Newsbrief: Congress Defeats Effort to Abolish Cap on US Troops in Colombia 5/14/04

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A Republican effort to abolish the congressionally-mandated limits on the number of US troops in Colombia was defeated in Congress Wednesday. Members of the House Armed Services Committee rejected language by committee chairman Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) that would have lifted the cap and declined to accept an administration proposal that would have doubled the number of US troops there, instead voting 32-24 to raise the current cap on US military personnel from 400 to 500.

Limits on the number of US military personnel and civilian contractors were imposed in 2000 by a Congress leery of being sucked into an ever-escalating involvement in Colombia's decades-long civil war in the name of the war on drugs and now the war on terror. Although Congress approved a $1.3 billion aid package for what was then known as Plan Colombia, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-VA) and Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS) added language limiting the number of military personnel and civilian contractors to 400 each. Taylor was also the author of the successful amendment this year slightly raising that cap.

Two months ago, in the run-up to voting on the Defense Appropriations Bill, administration officials began arguing that the troop limits needed to be doubled in order to support Plan Patriota, a huge Colombian military offensive in the country's guerrilla-dominated south. Plan Patriota depends heavily on the logistical and intelligence support of US personnel deployed in southern Colombia.

Rep. Hunter wanted to go the administration one better by simply removing the caps. Neither got what they wanted.

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Issue #337, 5/14/04 Editorial: Always Another Angle | Russia Enacts Sweeping Reforms in Drug Laws: No Jail for Possession | Maryland Treatment Not Jail Bill Signed Into Law | Canada Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Dying as Government Prepares to Call Elections, Few Mourners | Calls for Sentencing Reform Grow in Arizona | Announcing: "The New Prohibition: Voices of Dissent Challenge the Drug War" -- New Compendium by Sheriff Masters Features David Borden and Numerous Other Thinkers on Drug Policy | Newsbrief: Local Prosecutor Tries to Block Atlantic City Needle Exchange, Would Be New Jersey's First | Newsbrief: Pennsylvania Attorney General Hops on Prescription Drug Abuse Bandwagon | Newsbrief: Ohio Appeals Court Upholds City's Harsh Marijuana Penalties | Newsbrief: Congress Defeats Effort to Abolish Cap on US Troops in Colombia | Newsbrief: Anti-Drug Ads Pique Curiosity, Researcher Finds | Newsbrief: Alcohol Prohibition Coming to Nigerian State | Newsbrief: Study Finds "No Increased Risk" for Marijuana-Using Drivers | Newsbrief: Hip-Hop Summit Announces Mass Rally Against Drug War at GOP Convention | Newsbrief: Finnish Green MP Causes Flap with Admission of Cannabis Use | Newsbrief: Million Marijuana Marches, Continued -- Rocking in Rosario, Repression in Russia and Israel | This Week in History | Job Opportunity: Program Coordinator, International Harm Reduction Development Program, OSI | The Reformer's Calendar

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