US State Department Arming Mexican Intelligence Agencies
ANTIFASCIST CALLING | MAY 18, 2012
Amid recent reports that the bodies of four Mexican journalists were discovered in a canal in the port city of Veracruz, less than a week after another journalist based in that city was found strangled in her home, the U.S. State Department “plans to award a contract to provide a Mexican government security agency with a system that can intercept and analyze information from all types of communications systems,” NextGov reported.
The most glaring and obvious question is: why?
Since President Felipe Calderón declared “war” against some of the region’s murderous drug cartels in 2006, some 50,000 Mexicans have been butchered. Activists, journalists, honest law enforcement officials but also ordinary citizens caught in the crossfire, the vast majority of victims, have been the targets of mafia-controlled death squads, corrupt police and the military.
Underscoring the savage nature of another “just war” funded by U.S. taxpayers, last week The Dallas Morning News reported that “23 people were found dead Friday–nine hanging from a bridge and 14 decapitated–across the Texas border in the city of Nuevo Laredo.”
The arcane and highly-ritualized character of the violence, often accompanied by sardonic touches meant to instill fear amongst people already ground underfoot by crushing poverty and official corruption that would make the Borgias blush, convey an unmistakable message: “We rule here!”
“The latest massacres are part of a continuing battle between the paramilitary group known as the Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel,” the Morning News averred. “The violence appears to be part of a strategy by the Sinaloa cartel to disrupt one of the most lucrative routes for drug smugglers by bringing increased attention from the federal government.”
According to investigators the “two warring cartels are fighting for control of the corridor that leads into Interstate 35, known as one of the most lucrative routes for smugglers.”
But as Laura Carlsen, the director of the Americas Program pointed out last month in CounterPunch, “In a series of ‘Joint Operations’ between Federal Police and Armed Forces, the Mexican government has deployed more than 45,000 troops into various regions of the country in an unprecedented domestic low-intensity conflict.”
The militarization of Mexican society, as in the “Colossus to the North,” has also seen the expansion of a bloated Surveillance State. Carlsen averred that when the Army and Federal Police are “deployed to communities where civilians are defined as suspected enemies, soldiers and officers have responded too often with arbitrary arrests, personal agendas and corruption, extrajudicial executions, the use of torture, and excessive use of force.”
But expanding the surveillance capabilities of secret state agencies as the State Department proposes in its multimillion dollar gift to the Israeli-founded firm, Verint Systems, far from inhibiting violence by drug gangs and the security apparatus, on the contrary, will only rationalize repression as new “targets” are identified and electronic communications are data-mined for “actionable intelligence.”
Indeed, The New York Times reported last summer that “after months of negotiations, the United States established an intelligence post on a northern Mexican military base.”
Although anonymous “American officials” cited by the Times “declined to provide details about the work being done” by a team of spooks drawn from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the CIA and “retired military personnel members from the Pentagon’s Northern Command,” they said that “the compound had been modeled after ‘fusion intelligence centers’ that the United States operates in Iraq and Afghanistan to monitor insurgent groups.”
Such developments are hardly encouraging considering the role played by “fusion centers” here in the heimat. As the ACLU has amply documented, “Americans have been put under surveillance or harassed by the police just for deciding to organize, march, protest, espouse unusual viewpoints, and engage in normal, innocuous behaviors such as writing notes or taking photographs in public.”
In Mexico, the results will be immeasurably worse; with corruption endemic on both sides of the border, who’s to say authorities won’t sell personal data gleaned from these digital sweeps to the highest bidder?
Only this time, the data scrapped from internet search queries, emails, smartphone chatter or text messages grabbed by bent officials won’t result in annoying targeted ads on your browser but in piles of corpses.
Guns In, Drugs Out: Iran/Contra Redux
While Obama administration officials hypocritically washed their hands of responsibility for failing to clamp-down on what journalist Daniel Hopsicker christened The New American Drug Lords, an old boys club of dodgy bankers, shady investment consultants, defense contractors and other glad handers, the violence following drug flows north like a swarm of locusts is fueled in no small part by arms which federal intelligence and law enforcement allowed to “walk” across the border.
Indeed, as Hopsicker pointed out in MadCow Morning News: “Ten years ago Miami Private Detective Gary McDaniel, a 30-year veteran investigator for both Government prosecutors and attorneys for major drug traffickers, educated me on the basics of the drug trade.”
“‘Every successful drug trafficking organization (DTO) needs four things to be successful,’ he said. He ticked each one off on his fingers: ‘Production, distribution, transportation, and–most important of all–protection’.”
To McDaniel’s list we can add a fifth element: intelligence gleaned from the latest advances in communications’ technologies.
If all this sounds familiar, it should.
During the 1980s, as the Reagan administration waged its anticommunist crusade across Central and South America, the CIA forged their now-infamous “Dark Alliance” with far-right terrorists (our “boys,” the Nicaraguan Contras), Argentine, Bolivian and Chilean death-squad generals and the up-and-coming cocaine cartels who had more on their minds than ideological purity.
By the end of that blood-soaked decade, with much encouragement from Washington, including a get-out-of-jail-free card for their dope dealing assets in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding between the CIA and the Justice Department, the region was on its way towards becoming a multibillion dollar growth engine for the well-connected.
Does history repeat? You bet it does!