USAID: a history of front companies acting on behalf of the CIA
The recent disclosure by the Associated Press that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a notorious nexus for contract fraud within the State Department, contracted out a project to develop a rival to Twitter in order to foment rebellion in Cuba has refocused attention on USAID's long history of acting as a contract vehicle for various CIA covert activities.
The setting up of the Cuban Twitter-like system, called ZunZuneo, was contracted to Creative Associates, Inc. (CAI), which conducted most of its out-of-Cuba operations in Costa Rica. The contract to CAI was awarded as part of the State Department's "Civil Society Support Program," the same program that has been used by the CIA to foment rebellions in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Iran, and other countries.
Some 40,000 ZunZuneo users in Cuba mistakenly believed their messages were private, when, in fact, they were recorded by USAID, which likely turned them over to the National Security Agency (NSA) for analysis and database archival.
CAI was not the only entity awarded USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) money to help foment dissension and rebellion in Cuba as part of USAID's "civil society program." Other recipients included the International Republican Institute (IRI), a branch of the Republican Party; the National Democratic Institute, a branch of the Democratic Party; the Pan American Development Foundation, on whose board of trustees are found lobbyists for Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Caterpillar, Greenberg Traurig, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Citibank, Unibank of Haiti, Educational Testing Service (ETS),and Occidental Petroleum; Loyola University of Chicago; Center for a Free Cuba (which was caught embezzling $570,000 from USAID in 2008); the neo-conservative non-profit Freedom House; the Christian evangelical group Echo Cuba; Cuba On-Line; the Miami-based Plantados Until Freedom and Democracy in Cuba; and Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI)/Nathan Group.
ZunZuneo was created just after the December 2009 arrest in Cuba of DAI sub-contractor for USAID Alan Gross who was allegedly setting up satellite equipment and computer networks in Cuba to provide greater Internet access to Cuba's Jewish community. Cuba's Jewish community leaders denied any knowledge of the project or even knowing Gross, who was sentenced by Cuba to 15 years in prison for espionage. Gross's firm, JBDC, was subcontracted to DAI for the "civil society" work in Cuba.
In addition, USAID funding documents for the ZunZuneo (a Cuban slang word for a hummingbird's tweet) and other "civil society" projects state that USAID money went to "miscellaneous foreign contractors" and domestic contractors (undisclosed)" to support the Cuban initiatives. ZunZuneo was a pet project of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, according to AP, had her social media chief Suzanne Hall, contact Twitter founder Jack Dorsey to take over ZunZuneo. Dorsey has refused comment on the report.
DAI has a long history in supporting CIA operations. President Obama's mother, Ann Dunham Sutoro, worked for DAI in Java. DAI was also accused of supporting the April 2002 coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In 2005, right-wing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe stunned his audience by announcing that former Venezuelan military officers planned their coup against Chavez from Colombia. USAID and its contractors were heavily involved with anti-Chavez-activities in Colombia at the time of the 2002 coup.
CAI also used Mobile Accord, Inc. and a front company in the Cayman Islands called MovilChat possessing a bank account at Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Ltd. in Grand Cayman, as well as another "folding tent" firm based in the United Kingdom with a "subsidiary" in Barcelona, Spain to hide USAID as a funding source for ZunZuneo. Mobile Accord's web site states, "The heart of the Mobile Accord system is the proprietary high-volume EVO2 mobile platform that processes SMS, PSMS, and MMS. The EVO2 messaging system currently operates on four continents and is adaptable to any mobile network operator in the world. Mobile Accord uses our proprietary technology to offer one of the fastest, most reliable, and most secure messaging system available in the world."
The history of USAID is replete with examples of contractor companies and other front groups working for USAID but also doing the bidding of the CIA. WMR has reported on many such cases over the years:
- Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, worked on micro-financing projects for the USAID and Ford Foundation, both linked to the CIA, that helped prop up dictatorships in Indonesia and Pakistan. After Suharto seized power in 1965, USAID returned to Indonesia, with Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro as one of its chief employees, to help Suharto create the New Order (Orde Baru) that would usher in decades of fascist and kleptocratic rule. Suharto established the Bureau of Logistics (BULOG) that steered USAID-provided rice and other food staples to Suharto's business cronies. Suharto also relied on a group of U.S. economists, including Obama's mother, to re-engineer Indonesia's socialist economy. The group was called the "Berkeley mafia" and it ensured that Indonesia was compliant with dictates of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and large Western commercial banks. It is a family history that Obama refuses to comment on and one that is certainly nothing to be proud of.While USAID was moving into Indonesia in 1965, USAID contractors flying for the CIA airline, Air America, were dropping off weapons and picking up drugs in Laos and dropping off the contraband in Thailand and South Vietnam.
- USAID has long been involved in trying to oust the Castro government in Cuba, funneling money through the Cuban-American National Foundation, the Center for a Free Cuba, and even a German foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, an adjunct of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party.
- In Haiti, USAID, acting at the behest of the CIA, funded political opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, ousted in CIA-backed coups in 1991 and 2004. After Aristide's return to power in 1994, USAID money used to oppose Aristide was funneled through a "Project Democracy." Today, USAID is providing dubious small and micro-financing loans to small businesses in Haiti.
- Bolivian President Evo Morales tossed USAID out of his country, charging it with acting with the CIA to destabilize Bolivia and bring about a coup. To this day, USAID is providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in aid to groups trying to undermine Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
- During his ten-year rule, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori and his intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, thought to be a CIA asset, reportedly received USAID funds to put down the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru guerrilla movements.
- In 2009, the Pakistani press reported that USAID was bypassing the Pakistan ministries of Education and Information and providing direct educational assistance to Pakistani students. One USAID program in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan resulted in some $45 million disappearing down a virtual black hole.
- In the 1980s, when Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Obama, Jr. spent time in Pakistan, USAID opened up a major office in Islamabad that distributed "non-lethal aid" to Afghan mujaheddin refugees in Pakistan, particularly in Peshawar. Some of the USAID assistance was also reportedly used to buy weapons for the Afghan mujaheddin but some of the weapons ended up in the hands of Pakistani Muslim radicals intent on ousting Pakistani dictator Muhammad Zia-ul Haq. Other USAID money ended up paying for expensive automobiles for leading Afghan mujaheddin commanders in Pakistan.
- The June 18, 1998 Jakarta Post reported that USAID programs in Indonesia continued to be fronts for CIA activity. Specifically, the paper said two Indonesian NGOs, the Indonesian Environmental Forum and the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation, were charged with accepting money from USAID but should have known that the aid did not come "free of charge" and was linked to the CIA.
- In 2002, USAID in Palestine, where DAI is also active, demanded detailed personal information on all the members of NGOs that received American funding. The Palestinian press reported that the information, including personal political opinions of NGO members, was to be turned over to the CIA and eventually, Mossad, to apply pressure on the NGOs to comply with U.S. and Israeli policies.
- For years, USAID operated in Manila from the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency building at the Ramon Magsaysay Center on Roxas Boulevard in the Malate district of the city. In 2000, the offices moved to the Makati district of the city but the building that housed USAID was always known to locals as the "CIA building." The building, owned by the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation, in honor of the Philippines President who died in a 1955 plane crash, was built in 1959 with a loan from the Rockefeller family. The Rockefellers also provided grants to the Magsaysay Foundation.
- In 2004, USAID was charged by Philippines opposition parties of using CIA agents to "monitor" elections in the country. The deal to permit USAID observers was signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The head of the Anakpawis Party, Crispin Beltran, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, "So much for independence when foreign intelligence agents can broker an official agreement with the Comelec (election commission) allowing them to interfere in the polls."
- The CIA-linked Asia Foundation, which worked closely with the CIA-funded East-West Center at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, where Obama's mother met her second husband, General Suharto's colonel, Lolo Soetoro, was linked closely to USAID covert programs in Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Vietnam, Thailand, Palau, Malaysia, and other Asian-Pacific nations. In Laos and Thailand, USAID officials provided counter-insurgency military training to Laotian and Thai special forces. In 1970, Dan Mitrione, a USAID official who was working for the CIA training Uruguyan special police on torture tactics, was kidnapped and killed by Tupamaro guerrillas.
- The dubious International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), a program with CIA fingerprints all over it, used anti-trafficking funds from the pedophile-plagued State Department, as well as USAID, to conduct training boondoggles in Albania, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Nigeria, Gabon, Gambia, Madagascar, Uganda, Tanzania, the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra, and Malaysia.
- When Honduran President Manuel Zelaya raised the minimum wage in his country, the CIA and Southern Command arranged for a military coup to remove him. Obama decided to place the Southern Command, headquartered in the right-wing Latin American exilee rat's nest of Miami, to coordinate humanitarian relief in Haiti along with the head of USAID.
- A favorite USAID contractor, Chemonics International, started in 1976 by conservative Republican Gerald Murphy, in part, because as he told The New York Times in 1993, 'I've always wanted a way to do two things: one, have my own C.I.A., and two, be helpful to people,' received $500,000 to support USAID field missions in Nepal. OTI and Soros' Open Society Institute (OSI) are also linked through a contract awarded to Chemonics in Nepal to provide for U.S.-funded propaganda to be broadcast on FM stations in Nepal.The Soros/USAID/Chemonics media blitz in Nepal is also funding Radio Kailash, targeting thr Humla district of Nepal and Nepal Chautari (a national live radio call-in show).
- In 1988, USAID opened a huge compound in a suburb of San Jose, Costa Rica that many Costa Ricans charged was the CIA headquarters for the "parallel state" established by the CIA in Costa Rica to support the contra-led civil war in neighboring Nicaragua. USAID also pumped millions of dollars in loans, some at zero percent, to private banks in Costa Rica to undermine the state banking system.
- In 1995, Representative Mel Reynolds (D-IL), who was convicted of having sex with an underage female campaign worker, was also revealed as working for U.S. intelligence in the 1980s, via employment with the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) and USAID in Africa, particularly in Sudan. Reynolds, an African-American, also spent time in Israel under USIA cover. Recently, Reynolds was arrested in Zimbabwe for allegedly making pornographic movies with underage performers. Reynolds was subsequently expelled from Zimbabwe.
- Obama has continued USAID's involvement in CIA-directed programs in former Soviet states, including Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. In so doing, USAID complements the destabilization efforts of George Soros and his network of NGOs. Soros was a major financial backer of Obama's presidential campaign. In 1999, Croatian media reported that USAID was working through various NGOs, some connected to Soros, to oust the ailing Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. The paper Vjesnik charged that USAID, as well as the U.S. Information Service (USIS), were used as ''tampons between the American non-governmental agencies and American state bodies." The paper said the USAID program to aid Tudjman's opposition was run by the CIA and coordinated by the U.S. ambassador in Zagreb, William Montgomery.
- In a 2008 Russian documentary film, "Technology of Modern Coup," Bermet Akayeva, the daughter of ousted Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, ousted in the 2005 Tulip Revolution, stated, "USAID is very actively financed by the Soros Foundation, by the National Democratic Institute and some kind of training is carried out constantly. However, it is difficult to describe USAID as an NGO given that it is under the U.S. Department of State. They work very actively." Akayeva said there were rumors in Kyrgyzstan that the U.S.-backed coup plotters distributed narcotics to rioters who participated in the coup.
- In the north Caucasus, NGOs supported by USAID, have been accused by Russian authorities of having links to Chechen terrorists.
- In 2002, Eritrea expelled USAID from the country, accusing it of working with the CIA to overthrow the government and assisting Ethiopia, which had engaged in a border war with Eritrea.
- In 2009, Susan Tsvangirai, the wife of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was killed in an automobile accident in which the Prime Minister was injured. The truck that struck their automobile was bought with USAID funds and bore a U.S. embassy license plate. USAID denied it had anything to do with the truck. Public Works Minister Theresa Mokone, a friend of Mrs. Tsvangirai, likened the crash to the mysterious auto accident that killed popular and incorruptible Tanzanian Prime Minister Edward Sokoine in 1984. Sokoine was the designated successor to President Julius Nyerere, who antagonized the CIA by his close ties with the Soviet Union and China. Sokoine created a number of enemies among the elite class when he ordered the assets of embezzlers and smugglers seized. USAID, at the time of Sokoine's possible assassination, was heavily-involved in Tanzania.
- In Zaire, millions of dollars in USAID money was diverted by CIA-backed dictator Mobutu Sese Seko to amass his personal fortune making him one of the world's wealthiest leaders. Other USAID funds for Zaire were diverted to help the Angolan rebel forces of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi, in violation of U.S. law prohibiting aid to Angolan rebel groups. The covert aid program to UNITA was started in 1976 by Gerald Ford's Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Similarly, during the Reagan administration, USAID money was funneled through the National Endowment for Democracy to the Nicaraguan contras, again in violation of a specific law prohibiting such assistance.
- During the late 1970s and 80s, USAID-funded "researchers" established links with African liberation movements, particularly the African National Congress of South Africa and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) of Zimbabwe. Actually, these programs were CIA activities using "leftist" academics to spy on the nationalist movements. The operations were concentrated in Harare, Zimbabwe and Cape Town, South Africa, and cities that had a large expatriate African student community, including London and Melbourne and Perth, Australia.
- In 1998, USAID participated in a closed-door meeting between major oil companies and the CIA, National Security Council, and three State Department officials, Stuart Eisenstat, Thomas Pickering, and Susan Rice (now Obama's National Security Adviser) . The topic was exploitation of Africa's oil resources and the senior executives of Exxon, Mobil, Chevron (where Condoleezza Rice was a board member), and Texaco were present along with Department of Energy and Petroleum Finance Corporation officials.
- In 2000, the CIA and USAID worked jointly through a private military company, Military Professional Resources, Inc. (MPRI) to train the Nigerian army in tactics to combat secessionists in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta region. The CIA also commissioned the services of a private business intelligence and risk firm, Evidence-Based Research (EBR) of Vienna, Virginia, which appears to be a very similar operation to the CIA front, Business International Corporation, for which Obama worked in 1984, to conduct an assessment of the tribal revolt in the Niger Delta region, referred to by the CIA as a "semi-riot zone." EBR was formed in 1987, a year after Business International was sold to the Economist Intelligence Unit in London.
- In 1990, the one-time administrator of USAID under the Bush-Cheney administration, Roger Winter, met international weapons smuggler Viktor Bout, now imprisoned in the United States after being arrested in a February 2008 U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sting operation in Thailand. The meeting coordinated arms smuggling activities that would mushroom into Bout's full-scale smuggling empire after the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991.
- The U.S.-flagged container ship MV Global Patriot fired on an Egyptian barge vessel on March 24, 2008, in the Suez Canal near the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. One Egyptian seaman, Mohammed Fouad, was killed and three others wounded on the Egyptian vessel that approached the Global Patriot to sell Egyptian products and cigarettes, a customary practice in the canal. The U.S. vessel was en route from Dubai with "used military equipment" and was stationary when approached by the Egyptian vending vessel. At first, the US Embassy in Cairo denied that anyone was killed in the incident.The Global Patriot is chartered by the Military Sealift Command from Global Container Lines of Garden City, New York. The firm operates in the Red Sea, including Sudan, East Africa, the Indian Ocean (including the Comoros -- where an African Union invasion of secessionist Anjouan has just occurred --and Seychelles, the Persian Gulf, and South Asia. Global Container Lines is a major contractor for USAID. The shipping line has been involved in shipments of "relief" supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan. One April 3, 2003, USAID "food" shipment to Iraq from Galveston, Texas, worth $500,000, is not recorded by USAID as a valid contract. The shipment was consigned to the MV Free Atlas.
- Obama named as his director of 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.
- Custer Battles, Inc., a USAID contractor, was formed by former US Army Ranger Mike Battles and Scott Custer from a firm called Blue Sky. The firm soon became enmeshed in major contracting fraud in Iraq. Custer included former Lebanese Shia Amal official Mohammed Darwish, the owner of Cyprus-based Laru, Ltd., into the Custer Battles organization and decision making process. In January 2004, Darwish and Michel Mukattaf, a son-in-law of former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel and owner of a Lebanese currency exchange company, and Richard Jreisati, a former Lebanese military officer, were arrested by Lebanese authorities for attempting to smuggle a cache of 164 million in 25,000 Iraqi dinar notes into Lebanon from Baghdad Airport. Custer Battles had the Iraqi Currency Exchange (ICE) contract with the Coalition Provisional Authority and a major security contract for Baghdad Airport.
- Former Eli Lilly chief Randall (Randy) Tobias, while George W. Bush's Administrator of USAID, was exposed as a client of the Washington escort firm, Pamela Martin & Associates, run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called "DC Madam."