad hoc if not chaotic, as the Defense Department grabbed power over military aid decisions from the State Department.
Deals to provide military aid to what are perceived as often corrupt and brutal governments have set back efforts to advance human rights and the rule of law, particularly in Asia and East Africa. Billions in new military aid dollars have flowed to countries whose record of grim human rights practices had led to pre-9/11 decisions by the U.S. to cut off or curtail aid. Neither the Defense Department nor Congress has done as much as it could to make sure the money was spent as intended, providing what one seasoned congressional aide described as "a blank check."
Two longtime U.S. allies, Italy and Germany, have indicted or issued arrest warrants for Americans they identify as CIA agents on charges of kidnapping people off their streets and transporting them to secret prisons or to other countries known for torturing prisoners. Two other friendly governments, Sweden and Canada, empowered special commissions to investigate this extralegal practice, which is known as "extraordinary rendition." The U.S. does not acknowledge the practice, but European governments and human rights groups, which have documented many renditions, say they number in the dozens. The controversy has strained the trans-Atlantic alliance at a time when the U.S. is struggling to maintain international coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In their investigation, 10 ICIJ reporters on four continents explored what Vice President Cheney has described as "the dark side" of American counterterrorism policy since the 2001 terrorist attacks. They found that post-9/11 U.S. political pressure, Washington lobbying and aid dollars have reshaped policies towards countries ranging from tiny Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, to Pakistan and Thailand in Asia, to Poland and Romania in Europe, even to Colombia in South America. ICIJ reporters also combed through official reports as well as new sources detailing cases of extraordinary renditions and other "dark side" practices and found the United States following the lead of Israel in some controversial post-9/11 tactics.

In addition, the Center sifted through thousands of Department of Justice lobbying records and human rights reports and used Freedom of Information Act requests to assemble a comprehensive database to analyze both old and new forms of U.S. military training and assistance to foreign governments and security forces before and after the 9/11 attacks.

The most compelling findings will be presented in 20 articles to be published starting today, and linked to from this article.

Money trail leads to the Pentagon
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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-16-07 12:46 PM
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