How eager is the US government to hype the "narco-terrorist" threat and avoid any scrutiny of its actions in Colombia? So eager that its officials are willing to create lies out of the whole cloth, undoing them only when challenged. Assistant Secretary of State Rand Beers, who heads the department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, is the official caught most recently in the liar's seat.
"It is believed that FARC terrorists have received training in Al Qaeda terrorist camps in Afghanistan," Beers wrote in a sworn statement in a motion attempting to quash a lawsuit filed against DynCorp, the Reston, VA-based mercenaries who have contracted with the State Department to do aerial eradication of Colombian coca fields.
The lawsuit was filed by 10,000 Ecuadoran citizens who claim the defoliation has caused chemicals to blow across the border, damaging crops and livestock and causing health problems among the human population. Beers' proffer, the formal term for his sworn declaration, argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because "any disruption through this litigation of the aerial eradication of illicit drug crops in Colombia will undermine national security."
If Beers was willing to lie about FARC-Al Qaeda ties in order to bolster DynCorp's case, he would have done better to get his story straight first with his "war on terror" buddies. UPI quickly found three intelligence experts who found Beers' claim mind-boggling. "That statement is totally from left field," one unnamed federal law enforcement official told UPI. "I don't know where Beers is getting that."
"There doesn't seem to be any evidence of FARC going to Afghanistan to train," an unnamed US intelligence official added. "We have never briefed anyone on that and frankly, I doubt anyone has ever alleged that in a briefing to the State Department or anyone else," he told UPI.
"My first reaction was that Rand must have misspoke," a congressional staffer told UPI. "But when I saw the proffer signed under oath, I couldn't believe he would do that. I have no idea why he would say that." Lawyers for the plaintiffs have an idea why. They told UPI that the proffer was an intentional effort to play the "narco-terrorist" card in order to convince the federal judge to dismiss the case on national security grounds. "They are so desperate to keep this suit away from a jury that they'll say anything to convince a judge it's related to terrorism," said Terry Collinsworth of the International Labor Relations Board, which is co-counsel for the plaintiffs.
After UPI's investigation, Beers "revised" his proffer. "I wish to strike this sentence," says the new version. "At the time of my declaration, based on information available to me, I believed this statement to be true and correct."
More likely, he believed he could get away with slipping in a big lie that would resonate well with widespread US fears of terrorist bogeymen. It sort of makes one wonder what other lies they haven't been caught at.