Thursday, January 14, 2010

Obama gets "F" for initial Haiti earthquake response

President Obama attempted to not repeat the same mistakes made by his predecessor, George W. Bush, in responding to natural disasters. Bush's handling of relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the Indonesian earthquake and resulting tsunami was nothing less than abysmal. Obama, on the other hand, was on television the morning after the devastating and deadly earthquake in Haiti trying to look "presidential." However, Obama's handling of the response to the Haiti disaster was in keeping with Obama'ssecretive CIA past. Obama kicked off his media appearance by stating that his first response was to dispatch a U.S. military ground assessment team Haiti that included a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion from the U.S. surveillance base at Comalapa in El Salvador conducting aerial surveillance of the devastated country. The plane overflight is, of course, reminiscent of President Bush's survey of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina from the safety of Air Force One.

While Obama, who is clearly not suited to emergency response by defaulting to his military in responding to the Haiti earthquake, was talking about U.S. military assessment teams going to Haiti, Cuba's President Raul Castro and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez already had field hospitals on the ground in Haiti rendering medical assistance to the injured. Obama is hamstrung in deploying any military logistics and medical personnel to places like Haiti because the Nobel Peace Prize laureate is now over-extended in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and, now, Yemen.

It was only later that Obama officials decided to dispatch the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and some Coast Guard cutters to Haiti. There remained confusion over the dispatch of the hospital ship, USNS Comfort, to Haiti, something that was specifically requested by the wife of Haitian President Rene Preval because all of Port-au-Prince's hospitals were destroyed or abandoned after the quake. However, as of the evening of January 12, the Comfort was still docked in Baltimore with a five-day transit time to Haiti. Only in the late afternoon of January 13 was the Comfort ordered to sail to Haiti.

One of the problems in providing relief for Haiti is that much of the Caribbean region's initial U.S. emergency response was being coordinated by the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, an entity more interested in overthrowing Latin American governments through covert operations like that conducted against Honduras President Manuel Zelaya, than in providing humanitarian assistance.

Obama also named his director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Rajiv Shah, as his overall coordinator for Haiti relief operations. Shah was sworn into office on January 8. Obama could not have made a worse choice. USAID, which is a cipher for the CIA, has largely been responsible for Haiti remaining the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Shah's previous work for the dubious Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization, as well as his being a political hack for Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who is imbued in corruption in Harrisburg, should not give the beleaguered people of Haiti any hope.

And not to be left out, there were indications that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hoping for a repeat disaster relief fund-raising engagement by her husband, Bill Clinton, who garnered so much public attention in his and former President George H. W. Bush's tsunami relief work after the 2004 Indonesia earthquake disaster. Last year, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is owned and operated by the U.S. government, appointed Bill Clinton as the UN Special Envoy to Haiti. Clinton has ensured that the populist opposition loyal to exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a man he helped regain office after a 1991 military coup ousted him, remain suppressed. To make matters worse, Obama has asked former President George W. Bush, the man who was disengaged over the Asian tsunami and Katrina, to join Bill Clinton in Haiti relief efforts. Obama's tone deafness to political reality has his erstwhile progressive base wondering just who is occupying the White House.

The combination of Bill Clinton and USAID invited yet another disaster -- a financial one -- for the people of Haiti. USAID and members of the Arkansas Rice Growers Association (ARGA) who are political cronies of the Clintons have wreaked havoc on Haiti's once thriving rice growing business. Once a net exporter of highly-nutritional rice, a combination of USAID policies and one-sided Clinton-era trade deals destroyed the Haitian rice industry and made the country dependent on expensive and non-nutritional genetically-engineered bleached white rice from Arkansas agri-businesses. In 2008, the soaring price of rice worldwide and price-fixing by U.S. agri-businesses linked to both Clinton and Bush 41 resulted in food riots breaking out in Haiti.

No sooner had Hillary Clinton turned her plane around on a trip to Australia and New Zealand to head back to Washington to deal with the Haiti situation, her husband launched the following high-tech appeal on the web site of his William J. Clinton Foundation: "Text 'HAITI' to '20222' and $10 will be given to the Clinton Foundation's Haiti Relief Fund,
charged to your cell phone bill." Clinton also solicited for donations of up to $1000 for the Clinton Foundation's Haiti Relief Fund.

Current Haitian President Rene Preval has long been in the pocket of the CIA and USAID. Clinton chicanery with Haiti, continued under Bush and, now, Obama, was detailed in the editor's book, "Jaded Tasks: Brass Plates, Black Ops & Big Oil":

"In 1995, Preval’s government contracted with a number of U.S. companies close to U.S. intelligence and military circles to provide security services, including Brown & Root, which Dick Cheney headed at the time. Preval, a favorite of the U.S., defeated Aristide in the 1995 presidential election. In 1999, Preval began to rule by decree. After the Haitian armed forces were disbanded, Dyncorp (now owned by Computer Sciences Corporation [since sold off]) was brought in to establish and train the new Haitian National Police. Dyncorp recruited former Ton Ton Macoutes of the Duvalier regimes and pro-US former members of the military junta as policemen. According to U.S. congressional sources, some of these Dyncorp-trained police served as a virtual fifth column in the 2004 coup against Aristide.

Chemonics, a firm that is involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, has made hundreds of millions of dollars from State Department contracts, and is close to the Pentagon and State Department, was involved in US Agency for International Development (USAID) agricultural projects in Haiti in the 1990s. Chemonics’ sister company, Rice Corporation of Haiti (RCH), maintained a virtual monopoly on rice imports into the impoverished nation and helped drive Haiti's many small rice farmers out of business. Both Chemonics and RCH are owned by ERLY Industries, Inc., an agribusiness firm with headquarters in Houston and Los Angeles. ERLY is owned by Gerald Murphy and his son, Douglas. They are longtime Republican supporters of Ronald Reagan and both Bushes. The elder Murphy set up Chemonics, as he said, to have his 'own CIA."' Chemonics and its top officials have given thousands of dollars to the Republican Party. Since his return to power, Aristide came under attack for some time by a usual array of neo-conservative publications, including the New York Sun, a leading propaganda outlet for neo-conservative interests in the United States."

USAID continues to team up with Chemonics in agriculture projects in Haiti, where USAID also happens to have another partner, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where Shah first served Obama as Undersecretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics before being nominated to be the director of USAID last November.

President Obama reacted as anyone with his background as a non-official cover employee of Business International Corporation, a CIA front, would react: turn over humanitarian relief to those military and intelligence agencies responsible for Haiti's pre-existing poverty and despair.