Chiquita’s Terrorist Funding, Bureau of Prisons Admits CIA Afghanistan Prison Visit, and More: FRINFORMSUM 12/2/2016
Chiquita Terrorist Funding
A federal judge in Florida ruled that “victims of Colombian paramilitary death squads funded by Chiquita” have a right to have their case heard in the United States rather than Colombia, “clearing the way for the historic case to advance toward trial.” The ruling comes nearly a decade after Chiquita pled guilty in 2007 to charges of “engaging in unauthorized transactions” with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), which was designated a global terrorist organization by the US State Department in 2001.
“It’s an important win for the victims of violent groups funded by Chiquita,” said Michael Evans, director of the Archive’s Colombia documentation project, “and a big boost for groups seeking to hold multinational corporations accountable for human rights crimes in US courts.”
Earlier this year, Evans filed an affidavit in the class action lawsuit in which he used Chiquita corporate records obtained through the National Security Archive’s FOIA litigation to identify a dozen individuals connected to the paramilitary payments scheme and who are now potential witnesses for the plaintiffs.
In July 2015 a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should release to the National Security Archive some 9,257 pages of records produced by Chiquita Brands International to the SEC as part of an investigation of the company’s illegal payments to the AUC. The Archive’s FOIA case began in November 2008, when our office filed a pair of FOIA requests with the SEC asking for records relating to SEC and Justice Department investigations of Chiquita’s Colombian subsidiary, Banadex, for violations including the illegal AUC payments.
In April 2011, the Archive published some 5,500 pages of Chiquita’s records released by the Department of Justice in response to similar FOIA requests. Those records revealed that Chiquita benefited from its transactions with both AUC “paramilitary” groups and insurgents from the FARC and ELN guerrilla groups. The records call into question the Justice Department’s determination, spelled out in the 2007 plea deal, that there was no evidence of a quid pro quo with the illegal groups.
Domestic Law Enforcement Agency Admits Trip to Secret CIA Prison
The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) recently admitted for the first time that two BOP officials visited a CIA “black site” prison in Afghanistan in 2002. The agency submitted legal filings confirming the visit during the course of an ACLU FOIA lawsuit – seven months after the bureau told the ACLU that it had no records in response to the ACLU’s FOIA request for information on the visit, which was revealed in a Senate report. Afghan detainee Gul Rahman died at the prison in November 2002 after being “short shackled” overnight, and “likely” freezing to death – a technique the CIA implemented after flying the BOP officials to Afghanistan.
It’s worth noting that “The Bureau of Prisons is a domestic law enforcement agency that does not have the authority to classify intelligence information. The agency explained in the legal filing on Thursday that the two officials who visited the detention site were told by the CIA ‘that they were not permitted to discuss their participation in this training, or to create or retain any records of the training or their involvement.’”
75 Years of CIA Cartography
The CIA’s Cartography Center posted a collection of declassified maps to commemorate the center’s 75th anniversary. The posting includes nine albums that feature cartography tools and maps from the 1940s to the present. The collection of maps from the 1940s notes that the Office of Strategic Services, the CIA’s predecessor, produces 8,000 hand-drawn maps. The release also includes photographs of the Bush administration taken shortly after 9/11 and “a 3D map of the Konar Valley in Afghanistan from 2001, while another map from 2012 includes a full country profile, with geographic information and a timeline of various influential groups in the region.”
Fidel Castro Dead at 90
The National Security Archive’s Cuba project director Peter Kornbluh visited with The Atlantic (here) and Democracy Now (here and here) in recent days to discuss what implications Fidel Castro’s death could have on the normalization of US-Cuba relations. The Archive’s Cuba project has produced a number of postings on the US’s complicated relationship with Castro, including:
- “Oscars: ‘Bridge of Spies,’ The Sequel,”
- “Kissinger Considered Attack on Cuba Following Angola Incursion,”
- “Cuban Missile Crisis Revelations: Kennedy’s Secret Approach to Castro,”
- “The Armageddon Letters,” and
- “The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis: Castro, Mikoyan, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Missiles of November.”
The National Security Archive also hosted a conference in Havana for the 40th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, bringing together the senior surviving veterans of the event, including Castro and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, and featured four panels: (1) from the Bay of Pigs to the missiles, (2) the missiles and the October crisis, (3) the November crisis and aftermath, (4) lessons from the crisis.
PIDB Meeting Next Thursday at NARA
The Public Interest Declassification Board will be holding a public meeting Thursday, December 8. The presentations and public comments will address how best to reduce over-classification, improve declassification, and ensure “a credible and transparent security classification system.” The meeting is open to the public, but space is limited. If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP here.
New Appointments at NARA
Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero recently appointed Mark Bradley and Alina Simo to head the Information Security Oversight Office and the Office of Government Information Services, respectively. Steve Aftergood notes of Mr. Bradley, he “is not ‘just’ a former intelligence officer and national security lawyer. He is also an historian who has done archival research and worked with declassified records to produce a well-regarded volume called A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior (Basic Books, 2014). So he will bring multiple relevant dimensions of expertise to his new responsibilities at ISOO.” Ms. Simo, for her part, comes to OGIS from the National Archives’ Office of General Counsel. While at NARA she “helped rewrite the National Archives’ FOIA regulations.” Prior to her tenure at NARA Simo “served as Director of Litigation in the Office of General Counsel” for the FBI.
The Iran-Contra and Presidential Deceit
Thirty years ago, President Ronald Reagan announced to the nation – after weeks of denials – that members of his White House staff had engaged in a web of covert intrigue linking illicit US support for a guerrilla war in Central America with a legally and politically explosive arms-for-hostages bargain with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The revelation quickly led to a new phrase – “Iran-Contra” – which became synonymous with political hubris, government incompetence, and dishonesty in the public sphere. This week the National Security Archive posts a selection of materials that spotlight the scandal’s deceitfulness and whose relevance has sadly become more pronounced after a bruising political season marked by examples and allegations of widespread public contempt for facts, evidence and the truth.
#TBT – Trump, Nixon, and PDBsThis week’s #tbt pick is chosen with reports that president elect Trump recently received his third intelligence briefing – fewer than any of his predecessors – in mind. The Associated Press notes that “While Trump is getting fewer briefings than what’s been traditional, he’s gotten more during the transition than President Richard Nixon.” A September 2016 posting from the National Security Archive’s Nuclear Vault goes further, noting that once in office “President Richard Nixon may never have even read the President’s Daily Briefs partially declassified and released by the CIA with great fanfare on August 24, 2016. The CIA’s claim that the PDBs were ‘the primary vehicle for summarizing the day-to-day sensitive intelligence and analysis … for the White House’ is partly true, but Nixon’s prejudices against the Agency and the distinctive role of national security adviser Henry Kissinger suggest that his cover memos to the PDBs were far more important to the President than whatever the CIA had to say.”
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