Undermining Democracy Abroad

Mass consciousness regarding the abuse of power by the U.S. Government, now in the news thanks to Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, has mostly focused on agencies that spy on innocent people using warrantless wiretaps and email intercepts. While these abuses by the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice are sometimes used against US citizens who challenge U.S. policy on such topics as imperial wars and corruption of governance by Wall Street, they are also used against elected U.S. officials, foreign diplomats, and United Nations personnel. As electronic data collection by commercial data brokers and identity theft criminals increasingly becomes a nuisance and menace, communications monitoring by the U.S. Government threatens free speech, peaceful assembly and the ability of civil society to hold government accountable.

Since the 1960s, the abuse of power by U.S. agencies like the FBI and CIA has become common knowledge. Their involvement in undermining the Civil Rights Movement at home and the human rights movement abroad is well-documented. Less well-known is the involvement of the U.S. State Department in the undermining of democracy abroad, through such programs like the National Endowment for Democracy, US Aid for International Development, and the United States Institute of Peace.

Personifying these fraudulent programs operating out of U.S. embassies in places like Bolivia, Libya and the Ukraine, is former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Armitage — who served at the State and Defense departments under George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush — is perhaps best known for leaking the identity of CIA secret agent Valerie Plame as retribution for her husband U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s contribution to the exposure of the fraudulent weapons of mass destruction rationale for the invasion of Iraq. While the yellowcake scandal was overshadowed by the Plame affair, it pointed to the systematic deception used by the State Department to justify overthrowing foreign governments.

While critics of deceptively-named agencies like United States Institute of Peace point out that the supposed peace research looks more like the study of new and potential means of aggression through trade embargoes, austerity programs, and electoral interventions, its board when it was established in 1984 looked like a who’s who of right-wing ideologues from academia, the CIA and the Pentagon. As Wikipedia notes, nearly half its board played a role in the Iran-contra operations.

With the revelation of spying on UN officials, authorized by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I note the continuity of malpractice notoriously conducted under the previous White House by Secretary Colin Powell, with help from his long time associate from the Department of Defense, Richard Armitage. As U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Armitage testified before the 9/11 Commission in 2004, supplying arms to the Islamic terrorist Northern Alliance in Afghanistan was not so difficult; “It was making sure that we wouldn’t be, one, embarrassed by what they were. And no matter the charismatic nature of Ahmed Shah Massoud — and he was quite charismatic — that doesn’t make up for raping, drug dealing, et cetera, which many of the Northern Alliance had been involved with.”

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