Ask any American who reads at least one print/online newspaper or watches cable TV what they know about the situation in Haiti today, and you will likely get two responses. The 2010 earthquake destroyed Haiti, and/or the Clinton Foundation ran off with a trainload of money. This is the disaster narrative; a narrative not grounded in history or the realization that Haiti has been a microcosm for imperialism and regime change for over 215 years. In 1804, after the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte's forces, Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaimed the independence Haiti, and Haiti became the second independent nation in the Americas.
Our average news consumer knows much about current arguments for and against regime change in Venezuela and Syria. Conversely, when told that on February 17 eight mercenaries were arrested in Haiti with assault weapons, pistols, drones, several different license plates, and sophisticated satellite communication equipment, the same people will express complete disbelief. When you reveal that one of the arrested men, a former Navy SEAL, has been a regular spokesperson and military "expert" on CNN, ABC and FOX, you will likely get a slack-jawed response.
Why has the fact that five of the men, who were immediately identified on social media as American citizens--including Navy SEALS Christopher Michael Osman and Christopher Mark McKinley (AKA Chris Heben), former Marine Kent Leland Kroeker, and Americans Dustin Porte and Talon Ray Burton-- not registered in public awareness or created some outrage?
CNN briefly reported on their arrest and detention in Haiti, and interviewed Haitian Prime Minister Jean Henry Ce'ant. Ce'ant told CNN the men are "mercenaries and terrorists" come to murder those in the "executive branch of the government." Later his spokesperson, Pascal Adrien, tweeted in Creole (CNN missed the translation) that the President, Jovenel Moise, is a murderer who hired mercenaries (snipers) to kill Ce'ant.
American mercenaries on a kill mission in Haiti would seem to be news that was worth an extensive follow-up. CNN did not do so, nor correct its initial erroneous reporting of the number of men or their names. Could it be, since the "missing man" Christopher Mark McKinley (AKA Chris Heben) was regularly featured as an expert on CNN, that any reporting on the backgrounds of the paid assassins would be a colossal embarrassment?
Serbian U.S. resident, Danilo Bajagic, and Serbian national, Vlade Jankvic, were also apprehended. Voice of America reporters identified Bajagic as a permanent U.S. resident through a photo of his green card, which was circulated on social media. Anyone who was following Haiti events on social media knew all of this well before any media reports featuring Mercenary Chris Heben as an expert witness surfaced on CNN, FOX, and ABC. Advocates for the Haitian people are masters of perceptual vigilance.
Perceptual vigilance requires that something be noticed somewhere in order for it to be noticed everywhere. For example, if you have ever researched purchasing a particular car, it is likely that you will begin to notice that same car every time you take a drive. There suddenly are not more cars of a particular make and model on the same streets that you drive everyday; it is just that you have become aware. Perceptual vigilance.
Vigilant observers have noticed an uptick in executions during recent Haitian protests against government corruption. Sniper shots come out of nowhere and Haitian civilians are killed where they stand. Now that the U.N. has withdrawn, mercenaries can hide in plain sight. Or, they try to hide. There are photos of men in full body armor, with hoods and masks covering their faces, who appear to be part of the Haitian police. Look closer, and the men have white hands. Attention to detail is a hallmark of perceptual vigilance.
Even though there is very little awareness of Haitian events and politics in the American discourse, one would assume that American mercenaries armed to the hilt and running around in Port au Prince would generate some conversation around the water cooler if people knew the story. The story of the American mercenaries in Haiti is a cautionary tale, and demonstrates at the very least a media blackout.
While Venezuela and the possibility of regime change in that oil rich country has been in the news everyday, the same cannot be said of Haiti. Profound news events are occurring in Hispaniola, not more than a short flight from Miami, with little to no reporting. The Miami Herald stays on top of most events, but is parroted by other electronic and print media. Circular reporting is another characteristic of Haiti information and mis-information.
The reasons why recent disturbing events in Haiti have been under-reported or ignored completely can be debated, but no one is doing so. The February arrest of the Americans in Haiti, and their subsequent and almost immediate release in the U.S. with no follow up to the basic "who, what, where when and why of journalism" reeks of malfeasance. If the State Department will not speak to reporters, news outlets should at the very least question why. The silence is deafening.