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News Not Fit to Print: US Coup Planned for Venezuela?

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By Dave Lindorff

The New York Times had a news article about Venezuela in Thursday’s edition, but it was about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez saying he would cut diplomatic ties with neighboring Colombia. There wasn’t a word about a memo from a CIA operative in Caracas to CIA Director General Michael Hayden, uncovered yesterday, outlining a plan for interfering with a Venezuelan referendum set for Dec. 2, and laying out the steps for instigating and backing a coup.

The plot, called “Operation Pliers,” and laid out in the letter to Hayden by an undercover operative named Michael Steele, who reportedly works in the US Embassy as a “regional affairs officer,” was intercepted by Venezuelan intelligence and released publicly on state TV yesterday.

In the Nov. 20-dated letter, Steele refers to an $8 million US-funded in-country propaganda campaign against Chavez and the referendum, already being implemented, which is designed to institutionalize many of Chavez’s socialist reforms and to permit him to continue to run for president beyond his current two-term limit. He proposes trying to stall the referendum, which pro-Chavez forces are expected to win handily, and failing that, to then promote a campaign to refuse to accept the results. Steele further confirms that the agency is working with international news agencies in an effort to distort reports about the referendum and the reforms. (CNN had to apologize for a “mistake” which led to the words “Who killed him?” superimposed over a photo of Chavez broadcast on CNN’s Spanish-language international broadcast in Venezuela. Was this a deliberate CIA-inspired black-op?)

Among the tactics Steele recommends in his letter are:

* Promoting street demonstrations and violent protests
* Creating a climate of ungovernability
* Provoking a general uprising
* Working through the US military attaché at the embassy to coordinate with ex-military officers and former coup plotters against Chavez.

Even more darkly, the letter calls for initiating “military actions” to support opposition mobilizations and strategic building occupations, involving US military bases in neighboring Curacao and Colombia to provide support, and even taking control of parts of Venezuela in the days after the referendum, while encouraging a “military rebellion” inside the Venezuelan National Guard.

The CIA communication has been reported in articles filed by the Associated Press, but the Times and other major US news organizations have not mentioned it
Instead, the Times today ran a column by Roger Cohen, which compares Chavez to the fascists of 1930s Europe, and which calls for defeat of the referendum. (Are Cohen and the Times part of the CIA's propaganda campaign?)

The Cohen column is so rabid that it would be almost comical, were it not for the fact that there is a real threat of a bloody CIA-inspired coup in the democratic nation of Venezuela.

In fact, I thought it would be fun and instructive to alter Cohen’s hit piece a bit, substituting the US for Venezuela, and Bush and Cheney for Chavez, to show its hypocrisy. Here then, a sample of the only lightly tweaked column:


Shutting Up America’s Bush and Cheney

By Richard Cohen (courtesy of editing by Dave Lindorff)

It was a fascist general in 1930s Spain who coined the phrase “Viva la muerte!” or “Long live death!” Essentially meaningless, the words captured the cult of soil, blood and savagery that coursed through European Fascism, in its Francoist and other forms.
President Bush and Vice President Cheney hate Islamo-fascists; they are central to their repertoire of insults. But they have not hesitated to deploy the imagery of death to bolster their rightist brand of petro-authoritarianism, now operating under the ludicrous banner of “Homeland, Free Markets and Democracy!”

The slogan looks almost quaint in its anachronism. Bush and Cheney would no doubt claim American Revolutionary, rather than Spanish fascist, roots for it (Patrick Henry also invoked liberty and finality). The bottom line is this. America’s oil-gilded caudillos are getting serious about instituting executive rule, much like Franco and Mussolini.

I might add Vladimir Putin to that list. Like the Russian leader, Bush and Cheney have already used fears of terrorism, a pliant judiciary, subservient institutions like the Congress, and the galvanizing appeal of vitriolic anti-Arabism to concoct a 21st-century authoritarianism, complete with gulags and arrest and indefinite detention without charge. But even Putin has not contemplated going as far as Bush and Cheney with their doctrine of pre-emptive war and “regime change” abroad.

Americans will vote next November most likely between two candidates for president who endorse many of the new powers already claimed by Bush and Cheney, and the Congress, even under Democratic control, continues to grant them additional powers, including the power to conduct sweeping spying on electronic communications without any court order or demonstration of probable cause, the power to declare martial law anywhere in the country on the slightest of pretexts, and the power to expropriate private property of those deemed to be “threatening” the American occupation in Iraq.

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)

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And the disclosed "memo" by the valiant (yet namel... by Tom Murphy on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 10:38:45 AM
Not at all like Pakistan, or even having a Supreme... by Charlie L on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 12:07:09 PM
1. The agent was outed by his own letter, which wa... by Dave Lindorff on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 12:27:36 PM
"The agent was outed by his own letter, which... by Tom Murphy on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 2:28:23 PM
I don't pretend to know if Chavez is a great g... by Dave Lindorff on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 4:11:15 PM
"It was a document designed from the start to... by Tom Murphy on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 5:34:37 PM
Looks like the global corporatist Empire behind th... by Alan MacDonald on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 11:10:24 AM
Chavez and the Bush CIA are equally capable of usi... by Jim Freeman on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 2:00:19 PM
Everytime I think I couldn't possibly get more... by Char Stellamaris on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 2:22:25 PM
It really doesn't matter if this information i... by memary on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 3:19:10 PM
It doesn't matter if it's correct or not?&... by Tom Murphy on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 3:24:41 PM
Why is it that 'other' media in other coun... by ibrahim turner on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 5:10:49 PM
my wife lived there for 2 years and the poor peopl... by larry booth on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 6:17:02 PM
It would be incredible and nothing short of miracu... by Dave Lindorff on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 6:50:12 PM
So Cubans have better than average healthcare.&nbs... by Tom Murphy on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 7:25:43 PM
If people are starving, they want food, then they&... by Dave Lindorff on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 7:39:15 PM
TM stated: “Reiterating an unvetted mem... by richard on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 7:32:33 PM
And William Blum is clearly an objective writer th... by Tom Murphy on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 8:53:37 PM
A link to keep Dave's great discussion going:&... by Kevin Gosztola on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 7:36:47 PM
I love what Chavez is doing, he puts a gigantic bu... by Ed Encho on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 7:38:24 PM
What started all of this in the first place was th... by iman on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 7:56:38 PM
OMG Richard, you've really set the cat amongst... by Eddy Schmid on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 8:13:03 PM
We have leaders in this country who are fascist in... by Dave Lindorff on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 9:23:41 PM
Jim Freeman's right, the silence of the MSM on... by Better World Order on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 9:41:07 PM
Yes, I AM a CIA agent, DoD plant, DOE agent, thral... by Tom Murphy on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 10:03:07 PM
and again he fails to address the fact that, since... by Better World Order on Thursday, Nov 29, 2007 at 11:49:51 PM
"I ASKED if Tom works for the CIA, a legit qu... by Tom Murphy on Friday, Nov 30, 2007 at 11:08:47 AM
I'm not surprised to read the mental mach... by Jim Arnold on Friday, Nov 30, 2007 at 12:20:36 PM
  Unfortunately, my association with Osama Be... by richard on Friday, Nov 30, 2007 at 7:16:49 PM


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