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Profile: USAID

USAID was a participant or observer in the following events:

The US, through USAID and the University of Nebraska, spends millions of dollars developing and printing textbooks for Afghan schoolchildren. The textbooks are “filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.” For instance, children are “taught to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles, and land mines.” Lacking any alternative, millions of these textbooks are used long after 1994; the Taliban will still be using them in 2001. In 2002, the US will start producing less violent versions of the same books, which President Bush says will have “respect for human dignity, instead of indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry.” (He will fail to mention who created those earlier books.) (Stephens and Ottaway 3/23/2002; Off 5/6/2002) A University of Nebraska academic named Thomas Gouttierre leads the textbook program. Journalist Robert Dreyfuss will later reveal that although funding for Gouttierre’s work went through USAID, it was actually paid for by the CIA. Unocal will pay Gouttierre to work with the Taliban (see December 1997) and he will host visits of Taliban leaders to the US, including trips in 1997 and 1999 (see December 4, 1997 and July-August 1999). (Dreyfuss 2005, pp. 328)

By 1984, huge amounts of arms and ammunition for the mujaheddin fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan are pouring into Pakistan. These weapons are funded by the CIA and Saudi government, and generally come into the port of Karachi. The criminal BCCI bank has an enforcement arm nicknamed the “Black Network.” Time magazine reporters Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne will later describe it as “a Karachi-based cadre of bank operatives, paramilitary units, spies, and enforcers who handled BCCI’s darkest operations around the globe and trafficked in bribery and corruption.” By 1984, BCCI and its Black Network takes effective control of Karachi’s port, dominating Pakistan’s customs service there with bribery and intimidation. BCCI is thus in a position to dominate the flow of supplies to the mujaheddin. Pakistan’s military handles the flow of weapons from Karachi to the Afghan border, but once there the supplies have to be carried by mules to reach the mujaheddin fighting in remote Afghan mountain ranges. BCCI controls this part of the supply chain as well. Sometimes BCCI personnel simply transport the supplies across Afghanistan to Iran and then sell them there for a profit. (Beaty and Gwynne 1993, pp. 66, 315-316) The US government is aware of BCCI’s support role and cooperates with it. For instance, in 1987 USAID asks BCCI to buy 1,000 more mules to help the mujaheddin. (Frantz 9/3/1991) At almost every step of the way, BCCI takes a cut of the profits and often steals some of the supplies. (Beaty and Gwynne 1993, pp. 66, 315-316)

Haiti agrees to implement a wide array of neoliberal reforms outlined in the IMF’s $1.2 billion Emergency Economic Recovery Plan (EERP) put together by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Organization of American States (OAS). The recovery package, to be funded and executed over a five-year period, aims to create a capital-friendly macroeconomic environment for the export-manufacturing sector. It calls for suppressing wages, reducing tariffs, and selling off state-owned enterprises. Notably, there is little in the package for the country’s rural sector, which represents the activities of about 65 percent of the Haitian population. The small amount that does go to the countryside is designated for improving roads and irrigation systems and promoting export crops such as coffee and mangoes. The Haitian government also agrees to abolish tariffs on US imports, which results in the dumping of cheap US foodstuffs on the Haitian market undermining the country’s livestock and agricultural production. The disruption of economic life in the already depressed country further deteriorates the living conditions of the poor. (International Report 4/3/1995; International Monetary Fund 10/18/1996; Shamsie 2002; Reeves 9/7/2003; Williams 3/1/2004)

IARA logo.IARA logo. [Source: IARA]In November 1996, the FBI monitors the progress of bin Laden buying a new satellite phone and tracks the purchase to Ziyad Khaleel, a US citizen and radical militant living in Missouri (see November 1996-Late August 1998). Newsweek will later say that this puts the Sudan-based charity Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA) “on the FBI’s radar screen” because Khaleel is one of IARA’s eight regional US directors. (Isikoff and Hosenball 10/20/2004) Khaleel is monitored as he continues to buy new minutes and parts for bin Laden’s phone at least through 1998 (see July 29-August 7, 1998). He is also the webmaster of the official Hamas website. His name and a Detroit address where he lived both appear prominently in ledgers taken by US investigators from the Al-Kifah Refugee Center in 1994, a charity front with ties to both bin Laden and the CIA (see 1986-1993). That Detroit address is also tied to Ahmed Abu Marzouk, the nephew of Mousa Abu Marzouk, a high-ranking Hamas leader who is imprisoned in the US between 1995 and 1997 (see July 5, 1995-May 1997). Furthermore, Khaleel is working for the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a Hamas-linked organization cofounded by Mousa Abu Marzook. (Kohlmann 10/2/2003) A secret CIA report in early 1996 concluded that the IARA was funding radical militants in Bosnia (see January 1996). US intelligence will later reveal that in the late 1990s, IARA is regularly funding al-Qaeda. For instance, it has evidence of IARA giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to bin Laden in 1999. But Newsweek will later note that “at the very moment that the [IARA] was allegedly heavily involved in funneling money to bin Laden, the US branch was receiving ample support from the US Treasury through contracts awarded by the State Department’s Agency for International Development (USAID).” Between 1997 and 1999, USAID gives over $4 million to IARA, mostly meant for charity projects in Africa. Finally, at the end of December 1999, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gets USAID to cut off all funding for IARA. But the charity is merely told in a latter that US government funding for it would not be “in the national interest of the United States” and it is allowed to continue operating. At the same time, US agents arrest Khaleel while he is traveling to Jordan (see December 29, 1999. The US government will wait until 2004 before shutting down IARA in the US and raiding the Missouri branch where Khaleel worked. Newsweek will later comment, “One question that is likely to arise [in the future] is why it took the US government so long to move more aggressively against the group.” (Isikoff and Hosenball 10/20/2004)

Political groups opposed to the party of Jean-Bertrand Aristide form the Democratic Convergence, a coalition made up of roughly 200 groups, which is headed by former Port-au-Prince mayor Evans Paul, a previous Aristide supporter and leader of the Convention for Democratic Unity. (Dudley 2/14/2004; Turck 2/24/2004) The Convergence is a product of the USAID program, “Democracy Enhancement,” the purpose of which is to “fund those sectors of the Haitian political spectrum where opposition to the Aristide government could be encouraged.” Financial support for the Convergence comes from the International Republican Institute (IRI), which is associated with the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy. The IRI receives about $3 million annually from Congress, as well as millions more from private Haitian and US interests. The organization’s board includes a number of “current or former Republican Party officials, Republican officeholders, or members of Republican administrations.” The IRI’s activities in Haiti are not completely understood and Roger Noriega, the US permanent representative to the Organization of American States, has always refused to elaborate on the organization’s work in Haiti. (Chomsky 7/1994; Dudley 2/14/2004; Turck 2/24/2004; Maguire 2/27/2004; Williams 3/1/2004)

Jean-Bertrand Aristide runs unopposed in Haiti’s presidential elections and wins with 91.5 percent of the vote. The opposition Democratic Convergence party does not participate in the elections in protest of the May 21, 2000 congressional and municipal elections (see May 21, 2000) which its members claim were rigged. The election turnout is disputed. Though some news agencies report a low turnout of between 5 percent and 10 percent, Aristide’s party, as well as five US-based NGOs—Global Exchange, the Quixote Center, Witness for Peace, and Pax Christi—estimate the figure at 61 percent, or 3 million of Haiti’s voters. (BBC 7/7/2000; CBS News 11/29/2000; Associated Press 12/7/2000; Global Exchange 2001; Reeves 9/7/2003; Turck 2/24/2004; Williams 3/1/2004; Reeves 5/5/2004) These figures are also supported by USAID-commissioned Gallup polls taken both before and after the elections, but which are suppressed by the US. (Reeves 5/5/2004)

Not long after 9/11, US Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin proposes a substitute for the mostly private funding of madrassas [religious boarding schools] in Pakistan. There are over 10,000 madrassas in that country, and many of them teach a radical form of Islam that promotes Islamist militancy. Counterterrorism “tsar” Wayne Downing supports Chamberlin’s idea, and says the madrassa system is “the root of many of the recruits for the Islamist movement.” In early 2001, the Pakistani government approved a plan that would require the completely unregulated madrassas to register with the government for the first time, halt all funding from abroad (which often comes from militant supporters in Saudi Arabia), and modify their curricula to teach modern subjects such as math, science, and history. However, Pakistan lacks the money for an education system to replace the madrassas. In late 2001, President Bush promises Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that he will fund a $300 million education plan. But the plan does not survive the White House budget request that year. The madrassas are not reformed in any way—even the plan to have them register is dropped. Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid will later comment, “The US State Department and USAID maintained the charade that Pakistan was actively carrying out reforms.” (Gellman and Linzer 10/22/2004; Rashid 2008, pp. 235-236)

A USAID-commissioned Gallup poll indicates that 61.6 percent of the survey’s participants sympathize or are members of Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party, while only 13 percent say they support the Democratic Convergence or any of its associated parties. Sixty percent of the respondents indicate that the Haitian leader they trust most is Aristide, though several say they trust no one. Democratic Convergence leader Gerard Gourgue, with only 3.7 percent, is the next most trusted politician. (Reeves 5/5/2004)

The “Coalition of 184 Civic Institutions” is established. It is comprised of Haitian NGOs funded by USAID and/or the International Republican Institute (IRI), the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce, as well as several other groups. (Reeves 9/7/2003) The coalition’s leader is Andre Apaid, a US citizen born to Haitian parents who is the head of Alpha Industries, “one of the oldest and largest assembly factories in Haiti.” His factories—located in Haiti’s free trade zones—produce textiles and assemble electronic products for several US companies, including Sperry/Unisys, IBM, Remington and Honeywell, some of which are used in US Government computers and US Defense Department sonar and radar equipment. According to a report by the National Labor Committee, Apaid’s businesses are known to have forced their employees to work 78-hour work-weeks at wages below the minimum rate. (Kernaghan 1/1996; Haiti Progres 11/12/2003; Farmer 4/15/2004)

Bechtel wins a second contract from USAID to work on rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure. Work will include the “repair of power generation facilities, electrical grids, municipal water systems and sewage systems; continued rehabilitation or repair of airport facilities; and additional dredging, repair and upgrading of the seaport at Umm Qasr.” The company will also “repair and build government and public facilities such as schools, selected ministry buildings and major irrigation structures, as well as restore essential transport links.” The contract has the potential to be worth as much as $1.8 billion. (US Agency for International Development 1/6/2004; Chaffin and Dinmore 1/7/2004)

The US Agency for International Development (AID) announces that it has contracted California-based engineering firm Bechtel Corp to repair and rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure. The contract is worth $34.6 million initially, and up to $680 million over 18 months. Specifically, Bechtel will assess and repair power generation facilities, electrical grids, municipal water and sewage systems, and airport facilities. The company will also dredge, repair, and upgrade the Umm Qasr seaport. Additional projects may include rebuilding hospitals, schools, ministry buildings, major irrigation structures, and the country’s transportation infrastructure. (US Agency for International Development 4/17/2003) Some experts believe that Bechtel’s contract could ultimately be worth as much as $20 billion. (Becker 5/21/2003) The bidding process draws criticism from various congressional Democrats and British companies who say that the process was overly secretive and limited. Only a small number of US-based construction companies were allowed to take part in the bidding. (Becker and Oppel 4/18/2003) The company’s connections to the US government also brings about allegations of cronyism.
bullet Bechtel’s CEO, Riley P. Bechtel, currently serves on the President’s Export Council, which advises the White House on how to create markets for American companies abroad. (Becker and Oppel 4/18/2003)
bullet The company’s senior vice president, Jack Sheehan, is a member of a Pentagon advisory group called the Defense Policy Board, whose members are directly approved by the Defense Secretary. (Burkeman 4/18/2003)
bullet One of its board members is George Shultz, who served as secretary of state under the Reagan administration and who currently leads the advisory board of a pro-war group called the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. (Baker 4/18/2003; Burkeman 4/18/2003)
bullet Daniel Chao, a Bechtel senior vice president, serves on the advisory board of the US Export-Import Bank. (Chatterjee 4/24/2003)

Comite des Avocats pour le Respect des Libertes Individuelles (CARLI), a Haitian “human rights” organization, compiles a list with the names of about 85 alleged human rights violators, all of which belong to either the Lavalas party or to the Haitian National Police. The names come from phone calls made to their “hotline” and possibly from other leads as well. CARLI issues leaflets containing the names to the public, calling for their arrest. The leaflets—published only in French, not Creole—are also given to the US embassy and USAID, which sponsors the hotline program. It is unclear whether or not CARLI—whose staff consists of only two volunteer lawyers—investigates and confirms the allegations before it publicizes the names of the condemned (see February 29, 2004). The accused are never contacted to respond to the charges. People named on the list flee their homes and go into hiding, fearing that the rebel paramilitary groups will come after them. They later tell a National Lawyers Guild human rights delegation that they were not guilty of the charges and that the list had been used as a political ploy by the opposition to instill fear. The delegation also interviews CARLI’s two lawyers and uncovers strong evidence suggesting that the organization is a tool of the opposition (see February 29, 2004). (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)

A National Lawyers Guild human rights delegation visits the offices of two Haitian “human rights” organizations, Comite des Avocats pour le Respect des Libertes Individuelles (CARLI) and National Committee for Haitian Rights (NCHR). During the visits, the delegation’s members become convinced that the two organizations are working with the opposition. (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
Comite des Avocats pour le Respect des Libertes Individuelles (CARLI) - In the case of CARLI—which publishes lists of alleged human rights organizations, which it disperses to the public, the police, other government agencies, USAID, and the US Embassy—there are several factors which cause suspicion among the delegation’s members: (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet Though the group insists that it thoroughly investigates “each of the 60 to 100 monthly calls and verifies all information beyond a reasonable doubt before publicly condemning a person by naming him/her,” CARLI “has no full time staff”—only two volunteer lawyers. (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet “Hotline” forms completed by the group include terms like “a supporter of the dictator Aristide.” (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet The delegation finds “no evidence that CARLI conducts any investigation before condemning the named person.” (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet “The person ‘condemned’ to the list is never contacted to answer to the allegations.” (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet The lists have contained only Lavalas supporters. (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet The leaflets dispersed to the public are written only in French, which is spoken and understood mainly by the educated elite. Most Haitians speak Creole. (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet CARLI has never investigated cases involving Lavalas victims. (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet “CARLI was asked if it would consider ceasing the publication of the ‘list’ because it was forcing innocent people into hiding and to fear for their lives, preventing people from returning to their jobs and schools,and, as a non-judicial forum, was creating the possibility of a extra-judicial execution squads, and non-judicial arrest warrants. CARLI refused.” (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
National Committee for Haitian Rights (NCHR) - The well-funded NCHR claims to represent victims of human rights abuses, regardless of their political affiliation. But the organization demonstrates an obvious bias in favor of the opposition. (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet The NCHR cannot name even one incident where a Lavalas supporter was a victim of a human rights abuse. (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet “NCHR took the delegation into a large meeting room where the wall was adorned with a large ‘wanted’ poster featuring Aristide and his cabinet, in small photos, across the top. It named Aristide a ‘dictator’ guilty of human rights abuses. Among a long list of other charges, it condemned him for the murder of John Dominique and included a large photo of Dominique’s dead body. The poster calls for the arrest and imprisonment of Aristide and his associates.” (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet “The Delegation suggested that NCHR’s neutrality and inclusiveness might be better expressed with additional posters condemning, for example, FRAPH, Jodel Chamblain, Jean ‘Tatoune’ Baptiste, Ti Kenley, etc. While the Director and the staff acknowledged the existence of all of those named, they laughed at the suggestion of adding other wanted posters to the office.” (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet Many of the newsletters, “open letters,” and advisories that were in the NCHR waiting room refer to Aristide as a “dictator.” None of the literature addresses abuses against supporters of Aristide. (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet “NCHR was asked if they would investigate the 1000 bodies dumped and buried by the morgue during the last few weeks at Titanye (see March 7, 2004) (see March 28, 2004), and the alleged malfunctioning of the refrigeration at the morgue. The director and his staff denied ever knowing about these events, laughed, and said none of it was true.” (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)
bullet “NCHR was asked if it would investigate the dumped bodies at Piste D’Aviation (see March 22, 2004) (see March 23, 2004). The director and his staff laughed and denied that it was true. The Delegation then showed NCHR the photographs we had taken of the ashes and fresh human skeletons. In response, the NCHR director told us that the General Hospital routinely dumps bodies at the Piste D’Aviation.” (Griffin 4/11/2004 pdf file)

Private contractors paid by US firms outnumber US troops in Iraq, according to newly released figures from the State and Defense departments. Over 180,000 civilians, including Americans, foreign citizens, and Iraqis, are working under US contracts in Iraq, compared to about 160,000 soldiers and several thousand civilian government employees stationed in Iraq. The Los Angeles Times reports, “The total number of private contractors, far higher than previously reported, shows how heavily the Bush administration has relied on corporations to carry out the occupation of Iraq—a mission criticized as being undermanned.” The Brookings Institute’s Peter Singer says, “These numbers are big. They illustrate better than anything that we went in without enough troops. This is not the coalition of the willing. It’s the coalition of the billing.” The numbers of contractors include:
bullet 21,000 Americans;
bullet 43,000 foreign contractors;
bullet about 118,000 Iraqis.
These numbers are not complete; private security contractors, hired to protect government officials and buildings, were not fully counted in the survey. According to some firms’ figures, about 30,000 security personnel work in Iraq, sometimes fighting alongside—or independent of—military forces. All these employees working for private contractors are paid with US tax dollars. Military officials say contractors cut costs while allowing troops to focus on fighting rather than on other tasks. “The only reason we have contractors is to support the war fighter,” says Gary Motsek, the assistant deputy undersecretary of defense who oversees contractors. “Fundamentally, they’re supporting the mission as required.” But some are critical, noting that the US government has relied far more heavily on contractors in the Iraq war than in any other conflict in American history. Critics note that troops and their missions can be jeopardized if contractors, functioning outside the military’s command and control, refuse to make deliveries of vital supplies under fire. Just such an occurrence happened in 2004, when US forces were forced to endure food rationing after delivery drivers refused to ferry supplies into a combat zone. And the government does not keep centralized track of the number or location of contractors operating in Iraq, though the US Central Command (CENTCOM) has recently bowed to pressure from Congress and begun a census of the number of contractors working on US and Iraqi bases to determine how much food, water, and shelter is needed. The corporation with the single largest presence in Iraq is KBR, which was the Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root until early 2007. KBR provides logistical support to US and Iraqi troops, and holds the single biggest contract in Iraq, employing nearly 14,000 US workers. Other large employers of Americans in Iraq include L-3 Corporation, which provides translators to troops, and engineering firm ITT. The companies that have drawn the most attention are the private security firms such as Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and Erinys. Military policy experts say these contractors’ jobs should be done by servicemen, and point out the number of times security forces have engaged in firefights with Iraqi insurgents. “We don’t have control of all the coalition guns in Iraq. That’s dangerous for our country,” says William Nash, a retired Army general and reconstruction expert. The Pentagon “is hiring guns. You can rationalize it all you want, but that’s obscene.” Others point to the almost-complete lack of governmental accountability; the Times notes that “[a]lthough scores of troops have been prosecuted for serious crimes, only a handful of private security contractors have faced legal charges.” (Miller 4/7/2004) (See July 3, 2007 and July 5, 2007.)


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