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#3259: Re: Republican/Democrat Game on Haiti (fwd)
From: kevin pina <email@example.com>
Oh they spend and they spend and they spend!
Clinton withholds Haiti papers
By Jack Todd
Of the Observer Staff
Some Republican members of Congress say Clinton administration officials are
withholding documents that may link Haitian President Rene Preval and former
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the assassinations of opposition
leaders. These accusations come in the wake of a possible November
withdrawal of UN peacekeeping
troops as the UN mandate in Haiti ends.
Republicans say increased political violence in Haiti is a clear indication
that President Clinton's Haiti policies are failing to ensure peace and
democratic freedoms in the Caribbean nation.
"The Clinton administration has spent more than $2 billion to support a
government that has tolerated thugs who murder its political opponents,"
Rep. Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., said at the House International
Relations Committee hearing in September.
Just weeks before the Nov. 5 presidential election, Gilman and other House
Republicans say Clinton
has withheld evidence to cover up death squads operating under both Aristide
and Preval, his
The information, Republicans say, is in 47 White House documents detailing
political killings in Haiti
since U.S. military forces put Aristide back in power in 1994. Clinton said
in September he would
not release the documents, claiming executive privilege, which grants the
president the legal right as
chief executive to keep documents from public disclosure. White House
officials said this is only the
second time Clinton has used executive privilege.
Clinton also used executive privilege when he withheld subpoenaed documents
in the White House
travel office investigation.
Clinton administration officials have told the committee they would brief
committee members about
the 47 withheld Haiti documents.
"I have not seen any evidence that the administration has concealed any
murders," Rep. Lee
Hamilton, D-Ind., said about charges that the administration is withholding
information on political
"There is no way to conceal them," said Hamilton, ranking Democratic member
of the House
International Relations Committee. "They are regrettable events . . . they
happened in broad
Hamilton said it was the Clinton administration's decision to go to Preval
with information about the
two most recent killings, and that swift action by Preval to dismiss the
implicated security unit
members demonstrates that Haiti's democracy is working.
"None of us want Haiti to revert to conditions that existed before the
Hamilton said. "Yet I wonder whether we want U.S. policy to succeed."
Hamilton said the
committee had blocked millions of dollars designated for police training and
"The committee has spent too much time in search of coverups that don't seem
to exist, and too little
time in pursuit of constructive answers to Haiti's problems," Hamilton said.
Clinton said at a March meeting with Preval at the White House that he was
pleased with Haiti's
"They've had parliamentary elections . . . the institutions and people who
caused so much of the
problems of the past have been changed and there is, I think, a new
atmosphere of hope in the
country," Clinton said.
But November could bring about changes in Haiti, even if Clinton wins
reelection. The UN mandate
that is training Haiti's police force and providing security for the fragile
democracy is set to expire.
The United Nations Support Mission in Haiti took over training the
5,200-strong Haitian police force
after the majority of U.S. forces pulled out last February. Haitian police
training, while still paid for
by the United States, is being conducted by the Canadian-led UN police
In a statement issued Oct. 3, UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali
said the UN support
mission was "a key factor in the stability of the Haitian authorities to
contain the danger of
destabilization by forces threatening democracy."
"It is clear from all indications that the security situation in Haiti has
deteriorated in recent weeks,"
Boutros-Ghali said, adding that there may be no other alternative than to
keep the UN force in Haiti
past the November mandate.
"The Security Council was, by implication, committing the international
community to a long-term
program of support for Haiti," Boutros-Ghali said.
Aristide returned from exile in October 1994, three years after a military
junta deposed him. During
the 1991-1994 military regime, Human Rights Watch estimated that some 3,000
occurred in Haiti.
Since Aristide's return to power, there have been 26 political murders in
"Many of these murders were committed in 1995, while U.S. troops were still
in Haiti as
peacekeepers," Gilman said. "Our government has information linking these
killings to members of
Haiti's Presidential Security Unit, which was trained by our government."
The United States has
spent more than $5.5 million to train and equip the approximately 200-member
security unit since October 1994.
Presidential security unit members are suspected of playing a role in the
Aug. 20 assassinations of
two opposition leaders in Haiti's Mobilization for National Development
Party. Preval reassigned
three members of the presidential security unit in September pending the
results of a U.S.-Haitian
investigation into the killings. No charges have been filed and the three
remain on full duty outside the
presidential security unit. The FBI is leading the investigation.
Ten days after the August assassinations, the Clinton administration sent
National Security Adviser
Tony Lake and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott to meet with Preval.
This meeting resulted
in pressure on Preval to accept a 40-member U.S. diplomatic security force
for personal protection,
said a high-level adviser to the Haitian ambassador.
"The administration wants to make sure nothing happens before Nov. 4," the
source told The
Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., told the House International Relations Committee
that the administration
lied about the political killings.
"We deserve to get the truth from the Clinton administration . . . this is a
deliberate attempt to
withhold the truth," Burton said.
But Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., defended the administration. "What would be
gained by covering
up murder?" he asked. "It is a crime to declare the Clinton administration
is covering up murder."
Virginia Democrat James Moran called the GOP allegations "not constructive."
"We're not addressing Haiti's problems, this is just an election-year attack
on the Clinton
administration's policies," Moran said.
"It didn't bother the (Bush) administration when thousands were being
slaughtered and refugees were
flooding into Florida," Moran said. "This has stopped and Haiti is a
The prime example Democrats give to illustrate success in Haiti is the
presidential elections held last
Preval, the candidate for president from Aristide's party, won by an 87.9
percent majority in
December 1995, and assumed power from Aristide on Feb. 7, 1996. That
transition marked the
first time in 192 years of Haitian independence that a peaceful transfer of
power had taken place
from one popularly elected president to another.
Government Accounting Office reports say the United States spent about $18.8
million in 1995 on
"very closely monitored elections" to support the Haitian government
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