Monday, September 8, 2014

Latin American, Caribbean officials urged to support LGBT rights

Latin American, Caribbean officials urged to support LGBT rights

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Tracy Robinson, Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, Peru, gay news, Washington Blade
Tracy Robinson, chair of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, second from right, sits on a panel at a meeting of LGBT rights advocates from Latin America and the Caribbean in Lima, Peru, on Sept. 6, 2014. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
LIMA, Peru — The chair of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Saturday said politicians throughout the Western Hemisphere have an obligation to publicly oppose anti-LGBT discrimination and violence.
“Politicians can’t be neutral to tolerance and hatred,” Tracy Robinson told the Washington Blade after she spoke at a meeting of Latin American and Caribbean LGBT rights advocates in the Peruvian capital. “They actually have to create an enabling and a supportive environment in which persons can undertake rights work on behalf of LGBTI persons.”
Created by the Washington-based Organization of American States in 1959, the commission seeks to promote human rights throughout the Western Hemisphere. It works closely with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that the OAS established in 1959.
The commission’s Unit on the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Persons formed in 2011.
Robinson, a Jamaican lawyer, has been a member of the OAS General Assembly since 2012. Her colleagues elected her chair of the commission in March.

Commission considering 50 LGBT petitions

Robinson told the Blade there are roughly 50 petitions before the commission from OAS member states in the Western Hemisphere that are at various stages of consideration. A number of LGBT rights advocates from the Bahamas, Honduras, Ecuador and other countries approached her after she spoke at the meeting to discuss cases they hope the commission will consider.
“They will help to develop standards, they will help to provide some clarity on what the norms are, what the expectations of states are and what the responsibility states have to remedy and repair violations,” Robinson told the Blade.
Robinson described the 2012 ruling from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in favor of lesbian Chilean Judge Karen Atala who lost custody of her three daughters to her ex-husband seven years earlier because of her sexual orientation “as a landmark case I think for the Americas” and for the world.
The Mexican Supreme Court cited the Atala case in its 2013 decision that said a law banning same-sex marriage in the state of Oaxaca is unconstitutional.
A gay Mexican couple seeking the right to legally marry in their country in May filed a formal complaint with the commission. Three gay Chilean couples who are seeking to exchange vows in the South American country last November filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
“The court took a bold step in establishing an even more expansive human rights claims on behalf of LGBTI persons than was immediately before the court in [the Atala] case,” Robinson told the Blade. “More of those cases will help to clarify the situation, clarify the standards and help both activists and states to understand what is now needed to respond to the violations which we do see everyday.”

Anti-LGBT violence persists in spite of legal advances

Same-sex couples are able to legally marry in 19 states and D.C., Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico City, French Guiana, the French islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy and the Caribbean Netherlands that includes the islands of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius.
Lawmakers in the Mexican state of Coahuila last week overwhelmingly approved a same-sex marriage bill.
A handful of same-sex couples in Colombia have exchanged vows since July 2013, but the country’s anti-gay inspector general has challenged these unions in court.
The Ecuadorian government is currently in the process of implementing a law that will allow same-sex couples to legally register their civil unions. Peruvian and Chilean lawmakers are also considering the issue.
Argentina President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in 2012 signed what many advocates describe as the world’s most progressive transgender rights law that allows trans Argentinians to legally change their gender on official documents without surgery and an affidavit from a doctor or another medical provider. Cuba in 2008 began offering free sex-reassignment surgeries under the country’s national health care system, but LGBT rights advocates who oppose the Cuban government have previously pointed out to the Blade that less than 30 trans people have undergone the procedure on the island.
Peruvian Congressman Carlos Bruce, sponsor of a bill that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions in the South American country, in May came out as gay. Angélica Lozano, a former councilwoman in the Colombian capital of Bogotá, earlier this year became the first openly LGBT person elected to the Colombian Congress.
Anti-LGBT persecution and violence remain pervasive throughout the Western Hemisphere in spite these advances.
Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.
United Belize Advocacy Movement, a Belizean HIV/AIDS group, in 2010 challenged the Central American country’s law that criminalizes homosexuality. Javed Jaghai, a Jamaican gay rights advocate, last month withdrew his lawsuit against the island’s anti-sodomy law because of concerns over his personal safety and that of his family.
A report from Global Rights, a Washington-based human rights organization, that Robinson and other commissioners discussed during a hearing last November said trans Brazilians accounted for slightly more than half of the 300 reported LGBT murder victims in the South American country in 2012. The group noted figures from the Brazilian Secretariat of Human Rights that estimate 52 percent of them were of color.
Nelson Arambú, an advocate from Honduras, told the Blade during an interview in New York earlier this summer that 176 LGBT Hondurans have been reported killed between a 2009 coup that toppled the Central American country’s president and May. These include Walter Tróchez, a prominent LGBT rights activist, and Erick Martínez, a gay journalist and activist.
Colombian LGBT rights advocates continue to express their outrage over the suicide of a gay teenager, Sergio Urrego, last month. Reports indicate that administrators of the high school the 16-year-old attended allegedly subjected him to anti-gay discrimination after a teacher saw a picture of Urrego kissing his boyfriend on his cell phone.
Robinson acknowledged to the Blade the state of LGBT rights in countries throughout the Americas and in the Caribbean is “really varied.” She said insecurity and anti-LGBT violence are “dominant” issues throughout the hemisphere.
“The initial work of the commission has focused on violence issues and my hope is that we’ll begin to see some results,” Robinson told the Blade. “Now the commission itself doesn’t create the change, but the hope is that we can support the work that defenders are doing, but also strengthening state accountability in relation to violence.”
Robinson conceded the commission has “very limited resources on the table” to conduct its work in support of LGBT rights. She nevertheless said she remains optimistic these issues will gain further traction in the region in the coming years.
“I think we’ll have more clarity on states’ responsibilities where there’s violence and particularly states’ responsibility where the violence is perpetrated both by state actors and by private individuals,” Robinson told the Blade. “My hope is that in the long run we will see a reduction in the levels of violence, we will see a reduction in the impunity which is now widespread for violence against LGBTI persons.”

Rogue police sold drugs, burglarized suspects' homes: Justice Dept.

Puerto Rico officer dies from gunshot...

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Puerto Rico officer dies from gunshot wounds

Police News - ‎Aug 26, 2014‎
LAS PIEDRAS, Puerto Rico — A Puerto Rico officer has died from gunshot wounds sustained during a narcotics investigation August 19. ODMP reports Agent Geniel Amaro-Fantauzzi, 35, was conducting the investigation with multiple other agents in a ...

Shot Puerto Rico Officer Succumbs to Wounds

<a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> - ‎Aug 26, 2014‎
A Puerto Rico police officer was taken off life support Monday after being severely wounded during a drug investigation on Aug. 19. Agent Geniel Amaro-Fantauzzi was shot several times during the investigation at the April Gardens 1 public housing complex, ...

16 former US cops admit crime ring roles

News24 - ‎Aug 26, 2014‎
San Juan - Sixteen former police officers in Puerto Rico have admitted to operating what amounted to a criminal enterprise in the US island territory, the US justice department said on Monday. The ex-officers have pleaded guilty to charges that include ...

16 Puerto Rico Police Officers Guilty of Running Criminal Gang

Latin American Herald Tribune - ‎Aug 25, 2014‎
SAN JUAN -- Sixteen former Puerto Rico police officers have pleaded guilty for their roles in a criminal organization run out of the police department. The officers used their affiliation with law enforcement to commit robbery and extortion, to manipulate court ...

Guilty pleas in Puerto Rico police corruption case

Business Standard - ‎Aug 25, 2014‎
Sixteen former police officers in Puerto Rico have admitted to operating what amounts to a criminal enterprise in the US island territory. The US Justice Department says the ex-officers have pleaded guilty to charges that include robbery and extortion.

Rogue police sold drugs, burglarized suspects' homes: Justice Dept.

Washington Times - ‎Aug 25, 2014‎
FILE - This May 14, 2013 file photo shows the Justice Department in Washington. The federal panel that sets sentencing policy eased penalties this year for potentially tens of thousands of drug prisoners. Now, defense lawyers and prisoner advocates are ...
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Rogue police sold drugs, burglarized suspects' homes: Justice Dept.

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Amid protests in Ferguson, Missouri, that police are overstepping their authority, the Justice Department announced Monday that a group of officers in Puerto Rico stepped over the legal line and actually became criminals themselves.
The 16 officers broke into the homes of suspected criminals in order “to steal money, property and drugs for their own personal enrichment,” a department press release said, adding that the officers often sold drugs themselves.
All officers pleaded guilty to charges ranging from robbery to extortion, but a sentencing date has not been announced.
“These 16 police officers were charged with fighting crime, protecting lives and property, and improving the quality of life in Puerto Rico,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. “Instead, they used their badges and guns to do the opposite, committing crimes, endangering lives, and stealing property under the veil of police authority.”
The officers were also easily bribed, Justice officials said.
“They planted evidence to make false arrests, and then extorted money from their victims in exchange for their release from custody,” the release said. “Additionally, in exchange for bribe payments, the officers gave false testimony, manipulated court records and failed to appear in court when required so that criminal cases would be wrongfully dismissed.”

Mexican Drug Cartels, How It Got To This

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DD. This is a repost of an original article that was written by Arm Chair Intellect (ACI) for BB in June of 2012.  In my opinion it is one of the classics on BB and even though many of you have read it, we have many new readers over the past 2 years who probably have not seen it.  Well worth the read.
By ACI for Borderland Beat, June 14, 2012
 How it happen….
The war began before Calderon, but no one could have known what lay in store.  It was so unlikely; most thought that some arrangements would be made, life would go on as it always had.  But as time passed it became clear this was not to be and many simply wished that this Pandora's box would simply close.  Little did anyone know how pervasive and ingrained the darkness had become.
Only a few saw the demons lurking in the shadows, even then no one predicted what lay ahead.  The true roots of the evil had been lurking within the almost 80 year reign of the PRI and its predisposition to corruption.  The system was well worn, the networks had been laid, there was a price for everything, and this was all before the age of the Narco.
When the PRI lost to the PAN in 2000, it shook the foundation of the system to its core.  The old way of doing things had radically changed, the old networks fragmented, alliances broken, and what we have now come to know as the fragmentation of Mexico's criminal underworld had begun.  The chaos had arisen.  This was the cost of years and years of nepotism and corruption and the consequences were finally coming to pass.

The Godfather and His Empire
There was a time when one man stood above all others.  He was part of the old guard, well entrenched with the workings of the world in which he lived.  His name was Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo or El Padrino (The Godfather); he oversaw over an entire empire; his industry, illegal smuggling. 
He was soon to create what would soon be know as the Mexican Cartel.  For years his network remained unchallenged, immune to justice.  At the time Felix Gallardo was untouchable, too big to fail as they would say.  His organization laid the foundation for the TCO’s to come.
He masterfully greased the hands of politicos and high ranking military officials.  He reached out and began relationships with the Colombians.  The relationship he forged with the Colombians was to be worth more than even he could imagine.  Seemed like there was nothing anyone could do about El Padrino or his organization. That was until the untimely death of DEA agent Enrique Camarena.
The Attention One Receives
Enrique Camarena, an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency began working in Guadalajara in 1981.  His goal was to find out how powerful the Guadalajara Cartel had become.  At the time he was only one of a handful of agents working within Mexico.  He spent years infiltrating the Guadalajara Cartel for the DEA and had built close ties to El Padrino.  Everything was going according to plan until the betrayal.  
In 1984 Camarena led a raid on a 10,000 acre plantation called the Buffalo Ranch.  Miguel; through his network of police and federal informers quickly became aware of Enrique’s role in the raid.  The ranch was reportedly worth 8 billion dollars.  To Miguel and his ego this was  line that should have never been crossed.  

Miguel reacted and had Enrique kidnapped, tortured then killed, to serve as a warning to any who might want to disrupt cartel business.  The blow back was historic; the United States began the largest murder investigation in its history.  It did not take long before Miguel was identified as a target of interest.  The United States put an enormous amount of pressure on the Mexican Government to apprehend Miguel.  It would take the authorities 5 more years before they would be able to secure his arrest in 1989.
All Empires Eventually Fall
But as with all kings, his reign was to come to an end, all kings eventually fall.  Miguel could see the wheels in motion, he could hear the whispers from those that tended to his mansion, his telephones were a lit with the chatter of governors he had so faithfully served.  He listened as his friends in the government turned on him, the end was near.
He thought he might be able to save what he had built; that he could prevent his subjects from feeding on each other.  He was wrong.  Little did he know how fragile his empire had become, or the monsters he would release upon the Mexican people.  Prior to his arrest he held a meeting in the upscale tourist town of Acapulco.
Here he met with his top lieutenants; Arellano Felix, Carrillo Feuntes, Miguel Quintero, Juan Abergo, Chapo Guzman and Mayo Zambada.  During this meeting he divided up his empire.  Tijuana went the Arellano Felix brothers, Sonora would go to Miguel Quintero, Guzman and Zambada would get Sinaloa and Juarez would go to Carrillo Feuntes.
The Gulf would remain in the hands of Juan Abergo.  His plan worked for a short while, but greed has its own temptations, and the empire he sacrificed his soul for, was doomed to fail.
Let the Good Times Roll
One major shift occurred in the early 1980’s with the Cocaine Wars in Florida.  As law enforcement started to seal off the Caribbean route, as it was called, the money dried up and the routes shifted west; towards Mexico and its porous border with the US.  Prior to this Mexican drug traffickers mainly focused on marijuana and opiate cultivation.  El Padrino had already established connection with the Colombian Cartels, so the transition came naturally.
Cocaine brought with it vast amounts of cash, but with that cash also came blood.  The influx of cash changed the face of the game.  It also changed its nature, violence increased as did the tactics used to intimidate enemies.   It turned one king into to many; soon it would be the Mexicans dictating to the Colombians how the game was played.
Nothing was too expensive, anything could be purchased, and everyone could be bought.  This is the moment that the Mexican Cartels became the main suppliers of drugs to the United States.

The Peace is Broken
It wasn’t long before Guzman started warring with the Arellano Felix brothers.  In the early nineties the Arellano Felix brothers; Ramon in particular, branded extreme violence as par for the course.  Savage daylight hits, terrible stories of torture and vats filled with acid became their legacy.
The war between Guzman and Ramon took place during the early 1990’s. The war hit its climax with the killing of Archbishop at the Tijuana airport.  But while the world was focused was on the AFO, the rest of Mexico’s criminal underworld were quietly making moves in the shadows, and they were just beginning. 
The Gulf Cartel which had been around since the 1950’s smuggling booze and other forms of contraband across the border began consolidating power.  The Juarez Cartel run by Carrillo Feuntes, which at the time was considered the most sophisticated and wealthy of the cartels was enjoying the height of its power.  It operating fleet of 747s that were so well known, law enforcement gave Carrillo Feuntes the nickname, the lord of the skies.
During this period Carrillo Feuntes work closely with a man who would become known as the king maker amongst the underworld.  His name was Juan José Esparragoza Moreno or El Azul.
Another Fragmentation

In the 1990’s the Lord of the Skies died from complications during a surgery. Many members defected and joined up with Guzman and his gang.  Guzman was arrested but his organization was kept afloat by Beltran Levya brothers, Mayo and El Azul.
The game was changing; some of the original leaders grew closer, while others grew further apart.  Family ties were fostered, while others were severed, the wheels of destiny were slowing starting to turn.  Marriage became a popular way of gaining grace, or hedging bets.
So with the CDJ losing many of its members to CDS and the AFO losing ground due to key arrests and deaths, the stage was set for what was to come.  The Gulf Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel were primed and ready to go toe to toe.
The New Golden Goose
Before the Sinaloa and the Gulf Cartels beef began another unforeseen factor emerged. The game changer was the introduction of large scale methamphetamine labs.  Prior to the late nineties almost all methamphetamine production was made by small groups in small labs all across the heartland of America.
When US law enforcement began cracking down on these mom and pop operations, the manufacture of the drug moved south, and in a massive way.  Instead of small labs producing small amounts of the drug, the Narcos in Mexico began large scale laboratories that would shock the world; both in their scale and complexity.  This gave the Narcos a new and highly lucrative cash supply. 
It would create several new networks that dedicated themselves to the manufacture of methamphetamine.  La Familia, Milenio or Los Valencia and Ignacio Coronel Villarreal began to wield great power.  Since then Mexico has become the world’s largest producer of Methamphetamine.  It allowed cartels to have a source of income that did not rely on the unpredictable Colombians or on the treacherous weather of the Sierras.
It is now thought that methamphetamine has superseded the demand for cocaine in the United States and meth use in Mexico has since exploded.  It has also added to the increase in random acts of violence and brutality that has been witnessed so far in this conflict.
 The Formation of Paramilitary Security 
The Zetas were another major shift in the way that Mexico Cartels functioned.  Salvador Gómez took control of the Gulf Cartel from Juan Abergo after his arrest in 1996.  Salvador Gomez's second in command and close friend and confidant was Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, Osiel killed Salvador Gómez shortly after his accent to power.  Thus earning the nickname "Friend Killer" as a result. 

As Osiel Cárdenas Guillén came into power he was paranoid; he had always felt bribes only took you so far.  His solution to this problem was to build a paramilitary outfit that would act act an armed wing of his organization.  The faction took the name Los Zetas.  At the time this was a new development for the cartels in Mexico.  Neither Osiel, nor Mexico could have foresaw the terror which was to be unleashed. 

With the formation of the Zetas came a new way of confronting both the government and the Gulfs rivals.  They used fear and intimidation openly, displaying their contempt for a system they saw as ridged.  No longer were Narcos to remain out of sight, hiding their acts of terror.  They advertised the horror, using public displays of death marked with the trademark Z, a letter which struck fear in all those who encountered it.  But what truly set Los Zetas apart was the knowledge which they brought with them.  These were the same soldiers trained to apprehend the Narcos themselves.   

The tactics used by the Cartels suddenly became more militaristic, more sophisticated and more brazen.  It wasn’t long before the other cartels formed their own military wings, carrying out acts of savagery that would equal the Zetas.  The escalations have continued unabated to this date, and there seems to be no limit to the brutality and fear they are willing to unleash upon the innocent population.
 The Slaves Become Masters 
The rapid increase in power of the Zetas after Osiel was extradited to the US also changed the way most cartels operated, the old rules were challenged by those who had no respect for the ways of the past.  
Those from the older generations were caught off guard by how fast the Zetas began to obtain territories.  They broke from their predecessor and set out on their own.  Instead of the focus being on bribes and long standing relationships with government officials, the Zetas preferred fear and intimidation to achieve their goals.  They broke with convention by preying on civilians within their territory. 

They expanded the criminal rackets to include traditional crimes such as extortion and kidnapping but also incorporated more exotic rackets such as oil theft and human smuggling.  With this warlord like mentality they became the fastest growing Cartel in Mexico.  This lead to a more militarized approach towards the Cartels from the Government.  Attacks became more outrageous as time continued. 

The public was to bear witness to these atrocities; what were once rumors now became national news.  La Famililia who evolved from the Zetas took public displays of brutality even further when they threw several severed heads on the floor of a club in Michoacán. 

This signaled the start of what we now see; the war against the Narcos, a war which would become more savage than darkest nightmare that even Hollywood slasher films would envy. 
If It Is War You Want War, Then War You Shall Have
The acts of violence were so outrageous and the impunity so thick, the Government was forced to act.  Calderon who himself a native of Michoacán decided to take the war to the Cartels.  Keep in mind, the cartels had now spent several years militarizing their forces. 
Calderon took a bat to the wasps nest and beat it as if it were a piñata.  To say the wasps reacted badly would be an understatement.  No one could have seen what was to become; the bloodiest conflict to hit Mexico since it revolution nearly 100 years ago.

The Vacuum
The Government took a top down approach recommended by the Americans.  It was known as the Kingpin Strategy, this focused most of the effort on taking out the top bosses.   The unintended consequence of this however was the fragmentation of some of the most powerful cartels in Mexico.  Some of the cartels splintered never to recover, allowing them to be swallowed up by the remaining cartels.  Others went on to rebrand themselves, others simply faded away. 

This approach led to a dramatic increase in violence; with up and comers eagerly showing their machismo though savagery.  A kind of one up man ship emerged, with newer cartels having to show their worth through debauchery.  This fracturing and assimilation has rapidly increased with the landscape which is always shifting and always changing.  This has cumulated with most of the smaller groups falling in line either with the Zetas or the Sinaloa Cartels.
The Breakup of the PRI
With PAN winning the election in 2000, the old way of doing business disappeared, payments to those who allowed for business to continue was ruptured.  To understand this one must look at the almost 100 years or PRI rule.  The PRI functioned through bribes, always had, it was the way business was done. 
This helped create one of the largest income gaps in the world.  The rich in Mexico are very rich, the poor, very poor.  Nothing was done without bribes but at least you got what you paid for.  Corruption was vertical, money went up and permits and the like went down.  What no one thought of was what would happen if the PRI lost. 

When this happened the corruption became horizontal in nature.   No one knew who to pay, or what type of protection they would receive.  This added considerably to the volatility of the situation in Mexico.  Suddenly corruption also became fragmented.  For the underworld, this was the equivalent of a credit crunch in a recession.  It created such a level of uncertainty that reprisals and false agreements became part of the game. 

Loyalty became a nuanced term, only thought of when thinking about the way things used to work.  How the upcoming elections will shift this dynamic remains to be seen.
Sinaloa Vs. Zetas    
With the smaller cartels seeming to have either assimilated or forged alliances with either the Sinaloa or Zeta Cartels, violence is sure to continue. 

While grisly displays seem to be on the rise, overall violence in Mexico seems to be stabilizing.  This statistic is deceiving however; the security of everyday people in Mexico has deteriorated substantially in the past 6 years of war.  With low impact crime on the rise and an influx of criminals trying to take advantage of the chaos, the typical Mexican is less secure now than they have ever been. 

While two cartels are much easier to control than many, the chance of these pacts to sustain themselves is low.  Fragmentation will surely follow; the cartel able to maintain its alliances the longest will come out on top. 

This is also true for the corrupted officials who must navigate the the treacherous option of silver of lead. One thing that is sure, is that no matter what prediction lay ahead for Mexico , we should be expect the unexpected.
What Lies In Store 
The real victims of this war have been the youth.  Mexico has lost a generation of would be doctors, teachers, judges, innovators and innocents.  How does one come to grips with losing so much ?
This war has not been fought by old men but rather by those who are lost.  Those who see no hope in an honest future, those who dream of romantic stories of gold and fame, believing that the horror will not reach them.
Children who see nothing but loss and injustice, those who believe the only way to gain anything from life is to take it, by force if necessary.  The youth who would prefer to die young as false kings rather than toil in abject poverty.  This generation, which has thrived on the material, rather than the righteous, has been misguided. 

The faces of the thousands of the unnamed and unseen, the invisible; need to become seen, become visible.  Time has a way of healing wrongs, but to blind oneself to what has been lost and what continues to be lost; is in and of itself an injustice and makes it impossible to move forward.  Hope is what is missing for many, but changes could be made, change can occur.
Incentives need to shift; the poor need opportunities to make something good out of themselves.  Poor men deserve dignity, when they are not afforded this, many choose the Narco way of life.  It is easy to preach virtue from gilded perspectives.  Hope needs to be available to all not just the elites.  Mexico for all its beauty must look at what has become so ugly, not just in terms of this drug war but at society as well.
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American Spies: Espionage against the United States from the Cold War to the ... - Michael J. Sulick

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How Cuban Intelligence Seeks to Influence U.S. Policy

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From this week's FBI Advisory, "
Cuban Intelligence Targeting of Academia

Targets Within Academia:
 The academic world offers a rich array of targets attractive to foreign intelligence services. US government (USG) institutions draw on academia for personnel, both for entry level staffing and for consultation from established experts. A segment of the population, both students and faculty, is bound for work within the USG. Another segment is likely to have contact with USG information and policies through many other venues, including work with research institutes and numerous forms of contract work. First, many of these individuals may have access to useful information that can be passed to the CuIS ("Cuban Intelligence Services"). Second, some of these individuals are in a position of influence. They can assist in directly influencing the US policymaking process or in shaping public opinion on Cuba.

Influence Opportunities:
 Another priority of the CuIS is influence operations in support of Cuban policies. Many individuals who are targeted in academia are well positioned to assist the CuIS in helping portray the image of Cuba that the Government of Cuba desires. The free flow of information in academia actually assists such Cuban efforts. In fact, those CuIS contacts in academia lacking access to USG information may hold commensurate value to the Government of Cuba by assisting in this public relations campaign. 

The many individuals, including academics, businesspeople, religious leaders, political leaders, journalists, and students, who are exposed to Cuban officials or are invited to Cuba to participate in events, conferences, and tourism can be presented a crafted image of Cuba that may ultimately be disseminated to the United States by the visitors. Many of these visitors may even be passing on this positive image of Cuba unwittingly based on their one visit. At the same time, recruited Cuban agents will also actively propagate disinformation developed by the Government of Cuba and the CuIS. For instance, the CuIS have also been known to use agents, possibly academics or journalists, to write books or articles that present the GOC in a favorable light.

FBI: Cuban Intelligence Aggressively Recruiting Leftist American Academics as Spies, Influence Agents

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An automobile drives by the Capitol in Havana, Cuba
An automobile drives by the Capitol in Havana, Cuba / AP
BY: Bill Gertz 
Cuba’s communist-led intelligence services are aggressively recruiting leftist American academics and university professors as spies and influence agents, according to an internal FBI report published this week.
Cuban intelligence services “have perfected the work of placing agents, that includes aggressively targeting U.S. universities under the assumption that a percentage of students will eventually move on to positions within the U.S. government that can provide access to information of use to the [Cuban intelligence service],” the five-page unclassified FBI report says. It notes that the Cubans “devote a significant amount of resources to targeting and exploiting U.S. academia.”
“Academia has been and remains a key target of foreign intelligence services, including the [Cuban intelligence service],” the report concludes.
One recruitment method used by the Cubans is to appeal to American leftists’ ideology. “For instance, someone who is allied with communist or leftist ideology may assist the [Cuban intelligence service] because of his/her personal beliefs,” the FBI report, dated Sept. 2, said.
Others are offered lucrative business deals in Cuba in a future post-U.S. embargo environment, and are treated to extravagant, all-expense paid visits to the island.
Coercive tactics used by the Cubans include exploiting personal weaknesses and sexual entrapment, usually during visits to Cuba.
The Cubans “will actively exploit visitors to the island” and U.S. academics are targeted by a special department of the spy agency.
“This department is supported by all of the counterintelligence resources the government of Cuba can marshal on the island,” the report said. “Intelligence officers will come into contact with the academic travelers. They will stay in the same accommodations and participate in the activities arranged for the travelers. This clearly provides an opportunity to identify targets.”
In addition to collecting information and secrets, Cuban spies employ “influence operations,” the FBI said.
“The objective of these activities can range from portraying a specific image, usually positive, to attempting to sway policymakers into particular courses of action,” the report said.
Additionally, Cuban intelligence seeks to plant disinformation or propaganda through its influence agents, and can task recruits to actively disseminate the data. Once recruited, many of the agents are directed to entering fields that will provide greater information access in the future, mainly within the U.S. government and intelligence community.
The Cubans do not limit recruitments to “clandestine agents,” the report said. Other people who do not have access to secrets are co-opted as spies because of their political position or political views that can be exploited for supporting Cuban goals, either as open supporters or unwitting dupes.
“Some of these individuals may not be told openly that they are working for the [Cuban intelligence service], even though it may not be too hard for them to figure out,” the report said. “The relationship may openly appear to be a benign, mutually beneficial friendship.”
Chris Simmons, a retired spycatcher for the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Cuban intelligence has long targeted U.S. academics. For example, Havana assigned six intelligence officers to assist Council on Foreign Relations Latin Affairs specialist Julia E. Sweig in writing a 2002 book on the Cuban revolution, he said.
“College campuses are seen as fertile grounds for the recruitment of the ‘next generation’ of spies,” Simmons said. “Cuba heavily targets the schools that train the best candidates for U.S. government jobs, like Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, and George Washington University.”
One goal of the Cubans is to recruit students prior to federal employment, a method that allows Havana to direct a recruited agent into targeted key spy targets, like Congress or the FBI, Simmons said.
“A preferred target are ‘study abroad’ programs in Cuba, as participating students are assessed as inherently sympathetic to the Cuban revolution,” Simmons said.
Cuban intelligence has recruited numerous spies in the past that became long-term penetration agents inside the U.S. government. According to the CI Centre, a think tank, there have been 25 Cuban spies uncovered in the United States since the 1960s, including former CIA officer Philip Agee to who defected and worked closely with both Cuban intelligence and the Soviet KGB starting in 1973.
One of the most notorious Cuban spy cases involved Ana Montes, a senior analyst who worked in the highest levels of the U.S. intelligence and policymaking communities.
Montes, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, pleaded guilty in 2002 to spying for Cuba for 17 years. She is serving a 25-year prison term.
Montes was recruited by Cuban intelligence in 1984 while a student at the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where she was a graduate student and had voiced her hatred of the then-Reagan administration policy of backing anti-communist rebels fighting the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
She was recruited at SAIS by another Cuban spy, Marta Rita Velazquez, who worked for U.S. Agency for International Development and fled the country after Montes was arrested in 2001.
Two other notable Cuban spies were Walter Kendall Myers, a State Department Foreign Service contractor who worked for Cuban intelligence from 1979 to 2007, and his wife Gwen Myers. They were recruited after visiting Cuba. Walter Myers was a leftist who criticized “American imperialism” in a diary entry after visiting Cuba. He held a top-secret security clearance and in 2010 was sentenced to life in prison after a conviction for spying.
Cuba’s spy agencies “actively target academia to recruit agents and to support Cuban influence operations.”
“Unfortunately, part of what makes academic environments ideal for enhancing and sharing knowledge also can assist the efforts of foreign intelligence services to accomplish their objectives,” the report concludes. “This situation is unlikely to change, but awareness of the methods used to target academia can greatly assist in neutralizing the efforts of these foreign intelligence services.”
The FBI report was based largely on testimony from José Cohen, a former officer of the Cuban Intelligence Directorate, known by its Spanish acronym as DGI, who defected in 1994.
The targeting of American spies takes place at schools, colleges, universities, and research institutes. “Cuban intelligence services are known to actively target the U.S. academic world for the purposes of recruiting agents, in order to both obtain useful information and conduct influence activities,” the FBI said.
The academic world, because of its openness and need for networking, “offers a rich array of targets attractive to foreign intelligence services,” the report said, noting that U.S. government institutions draw on academia for personnel, both for entry level staffing and for consultation from established experts.
Cuban intelligence seeks leftists and others sympathetic to Cuba’s communist regime because it lacks funds needed to pay recruited agents, the report said.
The process includes targeting American and Cuban-American academics, recruiting them if possible and eventually converting them into Cuban intelligence agents.
Cuban front groups also are used to recruit spies in the United States, including a network of collaborators and agents in Cuba that make contact with counterparts in the United States.
Specific universities in Washington and New York that were not specified by the FBI are targets because they are close to Cuban intelligence posts in those cities.
An example of the recruitment effort was provided to the FBI by a “self-admitted Cuban intelligence” officer outlining how a spy is recruited at a U.S. university.
“The Cuban intelligence officers located at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in New York, New York, or the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., obtain a published work by a specific professor or student … from a university the [Cubans] are monitoring,” the report said.
A Cuban control agent in Havana studies the work and works together with a co-opted Cuban academic and together the pair analyzes published material and forms a plan of action that may include a personal letter to the targeted individual in the United States.
“The letter will suggest a ‘genuine’ interest in starting a friendship or contact regarding the topic of the article,” the report said. “The personal letter becomes a pretext for the Cuban intelligence officer stationed in the United States to use for initial contact with the targeted individual.”
A Cuba spy posing as a diplomat develops a relationship with the academic that can last months or years of assessing motivations, weaknesses, and current future and access to information.
In some cases, the Cubans use compromising video or audio and sexual entrapment to develop U.S. spies.
“Ultimately, when the time is right, the plan will be executed and the targeted individual will be approached and formally asked to help the government of Cuba,” the report said.
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Page 9

Intelligence in World History, c. 1500-1918

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Veranstalter:Deutsches Historisches Institut London; International Programmes, Pembroke College, Cambridge
Datum, Ort:06.02.2014–08.02.2014, London
Bericht von:
Tobias Graf, Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
E-Mail: <>
On 6–8 February 2014, the German Historical Institute London hosted the conference “Intelligence in World History, c. 1500-1918” in collaboration with the International Programmes at Pembroke College, Cambridge. For a long time, the history of intelligence has been a poor relation to the study of international relations. On the whole, historians have tended to pay relatively little attention to the kinds of information at the disposal of those who made decisions about war and peace and even less to the methods by which such decision makers acquired the information which underlay the decisions they took. Yet few would question that it did matter what decision makers knew about the world which they reacted to, shaped, and attempted to control. The meeting was organized by Christopher Andrew (Cambridge), Andreas Gestrich (GHIL), Tobias Graf (Heidelberg), Daniel Larsen (Cambridge), and Sönke Neitzel (London) in order to stimulate exchange between historians working on intelligence organizations and issues across traditional boundaries of periodical and regional specialization and thus gain a better understanding of what might provocatively be called the ‘long’ early modern period of intelligence services.
The event opened with a keynote lecture by CHRISTOPHER ANDREW (Cambridge), the official historian of the British Security Service (MI5), in which he provided a sweeping overview of the development of secret intelligence in Europe from the Renaissance to the end of the First World War. He highlighted the general lack of awareness of the history of intelligence across the ages. In particular, rapid advances in techniques and technologies since the early twentieth century obscure the fact that, for centuries, the West had been far behind its competitors in Asia and the Middle East, particularly in the field of cryptology. Here, European states began to take the lead only gradually from the sixteenth century onwards. These advances, however, remained geographically and chronologically uneven.
Sir RICHARD DEARLOVE (Cambridge), former head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), complemented the historian’s overview with insights from his own experience as an intelligence professional. Crucially, the need of intelligence services for secrecy provides a major obstacle to developing a historical understanding of its activities and role, even for professionals themselves. The same need for secrecy also largely prevents writing the history of intelligence as a human history, even as, not least because of the continued importance of human intelligence, the human factor looms large in the activities and performance of intelligence services.
Sir CHRISTOPHER BAYLY (Cambridge) opened the first thematic session by placing intelligence in a wider framework. Focusing on British India, he highlighted the importance of knowledge management for both the colonial government and those who provided resistance to it. The colonial state could not function without tapping into pools of what Bayly calls ‘mundane knowledge’. This form of knowledge collection from local knowledge communities and – from the nineteenth century onwards – newspapers provided a central element of British colonial intelligence.
CENGIZ KIRLI (Istanbul) explained how the Ottoman state in the nineteenth century, particularly during the rule of Abdülhamid II (1876-1909), attempted to tap into precisely such knowledge communities by conducting systematic surveillance of the population in the capital. While such activities had been an integral part of Ottoman governance in previous centuries, they had remained sporadic. Under Abdülhamid, what had originally been a means for identifying and silencing dissent, now served the wider purpose of gathering information as well as monitoring public opinion, which, as Kırlı argued, ultimately opened policy-making to the influence of subjects’ political wishes.
Moving back in time to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, MIA RODRÍGUEZ-SALGADO (London), IOANNA IORDANOU (Warwick), and TOBIAS GRAF (Heidelberg) showed that well-organized and often bureaucratic intelligence services had come into being long before the emergence of the modern nation state. The comparison between the Venetian and Austrian-Habsburg intelligence organizations in the Ottoman Empire on the one hand and their Spanish-Habsburg counterpart are particularly instructive. While in the former resident ambassadors in Istanbul took the lead by virtue of their office, the Spanish Habsburgs, lacking formal diplomatic relations with the Sublime Porte, relied on networks of spies and informants run from the fringes of their empire. However, as Rodríguez-Salgado pointed out, such a degree of organizational sophistication was rarely permanent. Rather, agencies and networks developed in response to specific threats and fell into disuse once these threats had dissipated. Only Venice’s intelligence apparatus, which Iordanou showed to have been institutionalized in a single centralized office early on in the sixteenth century, presented an exception from this rule.
This is not to say that intelligence was deemed unimportant – on the contrary. Taking the eighteenth-century electors of Saxony August II and August III, who also were kings of Poland in personal unions, as a starting point, ANNE-SIMONE ROUS (Dresden) emphasized just how important intelligence was to early modern rulers as an element of secret diplomacy. Drawing on her case studies, she suggested a refined model of secret diplomacy which divides pertinent activities into three categories according to their aims and means: defensive, offensive, and aggressive.
The contributions by KARL DE LEEUW (Amsterdam) and NEIL KENT (Cambridge) presented historical precedents for the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the US. Already during the Nine Years’ War (1688-97), William III of England (r. 1689-1702) and Stadtholder in the Dutch Republic (r. 1672-1702) relied heavily on postal interception and codebreaking in England, the Netherlands, and Hanover to thwart French military and diplomatic efforts. However, as de Leeuw showed, even as Great Britain and the Netherlands intensified their military cooperation over the course of the eighteenth century, their former intelligence alliance turned into rivalry out of fear that they were pursuing conflicting interests. Kent, in contrast, demonstrated that, as a direct result of the dynastic connection, Great Britain and Hanover maintained an intelligence alliance throughout the eighteenth century. In spite of intelligence being tainted by its reputation as ‘dirty work’ at the time, in his various government positions, Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle (1693-1768), excelled in putting it to good use, especially to keep the so-called Jacobites, the supporters of the Stuart dynasty which had been deposed in 1688, and their French allies at bay.
Russia provided the geographical focus for the penultimate session which opened with SVETLANA LOKHOVA’s (Cambridge) presentation of rare and previously unused material from the archives of the Okhrana, the tsarist intelligence service. DOMINIC LIEVEN (Cambridge) undertook an instructive diachronic comparison of Russian intelligence during the Napoleonic Wars and on the eve of the First World War. Counterintuitively, as a result of the service’s professionalization by 1914, Russian intelligence had been more effective in the earlier period. While Russian ‘agents’ by virtue of their social status freely mingled with the French elite in the early nineteenth century, professional intelligence officers in the latter period had been deprived of this possibility by their specialization. This is reflective of a wider social reconfiguration which resulted in the separation of the largely overlapping premodern elites into more strongly separated segments of political, military, and social elites.
CALDER WALTON (London) highlighted the importance of the colonial experience for the development of intelligence services in Europe. This was especially, though not exclusively, true of the UK where the majority of the personnel in the domestic security and foreign intelligence services had a colonial background. These officers brought with them innovative ideas and practices such as fingerprinting which had been developed and successfully implemented in the colonies.
That the role of intelligence very much depends on a country’s political culture became clear from DANIEL LARSEN’s (Cambridge) presentation on the role of secrecy in the US before, during, and after the First World War. From publishing all official correspondence on foreign relations in the 1860s, the State Department gradually began to appreciate the importance of keeping information secure to the extent of developing an obsession with secrecy by the beginning of the Cold War. This development did not continue uninterruptedly, however. In the early 1930s laxity of security for diplomatic correspondence had almost reverted to its pre-First World War state.
All contributors highlighted the importance of intelligence for the study of political history while pointing out that this dimension has so far been understudied. The reason for this is perhaps not so much the dearth of source material, but most historians’ focus on the outcomes, rather than the mechanisms, of decision-making. Different historiographical traditions in the UK and Germany, as a member of the audience pointed out, explain why British historians seem relatively fascinated by the history of intelligence while the same field has thus far received little attention in Germany. In a context in which history is concerned less with the search for underlying grand narratives, but regarded first and foremost as a sequence of events, it may simply be more credible to believe that intelligence made a difference.
Taken together, the presentations seem to validate this point. Initially, the organizers had hoped that the conference would shed new light on currently ill-understood long-term processes such as the professionalization of intelligence services and their development into distinct bureaucratic agencies. If anything, the papers have shown that there is no clear underlying historical trajectory, but that intelligence services emerged, expanded, contracted, and disbanded according to the needs of the day. Perhaps, then, one important contribution which intelligence history can make to the discipline of history at large is to shed further doubt on the validity of modernization theory as a framework for the study of the past.
Conference Overview
Keynote lecture
Chair: Andreas Gestrich (London)
Christopher Andrew (Cambridge), Intelligence in World History from the Renaissance to the First World War
Sir Richard Dearlove (Cambridge), The Status of Intelligence History
Session 1
Chair: Christopher Andrew (Cambridge)
Sir Christopher Bayly (Cambridge), Knowledge, Information and Intelligence in Colonial India and beyond
Cengiz Kırlı (Istanbul), Intelligence in the Late Ottoman Empire
Session 2
Chair: Tobias Graf (Heidelberg)
Mia Rodríguez-Salgado (London), Intelligence in the Spanish Monarchy in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries
Ioanna Iordanou (Warwick), What News on the Rialto? Spies, Informants and the Myth of Venice in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
Session 3
Chair: Peter Martland (Cambridge)
Tobias Graf (Heidelberg), Austrian-Habsburg Intelligence on the Ottomans in the Late Sixteenth Century
Anne-Simone Rous (Dresden), Saxon Intelligence in the Eighteenth Century
Session 4
Chair: Sönke Neitzel (London)
Karl De Leeuw (Amsterdam), Anglo-Dutch Intelligence Collaboration and Rivalry during the War of the Spanish Succession and Its Aftermath, 1704–1716
Neil Kent (Cambridge), Hanoverian Intelligence: Thwarting the Jacobites and France
Session 5
Chair: Neil Kent (Cambridge)
Svetlana Lokhova (Cambridge), From Okhrana to Cheka: Revelations from Russian Archives
Dominic Lieven (Cambridge), Russian Intelligence in the Napoleonic Era and on the Eve of World War I: A Comparison
Session 6
Chair: Sönke Neitzel (London)
Calder Walton (London), Victoria’s Secrets: Intelligence and the British Empire up to the First World War
Daniel Larsen (Cambridge), Intelligence and the United States in the Nineteenth Century to 1918
Concluding Discussion
Chair: Sönke Neitzel (London) 
Intelligence in World History, c. 1500-1918.
 06.02.2014–08.02.2014, London, in: H-Soz-u-Kult, 05.09.2014,
Copyright (c) 2014 by H-Net, Clio-online, and the author, all rights reserved. This work may be copied and redistributed for non-commercial, educational purposes, if permission is granted by the author and usage right holders. For permission please contact H-SOZ-U-KULT@H-NET.MSU.EDU.
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Federal investigation finds Alaska Guard 'not properly administering justice'; general resigns

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A federal investigation requested by Gov. Sean Parnell has found significant problems within the ranks of the Alaska National Guard, years after allegations of mishandling of rapes, sexual misconduct and other offenses had begun to surface.
The assessment, conducted by the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations and released Thursday by Parnell's office, found “several instances of fraud,” “actual and perceived favoritism, ethical misconduct …” and that the Alaska National Guard “is not properly administering justice.”
Also on Thursday, Parnell sought and received the resignation of Alaska National Guard commander Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus, adjutant general and commissioner of Alaska’s Division of Military and Veteran Affairs.
“This culture of mistrust and failed leadership in the Guard ends now,” Parnell said.
Of particular concern leading up to the investigation was whether sexual assault cases were being properly handled. The OCI’s 229-page report stemming from its nearly six-month-long investigation found that while the Guard’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program is “well organized,” “victims do not trust the system due to an overall lack of confidence in the command.”
“I am extremely frustrated and I am angry that it has taken this long to get to the bottom of these issues. In hindsight it clearly should not have taken this long and I offer my deepest apologies,” Parnell said during a late-afternoon press conference at his Anchorage office. “There are a whole range of people who have been hurt and who deserve this to be made right.”
Parnell declined to say whether he felt Katkus was personally involved in any of the enumerated misconduct and failings. People can draw their own conclusions from the report, he said, adding that as the Guard’s leader, Katkus had ultimate responsibility for what transpired under his watch.
However, the report notes Katkus’ unusual position relative to the Alaska National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention commander. OCI’s investigators found a high level of misconduct within that division, including “misuse of government vehicles, fraud, adultery, inappropriate relationships and sexual assault.”
Additionally, Recruiting and Retention had been previously investigated for weapons smuggling, rape and drug trafficking. Lack of evidence and lack of jurisdiction resulted in the cases going nowhere.
During those investigations, the Recruiting and Retention commander reported directly to Katkus, an arrangement described as “deviation from the normal reporting chain.”
This unique reporting structure, combined with reports that the Recruiting and Retention commander was Katkus’ friend and neighbor, created “a perception that this commander was invulnerable.”
Citing an Army regulation that requires senior officials to be investigated by the Army inspector general, the OCI stated it did not investigate the validity of the allegations concerning Katkus and the commander. But the report does state the OCI forwarded allegations of misconduct among senior leaders to the inspector general with oversight of those individuals.
In a separate line of inquiry, the report found that senior leaders were often aware of allegations about “inappropriate relationships and fraternizations,” but because the adjutant general -- Katkus -- believed that the Alaska National Guard was “not the morality police,” allegations were not addressed until the alleged conduct became more severe.
Katkus had led the Guard for five years, a post he assumed after serving in the Guard for more that 30 years and two decades as an Anchorage police officer.
Alaska Army Guard Brig. Gen. Mike Bridges will serve as acting commissioner until Katkus’ replacement is named. Additional staff changes are expected as Parnell further reviews the command structure.
Parnell called for a special investigation by OCI in February, saying he’d grown “deeply concerned” about reports of sexual assaults and other behavior within the Guard. He asked that investigators include fraud cases in their review and that the Guard’s command structure also undergo scrutiny.
Parnell said Thursday that while other investigations had been conducted over the years, including by the National Guard Bureau and the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Defense, those reviews had failed to illustrate the depth and scope of the problem or establish the patterns of behavior found in this most recent investigation. Characterizing this newest investigation as “extensive,” Parnell said it included a review of both the Army and Air National Guards, thousands of records and more than 185 interviews.
Formed in 2012, the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations was created to handle complex administrative matters and sexual assaults, crimes that military criminal investigators and organizations had rarely looked into due to a lack of jurisdiction. Oversight of criminal matters involving Guard members falls to the state. The NGB assembled the OCI with specially trained, hand-picked sexual assault investigators to try to fill the gap.
In requesting the team of Outside investigators, Parnell noted that he was concerned about a “hostile environment and culture” within sections of the Guard, and of harm not only to the wellbeing of victims but also to the Guard as a whole, whose morale and mission were at stake.

Laundry list of findings

The final assessment from the Office of Complex Investigations focused on a range of topics: sexual assault, hostile work environment, fraud, coordination with law enforcement, misconduct and command climate.
Since 2006, the Alaska National Guard has received 37 reports of sexual assault, some of which were investigated by the Guard but most of which were referred to local law enforcement.
The report found that from 2007 to 2011, the Alaska National Guard did not manage sexual assault cases well. Records were not properly maintained or tracked, victims and leaders often were not given case updates, victims were not offered treatment services, and victim information was not kept as confidential as it should have been.
In 2011, a position was created for a trained and qualified sexual assault prevention and response coordinator. According to the OCI report, many of the deficiencies identified in the prior years have been corrected. The program is effective, the coordinator is organized, cases are tracked and victims seem generally satisfied with the support they have received.
Still, perceptions remain, according to the report, that victim information won’t remain confidential, that cases won’t be managed well and that victims may be perceived as weak if they come forward. Such perceptions, the report found, are ongoing barriers to sexual assault reporting.
Investigators also found instances of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual conduct, including drawings of male genitalia inside aircraft panels, flight instructors having sex with students, and senior leaders sending harassing and inappropriate text messages. Although witnesses reported the conduct, no action occurred as a result.
The OCI found that the Alaska Air National Guard was suffering from “hostile climate issues,” stemming from a “general pattern of inappropriate behavior that was not being addressed by the leadership.” Examples included the “public display of nude pictures, sexual innuendo and inappropriate touching” within the workplace.
Spanish-speaking Guard members, many from Puerto Rico and serving in Alaska at Fort Greely, told investigators they’d experienced other difficulties. Leaders had told them they weren’t allowed to speak Spanish in the “operational” area, a violation of Army policy if the communication is personal and unrelated to military functions.
Inappropriate use of government travel and purchase cards was uncovered, as was one incident of embezzlement and a separate incident involving the misuse of equipment, including a helicopter, and personnel for personal gain. More oversight is needed, investigators found, to detect and prevent fraud.
The investigative team also found that while there were many kinds of misconduct (failed urinalysis, alcohol violations, sexual assault, assault, fraud, etc.), there “was a lack of consistency in the tracking of various cases ...” and “a lack of consistent punishment for like offenses.”
Finally, recent surveys of the command climate indicated that Guard members think there continue to be barriers to reporting sexual assaults. These include concerns about social retaliation, lack of confidence in leadership and justice, lack of privacy and trust.
In the last 12 months alone, the surveys, conducted early this summer, uncovered 200 incidents of perceived discrimination or sexual harassment. Fear of retaliation prevented many respondents from filing complaints.
“Overall, the survey reveals a perception of lack of leadership integrity within all levels of command,” investigators wrote in their final report.
It also suggests a culture tolerant of ethical misconduct and a willingness to look the other way or measure out lighter punishment when the wrongdoers were commanders or senior enlisted members: for example, allowing reprimanded senior personnel to retire at their current grade or continue service and relocate to another division.

Cleaning up

Changing the culture within the Alaska National Guard, and creating systems that are responsive to complaints and protect witness privacy, will require ongoing work.
The Office of Complex Investigations made numerous suggestions. To implement the recommendations, Parnell said, he will create an independent “Special Project Team,” which he has asked the National Guard Bureau to help staff.
Suggested fixes include shifting the culture around sexual assault from one of acceptance to one of accountability; providing adequate resources and personnel to staff equal employment and judge advocate positions; improving training; tracking by the Guard of all police investigations concerning allegations of misconduct and taking appropriate administrative actions; reviewing how money is managed and ongoing anti-fraud reviews; addressing claims of ethical and moral misconduct; increasing transparency to reinforce that justice is being pursued; protecting victims of discrimination and sexual assault from being re-victimized.
“Between me and my office’s multiple follow-ups with Guard leadership on these matters between 2010 and 2014, and our congressional delegation’s independent reviews by different agencies, I am extremely frustrated that it took so long to get to the root of these issues. Our Alaska Guard members deserve better; and those who have brought complaints forward deserve better,” Parnell said Thursday.
“My goal now is to continue Alaska’s wholehearted support for our National Guard members in those things they do so well, and to transform it in areas identified by the Guard Bureau’s findings as needing change.”
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