Mr. DeCONCINI. Mr. President, during the last week there have been a series of newspaper articles containing allegations about CIA activities in Haiti and CIA reporting on President Aristide. As the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have been very disturbed not only by the substance of the allegations, but the manner in which some members and staff have used classified information provided by the executive branch.
On October 31, the Los Angeles Times carried an article entitled, `CIA Aid Plan Would Have Undercut Aristide in 1987-'88.' The article begins by saying,
The CIA once tried to intervene in Haiti's elections with a covert action program that would have undercut the strength of its current President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide--this according to congressional sources with first-hand knowledge of the incident.'
According to a source identified as a former senior staff member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, `There were those in the CIA who were not pleased with him [Aristide] in the past and don't want him to be successful now.'
The following day, the New York Times carried an article entitled, `Key Haiti Leaders Said to Have Been in the CIA's Pay.' The lead paragraph of this article states,
Key members of the military regime controlling Haiti and blocking the return of its elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, were paid by the Central Intelligence Agency for information from the mid-1980's at least until the 1991 coup that forced President Aristide from power, according to American officials.
The article quotes President Aristide's spokesman as having said,
Given what the CIA has done in the past two weeks, namely the attempted character assassination of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, it wouldn't be surprising to learn that the CIA had been working with his political enemies in Haiti for many years.
The article indicates that a member of the House Intelligence Committee confirmed the existence of payments to `* * * people in sensitive positions in the current situation in Haiti.'
Following these articles, USA Today ran an op-ed entitled, `History Repeats in CIA Smear of Haiti's Aristide.' The op-ed states that,
Aristide, like [Martin Luther] King is perceived as a threat to those who desire the status quo. King's death was preceded by character assassination from U.S. spy agencies. Could history repeat itself?'
Mr. President, these are very serious charges, and, based upon what the Intelligence Committee has been told to date, I think the CIA may be getting a bad rap. While we are continuing to investigate the allegations in question, we have no evidence that the CIA sought to prevent Mr. Aristide from coming to power. Similarly, we have no information suggesting any concerted effort by the CIA to weaken or discredit President Aristide since he was elected President of Haiti. We have examined, and are continuing to examine, the information supporting the CIA's classified analysis of the situation in Haiti and Mr. Aristide. While some of the conclusions reached in that analysis are debatable, there is no evidence that information has been fabricated or deliberately distorted. I think that most members of our committee, even those who may question some of the
CIA's judgments, will agree that the analysts have acted in good faith. What is frankly more difficult to defend has been the conduct of congressional Members and staff who have been selectively leaking classified information.
Leaking classified information provided to this body violates the law and the standing rules of the Senate.
Selective leaks also create a highly distorted picture and do a disservice to the public. The reporting in this instance is a clear case in point. The facts are, in reality, quite complex, and those individuals who have chosen to leak information bearing on only one side of the story have created a distorted impression of the CIA's reports and activities.
Those who leak information in this manner also may put sensitive sources and methods at risk. The present circumstances in Haiti are a perfect case in point. There is absolutely no doubt that people's lives would be jeopardized if it were revealed that they had cooperated with CIA in the past. Whatever branch of Government we may serve in, we have a moral obligation to protect the lives of such individuals.
Continued leaks of classified information also inevitably undermine the executive branch's confidence in our ability to protect confidential information. This could ultimately make it harder to obtain classified information from the executive branch.
Finally, we need to consider the impact of selected leaks on the intelligence community. I recall that during the Gates nomination many Members, myself included, expressed concerns regarding the politicization of intelligence. Republicans and Democrats alike said that we wanted the CIA to give us their most candid views, regardless of how politically inconvenient such information might be. We agreed that we don't see any value in intelligence analysis if it is just going to be a lot of mush, or worse yet, reporting that is merely contrived to support the policies of the President and his administration.
The intelligence community under Jim Woolsey
deserves credit for not ducking the tough calls. The intelligence reporting on Haiti, and other regions as well, has not always been convenient for this administration. Whether the analysts are right on this one may be debatable, but it is clear to me that they have been candid, as they should be, and the DCI is doing the right thing in encouraging them to call it like they see it. If members and staff continue to selectively leak classified information, however, I think that the candor we claim to want will dry up and disappear. If an analyst provides a briefing, and parts of it are then used by the media and Members of the Senate to publicly castigate the administration or the intelligence community, the lesson will be clear: Don't tell the Senator anything they don't want to hear; don't say anything that could be used to oppose current policies; just feed the Senators a spoonful of mush when they ask a tough question.
Mr. President, I want the intelligence community to be able to speak freely to us. I don't want intelligence analysts who come to Capitol Hill to be asking themselves, before they respond to a question, `How is this going to look tomorrow if it appears on the front page of the New York Times, or am I going to get myself in trouble with the administration?'
Mr. President, we all know that if a referee in a football game fails to throw a flag when flagrant penalties are occurring, the game can quickly get out of control. That's what I'm doing, Mr. President, throwing out a flag before this situation gets out of control. It is time for us to bring some discipline to the way we handle intelligence. In particular, we need to examine the procedures governing classified briefings outside the framework of the intelligence committees and how information provided in those briefings is subsequently controlled. If we do not clarify the rules on such matters, we are apt to have a repetition of the events that have transpired in the last couple of weeks which are not in the interests of the Senate, the executive branch, or the public. I will be asking the staff of the Intelligence Committee to review these issues and will work with the leadership of the Senate to address them. I also would welcome any ideas in this regard that my colleagues have to offer.
Mr. President, I ask that a series of articles pertinent to this issue be included in the Record at this point.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Washington--The CIA once tried to intervene in Haiti's elections with a covert-action program that would have undercut the political strength of its current president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, according to congressional sources with firsthand knowledge of the incident.
But the CIA's effort was stymied when the Senate Intelligence Committee ordered the CIA to halt the program, under which the agency tried to channel money for the use of some of the candidates in the 1987-88 Haitian elections.
Aristide was not a candidate at the time but assailed the military-controlled process, calling for radical change and apparently worrying some U.S. officials.
Two current and former U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged that the CIA developed a covert-action plan for intervention in Haiti's elections and that the plan was blocked in Congress. They insisted, however, that the purpose of the program had not been to oppose Aristide but to provide a free and open election and to help some candidates who didn't have enough money.
`We were engaged in covert action on behalf of the National Security Council,' said one former high-level U.S. intelligence official who was directly involved in the covert-action plan and the dispute with Congress. `We were involved in a range of support for a range of candidates.'
The story of the CIA's involvement in Haitian elections provides some of the backdrop for the episode earlier this month in which a senior U.S. intelligence official, Brian Lattell, characterized Aristide as mentally unbalanced. The comments were made in a closed-door briefing to member of Congress.
The CIA has made similar allegations in the past about Aristide, based on what officials say is a psychological profile of the Haitian leader. Aristide was elected Haiti's president by a landslide in December, 1990, but was ousted in a military coup after serving less than a year.
Asked last week about the CIA's involvement in Haiti and the dispute with Congress over covert actions there, Kent Harrington, CIA director of public affairs replied, `Our comment would be no comment on this one.'
The CIA's negative assessment of Aristide's psychological stability complicated the Clinton Administration's Haiti policy by giving Republicans a rationale for trying to limit the extent of U.S. support for Aristide.
`It needs to be known that there is some history there' between the CIA and Aristide, said a source who was working in a senior position for the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time the CIA and Congress were fighting over covert operations in Haiti.
`There were those in the CIA who were not pleased with him [Aristide] in the past and don't want him to be successful now.'
Aristide first came to prominence in Haiti as a proponent of liberation theology, which seeks to blend the teaching of Christ with a doctrine of political revolution by the poor against the established order. Liberation theology took hold not only in Haiti but among priests in poor parishes throughout many other Latin American countries.
Asked why the CIA might have sought to oppose Aristide, the congressional source said: `Liberation theology proponents are not too popular at the agency. Maybe second only to the Vatican for not liking liberation theology are the people at [CIA headquarters in] Langley.'
Aristide was not a candidate in Haiti's 1987-88 elections. At the time, he was a charismatic priest with a strong following in the poorest slums of Haiti. He denounced the military-dominated election and called upon Haitians for a `real revolution' against the entire process.
Aristide's activities figured prominently in the elections and the American response to them, in which U.S. officials showed a strong antipathy to Aristide.
In a letter to Time magazine during the elections, then-Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, the Ronald Reagan Administration's primary spokesman for Latin American policy, devoted most of his energies to attacking Aristide.
`The stark contrast between the Pope and the firebrand Aristide underscores the difference between responsible constructive effort and strident negativism.' Abrams wrote.
Abrams did not return two phone calls last week to his office at the Hudson Institute. A secretary said he was out of town. In an article in the Washington Times two weeks ago, Abrams criticized the White House for supporting Aristide, saying that the Clinton Administration was `repeating every error committed by the Bush Administration.'
Opposing Aristide would have been in line with the Reagan Administration's overall policy in Latin America. With active support from then-CIA Director William J. Casey, the Administration sought aggressively to combat left-wing regimes, parties and leaders in countries such as Nicaragua and El Salvador. The George Bush Administration took a less confrontational approach.
Intelligence and congressional officials gave the following account of the CIA's dispute with Congress over covert action during the 1987-88 elections:
At the beginning of the 1987 elections, the CIA may have already been operating in Haiti under an existing, previously approved covert-action program, according to a present and a former intelligence officer. Any CIA covert operation must be approved both by the President and the congressional intelligence committees.
As the campaign began, the CIA was supporting or preparing to support particular candidates.
`This sort of thing doesn't go on every day,' a former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official said. `But there's nothing unusual about it. The idea was to enable some candidates to spend money on publicity and that sort of thing.
`The CIA didn't pick the candidates to support. These candidates were selected by the State Department. * * * There were multiple candidates. We didn't have any one candidate.'
During the early stages of the election, some staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee paid a visit to Haiti. After their return, the committee demanded to know exactly what the CIA was doing and which candidates it was supporting.
Then-CIA Director William H. Webster refused to give the committee the names of the CIA-supported candidates. Finally, a compromise was arranged in which the CIA director would give the names only to Sens. David L. Boren (D-Okla.) and William S. Cohen (R-Me.), then the chairman and ranking minority member of the Intelligence Committee.
But the deal fell through. `They killed the program,' a former U.S. intelligence official said. `It was one of the few times they ever closed us down. It was a bruising battle.'
One high-ranking source working for the Intelligence Committee said the reason the CIA's covert-action program was killed was that `there are some of us who believe in the neutrality of elections.'
The Haitian elections were supposed to be held Nov. 29, 1987, but they collapsed in violence when 34 people died on election day--some as they were standing in line to vote. In early January 1988, a new ballot was held and the candidate favored by Haiti's military government won, but he was ousted later that year in a military coup.
Aristide had urged a boycott of the elections, saying, `The army is our first enemy.' By helping to finance some of the candidates, the CIA apparently hoped to strengthen those candidates' position and to diminish Aristide's attempt to have a low turnout, which would have reduced the election's validity.
But in 1990, Aristide ran for president himself and won with about two-thirds of the popular vote.
Supporters of Aristide and some congressional sources have alleged that the CIA opposed the Haitian president and supported his principal opponent, Marc Bazin, in the 1990 elections.
But that allegation was denied by a present and a former U.S. intelligence official, each of whom knew of the covert-action plans in the 1987-88 elections.
In addition, a State Department official handling Haiti policy at the time of Aristide's election and a ranking staff member of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time
said they had no knowledge of any CIA effort to defeat Aristide in 1990. Both said that if there had been a CIA operation against Aristide that year, they would have known about it.
On Dec. 19, 1990, three days after Aristide's election, Bernard Aronson, the Bush Administration's assistant secretary of state for Latin America, congratulated Aristide on his victory and announced an increase in U.S. aid to Haiti.
After serving less than eight months as Haiti's president, Aristide was deposed in a military coup in September, 1991. Since that time, he has been living in the United States while waiting to return to Haiti.
During a recent lunch I attended with Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the deposed Haitian president didn't climb onto the table and stomp through my mashed potatoes.
Yet if CIA reports are to be believed, Aristide's luncheon guests would have been smart to hide under the table in terror. The reports label the charismatic priest a violent fruitcake who has been treated in a mental hospital and has used drugs to calm his manic depression.
Aristide denies those CIA profiles circulating on Capitol Hill, saying the only time he was hospitalized was as a boy with hepatitis.
Shockingly enough, the CIA also describes Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, Haiti's cruel military dictator, as `one of the most promising Haitian leaders to emerge since the Duvalier dictatorship was deposed in 1986.' How could Cedras be praised when the army has been blamed for thousands of murders since Aristide was ousted in a 1991 coup? What gives here?
Why is the CIA discrediting a man who is considered the Martin Luther King Jr. of Haiti, where on Dec. 16, 1990, he became the first president elected in free elections? Here is a priest who is a folk hero to Haiti's poor, who founded an orphanage for homeless street kids, confronted the murderous Macoutes and exposed U.S. policy that propped up the hated Duvaliers.
Here is a man who speaks six languages, has a doctorate in philosophy, has written six books, composed more than 100 songs sung in Haiti and plays six musical instruments.
Yet U.S. spy agencies depict him as crazy, something they never said of Ronald Reagan, whose presidency was guided by astrologers.
Something is screwy here.
Aristide, like King, is perceived as a threat to those who desire the status quo. King's death was preceded by character assassination from U.S. spy agencies. Could history repeat itself?
The smearing of Aristide is geared to discredit him in the public mind, which is stupid for a nation that should be begging him to continue the fight against drug trafficking, which has gained momentum since the coup.
`The drug war can't be won as long as Cedras and his corrupt, elite supporters are in power,' says Patrick Elie, Haiti's drug czar in exile. `Haiti is the second-largest drug transshipment port, after Colombia, and coup leaders bring in more than $200 million yearly in illegal drugs, which are shipped to the USA. Why would the CIA discredit the first Haitian leader committed to fighting drugs?'
I don't think Aristide is crazy at all. But those trying to discredit him might be.
Washington, October 31. Key members of the military regime controlling Haiti and blocking the return of its elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, were paid by the Central Intelligence Agency for information from the mid-1980's at least until the 1991 coup that forced Mr. Aristide from power, according to American officials.
As part of its normal intelligence-gathering operations, the C.I.A. cultivated, recruited and paid generals and politicians for information about everything from cocaine smuggling to political ferment in Haiti, they said.
Without naming names, a Government official familiar with the payments said that `several of the principal players in the present situation were compensated by the U.S. Government.' It was not clear when the payments ended or how much money they involved, although they were described as modest.
Supporters of Mr. Aristide said the payments proved that the C.I.A.'s primary sources of information in Haiti were Mr. Aristide's political enemies, and they criticized the agency's reporting on Haiti as one-sided.
Michael D. Barnes, a former member of Congress who is a spokesman for Mr. Aristide, said, `Given what the C.I.A. has done in the past two weeks, namely the attempted character assassination of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, it wouldn't be surprising to learn that the C.I.A. had been working with his political enemies in Haiti for many years.
But Representative Robert G. Torricelli, a New Jersey Democrat who serves on the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees and who confirmed the payments, defended the intelligence relationships as crucial to United States policy-makers in trying to gain an understanding of Haitian politics.
`The U.S. Government develops relationships with ambitious and bright young men at the beginning of their careers and often follows them through their public service,' he said. `It includes people in sensitive positions in the current situation in Haiti.'
A member of Congress familiar with the recruiting of sources of information within the Haitian Government said the information received was a mixed bag. `There are things we should have been getting for the money which we didn't get--for example, on the narcotics side,' he said. Members of the current regime are suspected of receiving lucrative payments from drug traffickers to protect shipments of cocaine passing through Haitian airfields en route to the United States.
The C.I.A's activities in Haiti also included a covert operation, authorized by President Ronald Reagan and the National Security Council, which involved an aborted attempt to influence an election held in January 1988, the officials said.
Haiti was then under the control of a military ruler, Lieut. Gen. Henri Namphy, who assured the Reagan Administration that the elections would be free and fair. But the ballot was widely perceived as rigged by the military, and the campaign was marked by killings of civilians.
Mr. Aristide, who was not a candidate, had urged a boycott of the election. The operation undertaken by the C.I.A. aimed at seeing the election go forward, the officials said, but it also involved plans to slip campaign money to candidates. In a rare action, the payments were blocked by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the officials said. The attempt was first reported today by the Los Angeles Times.
In the 1980's, the United States undertook covert operations and military actions throughout the Caribbean and Latin America to support pro-United States and anti-Communist governments. Several prominent figures in the region were on the United States intelligence payroll during the decade.
The officials who described the payments to Haitian generals and politicians said they were not intended to install any one leader as the President of Haiti.
In 1990, in the first free election in 20th-century Haiti, Mr. Aristide won 67.5 percent of the vote in a field of 10 candidates. He was overthrown in a September 1991 coup. The military regime controlling Haiti has blocked his return--which was to have taken place Saturday under an accord negotiated by the Clinton Administration and signed by the military leaders last summer--with a widespread campaign of intimidation, violence and murder.
Supporters of Mr. Aristide say the C.I.A., which does not make policy but which can influence policy-makers through its reporting, has undermined the chances for his return. In recent briefings to Congress, Brian Latell, the C.I.A.'s chief analyst for Latin American affairs, has described Mr. Aristide as unstable and as having a history of mental problems.
In a 1992 report widely circulated in Washington, Mr. Latell described a meeting with Lieut. Gen. Raoul Cedras, Haiti's current military dictator, and praised him as one of `the most promising group of Haitian leaders to emerge since the Duvalier family dictatorship was overthrown in 1986.'
The Clinton Administration, in turn, questioned the C.I.A.'s analyses and praised Father Aristide as a rational and reasonable man.
The officials who described the payments to generals and politicians in the current regime in exchange for information said they were a normal and necessary part of gathering intelligence in a foreign country.
`These relationships are crucial so that we can anticipate changes in volatile societies,' Representative Torricelli said. He said the quality and quantity of information the C.I.A. provided on Haiti was generally praiseworthy.
But Robert Pastor, the chief National Security Officer for Latin American affairs from 1977 to 1981, said, `It appears that the portrait of Aristide is seriously flawed. Whether that is in part due to intelligence contacts that began as a result of these operations is a legitimate and important question that needs an answer.'