Talk:Stanley Lucas

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Pasted from Max Blumenthal's statements to Amy Goodman in Democracy Now!" interview aired 20 July 2004:

MAX BLUMENTHAL: Well, to tell you about Stanley Lucas, and he is the program officer for the International Republican Institute, or I.R.I.'s Haiti program. I.R.I. is active in 50 countries worldwide on a mission to "promote democracy". In many of their programs, through their means, what they have demonstrated is something quite different. They have demonstrated -- I.R.I has demonstrated a penchant for backing opponents in regimes deemed hostile to the U.S. and specifically to conservative interests, and I.R.I.'s program in Haiti has been probably its most bellicose thanks to Stanley Lucas. In Haiti there's two sectors of Haitian society that are the traditional obstructionists to progressive change. Number one, that's the industrial sector of the mulatto elite who run the sweatshops and lead the civil society wing of Aristide's opposition. And two, there's the military, which guarantees the conditions by which the elite can operate their sweatshops. Aristide disbanded the military in 1995, so, you know, the military hates him. Stanley Lucas is a bridge between these two sectors. He was schooled in Haiti's finest schools with members of the mulatto elite. At the same time, he comes from a wealthy land owning family close to the Duvalier regime, which ruled Haiti with an iron fist for decades. His family is close to the military. Two of Stanley Lucas's cousins massacred -- organized a massacre of 250 peasants, in 1987, who were protesting for land reform after the Duvalier regime crumbled. The massacre -- it was a terrible massacre documented by Amnesty International and described to me by someone who witnessed it firsthand. You would think that someone from this background wouldn't be able to get a position at a group like the International Republican Institute that promotes democracy. However, Stanley Lucas is a valuable asset to them. He is a judo master who allegedly trained the military in counter insurgency tactics after the Duvalier regime collapsed. He was hired in 1992, but I don't know why he was hired. When I asked I.R.I.'s communications director why he was hired, he refused to tell me why, or what his duties consisted of between 1992 and 1998. A lot of people I spoke to suspect that Stanley Lucas is a CIA asset, including former ambassador -- former U.S. Ambassador in the region. So, when Stanley Lucas was hired in 1992, the country was controlled by a military junta called FRAPP, which had ousted Aristide in 1990 -- in the first coup in that country. Frappe was busy massacring thousands of Aristide supporters. One off the recorded sources, who lived with Lucas, working with Lucas, in Haiti, told me he saw documents indicating that while Lucas was working for I.R.I., he was being paid by Michelle Francois, who was a notorious FRAPP leader. Stanley Lucas is an impeccable dresser, a smooth operater and a lady's man with a broad smile and childlike demeanor that will put his enemies at ease. You have behind that facade an evil man who has been given way too much power. In my piece, I compared him to Ahmed Chalabi, because Stanley Lucas is a card-carrying Republican who managed to ingratiate himself with powerful Republicans in Washington. He lobbied for the opposition to Aristide and managed to tie quite a bit of funding to them and introduced a number of Aristide's most virulent opponents to powerful Republicans in Washington. When I.R.I.'s campaign to destabilize Haiti began in earnest in 1998 with a $2 million grant in mostly taxpayer money from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Lucas hosted some of Aristide's most virulent opponents in political training sessions. What he did was he merged all of these disparate groups into one big party called the Democratic Convergence. Now, the Democratic Convergence is not a traditional political party, it's more like the political wing of a coup, because the strategy that it took was to forego the democratic process entirely. Boycott elections and initiate what seemed like an endless sequence of provocative protests. Between 2000 and 2002, the Democratic Convergence rejected over 20 internationally sanctioned power sharing agreements which heightened the tension and provoked more violence. At the time, the U.S. Ambassador, who was named Brian Dean Curran, a Clinton appointee, who was a highly respected career diplomat, uncovered evidence that Stanley Lucas was the one encouraging the Democratic Convergence to reject the compromises and to stay out of the democratic process. When he presented this evidence to the U.S. Agency for International Development, and he asked them to block Stanley Lucas from the program, Bush's Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere, Roger Noriega, apparently stepped in, and within four months--Lucas was barred for four months, but after four months, he was back. So, when he -- when Lucas returned to the program, he retaliated against Ambassador Curran. What he did was he spread salacious rumors in Port-au-Prince in -- and in Washington about Curran's personal life. If I repeated these rumors, it would make Dick Cheney look like Ward Cleaver. It's unheard of for someone like Lucas to actually sabotage a U.S. Ambassador. Lucas threatened two embassy officials and told them they would be fired once the real -- "Real" U.S. policy was implemented. In 2003, Curran was forced to resign in disgust because of Lucas's activities and the fact that Bush administration seemed to give Lucas their tacit approval. A number of embassy officials I spoke to were removed from Haiti by Roger Noriega for opposing what Stanley Lucas was doing in part. So this whole sad episode that led up to the coup was allowed to occur because of Bush's policy of studied neglect in South America.

'Statement by IRI President Lorne Craner Responding to The New York Times Article "Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos"' "Walt Bogdanich's piece (The New York Times 1/29/06) reads like a bad college thesis. Bogdanich strings together disparate allegations to prove a hypothesis, repeatedly leaving out inconvenient contradictory information.

"The article's core charge – that IRI in Haiti 'undercut the official United States policy and the ambassador assigned to carry it out' – is based on accusations by former U.S. Ambassador Brian Dean Curran. The only support for Curran's charge comes from former associates of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and an accused death squad leader. All are dubious sources, and all have ample motivation to criticize IRI. Omitted from the article is any mention of Curran's predecessors or successors as ambassador to Haiti, none of whom has criticized IRI's work. Moreover, none of Curran's superiors – policymakers Otto Reich, Roger Noriega or Colin Powell – express any belief that IRI 'undercut the official US policy,' and none offer any criticism of the Institute's work in Haiti. In fact, for more than a decade, through both the Clinton and Bush Administrations, our work in Haiti has been judged sufficiently meritorious by the U.S. government that we have received funding to work there whenever we requested it.

"If a picture is worth a thousand words, these contradictions are best illustrated in one of the article's accompanying photographs. The photo, sent by IRI to The New York Times, showed three people: Lorne Craner, Stanley Lucas and then-U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Tim Carney (Curran's predecessor). During the event at which the picture was taken, Carney praised IRI and its work. His words, sent to The New York Times, were omitted from the article. Most disturbing, however, is that Carney himself was cropped from the picture before it ran – again, because his presence would have contradicted Bogdanich's hypothesis.

"We, in the United States, have prospered under democracy. And, we wish to share our democratic ideals with our neighbors and with other nations of the world. We realize that each nation is unique, but all nations can benefit from adapting the principles of democracy to their own society. This is why the International Republican Institute is here in Haiti-to work with local Haitian political leadership to help develop a strong, viable, pluralistic democratic society in the Republic of Haiti," then U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Tim Carney, opening of the Political Party Training and Information Center in Petionville, Haiti, August 1998.

"IRI has many more examples of omitted information, which will be forwarded to The New York Times' ombudsman.

"IRI did not undermine U.S. policy in Haiti. Nor, as a U.S. Agency for International Development Inspector General's report showed, did we consort with rebels in President Aristide's overthrow. As Colin Powell has stated, Aristide was 'a man who was democratically elected, but did not democratically govern, or govern well. And he has to bear a large burden, if not the major burden, for what has happened.'

"The most disappointing thing about this article is that it will spur on the kind of events The New York Times has covered in the last few weeks – the shutdown of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Russia and elsewhere. It will be used by authoritarians overseas, from Robert Mugabe to Alexander Lukashenko to Islam Karimov, to justify expelling western human rights and democracy NGOs and to persecute those with whom they have been associated – brave souls who yearn for freedom." Source: International Republican Institute

Letter The New York Times refused to run To the Editor: In echoing a 2004 Mother Jones piece, your 1/29/06 article found support for some of disgruntled ex-Ambassador Dean Curran's false charges only among a few Haitians, most of them former associates of President Aristide. All have obvious motivation to impugn IRI's work and none presented any evidence to back their accusations. You also neglected to mention that Curran's predecessors and successors in Haiti praised IRI's programs; you even cropped Curran's predecessor (appointed by President Clinton) out of a photo with IRI officials. You neglected to mention that Colin Powell contradicted a basic tenet of your story when he told you he didn't accept your view that he differed with his Assistant Secretaries over Haiti policy.

IRI is not the reason Aristide had to flee Haiti. If Haiti's democracy had advanced under Aristide, no one would have been happier than IRI and our Haitian employees. Instead, as then-Secretary Powell said, Aristide was "a man who was democratically elected, but he did not democratically govern, or govern well. And he has to bear a large burden, if not the major burden, for what has happened." Lorne W. Craner, President International Republican Institute

A false picture of Aristide By Lorne W. Craner Published February 13, 2006

"Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos," claimed a recent New York Times headline. The three-page article charged that rogue Bush administration officials connived with the International Republican Institute to undermine democracy in Haiti.

I sent a 189-word response to the Times. They refused to print it without substantive edits, in part, they said, because "the News Department disputes the accuracy of" a sentence in my letter. The Times contends that IRI "undercut the official United States policy and the Ambassador [Dean Curran] assigned to carry it out." IRI allegedly did so in collusion with rogue administration officials who differed with Secretary of State Colin Powell's Haiti policy. "As a result the United States spoke with two sometimes contradictory voices," which, says Mr. Curran, "made efforts to foster political peace 'immeasurably more difficult.' "

The article charges that IRI consorted with rebels who overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Mr. Aristide is depicted as a man who "wanted to raise the minimum wage and force businesses to pay taxes" but "did not know much about the games that politicians play."

The article's problems start with its title. Haiti did not tilt toward chaos in 2004. Sadly, it has been chaotic for most of the last two centuries. Second, the article's underpinning, that a rogue group under Colin Powell opposed his Haiti policy, was contradicted by Mr. Powell himself before the article was published. Asked in an e-mail from the Times if there was a policy difference between him and the officials, Mr. Powell responded: "I don't accept that view." The Times neglected to mention Mr. Powell's response, maintaining the article's false foundation.

Third, former Ambassador Curran's complaints about IRI are echoed by neither his predecessors nor his successors (indeed, the Times cropped Mr. Curran's predecessor, who praised IRI, from a photo of IRI officials). Furthermore, both the Clinton and Bush administrations granted every IRI request for Agency for International Development Haiti funding.

Mr. Curran's charges are backed by three Haitians, all of whom are onetime Aristide allies and have obvious motivations to criticize IRI. More to the point, IRI did not "undercut" Mr. Curran by urging Haiti's opposition to forego negotiations with Mr. Aristide. In fact, IRI's vice president (at the request of one of the rogue officials) phoned opposition leaders to urge them to reach an accommodation with Mr. Aristide. If Mr. Curran did feel "undercut" by rogue officials or IRI, why did he fail to raise the issue directly with Mr. Powell or through the State Department's "dissent channel"? Used more than 200 times since 1971, it enables any foreign service officer to send policy dissents straight to the secretary.

A fourth problem is the charge that IRI consorted with the rebels who overthrew Mr. Aristide. The source, an accused death-squad leader, is hardly the quality one once expected of the Times. As the article notes, the charge was investigated and found false by AID's inspector-general.

A fifth problem is the depiction of Mr. Aristide, whose tendencies are gently implied ("Aristide... had little experience with the give and take of democracy"). The article's author, Walt Bogdanich, said recently "Haiti doesn't have a democracy and hasn't had one in two years" since Mr. Aristide's 2004 departure. Past Times editorials were more honest. The November 2000 Times editorial "Haiti's Disappearing Democracy," said Mr. Aristide's "almost certain return to power in Sunday's elections was achieved by trampling on democratic procedures. The weeks before the voting were marred by bombings and other politically motivated violence." A February 2004 editorial, "Haiti's Descent," said "Aristide was once hailed as Haiti's democratic champion. Now, his second presidency is declining into despotism." For the reasons those editorials detailed, IRI did, as charged, work solely with Haiti's democrats from 2001-2004.

President Reagan did not help create IRI to work with those practicing "despotism." Doing so would also contravene longstanding AID policy. Career AID officials approved IRI's approach to helping level Haiti's political playing field, and knew who IRI was training because they attended every session.

Last but not least, in stringing together disparate rumors while omitting contradictory facts, the Times merely echoed 2004 Mother Jones and articles. The author of the latter says the Times "story was remarkably similar to a story I wrote nearly two years ago. On Jan. 3, 2005 a New York Times staffer named Ursula Andrews e-mailed me, asking for help with research. I was excited that the newspaper of record was finally picking up on the story and complied with their request. When the Times published its story, it contained no citation of my work."

IRI is not the reason for Haiti's chaos, or the reason Mr. Aristide had to flee. No one would have been happier than IRI if democracy had advanced under Mr. Aristide. Instead, as Mr. Powell states, Mr. Aristide was "a man who was democratically elected, but did not govern democratically, or govern well." And he has to bear a large burden, if not the major burden, for what has happened.

President of the International Republican Institute, Lorne W. Craner is a former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor.

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