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Beast of the Month - August 2000

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  • robalini@aol.com
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 9, 2000
      Please send as far and wide as possible.


      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      Beast of the Month - August 2000

      Colonel James Hiett, Former "Drug War" Commander in Columbia

      "I yam an anti-Christ..."

      John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"

      "The only thing I did -- that I consciously did -- was try to protect my wife
      after the fact."
      Colonel James Hiett to Judge Edward R. Korman

      On June 14, best-selling author Peter McWilliams died in Los Angeles. He was
      awaiting sentencing for the crime of conspiracy to sell marijuana. McWilliams
      had made the mistake of believing the federal government would obey the will
      of the people of California when they passed Proposition 215, which legalized
      the medical usage marijuana. The judge in the case, George King, declared
      that McWilliams and his co-defendant, Todd McCormick, could not bring up 215
      in their defense (they were growing it for marijuana cooperatives to
      distribute) or that McWilliams was suffering the effects of AIDS and cancer
      treatments, from which the usage of marijuana counteracts the effects of
      nausea. While awaiting sentencing, he was forced to stop taking all medical
      marijuana. He died by choking on his own vomit. In effect, he is a casualty
      of the so-called "War on Drugs."

      His real crime appears to be speaking out against the war on marijuana and
      other persecutions of consensual crimes (besides the best-selling DO IT!
      series, he is the author of Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do, a brilliant
      manifesto against consensual laws.) He joined the Libertarian Party in 1998
      following a nationally televised speech on July 4th at the Libertarian
      National Convention in Washington, DC, where he stated:

      "Marijuana is the finest anti-nausea medication known to science, and our
      leaders have lied about this consistently. [Arresting people for] medical
      marijuana is the most hideous example of government interference in the
      private lives of individuals. It's an outrage within an outrage within an

      Coincidentally, 19 days later, the DEA came to his house and arrested him.

      Soon, the federal government may be able to overtly prosecute people who
      speak out against the "War on Drugs." The Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation
      Act, sponsored by senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), is
      a bipartisan attack on civil liberties disguised as protecting children from
      drugs. The bill would make it illegal for any "communications facility to
      post, publicize, transmit, publish, link to, broadcast or otherwise
      advertise" -- or even provide "indirect advertising for" -- Internet sites
      that sell drug paraphernalia, punishable by 3 years in prison. It would also
      be illegal to tell someone how to produce an illegal drug, punishable by 10
      years in prison. Such laws are a chilling attack on basic First Amendment
      liberties. Magazines such as High Times, books such as Opium for the Masses,
      and websites such as www.bongs.com could be branded as criminal by such a
      sweeping act. The bill, incidentally, passed the Senate by a vote of 88 to 0.

      With such hardline attacks on civil liberties, the curious case of Colonel
      James Hiett, The Konformist Beast of the Month, deserves another examination.

      Who is James Hiett? The colonel was the former commander of 200-plus U.S.
      Army anti-drug advisors in Colombia, which is now point zero in the US
      government's international Drug War. At the time he was sent there to lead
      the "zero tolerance" campaign, his wife, Laurie, was addicted to cocaine, and
      had been snorting blow in front of Hiett himself. This shouldn't have been a
      major surprise, as she had previously been treated for coke addiction in an
      army hospital. The lack of ethics by Colonel Hiett in not disqualifying
      himself as compromised is matched by the lack of investigation of the Army,
      who apparently weren't suspicious at all of the dubious history behind Mrs.

      The lack of ethics and investigation quickly became worse. She began to buy
      cocaine through her Army-employed Colombian driver, and taking trips from
      Bogota to New York. There was a sudden explosion of cash in the family
      finances. It was due to her involvement in an international cocaine and
      heroin smuggling operation, shipping $700,000 worth of coke, wrapped in brown
      paper, to the United States in diplomatic mail. Colonel Hiett claims he was
      unaware of her illegal activities until after the fact.

      Soon, even someone as connected as Mrs. Hiett couldn't hide the dubious
      activity. The Army began investigating her. Fortunately for the Hietts, the
      colonel was tipped off by lower level officials of the investigation. Laurie
      handed him a $25,000 roll of money to launder, which he did by paying down
      bills. They were constantly informed of the status of the investigation while
      they attempted to conceal their complicity.

      Eventually, Laurie couldn't cover her tracks anymore. In May, Laurie Hiett
      plead guilty to charges of international drug smuggling. She was sentence to
      five years in prison. Originally, the colonel was cleared of any wrongdoing
      by Army investigators, but then U.S. Customs Service director Ray Kelly
      insisted that his agents were convinced of the officer's guilt.

      Keep in mind, the version that has just been presented of events is based on
      the admissions of the Hietts themselves. In the few cases of reporting on
      this apparently unimportant scandal, the Hietts' version has been repeated
      uncritically as gospel. Why news agencies would take the word of confessed
      drug dealers and money launderers at face value is curious. In fact, the
      Hietts were both given sympathetic coverage in news reports by 60 Minutes and
      the New York Times, described as victims of drug addiction and family

      Is there more to this story? The tale of Jennifer Odom may reveal something.
      On July 23, 1999, Odom, a West Point graduate and US Army pilot serving in
      Columbia, took off on a nighttime electronic spying mission. She never
      landed. At that time, the military had sent out countless planes and ships to
      find and recover the crash of dim-bulbed Kennedy John-John. The Army could
      afford no planes to find Odom.

      Two days passed before Odom's plane was located by a Colombian pilot, and
      four more days before the bodies were retrieve. Odom and her crew of six were
      all dead, crashing on the side of a steep, mountain near the border with
      Ecuador. The Army classified her death as a "mishap," claiming she flew the
      plane into the uncharted mountain: Odom was an experienced pilot flying in
      good weather conditions, in a plane equipped with state-of-the-art,
      forward-looking radar and navigational aides. The Odom family suspects she
      was shot down.

      That's not the only suspicion. Here's some of the curious circumstances
      surrounding the case:

      * The recon missions were regularly flown in groups of three aircraft: Odom's
      plane was sent out alone, supposedly because the unit's two other planes were
      in maintenance.

      * According to the Army report, neither the aircraft's voice cockpit or
      flight data recorder were working that night, eliminating any chance of
      gathering objective evidence on what caused the crash.

      * A U.S. Special Forces team was dispatched to blow up the remains of the
      aircraft. Supposedly, this was to destroy classified electronic intelligence
      gear that had been on board, but photographs show it had already been smashed
      to bits. According to an eyewitness, the purpose of the obliteration was to
      bury the trace evidence of a missile hit.

      * Much of the Army's report on the Odom's crash was blacked out by censors.
      Her husband, retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Odom, has asked, "Why is that
      blacked out? Does that have something to do with national security?"

      The suppressed evidence seems to suggest that Odom was shot down, and that
      the Army has done all it can to conceal this fact. Even worse, the fact Odom
      and her crew were sent out alone hints that this was a suicide mission, and
      that those in the army collaborated to kill her.

      But who would do such a thing, and why? Curiously, Odom reported to Colonel
      James Hiett himself. Perhaps this all sounds like paranoid conspiracy theory
      rambling. It has a powerful proponent: according to Salon Magazine, Odom's
      mother, Janie Shafer, stated in court that "she suspects Hiett caused the
      death of her daughter by sharing information about the Army's operations with
      drug traffickers."

      The truth is, Colombia is a corrupt narcocracy propped up by the U.S.
      government thanks to servitude of the American korporate structure. Among the
      more notorious partnerships is with Occidental Petroleum, who, courtesy of a
      sweetheart deal arranged by the Colombian government, now control ancestral
      land of the U'wa Indians for oil drilling. Oxy is a major backer of Al Gore,
      and their headquarters are based in Los Angeles (not far from the 2000
      Democratic convention.) The U'wa tribe are holding a peaceful occupation of
      the proposed drill site. So far, it is a standoff, and Oxy and the US
      government are well aware that this could blow into a full rebellion, like a
      similar revolt in Bolivia over the swindling of public water resources by the
      engineering giant Bechtel.

      Both the Colombian military and the country's paramilitary right-wing death
      squads have been heavily involved with drug dealing. According to Human
      Rights Watch, there is "detailed, abundant, and compelling evidence of
      continuing close ties" to "paramilitary groups responsible for gross human
      rights violations." As Salon Magazine noted, "Human Rights Watch estimates
      that half of all Colombian battalions are involved with the notorious
      paramilitaries -- a partnership, despite the real crimes of the country's
      guerrilla movement, responsible for most of country's 37,000 civilian
      killings since 1985." This partnership has been aided by the training
      courtesy of Colonel Hiett.

      The US government has pretended as though the Colombian military and
      paramilitary force are blushing innocents, and the real monster of the
      Colombian drug menace is the left wing guerrilla outfit FARC. Whatever the
      faults of the FARC movement, their real sin appears to be an unwillingness to
      serve American business interest.

      Deja vu? It all sounds similar to both Vietnam and Nicaragua, where supposed
      communist groups were demonized while the Pentagon backed and trained
      thuggish death squads. Many believe Colombia is being set up to be the next
      Vietnam or Nicaragua, where covert operations linked to the military and the
      CIA set up huge drug smuggling operations for insider profit. Unsurprisingly,
      besides the Special Forces located in Colombia, the CIA has "hundreds" of
      officers in Colombia, according to Adam Isacson, who follows the drug war for
      the Center for International Policy.

      Whatever the case on the macro level, the end result on the micro level of
      this tale is telling. In July, James Hiett received his sentence for his
      admitted abuse of power and involvement in drug laundering. His sentence:
      five months prison time. Between Colonel Hiett and his wife, their combined
      prison time is less than that of the Colombian-born New York courier who
      worked for Mrs. Hiett.

      Incredibly, the hand-slap of Colonel Hiett was actually more than the Army
      requested: they recommended he receive probation and no jail.

      Even more incredible is that Barry McCaffrey, the Czar of the Drug War who
      bravely criticizes rappers and entertainers for "sending the wrong message"
      by advocating marijuana use (not to mention being heavily involved in the
      persecution of Peter McWilliams and Todd McCormick), is notably wimpy and
      silent about James Hiett and this scandal. (General McCaffrey, incidentally,
      is a lifelong US Army man.) Also silent are the numerous Congressmen who
      regularly talk "tough" about fighting the War on Drugs, a war that has become
      so violent that the First Amendment is in danger. The Drug War continues, and
      so does the hypocrisy.

      In any case, we salute Colonel James Hiett as Beast of the Month.
      Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Jimmy!!!


      "Bestselling Author Peter McWilliams Was Murdered by the War on Drugs"

      The Libertarian Party ( http://www.lp.org )

      "Warning: This Press Release Could Be Illegal Under New Anti-drug Legislation"

      The Libertarian Party ( http://www.lp.org )


      Loompanics ( http://www.loompanics.com )

      "The Corruption of Col. James Hiett," Bruce Shapiro

      July 5, 2000, Salon Magazine ( http://www.salon.com )

      "Nobody Questions the Colonel," Bruce Shapiro

      July 15, 2000, Salon Magazine ( http://www.salon.com )

      "The Unquiet Death of Jennifer Odom," Jeff Stein

      July 5, 2000, Salon Magazine ( http://www.salon.com )

      The Konformist


      Robert Sterling

      Post Office Box 24825

      Los Angeles, California 90024-0825

      (310) 737-1081


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