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Naming and Shaming: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Four days ago U.S. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Eliot L. Engel sent a letter to Ecuador President Lenin Moreno warning him that it would be difficult to move forward with economic, counternarcotics, and USAID assistance if Julian Assange, an apparent “threat to global security,” wasn’t handed over to authorities.  Of course the letter is both shocking and disgusting but didn’t we all see this coming?  I mean, the U.S. has essentially spent the last ten months creating tensions along Ecuador’s northern border and dangling carrots like IMF funds and economic incentives in order to build Moreno’s trust up just enough for him to care if they threatened to pull the rug out from under him.

This is all really just another intelligence operation in a long line of intelligence operations the U.S. government has set in motion since Julian Assange published “Collateral Murder” back in 2010.  If you peek into Ros-Lehtinen’s background you’ll notice that she’s the chair emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence which overseas the entire U.S. Intelligence Community.

She also sits on the CIA subcommittee which oversees the “policies, activities, and budgets of Central Intelligence Agency excluding covert action,” and the NSA and Cybersecurity subcommittee, Mike Pompeo’s old stomping grounds.  She’s rabidly pro-Israel, if we went to war against Iran tomorrow she’d probably throw a party, and her letter is basically a carbon copy of what Senator Menenedez (along with nine other U.S. senators) sent to Vice President Mike Pence before his meeting with Lenin Moreno earlier this year.

Senator Bob Menendez

And like Ros-Lehtinen, Menendez has an interesting background.  From one of my earlier posts,

“He currently serves as the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and its jurisdiction includes diplomatic service, foreign economic, military, technical, and humanitarian assistance, foreign loans, treaties, business interests abroad, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Menendez also sits on a multitude of other committees and subcommittees including the Senate Finance Committee whose jurisdiction includes customs, ports of entry and delivery, and the deposit of public monies.  According to senate.gov, the Finance Committee is defined by subject matter giving it sole or shared jurisdiction over the activities of a number of agencies and offices making it one of the most powerful committees in the government.  For example, the committee “leads international trade negotiations; advises and coordinates trade policy,” and enforces trade agreements in conjunction with the Office of the President.

What this means in terms of Ecuador is that Senator Menendez is a member of at least two committees that are likely involved with the country’s new “open for business” economic policy, border issues and military assistance, and IMF loans earmarked for Ecuador which have recently come under scrutiny….

Don’t forget that the United States entered a military agreement with Ecuador back in May to assist with what is likely a CIA-induced terrorist problem along their northern border and that Ecuador recently announced that the US will open a military bas…er, I mean, a “Security Cooperation Office” in the country sooner rather than later…

Both Ros-Lehtinen and Menendez wield quite a bit of power on Capital Hill and the U.S. Intelligence Community isn’t afraid to use Congress if their operation calls for it.  Don’t believe me?  Two words:  Section 623.  But Ros-Lehtinen and Menendez’s public service isn’t the only tip-off that these letters to government officials are IC-induced propaganda.  It’s also the people and organizations with whom they’ve been involved. Take for instance, Dr. Salomon Melgen.

 

DR. SALOMON MELGEN

President Obama and Dr. Salomon Melgen

Besides the allegations that Senator Menendez and his pal, Salomon Melgen, an eye doctor from Miami, Florida, hired underage prostitutes, Menendez was also investigated for using his political clout to influence U.S. officials in favor of a foreign security contract held by one of Melgen’s companies in the Dominican Republic called ICSSI.

The backstory is that Melgen gained full ownership of ICSSI, a security company that held a lucrative contract inspecting “all containers going in and out” of the Dominican Republic’s ports for ten years.  However, the contract was in dispute (and Melgen is currently serving a seventeen-year sentence for Medicare fraud) so Senator Menendez “exerted substantial pressure on the State Department to intervene with the Dominican government to resolve the contract dispute in Melgen’s favor.”

Shortly after Melgen had purchased full control of ICSSI, Ros-Lehtinen sent a letter to the Dominican Republic’s ambassador to the U.S. as chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs stating, “Recent reports that the illicit drug trade and the presence of drug cartels may shift towards the Dominican Republic are of increasing concern to the Committee.”  However, one of the articles at the time that was pushing this Dominican story, “Drug Cartels Invade Dominican Republic,” was posted on VOXXI.com, a website co-founded by Melgen himself.  It’s hardly surprising that when VOXXI held their 2012 launch party in D.C. both Senator Menendez and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen attended.

More shocking but not really is that according to the Miami Herald, the letter Ros-Lehtinen wrote to the ambassador was sent a mere month after Melgen had contributed $5,000 to her campaign making her one of the few republicans to whom Melgen ever donated.  All of this despite the fact that Melgen had no experience in port security and one of his family members is an admitted drug czar.  But who’s keeping track, right?

And this wasn’t the first time Melgen had worked with government officials or drug traffickers.  Enter Seisint.

Most people either don’t know or forget the fact that Melgen was in business with former cocaine trafficker-turned-government-snitch Hank Asher prior to September 11, 2001.  They started a “super computer” company called Seisint and eventually developed a program called MATRIX that compiled a list of suspects days after the 9/11 terrorist attack.  No joke.  The DEA, FBI, and Secret Service immediately began working with Asher and he was eventually awarded an $8 million grant from the U.S. government after pitching his database to Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and former FBI Director Robert Mueller.    

For my full story on Senator Menendez and Salomon Melgen that includes a more complete set of links go here.

 

THE ISAIAS BROTHERS

One of the homes owned by the Isaias family

Then there’s the Isaias brothers. These are the guys that ran Ecuador’s Filanbanco bank, stole over $100 million in government bailout funds and then fled the country by bribing their way out.  Although the brothers were convicted in Ecuador and Rafael Correa asked the United States to extradite them, the U.S. refused.  The Isaias family currently resides in Coral Gables and Miami, Florida, living large off the generosity of our politicians.

So when it comes to Senator Menendez, the FBI investigated him for using his political office to pressure the State Department and other agencies on behalf of one of the Isaias’ daughters who had been barred previously from entering the country.  However, after badgering Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills and the Isaias family donating almost $100,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, the daughter was permitted to enter the States.

As for Ros-Lehniten, while chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee she “sent a letter to federal agencies on behalf of two Ecuadorian bankers convicted of embezzlement who were seeking U.S. residency.”  That would be the Isaias brothers.  And not only did she advocate on their behalf, they donated over $20,000 to her campaign.  According to the Daily Beast, she denied any quid pro quo and said “there was nothing wrong regarding her work on behalf of the Isaias brothers.”

Carolo Curbelo who once (and may still) lobbied for the brothers stated that he had worked on “a public relations project with the Isaias family” and added, “Look, the Isaias family is a victim of the Ecuadorean government, Joe Garcia understands that, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen understands this, the President probably understands this.”  It’s doubtful that former President Rafael Correa understands nor that the majority of Ecuador’s citizens do.  However, if he was referring to President Obama, well then, yes, the Isaias family donated enough money to his fund to make him understand.

 

THE INTERAMERICAN INSTITUTE FOR DEMOCRACY

September 25, 2018

Two years ago, Telesurtv.net ran a story that Karen Hollihan, a board member of an organization called InterAmerican Institute for Democracy, had been recruited by the CIA “in an effort to restore the U.S. intelligence network in Ecuador.”  Hollihan denied the allegations but after suing Telesurtv, it appears she dropped the lawsuit days later.  More on the InterAmerican Institute for Democracy (IID) that I wrote previously,

“On October 11, 2010, former Ecuadorian Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas reported that the IID held an event with Venezuelan rightists and Ecuadorian opposition a week before the 2010 coup attempt to plot the revolt.  The event was called “Breakfast with Lucio Guitierrez,” …and attendees included disgraced former Director of Army Intelligence and CIA patsy, Mario Pazmino.

So just to be clear about this, the IID held an event prior to the 2010 coup attempt against former Ecuador President Rafael Correa which was attended by Lucio Guitierrez, the number one suspect behind the revolt.  It’s also been long believed that Mario Pazmino had been working for the CIA.  And then after the failed coup attempt this happened,

“…the U.S. Congress, the IID, and other U.S. organizations like Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, and the Center for Security Policy sponsored an event at the U.S. Congressional Visitor’s Center entitled, “Danger in the Andes:  Threats to Democracy, Human Rights, and Inter-American Security.”  Attendees at that event included Javier El-Hage, a representative of [Thor] Halvorssen’s Human Rights Foundation; Otto Reich; former Ecuadorian president, Lucio Guitierrez; and Joel Hirst, Council on Foreign Relations.”

Ros-Lehtinen stated at the event,

“Over the past few years, we have seen a concerted effort by several in the region — like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, and Rafael Correa in Ecuador — to consolidate their power at any cost necessary…the implications of this reality demand that the United States carry out a responsible and effective policy toward the Hemisphere that will advance U.S. interests.”

Did you notice those names in attendance?  Otto Reich, Guitierrez, Thor Halvorssen…good lord.  And just last month Ros-Lehtinen received the Francisco de Miranda award from the InterAmerican Institute for Democracy for “her work in Congress standing up to dictatorships around the world.”  The event was held in Coral Gables, Florida and was attended by the city’s mayor, Raul Valdez-Fauli, who also sits on IID’s board of directors.

Earlier this year, IID sponsored a forum called “Threats to the U.S. in the Western Hemisphere,” that included speakers Ros-Lehtinen, Nikki Haley, and Marco Rubio.

 

AS/COA


According to a 1979 WikiLeaks cable, the Council of the Americas (COA) is “a non-profit business association supported by member corporations to further understanding and acceptance of the role of private enterprise as a positive force for the development of the hemisphere.”  Today’s members include Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Boeing, Exxon, Monsanto, Shell, and Chevron. (More at WikiLeaks)

At a May 8, 2018 AS/COA conference which included speakers Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio, and the President of the Council of the Americas, Bob Menendez stated that “Investing in Latin America is investing in the U.S.” and noted that Trump made a 42% spending cut to Latin America.  Ouch, CIA.  The event was sponsored by Chevron and Merk Sharp & Dohme (MSD), a subsidiary of Merk.  Sitting on the board of Merk are guys like Kenneth C. Frazier, an Exxon Mobil board member and Thomas H. Glocer, a K2 board member that I wrote about in “Under Attack Part Seven: The U.S. Intelligence Network.”  Inge G. Thulin, the director of 3M and Chevron also sits on Merk’s board.

On May 30, 2018, the AS/COA co-hosted a conference in Quito with the Ecuadorian government called “Investing in Ecuador’s Future” at which President Lenin Moreno’s administration reiterated that they are committed to an open door economic policy and that they expect “to receive investments of 7 billion dollars between 2018 and 2021.”  According to Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the AS/COA is “one of the most important dialogue forums on economic and trade issues at the hemispheric level.”  So basically they’re saying that the AS/COA has allowed the economic and commercial relationship between Ecuador and the United States to flourish so that’s a good thing, right?  Well…

In 1982, Seymour Hersh wrote an article about the CIA’s intervention in Chile’s elections and in it he mentioned an organization established in 1963 by David Rockefeller called “The Business Group.”  By 1970, the Business Group and the CIA were reorganized into the Council of the Americas (COA) and Hersh noted that Enno Hobbing, a CIA official and liaison to the Business Group, left the CIA to become head of the COA.  The Council has since transformed itself into the Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS/COA) and publishes “Americas Quarterly,” a “relatively discreet but influential nucleus of anglophone ‘Free Trade’ policy discourse on Latin America.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Satan

So how does the AS/COA feel about Ileana Ros-Lehtinen?  Well, naturally she’s a favorite and when she announced that she would be retiring, COA Director Juan Gonzalez wrote, “I could not help but receive with sadness her recent decision to retire.”  He went on,

“…Ros-Lehtinen is also someone Democrats respect and can work with…As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton consulted regularly with Ros-Lehtinen, who was a strong advocate for reconstruction efforts in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, and traveled there in January 2011 with former President Bill Clinton and Haiti Special Cheryl Mills.  She was also a staunch supporter of democracy assistance to Venezuela.”

Mmhmm.  Haiti.  Venezuela.

Gonzalez also mentioned Eliot Engel, the co-signer of the letter Ros-Lehtinen sent to President Moreno and he noted that Engel “partnered with Ros-Lehtinen to support the increasing funding for Central America and the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative [CBSI],” which is part of a U.S. security strategy focused on reducing drugs and arms trafficking, improving law enforcement institutions through training, and social justice through crime prevention, programs and activities.  The program is a collaboration between the U.S., CBSI, CARICOM, and the Dominic Republic and I have to wonder if they ever pushed Salomon Melgen’s security company ICSSI?

But getting back to AS/COA and its CIA ties.  Take Otto Reich, former head of the COA and U.S. ambassador to Venezuela.  According to venezuelanalysis.com, Reich used “military psyops techniques to mold congressional and public opinion in favor of Reagan’s illegal Contra War to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua” and at one point the U.S. Comptroller-General apparently found that Reich’s office and activities were considered “prohibited covert propaganda activities…”  If you’re interested in more, search WikiLeaks. They have over sixty results for Mr. Reich.

Otto Reich

By 2011, Riech was claiming that “Dictatorships are being established in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua by an alliance of self-avowed ’21st-century socialist’ leaders who utilize free elections to reach power and then set about destroying the very institutions of democracy that put them there.”  He also attacked the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and then moderated a congressional briefing featuring Ros-Lehtinen and Eliot Engel called, “Legitimacy Lost:  How 21st Century Socialism Subverts Democracy in Latin America.”  The briefing was sponsored by Americas Forum as well as Karen Hollihan’s InterAmerican Institute for Democracy, the Heritage Foundation and Hudson Institute (again, again, and again).

Human rights activist and Americas Forum collaborator Ezequiel Vazquez-Ger is a former associate at Otto Reich Associates, LLC and a close friend of Fernando Villavicencio, the man behind much of the anti-Assange garbage that the Guardian has been publishing since early this year.  Villavicencio was also a former assistant to Karen Hollihan among other notable individuals because seriously, this gang isn’t that big.  You can read more about Villacencio’s dirty deeds here.

In 2013, Max Blumenthal wrote,

“Of all of the enemies [former Ecuador President] Correa has earned, some of his fiercest reside…in the conservative think tanks of Washington…Ezequiel Vazquez Ger, an Argentine-born economist, is among the most aggressive of Correa’s antagonists.”

And go figure, Vazquez-Ger is on the D.C. steering committee of AS/COA’s Young Professionals and is the founder of Innovatics Group, LLC, an advisory firm based in D.C. with offices in Miami, Buenos Aires, and Quito.  Convenient.  He’s also the founder of the Center for Investigative Journalism in the Americas, a non-profit organization that I’m sure has absolutely nothing to do with the CIA.

 

THE KICKER

The kicker in all of this besides Ros-Lehtinen’s ties to Melgen, the Isaias brothers, political figures involved in the 2010 coup attempt against Rafael Correa, CIA-front organizations and her letter to President Moreno about Julian Assange is her response to WikiLeaks back in 2010,

“This latest release of classified and other sensitive U.S. documents by Wikileaks is extremely irresponsible. Those who leak and publish such information are doing great harm to our nation, and are potentially putting American lives in danger”

“This newest batch of documents appears to contain troves of classified reports related to our nation’s conduct of diplomacy and foreign policy, including reports of critical discussions with our allies. This is the everyday work-product of our officials all over the globe. This critical and highly sensitive information must be managed carefully.”

“It is deeply disturbing that a few individuals seem to have deemed themselves worthy of deciding that scores of classified and sensitive material should be paraded about for our enemies to review and use against us. These leaks come at the expense of U.S. security and, potentially, American lives.”

The only thing that Ileana is upset about is Americans finding out exactly what kind of foreign policy and diplomacy U.S. politicians and the intelligence agencies are conducting around the world on taxpayers’ dime.

The bottom line here is what I’ve pointed out time and time again, the CIA uses the same players, organizations, NGOs, and media outlets time and time again and here we have a whole set of U.S. players in Latin America:  Otto Reich, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Robert Menendez, Eliot Engel, (the unmentioned Marco Rubio), and Ezequiel Vazquez-Ger.  Honestly, this is all pretty much regurgitated stuff with one new player thrown in.

Don’t forget about her ties to the 2010 coup attempt and Vazquez-Ger’s close ties to Villavicencio who obviously has a relationship with the Russiagate crowd:  Luke Harding (The Guardian), Thor Halvorssen (he’s also part of the “Let’s get the Venezuelan coup started” crowd), Bill Browder, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

So what about this letter to President Moreno from Ros-Lehtinen and Engel?  For one, yes, remind your representatives that we do have a Constitution and that speech and the press are protected.  After that, it’s time we started calling out politicians for collaborating with the intelligence community because seriously, who exactly are they working for these days?  When our politicians have decided that going after one journalist who has been held prisoner for over six years in London without charge, when unelected officials from the CIA are the ones running Congress and the government,  it’s time we call them out and demand that our voices be heard.  It’s time.

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