Haiti and America’s Historic Debt

Haiti and America’s Historic Debt

By Robert Parry
January 13, 2010

Announcing emergency help for Haiti after a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake, President Barack Obama noted America’s historic ties to the impoverished Caribbean nation, but few Americans understand how important Haiti’s contribution to U.S. history was.

In modern times, when Haiti does intrude on U.S. consciousness, it’s usually because of some natural disaster or a violent political upheaval, and the U.S. response is often paternalistic, if not tinged with a racist disdain for the country’s predominantly black population and its seemingly endless failure to escape cycles of crushing poverty.

However, more than two centuries ago, Haiti represented one of the most important neighbors of the new American Republic and played a central role in enabling the United States to expand westward. If not for Haiti, the course of U.S. history could have been very different, with the United States possibly never expanding much beyond the Appalachian Mountains.

In the 1700s, then-called St. Domingue and covering the western third of the island of Hispaniola, Haiti was a French colony that rivaled the American colonies as the most valuable European possession in the Western Hemisphere. Relying on a ruthless exploitation of African slaves, French plantations there produced nearly one-half the world’s coffee and sugar.

Many of the great cities of France owe their grandeur to the wealth that was extracted from Haiti and its slaves. But the human price was unspeakably high. The French had devised a fiendishly cruel slave system that imported enslaved Africans for work in the fields with accounting procedures for their amortization. They were literally worked to death.

The American colonists may have rebelled against Great Britain over issues such as representation in Parliament and arbitrary actions by King George III. But black Haitians confronted a brutal system of slavery. An infamous French method of executing a troublesome slave was to insert a gunpowder charge into his rectum and then detonate the explosive.

So, as the American colonies fought for their freedom in the 1770s and as that inspiration against tyranny spread to France in the 1780s, the repercussions would eventually reach Haiti, where the Jacobins’ cry of “liberty, equality and fraternity” resonated with special force. Slaves demanded that the concepts of freedom be applied universally.

When the brutal French plantation system continued, violent slave uprisings followed. Hundreds of white plantation owners were slain as the rebels overran the colony. A self-educated slave named Toussaint L’Ouverture emerged as the revolution’s leader, demonstrating skills on the battlefield and in the complexities of politics.

Despite the atrocities committed by both sides of the conflict, the rebels – known as the “Black Jacobins” – gained the sympathy of the American Federalist Party and particularly Alexander Hamilton, a native of the Caribbean himself. Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasury Secretary, helped L’Ouverture draft a constitution for the new nation.


But events in Paris and Washington soon conspired to undo the promise of Haiti’s new freedom.

Despite Hamilton’s sympathies, some Founders, including Thomas Jefferson who owned 180 slaves and owed his political strength to agrarian interests, looked nervously at the slave rebellion in St. Domingue. “If something is not done, and soon done,” Jefferson wrote in 1797, “we shall be the murderers of our own children.”

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the chaos and excesses of the French Revolution led to the ascendance of Napoleon Bonaparte, a brilliant and vain military commander possessed of legendary ambition. As he expanded his power across Europe, Napoleon also dreamed of rebuilding a French empire in the Americas.

In 1801, Jefferson became the third President of the United States – and his interests at least temporarily aligned with those of Napoleon. The French dictator was determined to restore French control of St. Domingue and Jefferson was eager to see the slave rebellion crushed.

Through secret diplomatic channels, Napoleon asked Jefferson if the United States would help a French army traveling by sea to St. Domingue. Jefferson replied that “nothing will be easier than to furnish your army and fleet with everything and reduce Toussaint [L’Ouverture] to starvation.”

But Napoleon had a secret second phase of his plan that he didn’t share with Jefferson. Once the French army had subdued L’Ouverture and his rebel force, Napoleon intended to advance to the North American mainland, basing a new French empire in New Orleans and settling the vast territory west of the Mississippi River.

In May 1801, Jefferson picked up the first inklings of Napoleon’s other agenda. Alarmed at the prospect of a major European power controlling New Orleans and thus the mouth of the strategic Mississippi River, Jefferson backpedaled on his commitment to Napoleon, retreating to a posture of neutrality.

Still – terrified at the prospect of a successful republic organized by freed African slaves – Jefferson took no action to block Napoleon’s thrust into the New World.

In 1802, a French expeditionary force achieved initial success against the slave army, driving L’Ouverture’s forces back into the mountains. But, as they retreated, the ex-slaves torched the cities and the plantations, destroying the colony’s once-thriving economic infrastructure.

L’Ouverture, hoping to bring the war to an end, accepted Napoleon’s promise of a negotiated settlement that would ban future slavery in the country. As part of the agreement, L’Ouverture turned himself in.

Napoleon, however, broke his word. Jealous of L’Ouverture, who was regarded by some admirers as a general with skills rivaling Napoleon’s, the French dictator had L’Ouverture shipped in chains back to Europe where he was mistreated and died in prison.

Foiled Plans

Infuriated by the betrayal, L’Ouverture’s young generals resumed the war with a vengeance. In the months that followed, the French army – already decimated by disease – was overwhelmed by a fierce enemy fighting in familiar terrain and determined not to be put back into slavery.

Napoleon sent a second French army, but it too was destroyed. Though the famed general had conquered much of Europe, he lost 24,000 men, including some of his best troops, in St. Domingue before abandoning his campaign.

The death toll among the ex-slaves was much higher, but they had prevailed, albeit over a devastated land.

By 1803, a frustrated Napoleon – denied his foothold in the New World – agreed to sell New Orleans and the Louisiana territories to Jefferson. Ironically, the Louisiana Purchase, which opened the heart of the present United States to American settlement, had been made possible despite Jefferson’s misguided collaboration with Napoleon.

“By their long and bitter struggle for independence, St. Domingue’s blacks were instrumental in allowing the United States to more than double the size of its territory,” wrote Stanford University professor John Chester Miller in his book, The Wolf by the Ears: Thomas Jefferson and Slavery.

But, Miller observed, “the decisive contribution made by the black freedom fighters … went almost unnoticed by the Jeffersonian administration.”

The loss of L’Ouverture’s leadership dealt a severe blow to Haiti’s prospects, according to Jefferson scholar Paul Finkelman of Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

“Had Toussaint lived, it’s very likely that he would have remained in power long enough to put the nation on a firm footing, to establish an order of succession,” Finkelman told me in an interview. “The entire subsequent history of Haiti might have been different.”

Instead, the island nation continued a downward spiral.

In 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the radical slave leader who had replaced L’Ouverture, formally declared the nation’s independence and returned it to its original Indian name, Haiti. A year later, apparently fearing a return of the French and a counterrevolution, Dessalines ordered the massacre of the remaining French whites on the island.

Though the Haitian resistance had blunted Napoleon’s planned penetration of the North American mainland, Jefferson reacted to the shocking bloodshed in Haiti by imposing a stiff economic embargo on the island nation. In 1806, Dessalines himself was brutally assassinated, touching off a cycle of political violence that would haunt Haiti for the next two centuries.

Jefferson’s Blemish

For some scholars, Jefferson’s vengeful policy toward Haiti – like his personal ownership of slaves – represented an ugly blemish on his legacy as a historic advocate of freedom. Even in his final years, Jefferson remained obsessed with Haiti and its link to the issue of American slavery.

In the 1820s, the former President proposed a scheme for taking away the children born to black slaves in the United States and shipping them to Haiti. In that way, Jefferson posited that both slavery and America’s black population could be phased out. Eventually, in Jefferson’s view, Haiti would be all black and the United States white.

Jefferson’s deportation scheme never was taken very seriously and American slavery would continue for another four decades until it was ended by the Civil War. The official hostility of the United States toward Haiti extended almost as long, ending in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln finally granted diplomatic recognition.

By then, however, Haiti’s destructive patterns of political violence and economic chaos had been long established – continuing up to the present time. Personal and political connections between Haiti’s light-skinned elite and power centers of Washington also have lasted through today.

Recent Republican administrations have been particularly hostile to the popular will of the impoverished Haitian masses. When leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide was twice elected by overwhelming margins, he was ousted both times – first during the presidency of George H.W. Bush and again under President George W. Bush.

Washington’s conventional wisdom on Haiti holds that the country is a hopeless basket case that would best be governed by business-oriented technocrats who would take their marching orders from the United States.

However, the Haitian people have a different perspective. Unlike most Americans who have no idea about their historic debt to Haiti, many Haitians know this history quite well. The bitter memories of Jefferson and Napoleon still feed the distrust that Haitians of all classes feel toward the outside world.

“In Haiti, we became the first black independent country,” Aristide once told me in an interview. “We understand, as we still understand, it wasn’t easy for them – American, French and others – to accept our independence.”

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.



Hakeemullah Allegedly Killed?–Hindu Press

New Delhi, January 14: In what could be a big victory against the fight against Taliban, Pakistan media on Thursday reported that Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in US drone air strike in North Wazaristan.

The US has been relentlessly bombing the areas of North Wazaristan, the stronghold of Taliban.

At least four missiles were fired at a house and the compound of a seminary in Basalkot village, 70 km south of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan Agency, early on Thursday morning.

The Sorry State of US Christianity and The Untaken Path

What Brit Hume doesn’t know about Buddhism and the Sorry State of US Christianity

eileen fleming

Last week on the Bill O’Reilly show, Brit Hume advised Tiger Woods that he should turn from Buddhism to Christianity.

On ‘O’Reilly’, Brit Hume Reaffirms His Faith; Tells Tiger Woods He Should to Turn to Christianity

The truth is that the best Christians are also Buddhists, such as Thomas Merton, Trappist monk poet, social critic and mystic, who said: “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” [Steindl-Rast, 1969, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West”]

The pre-Christian Merton was attracted to the mysticism of Aldous Huxley in the book, “Ends and Means,” which sowed the seeds of apophatic mysticism-meaning a knowledge of God obtained by negation-that sprouted into a relationship with Buddhist teachings about the Void and Emptiness. Merton also devoured Christian mystical writings by Pseudo-Dionysius, Gregory of Nyssa, Meister Eckhart and John of the Cross.

Merton understood that other religions and denominations all led down the same road and he grew deeper in his own faith through studying and respecting Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Zen.

The sorry state of US Christianity today is its lack of depth and a rigid fundamentalism [meaning one who has closed off to new thought] that see non-Christians as targets for conversion.

Merton understood that Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Islam all shared his belief that we all are searching for the ultimate truth.

Merton’s openness and commitment to Eastern religions were best expressed in the last words of his life, at the lecture he delivered at a Conference of Benedictine and Cistercian Abbots, on December 10, 1968, at Samutprakan, just south of Bangkok.

Merton spoke on Marxism and Monastic Perspectives and concluded with, “What is essential in the monastic life is not embedded in buildings, is not embedded even in a rule…It is concerned with the business of total inner transformation…all other things serve that end.

“I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own traditions, because they (the Asians) have gone, from the natural point of view, so much deeper into this than we have. The combination of the natural techniques and the graces and the other things that have been manifested in Asia, and the Christian liberty of the gospel should bring us all at last to that full and transcendent liberty which is beyond mere cultural difference and mere externals — and mere this and that.”

After his talk, Merton said he would take questions later on and, “so I will disappear.”

A few hours later he was found dead on the floor of his hotel room with a tall electric fan lying across his 53 year old body.

“There has been a lot of gossip about this, whether he was killed accidentally, or by an enemy. He had many enemies; the CIA feared he had connections in religious circles in Asia that might have an adverse effect on the U.S. war effort in Vietnam; the FBI felt the same kind of fear over his role in the peace movement in America; neither side in Vietnam liked him; the Communists, both Russian and Chinese, were suspicious of him.

“He had enemies who simply objected to his beliefs. He still has this type of enemy in the United States”And of course, there were enemies, some of them powerful, within his own Church, even with his own Order. And the latter probably felt even more justified in their opposition during Merton’s Asian trip.

“It could have been assassination by some unrevealed force, or it could have been what it was said to have been, just an accident”I suppose it’s something we will never know. There was no autopsy. The man who hated the war in Vietnam was shipped quickly back to the United States, via Vietnam, along with casualties of the war, in a U. S. Air Force plane.”

In January 1962, Merton wrote against the Bomb: “I have little confidence in Kennedy, I think he cannot fully measure up to the magnitude of his task, and lacks creative imagination and the deeper kind of sensitivity that is needed. Too much the Time and Life mentality, than which I can imagine nothing further, in reality, from, say, Lincoln. What is needed is really not shrewdness or craft, but what the politicians don’t have; depth, humanity and a certain totality of self-forgetfulness and compassion, not just for individuals but for man as a whole; a deeper kind of dedication. Maybe Kennedy will break through into that some day by miracle. But, such people are before long marked out for assassination.”

It was Merton’s faith filled compassion for people in distress that inspired his prolific writings on the social issues of civil rights, nuclear weapons, war and peace, and the Viet Nam War, and his religious superiors tried to silence him because of his literary protests.

Gandhi also inspired and influenced Merton in the way to find deeper roots of one’s own religious tradition by immersion in other faiths-and then returning “home” to one’s own heritage with a transformed consciousness.

Gandhi also said:

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy? If we are to teach real peace in this world, if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”

2,000 years ago, a nonviolent Palestinian Jew, named Jesus taught his followers that they must be “born again” to enter the kingdom of God.

Reverend Richard Cross explained to me that, “Being “born again’ means more than just being baptized. It implies, at least for me, a metanoia (μετανοια -a turning around) of heart and commitment to live the values we find in the Gospel. The implications of this “conversion’ are unending.”[Learn More: http://www.users.cloud9.net/~recross/why-not/]

For me being “born again’ also implies a transformation of heart and mind to see The Divine in all people and circumstances.

The night before his death Merton said, “Zen and Christianity are the future.”

Merton warned that if Western Christianity continued to ignore “the spiritual heritage of the East,” it would “hasten the tragedy that threatens man and his civilizations.” (Mystics and Zen Masters, p. 46).

Compassion and hope were Merton’s motivations for his immersion into Buddhism and meaningful interfaith dialogue. He wanted to be a good Buddhist because he learned from that faith path how to be a better Christian.

Merton wrote that studying other faiths is not enough, but that “We must seek not merely to make superficial reports about the Asian traditions, but to live and share those traditions, as far as we can, by living them in their traditional milieu.” (Asian Journal, p. 313).

Merton integrated Buddhism with the Christian contemplative concept that the true self is where God is and “all is emptiness and all is compassion.”

See! See! My love is darkness!

Only in the Void,

Are all ways one:

Only in the night

Are all the lost


In my ending is my meaning.-The Night of Destiny

For Merton, “the anguish of the modern person was often based upon an addiction to a false self, one’s ego-mind, that only a realization of the no-self (Buddhism) or dying to one’s self (Christianity) could transform. Thus, the dialogue was not to be only an intellectual exercise, but a vital and compelling way to directly address the absence of freedom, compassion and meaning in contemporary living and society. And only people authentically free could really value and beneficially contribute to the dialogue since the purpose of it was to free people from the wheel of causation and suffering.”

The Sorry State of US Christianity:

St. Paul, who never failed to express his freedom of speech, warned the followers of Jesus, to not judge the unbeliever but to provoke the believer onto good works.

As a Christian Anarchist [meaning one who takes Jesus seriously but questions all ‘teachers of the law’] with Buddhist leanings, I am compelled to remind US Christians that the gospel-which means good news- that Jesus preached to the poor and oppressed was a direct challenge to the politically powerful and the arrogant, the self-satisfied, self-righteous teachers of the law and to every individual to do-or not do-to any other as you would or would not do unto God.

Not many US Christians are cognizant of the fact that Jesus was never a Christian, but was a social justice, radical revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up and challenged the job security of the Temple authorities by teaching the people they did NOT need to pay the priests for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God; for God already LOVED them just as they were: sinners, poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under Roman Military Occupation.

Even fewer consider that what got Jesus crucified was for disturbing the status quo of the Roman Occupying Forces by teaching subversive concepts such as Caesar only had power because God allowed it and that God preferred the humble sinner, the poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under Roman Occupation above the elite and arrogant!

Two thousand years ago the Cross had NO symbolic religious meaning and was not a piece of jewelry. When Jesus said: “Pick up your cross and follow me,” everyone back then understood he was issuing a POLITICAL statement, for the main roads in Jerusalem were lined with crucified agitators, rebels, dissidents and any others who disturbed the status quo of the Roman Occupying Forces.

Perhaps Tiger Woods and any who reject Christianity is because they just haven’t seen the real deal in action.

Inspired by Saint Paul and Thomas Merton, I hope to provoke my sisters and brothers in Christ, with what Merton responded to the nun who complained to him at a rally against Vietnam that he hadn’t mentioned Jesus once in his speech:

“The duty of the Christian at this time is to do the one task God has imposed upon us in this world today. The task is to work for the total abolition of war. There can be no question that unless war is abolished; the world will remain constantly in a state of madness. The church [meaning all Christians] must lead the way on the road to the abolition of war. Peace is to be preached and nonviolence is to be explained and practiced.”

Perhaps, if Tiger heard that good news instead of all the ‘Christian’ judgments against him,  he might become a Buddhist-Christian and be closer to what Jesus was really on about than what is practiced by some US Christians.




Only in Solidarity do “we have it in our power to begin the world again.”-Tom Paine

Eileen Fleming,
Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org

Delusional TV Preacher Self-Appointed Spokesman For “god” of Hatred

Haitians suffering from ‘deal with the devil’

Thursday, 14 Jan, 2010 “Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it,” Robertson said. -Photo by AP

WASHINGTON: US evangelical preacher Pat Robertson levied blame Wednesday for the devastating earthquake in Haiti on Haitians themselves, saying that the country “swore a pact to the devil” at its creation.

“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it,” Robertson said on his Christian Broadcasting Network show “The 700 Club.”

Haitians were originally “under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil,”said the 80-year-old former presidential candidate.

“They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it’s a deal,” the televangelist said.

“Ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other.”

Over 100,000 people were feared dead Wednesday after a massive 7.0 earthquake razed homes, hotels, and hospitals in the capital Port-au-Prince.

Bodies of the dead were laid out on city streets as residents dug through rubble for survivors.

Robertson contrasted Haiti with its neighbor Dominican Republic, which shares the island ofHispanola.

The Dominican Republic “is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have — and we need to pray for them — a great turning to God and out of this tragedy. I’m optimistic something good may come,” he said.

Right now, Robertson said, “the suffering is unimaginable.”

Ruled for centuries by the Spanish and then the French, Haiti gained independence in 1804 through a slave-led revolution, creating the first country governed by African descendents in the Americas.

The fire-and-brimstone Christian conservative preacher is seen by critics to espouse an anti-gay, anti-liberal agenda, but he describes his ministry as pro-life and pro-family.

Founder and chairman of The Christian Broadcasting Network, Robertson in 1988 beating out sitting Vice President George Bush Sr in the Iowa Republican caucuses, but ultimately failed in his presidential bid.

Perhaps most famously, Robertson in 2005 stirred outrage after calling on the USgovernment to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Robertson, who often makes predictions of upcoming disasters and horrific attacks, came under fire in 2006 after suggesting the stroke then-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon suffered was divine retribution for ceding land to the Palestinians.

The Pattern Repeats—Drones Come In After Hakeemullah Leaves

Pakistan Taliban deny US drone strike killed top leader

Hakimullah Mehsud (file photo)

Profile: Hakimullah Mehsud

The Pakistani Taliban have denied their leader Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US missile attack in the north-west.

At least 10 suspected militants died when missiles were fired at a target in the North Waziristan region near the Afghan border, Pakistani officials say.

A Taliban spokesman said Mehsud had been in the area but left before the alleged training camp was attacked. He is on a list of key militant targets.

Hundreds of people have been killed in drone attacks since mid-2008.

Top Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, killed last August, was among them.

North and South Waziristan – where the Mehsud faction comes from – are major sanctuaries for militants.

Pakistan’s army launched an offensive in South Waziristan in October and is under US pressure to do the same in North Waziristan.

‘Completely safe’

The Pakistan Taliban spokesman confirmed that Hakimullah Mehsud had, until recently, been in the Pasalkot area where the compound was struck.

US drone

Drones can be remotely controlled from thousands of miles away

"But he had left the place already when the drone attack took place. He is alive and completely safe," Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told the AFP news agency by telephone.

The spokesman did not say when Hakimullah Mehsud left the area, which is to the east of the town of Razmak.

At least two missiles were fired by the drone into the sprawling compound which was used as a religious school in the past, officials say.

It is the latest in a series of drone attacks in North Waziristan since the beginning of the year.

Several Pakistani intelligence officials said Hakimullah Mehsud was the target of Thursday’s attack, but there has been no official confirmation of reports he was killed.

Hakimullah Mehsud recently appeared in a video alongside a Jordanian man alleged to have killed seven CIA agents in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

He has led the Pakistani Taliban since Baitullah Mehsud’s death last summer. It took the Taliban a number of weeks to admit that he had been hit in the missile strike which killed him.

Pakistan has publicly criticised drone attacks, saying they fuel support for the militants. But observers say in private the authorities have given the go-ahead for the strikes.

The US military does not routinely confirm drone attacks, but analysts say the US armed forces and CIA in Afghanistan are the only forces capable of deploying drones in the region.

Turkey warns Lebanon that Israel may be planning attack

Turkey warns Lebanon that Israel may be planning attack

By Haaretz

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week warned Lebanese leaders that Israel may be planning an attack on its northern neighbor, Lebanese sources told the London-based Arabic language daily A-Sharq al-Awsat on Thursday.
At a meeting in Ankara with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Suleiman on Monday, Erdogan declared that Israel was endangering world peace by using exaggerated force against the Palestinians, breaching Lebanon’s air space and waters and for not revealing the details of its nuclear program.
Erdogan called on the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to pressure Israel over its nuclear program in the same way that the international community has been dealing with Iran.

"Israel never denied that it has nuclear weapons," said Erdogan. "In fact, it has admitted to such."
"Those who are cautioning Iran must also caution Israel," Erdogan declared. "If we fail to display a fair attitude in this region, the problems will hit not only the region, but will spread elsewhere as well. The unrest of the Middle East is the unrest of the world."
Until recently, Turkey had been a solid ally of Israel’s from the Muslim world. However, Ankara has taken a stance against Israel over last year’s war in the Gaza Strip, leading to a deterioration of ties.
Erdogan made his comments on Monday after Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon summoned the Turkish ambassador in Israel for clarification regarding a recent television drama depicting actors dressed as Shin Bet officers who kidnap babies.
During the meeting, Turkey’s ambassador was seated in a low sofa, and facing him, in higher chairs, were Ayalon and two other officials – an arrangement carried out at Lieberman’s orders.
A photo-op was held at the start of the meeting, during which Ayalon told the photographers in Hebrew: "Pay attention that he is sitting in a
lower chair and we are in the higher ones, that there is only an Israeli flag on the table and that we are not smiling."
On Thursday, Erdogan confirmed Turkey had received an official apology from Israel over what the Turkish ambassador termed "humiliating" treatment by Ayalon, saying that it was "the expected and desired response."
Erdogan added more criticism of Israel, telling a news conference: "Israel must put itself in order and it must be more just and more on the side of peace in the region.

Another Previous CIA Penetration of Indian Intelligence–2006

The Bear Hug Of A “Strategic Partner”

Reflections On The Security Breach

Nilotpal Basu

THE arrest of S S Paul, a systems analyst at the National Security Council secretariat, for passing on sensitive information to an American diplomat with the US embassy in New Delhi, Rosanna Minchew, has set the cat among the pigeons. There are several long and red faces among the Indian security top brass. Paul’s arrest, however, is only the tip of the iceberg – of what seems to be an extensive mole network of the CIA which has penetrated the RAW, the IB and the entire National Security Council secretariat network.

A senior officer in the home ministry has gone on record with rediff.com – “there is no doubt Paul was a part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s mole network.” A retired intelligence officer went on to further add – “Paul’s arrest highlights the fact that the government still does not seem to have any idea of the extensive network established by the CIA within the intelligence community”.


But what is slowly trickling out of the otherwise iron curtain of the intelligence establishment is much more worrisome. Now fairly confirmed reports are available to suggest that Paul was introduced to the American diplomat in question – Minchew – by Mukesh Saini. This revelation takes the whole issue of breach in the National Security Council’s secretariat to a much higher level. Mukesh Saini was the high profile NSCS information specialist who has been booked by Delhi Police on charges of alleged spying. Saini was not only a key person in the secretariat in so far as its information network was concerned but also the Indian coordinator of the Indo-US Cyber Security Forum – the high profile initiative launched by the government under Vajpayee in 2000 as part of a new age bonhomie with the United States.

Saini’s involvement is not only based on Paul’s alleged revelations. Given the profile that Saini enjoyed in the intelligence and security network as an expert, his sudden decision to leave this key job to join the US multinational Microsoft brought him under the scanner. A former naval commander, Saini is reported to have developed his liaison with the CIA during his tenure as a RAW operative in New York. He also used his links in the US to get a job for his wife who is employed and settled there. Given this background, it is very surprising as to how he was cleared for such a highly sensitive position in the NSCS. In fact, this background makes him ineligible and is contrary to stipulations for such appointments. Saini, as it is now revealed, had travelled with Minchew, the Third Secretary of the US embassy to both Kolkata and Mumbai. Further, Saini also represented the country as the Indian coordinator of the Indo-US Cyber Security Forum and it is during one of the events of this forum that he introduced Paul to Minchew.

Meanwhile, Brigadier Ujjwal Dasgupta, Director of Computers of the IB has been asked not to come to office. This suggests that along with the NSCS, IB network was also penetrated by the CIA.


But the current development of the breach in the NSCS should not come as a surprise in the background of the rather bizarre fleeing of Ravinder Singh of the RAW. Singh was covertly working with the CIA and when he was put on watch by Indian agencies, he fled to US in 2004 via Khatmandu using an American passport issued by a CIA officer in the US embassy in Nepal! Singh’s recruitment to CIA in India was not however the first. Earlier, another officer from RAW and Ratan Sehgal of IB were recruited by CIA. In fact Ratan Sehgal at the time of his exposure was the No. 2 in the IB set up. The alacrity with which the CIA arranged for Ravinder Singh’s escape to US implies that the agency was afraid that Singh may spill the beans to Indian investigators regarding the specific details of the penetration had he fallen in their custody. Singh’s escape to the United States was in 2004 on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections and the then incumbent NDA government (because of the obvious political repercussions) wanted to hush up the controversy and facts are coming out only now in the wake of Paul and Saini’s arrests.


Two very serious questions arise out of this obvious serious security breach which will surely unfold further to reveal the magnitude of the breach. Paul allegedly handed over two pen drives (used for computer data storage). One does not know what were their contents. The NSCS was handling National Security Advisor M K Narayanan’s coordination work regarding all crack Indian intelligence agencies, prepared notes and assessment for the prime minister and the strategic policy group and issues pertaining to India’s nuclear command. It also serviced the task force headed by K Subramaniam on strategic developments and Indo-US relations and the work of the National Security Advisory Board. Given the nature of the NSCS,  it is not surprising for the CIA to be interested in penetrating this agency. But it is surprising why the intelligence and the security establishment in our country was so benign to this possibility, particularly given the CIA’s record. In fact, a security analyst has pointed out in his recent column in rediff.com “Since 1947, India has had a long history of intelligence cooperation relationship with the intelligence agencies of the US and other western countries as well as with those of the erstwhile USSR, Russia and other East European countries. Underlying all such relationships is an unwritten gentlemen’s agreement that the agencies would not take advantage of this relationship to penetrate each other.

“Most intelligence agencies of the world try to observe this, but not the CIA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They are aggressive and do not care for any dos and don’ts in intelligence cooperation relationships. They do not hesitate to clandestinely penetrate their sister agencies with which they have an official relationship if they get an opportunity to do so.”

The only plausible explanation to the lowering of guards to the possibility of a CIA penetration is the cozying up towards a “strategic partnership” with the US. We had earlier in a statement forewarned about the implicit dangers of such a course:  “the UPA government must face up to the fact that the strategic partnership with the United States is facilitating strategic spying.”

The BJP started this drift. Advani mooted the idea of opening an FBI office in New Delhi. And Jaswant Singh, the ideologue for BJP in these matters, turned the very concept of National Security upside down and has in his book `Defending India’ actually recommended an alliance with the US. Susan George in her perceptive book – Lugano Report — has emphasised a steady and increasing surrender of economic decision-making and suggests that information technologies will be paramount in the construction and consolidation of a renovated world order. She has observed that elites are already linked through dedicated networks and these links will be necessarily reinforced as the need for global political consultations and managements become even more apparent. Information technology will enhance surveillance, infiltration of any nascent opposition. Given the present context of Indo-US strategic partnership, Susan George’s observations appear to be prophetic. While the present government is ecstatic with the “bear hug”, it will be foolhardy for the UPA government to remain blind to the downside of the inclinations and preferences of its much-touted “strategic partner”.  In this ruthless world of global power play, the US foreign policy premises itself on the principle that there are no ‘permanent friends or permanent enemies but only permanent interests’. And it is in the interests of global hegemony that the ‘Big brother’ has to put Indian strategic thinking on its watch list. Unless this inherent asymmetry in the relations with the US is not properly understood and internalised, the rot in the prime security and intelligence establishment of the country cannot be stopped.


The second question is institutional. The National Security Council was established by the NDA government in 1998 through an executive order. But the holistic nature of national security and the need for bipartisanism, transparency and accountability which is the hallmark of such an institutional framework was nowhere in sight. The NSC objectives were outlined in the 1998 election manifesto of the BJP.

“….Establish a National Security Council to constantly analyse security, political and economic threats and render continuous advice to the government. This Council will undertake India’s first-ever Strategic Defence Review to study and analyse the security environment and make appropriate recommendations to cover all aspects of defence requirements and organisation.” (page 31)

This was further fine-tuned in the National Agenda for Governance:

“…The state of preparedness, morale and combat effectiveness of the Armed Forces shall receive early attention and appropriate remedial action. We will establish a National Security Council to analyse the military, economic and political threats to the nation, also to continuously advise the government. This council will undertake India’s first ever Strategic Defence Review. To ensure the security, territorial integrity and unity of India we will take all necessary steps and exercise all available options. Towards that end we will reevaluate the nuclear policy and exercise the option to induct nuclear weapons.” (page 6)

However, that the NDA government never went ahead for a statutory enactment through parliament was proof enough that it was not interested in making the NSC accountable to parliament. Parliamentary accountability marks the functioning of security and intelligence establishments in most of the major parliamentary democracies. It is such sense of accountability that insulates these establishments from being caught off guard. The present UPA government must unlearn the narrow views of the NDA on this very sensitive area.

The least that the government can do at this juncture in the wake of embarrassing revelations about the security breach in the NSCS is to come clean with facts and explanations in the coming monsoon session of the parliament. It must also wake up to the harsh realities of the present global power play of their widely advertised “strategic partner”.