Fulbright Scholar Asked to 'Spy' on Cubans, Venezuelans

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Fulbright Scholar Asked to 'Spy' on Cubans, Venezuelans

Postby Jeff » Sat Feb 09, 2008 2:01 pm

Exclusive: Peace Corps, Fulbright Scholar Asked to 'Spy' on Cubans, Venezuelans

U.S. Embassy Official's 'Spy' Request Violated Long-Standing U.S. Policy

Feb. 8, 2008

In an apparent violation of U.S. policy, Peace Corps volunteers and a Fulbright scholar were asked by a U.S. Embassy official in Bolivia "to basically spy" on Cubans and Venezuelans in the country, according to Peace Corps personnel and the Fulbright scholar involved.

"I was told to provide the names, addresses and activities of any Venezuelan or Cuban doctors or field workers I come across during my time here," Fulbright scholar John Alexander van Schaick told ABCNews.com in an interview in La Paz.

Van Schaick's account matches that of Peace Corps members and staff who claim that last July their entire group of new volunteers was instructed by the same U.S. Embassy official in Bolivia to report on Cuban and Venezuelan nationals.

The State Department says any such request was "in error" and a violation of long-standing U.S. policy which prohibits the use of Peace Corps personnel or Fulbright scholars for intelligence purposes.

"We take this very seriously and want to stress this is not in any way our policy," a senior State Department official told ABCNews.com.

The Fulbright scholar van Schaick, a 2006 Rutgers University graduate, says the request came at a mandatory orientation and security briefing meeting with Assistant Regional Security Officer Vincent Cooper at the embassy on the morning of Nov. 5, 2007.

According to van Schaick, the request for information gathering "surfaced casually" halfway through Cooper's 30-minute, one-on-one briefing, which initially dealt with helpful tips about life and security concerns in Bolivia.

"He said, 'We know the Venezuelans and Cubans are here, and we want to keep tabs on them,'" said van Schaick who recalls feeling "appalled" at the comment.

"I was in shock," van Schaick said. "My immediate thought was 'oh my God! Somebody from the U.S. Embassy just asked me to basically spy for the U.S. Embassy.'"

A similar pattern emerges in the account of the three Peace Corps volunteers and their supervisor. On July 29, 2007, just before the new volunteers were sworn in, they say embassy security officer Vincent Cooper visited the 30-person group to give a talk on safety and made his request about the Cubans and Venezuelans.


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Postby jingofever » Sat Feb 09, 2008 2:41 pm

The Peace Corps tries hard to disassociate itself from the CIA and any intelligence work. Their policy prevents anyone who has ever served in an intelligence agency from being a volunteer. But, only guessing here, this probably isn't the first time.
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That bad apple.

Postby Hugh Manatee Wins » Sat Feb 09, 2008 2:43 pm

I'm sure just this one bad apple is involved and
I'm pleased to see that I can count on the mainstream news to tell me when rules are broken, especially by intelligence agents.

The system still works. 8)

1985 movie.
"Ivy Leager, Lawrence Bourne III (Hanks) joins the Peace Corp to get out of a gambling dept."
CIA runs mainstream media since WWII:
news rooms, movies/TV, publishing
Disney is CIA for kidz!
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Postby Eldritch » Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:13 pm

I saw the thread title, and thought of a subtitle that might go beneath it:

"Fulbright Scholar Asked to 'Spy' on Cubans, Venezuelans
Half-bright Scholar Agrees To

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Postby judasdisney » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:19 pm

Morales accuses US official of spying
By ALVARO ZUAZO, Associated Press Writer
Mon Feb 11, 3:41 PM ET

President Evo Morales declared a U.S. Embassy security officer to be an "undesirable person" on Monday after reports that the officer asked an American scholar and 30 Peace Corps volunteers to pass along information about Cubans and Venezuelans working in Bolivia.

It was not immediately clear whether Morales intended seek the expulsion of the official, Vincent Cooper, who according to the U.S. Embassy was recalled to Washington for consultations.

Morales said Cooper is, "for Bolivia, for the government, an undesirable person," and accused him of sending U.S. citizens in Bolivia out as spies. "I feel that this man has not only violated the rights of these citizens, but also violated, offended and attacked Bolivia," the president said.

Embassy spokesman Eric Watnik insisted Monday that no Embassy employee had asked the scholar or Peace Corps volunteers to participate in gathering intelligence. Instead, he said, some were mistakenly given a security briefing meant for embassy staff.

Watnik also said that the Bolivian government had not delivered any formal complaint about Cooper, and that U.S. ambassador Philip Goldberg has not been formally summoned to discuss the matter with Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, who had previously said he would seek a meeting with Goldberg to discuss tensions over intelligence operations in Bolivia.

Goldberg, on a flood relief trip Monday in the lowland city of Trinidad, did not address reporters' questions on the issue.

On Friday, Fulbright scholar Alex van Schaick told The Associated Press that Cooper, the embassy's assistant regional security officer, asked him to pass along the names and addresses of any Venezuelan and Cuban workers he might encounter in the country. "We know they're out there, we just want to keep tabs on them," Schaick quoted Cooper as telling him on Nov. 5.

ABC News reported that Cooper made a similar request to 30 newly arrived Peace Corps volunteers on July 29, angering the organization's programming and training officer for Bolivia, Doreen Salazar, who told Cooper that the request violated policy and told the volunteers to ignore it. Salazar would not talk to the AP about the incident.

Watnick told reporters on Monday that Cooper had "offered the Peace Corps group, by mistake, the security information session meant for embassy employees."

"I want to emphasize that at no time did employees of the U.S. Embassy ask a Peace Corps volunteer or a Fulbright scholarship program participant to take part in intelligence activities," he said, reading a statement.

The U.S. State Department said Friday that any such request would run against U.S. policy. In a more strongly worded statement, the Peace Corps said that by law, volunteers cannot be asked to gather intelligence for the U.S. government.

"Any connection between the Peace Corps and the intelligence community would seriously compromise the ability of the Peace Corps to develop and maintain the trust and confidence of the people in the host countries we serve," the agency said.
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Postby American Dream » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:39 pm

Undermining Bolivia

A thick fence, surveillance cameras, and armed guards protect the U.S. Embassy in La Paz. The embassy is a tall, white building with narrow slits of windows that make it look like a military bunker. After passing through a security checkpoint, I sit down with U.S. Embassy spokesman Eric Watnik and ask if the embassy is working against the socialist government of Evo Morales. “Our cooperation in Bolivia is apolitical, transparent, and given directly to assist in the development of the country,” Watnik tells me. “It is given to benefit those who need it most.”

From the Bush Administration’s perspective, that turns out to mean Morales’s opponents. Declassified documents and interviews on the ground in Bolivia prove that the Bush Administration is using U.S. taxpayers’ money to undermine the Morales government and coopt the country’s dynamic social movements—just as it has tried to do recently in Venezuela and traditionally throughout Latin America.

Much of that money is going through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In July 2002, a declassified message from the U.S. embassy in Bolivia to Washington included the following message: “A planned USAID political party reform project aims at implementing an existing Bolivian law that would . . . over the long run, help build moderate, pro-democracy political parties that can serve as a counterweight to the radical MAS or its successors.” MAS refers to Morales’s party, which, in English, stands for Movement Toward Socialism.

Morales won the presidency in December 2005 with 54 percent of the vote, but five regional governments went to rightwing politicians. After Morales’s victory, USAID, through its Office of Transition Initiatives, decided “to provide support to fledgling regional governments,” USAID documents reveal.

Throughout 2006, four of these five resource-rich lowland departments pushed for greater autonomy from the Morales-led central government, often threatening to secede from the nation. U.S. funds have emboldened them, with the Office of Transition Initiatives funneling “116 grants for $4,451,249 to help departmental governments operate more strategically,” the documents state.

“USAID helps with the process of decentralization,” says Jose Carvallo, a press spokesperson for the main rightwing opposition political party, Democratic and Social Power. “They help with improving democracy in Bolivia through seminars and courses to discuss issues of autonomy.”

“The U.S. Embassy is helping this opposition,” agrees Raul Prada, who works for Morales’s party. Prada is sitting down in a crowded La Paz cafe and eating ice cream. His upper lip is black and blue from a beating he received at the hands of Morales’s opponents while Prada was working on the new constitutional assembly. “The ice cream is to lessen the swelling,” he explains. The Morales government organized this constitutional assembly to redistribute wealth from natural resources and guarantee broader access to education, land, water, gas, electricity, and health care for the country’s poor majority. I had seen Prada in the early days of the Morales administration. He was wearing an indigenous wiphala flag pin and happily chewing coca leaves in his government office. This time, he wasn’t as hopeful. He took another scoop of ice cream and continued: “USAID is in Santa Cruz and other departments to help fund and strengthen the infrastructure of the rightwing governors.”

In August 2007, Morales told a diplomatic gathering in La Paz, “I cannot understand how some ambassadors dedicate themselves to politics, and not diplomacy, in our country. . . . That is not called cooperation. That is called conspiracy.” Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said that the U.S. Embassy was funding the government’s political opponents in an effort to develop “ideological and political resistance.” One example is USAID’s financing of Juan Carlos Urenda, an adviser to the rightwing Civic Committee, and author of the Autonomy Statute, a plan for Santa Cruz’s secession from Bolivia.

“There is absolutely no truth to any allegation that the U.S. is using its aid funds to try and influence the political process or in any way undermine the government,” says State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey. USAID officials point out that this support has gone to all Bolivian governors, not just those in the opposition. Despite Casey’s assertion, this funding has been controversial. On October 10, Bolivia’s supreme court approved a decree that prohibits international funding of activities in Bolivia without state regulation. One article in the law explains that Bolivia will not accept money with political or ideological strings attached.

In Bolivia, where much of the political muscle is in the streets with social organizations and unions, it’s not enough for Washington to work only at levels of high political power. They have to reach the grassroots as well. One USAID official told me by e-mail that the Office of Transition Initiatives “launched its Bolivia program to help reduce tensions in areas prone to social conflict (in particular El Alto) and to assist the country in preparing for upcoming electoral events.”

To find out how this played out on the ground, I meet with El Alto-based journalist Julio Mamani in the Regional Workers’ Center in his city, which neighbors La Paz.

“There was a lot of rebellious ideology and organizational power in El Alto in 2003,” Mamani explains, referring to the populist uprising that overthrew President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. “So USAID strengthened its presence in El Alto, and focused their funding and programs on developing youth leadership. Their style of leadership was not based on the radical demands of the city or the horizontal leadership styles of the unions. They wanted to push these new leaders away from the city’s unions and into hierarchical government positions.”

The USAID programs demobilized the youth. “USAID always took advantage of the poverty of the people,” Mamani says. “They even put up USAID flags in areas alongside the Bolivian flag and the wiphala.”

It was not hard to find other stories of what the U.S. government had been doing to influence economics and politics in Bolivia. Luis Gonzalez, an economics student at the University of San Simon in Cochabamba, describes a panel he went to in 2006 that was organized by the Millennium Foundation. That year, this foundation received $155,738 from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) through the Center for International Private Enterprise, a nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Gonzalez, in glasses and a dark ponytail, described a panel that focused on criticizing state control of the gas industry (a major demand of social movements). “The panelists said that foreign investment and production in Bolivia will diminish if the gas remains under partial state control,” says Gonzalez. “They advocated privatization, corporate control, and pushed neoliberal policies.”

That same year, the NED funded another $110,134 to groups in Bolivia through the Center for International Private Enterprise to, according to NED documents, “provide information about the effects of proposed economic reforms to decision-makers involved in the Constituent Assembly.” According to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by muckraker Jeremy Bigwood, the NED also funded programs that brought thirteen young “emerging leaders” from Bolivia to Washington between 2002 and 2004 to strengthen their rightwing political parties. The MAS, and other leftist parties, were not invited to these meetings.

The U.S. Embassy even appears to be using Fulbright scholars in its effort to undermine the Bolivian government. One Fulbright scholar in Bolivia, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that during recent orientation meetings at the embassy in La Paz, “a member of the U.S. Embassy’s security apparatus requested reports back to the embassy with detailed information if we should encounter any Venezuelans or Cubans in the field.” Both Venezuela and Cuba provide funding, doctors, and expertise to support their socialist ally Morales. The student adds that the embassy’s request “contradicts the Fulbright program’s guidelines, which prohibit us from interfering in politics or doing anything that would offend the host country.”

After finding out about the negative work the U.S. government was doing in Bolivia, I was curious to see one of the positive projects USAID officials touted so often. It took more than two weeks for them to get back to me—plenty of time, I thought, to choose the picture perfect example of their “apolitical” and development work organized “to benefit those who need it most.”

They put me in touch with Wilma Rocha, the boss at a clothing factory in El Alto called Club de Madres Nueva Esperanza (Mothers’ Club of New Hope). A USAID consultant worked in the factory in 2005-2006, offering advice on management issues and facilitating the export of the business’s clothing to U.S. markets. In a city of well-organized, working class radicals, Rocha is one of the few rightwingers. She is a fierce critic of the Morales administration and the El Alto unions and neighborhood councils.

Ten female employees are knitting at a table in the corner of a vast pink factory room full of dozens of empty sewing machines. “For three months we’ve barely had any work at all,” one of the women explains while Rocha waits at a distance. “When we do get paychecks, the pay is horrible.” I ask for her name, but she says she can’t give it to me. “If the boss finds out we are being critical, she’ll beat us.”

Benjamin Dangl is the author of “The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia.” He received a 2007 Project Censored Award for his coverage of U.S. military operations in Paraguay.

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Postby FourthBase » Wed Feb 13, 2008 11:36 am

We take this very seriously and want to stress this is not in any way our policy

"Take this very seriously"...duh, of course. Empty statement.
"Want to stress" instead of just directly phrasing the statement.
"Not our policy" instead of just saying "We don't do it".
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that fills you up and makes you naturally want to do your best.” - Bill Russell
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this story is legit and important

Postby wordspeak2 » Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:30 pm

Responding to HMW's bizarre blanket statements:
I happen to know the primary author of this article, Jean Friedman-Rudovsky; she's an old college activist friend of mine. She's coming from the same progressive political place that we all are here, and she did a lot of investigative work to get that piece out.
I think it's obvious that stories such as this raise more suspicion about corruption in programs such as Peace Corps and Fullbright across the board.
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Postby AlicetheKurious » Fri Feb 15, 2008 6:21 pm

wordspeak2 said:

Responding to HMW's bizarre blanket statements:
I happen to know the primary author of this article, Jean Friedman-Rudovsky; she's an old college activist friend of mine. She's coming from the same progressive political place that we all are here, and she did a lot of investigative work to get that piece out.
I think it's obvious that stories such as this raise more suspicion about corruption in programs such as Peace Corps and Fullbright across the board.

Words in green mean the writer is being sarcastic. If I may speak on his behalf, Hugh means the opposite of what he said.
"If you're not careful the newspapers will have you hating the oppressed and loving the people doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X
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Postby wordspeak2 » Sat Feb 16, 2008 3:21 pm

a very confusing thing, sarcasm.

anyway, i think this is an important story that should be blasted around the net.
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Re: Fulbright Scholar Asked to 'Spy' on Cubans, Venezuelans

Postby MinM » Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:11 pm

@lisapease: Recording of JFK telling Sgt. Shriver not to let CIA infiltrate the Peace Corps. http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/ ... 17B-1.aspx

Title: Telephone Recordings: Dictation Belt 17B.1. Keeping CIA out of the Peace Corps (Item 17A.4 Continued)

Date(s) of Materials: 2 April 1963

Physical Description: item 1 on 1 dictation belt (2 minutes, 13 seconds)

Copyright Status: Public Domain

Description: The recording of this conversation begins on Dictation Belt 17A.4. Sound recording of part of a telephone conversation held on April 2, 1963, between President John F. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver, Director of the Peace Corps. They discuss speaking to Richard M. Helms about the suspicion that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is trying to place people in the Peace Corps. They also discuss facilitating the movement of members of the Peace Corps into the Foreign Service. Machine noise follows the conversation. Transcript included. This sound recording was originally recorded on Dictation Belt 17B, which contains additional sound recording(s) following this one...


* Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
* Shriver, Sargent (Robert Sargent), 1915-2011

Series Name:

* Presidential Recordings.

Subseries Name:

* Telephone Recordings [Original accession].


* Papers of John F. Kennedy. Presidential Papers. President's Office Files.


* Advice and counsel to the President
* Peace Corps


* Helms, Richard M. (Richard McGarrah), 1913-2002


* United States. Central Intelligence Agency
* United States. Department of State. Diplomatic and Consular Service
* United States. Peace Corps

Digital Identifier: JFKPOF-TPH-17B-1

http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/ ... 17B-1.aspx

@lisapease: @DanSWright @TimothyS LOL! ;-) We all know USAID was CIA, too.

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