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The Narco-Terrorist Who Came in from the Cold

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  • nytr@olm.blythe-systems.com
    Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn t Fit [Colombia had no trouble extraditing a FARC leader to the uncertain mercies of the US* -- but
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2005
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      Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn't Fit

      [Colombia had no trouble extraditing a FARC leader to the uncertain
      mercies of the US* -- but this right-wing death-squad commander and
      narco-trafficker hasn't been extradited and the US isn't complaining.]
      *See http://olm.blythe-systems.com/pipermail/nytr/Week-of-Mon-20041227/011225.html

      sent by Steven Robinson (activ-l)

      NarcoNews - Dec 29, 2004

      The Narco-Terrorist Who Came in From the Cold

      By Sean Donahue

      U.S. authorities have remained strangely silent regarding the
      Colombian government's decision to delay or cancel the extradition
      of AUC Chief Salvatore Mancuso on cocaine trafficking and money
      laundering charges.

      Why Isn't Mancuso being Extradited?

      On December 11, Stewart Tuttle, head of the Political Affairs division of
      the U.S. Embassy in Bogota looked on as Salvatore Mancuso, commander of
      Colombia's largest and most brutal network of right-wing death squads,
      ceremonially surrendered his Berretta to Colombian Peace Commissioner Carlos
      Luis Restrepo.

      But Tuttle and his superiors were strangely silent a week later when the
      government of President Alvaro Uribe announced that it would not extradite
      Mancuso to the U.S. to face cocaine trafficking and money laundering charges
      as long as the death squad leader agreed to "cease all illegal activities"
      and encourage other paramilitaries to take part in the government's
      demobilization process. While the U.S. hasn't formally dropped its
      extradition request, neither the U.S. Embassy nor the U.S. State Department
      has issued a public statement about Uribe's decision to delay or cancel
      Mancuso's handover to U.S. authorities which is highly unusual to say the
      least, given that Mancuso is the head of a terrorist organization and is
      accused of conspiring to smuggle over seventeen tons of cocaine to the U.S.
      and Europe.


      The U.S. State Department has classified Mancuso's organization, the "Self
      Defense Forces of Colombia" (AUC,) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization the
      same legal designation that it applies to groups like Ansar al-Islam,
      al-Qa'ida, and Hamas. According to its website, the policy of the State
      Department's Counterterrorism Office, which compiles the list of terrorist
      organizations, is to "make no concessions to terrorists and strike no deals"
      and to "bring terrorists to justice for their crime."

      Involvement in the operation of a Foreign Terrorist Organization is a
      capital offense under the PATRIOT Act.

      According to the State Department's 2004 Human Rights Report on Colombia,
      compiled under Tuttle's supervision, the AUC remains actively involved in
      terrorist operations throughout Colombia:

      "Despite cease-fires declared in the context of demobilization negotiations
      conducted by the AUC--an umbrella organization of different paramilitary
      terrorist groups--with the Government, these terrorists continued to commit
      numerous unlawful and political killings, including of labor leaders, often
      kidnapping and torturing suspected guerrilla sympathizers prior to executing
      them. They also conducted kidnappings for ransom and committed social
      cleansing' killings of homosexuals and other supposedly undesirable'
      elements. The AUC terrorists often interfered with personal privacy in areas
      where they exercised de facto control, and regularly engaged in military
      operations in which they endangered civilian lives by fighting in urban
      areas and using civilian dwellings as combat shelter. AUC terrorists
      displaced thousands through both terror-induced forced displacements of
      suspect populations and military operations that drove peasants from their
      homes. AUC terrorists regularly threatened and attacked human rights workers
      and journalists who criticized their illegal activities. They also recruited
      child soldiers. Important strategic and financial areas continued to be
      heavily contested, especially as the Government eradicated coca crops, and
      created anti-kidnapping task forces."

      Mancuso has been the main public face of the AUC since the disappearance of
      the organization's founder, Carlos Castano last year. Sources in the
      Colombian human rights community allege that Castano is currently in hiding
      in Israel.

      Mancuso's role in massacres, disappearances, and assassinations would be
      sufficient grounds for his prosecution for war crimes and crimes against
      humanity. But the U.S. also claims that Mancuso was involved in a major
      cocaine trafficking operation designed by Castano to fund the AUC. In a
      September 24, 2002 press conference announcing the indictment of Castano,
      Mancuso, and a third AUC leader, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said:

      "Today's indictment charges AUC leaders, not as the anti-FARC freedom
      fighters they claim to be, but as criminals - violent drug traffickers who
      poison our citizens and threaten our national security. According to the
      indictment, Carlos Castaqo directed cocaine production and distribution
      activities in AUC-controlled regions of Colombia, including protecting coca
      processing laboratories, setting quality and price controls for cocaine, and
      arranging for and protecting cocaine shipments both within and outside of

      Castaqo and his co-defendants used violence, force and intimidation to
      maintain this authority over cocaine trafficking activities. For example,
      the indictment alleges that Castaqo resorted to kidnaping and threats, and
      that Salvatore Mancuso caused the brutal murder of another Colombian drug
      trafficker as retribution for failing to pay a drug debt."

      He went on to emphasize the seriousness of the charges, saying "The men
      named in the indictment are accused of selling one of the most dangerous and
      addictive drugs: cocaine. Cocaine, including its derivative form crack,
      remains the most frequently mentioned drug in 14 of the 20 cities in the
      Drug Abuse Warning Network. In addition, cocaine accounted for 50 percent of
      all drug-related episodes in emergency rooms between 1999 and 2000. Today,
      we see more clearly than ever the interdependence between the terrorists
      that threaten American lives and the illegal drugs that threaten American
      potential. As today's indictment reminds us, the lawlessness that breeds
      terrorism is also a fertile ground for the drug trafficking that supports
      terrorism. To surrender to either of these threats is to surrender to both."

      Tough words. But the U.S. has not followed them up with action. Earlier
      this year, the Colombian government suspended its own arrest order against
      Mancuso and allowed him to address the Colombian legislature the U.S.
      remained silent. And military aid has continued to flow to Colombia even
      though the State Department admits that there are widespread ties between
      the Colombian military and the AUC and human rights groups have documented
      the role of the AUC in the election of President Uribe.


      Despite the State Department's stated policy of refusing to negotiate with
      terrorists, both the Colombian and the U.S. press reported that U.S. Embassy
      officials met with representatives of the AUC in May 0f 2003 to discuss the
      indictements against Castano and Mancuso. See (Luis Gomez's report --
      http://www.narconews.com/Issue30/article801.html) Colombian sources place
      Stewart Tuttle, and his deputy, Alex Lee at these meetings, and it seems
      clear that neither man would have jeopardized his career by meeting with
      terrorists in possible violation of the PATRIOT act without authorization
      from somewhere much higher in the chain of command.

      In the weeks that followed the revelations about these meetings, Tuttle and
      Lee, who had previously met frequently with U.S. visitors to Colombia
      disappeared from the Embassy's briefing room.

      During this time, an Embassy official, speaking on the condition of
      anonymity, acknowledged that the meetings had taken place, but insisted that
      the Embassy was merely trying to reiterate its desire to have Mancuso and
      Castano surrender themselves to U.S. authorities. (Does this mean that if
      they were stationed in Afghanistan or Pakistan, Tuttle and Lee would meet
      with representatives of al Qu'aida to reiterate their desire to see Osama
      bin Laden surrender for prosecution.)

      Apparently, however, Tuttle no longer sees the need to reiterate the U.S.'s
      desire to put Mancuso behind bars. And its hard to believe that the
      Colombian government would cancel its plans to extradite Mancuso without
      consulting the Bush administration. What remains to be seen is who in the
      U.S. decided to let Salvatore Mancuso get away.

      So much for the "war on terror."

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