CNN: The Latest Outlet for Roger Noriega’s Paranoid Speculations
On May 2, CNN executive producer Arthur Brice published what was purported to be a news article on Venezuela. Instead, Brice’s 4,300-word screed, titled “Chavez Health Problems Plunge Venezuela’s Future Into Doubt,” is little more than a platform for the bizarre theories of Roger Noriega, an ultra-rightwing lobbyist and one-time diplomat under George W. Bush, who Brice references over two dozen times throughout his article.
As a political commentator, Noriega pontificates with total brazenness. He appeared as the chief pundit in Brice’s CNN piece six months after announcing—based on what he said was the belief of Chávez’s own medical team—that the Venezuelan president was “not likely to survive more than six months.” Noriega is not fazed by facts. He promotes his fantastical claims in many major news outlets, often based on anonymous sources. Take, for example, his 2010 Foreign Policy article, “Chávez’s Secret Nuclear Program,” whose subtitle reads: “It’s not clear what Venezuela’s hiding, but it’s definitely hiding something—and the fact that Iran is involved suggests that it’s up to no good.” (State Department officials dismissed this suspicion with “scorn.”)
CNN’s interviews with Noriega and the other mostly rightwing analysts likely led to this demonstrably false claim at the beginning of Brice’s May 2 article: “Diosdado Cabello, a longtime Chavez cohort . . . amassed tremendous power in January when Chavez named him president of the National Assembly.” In fact, even El Universal, a daily Venezuelan newspaper long-aligned with the opposition, conceded in a January 5 report that Cabello was elected as the new president of the National Assembly, even if “only with the votes” of the majority United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Ewan Robertson of Venezuelanalysis.com found that 98 deputies of the pro-government bloc supported Cabello, while the 67-member opposition bloc opposed him. Such mundane electoral processes have guided much of Venezuela’s political dynamics over the past decade.
The rest of CNN’s long-winded compilation of hearsay proceeds in the same way. To give two examples, Brice turns to Venezuelan doctor Jose Rafael Marquina to shed light on Chávez’s current state of health. By Brice’s own admission however, Marquina “practices in Florida and has no direct connection with the case but says he has colleagues who know what is happening.” On the separate issue of Venezuelan politics, “the Cubans,” Brice writes, “may only have the power to suggest and manipulate as best they can,” but he also cites “some observers” who fear the Cubans could leverage their “perceived point men” in the country to unleash “militias in an attempt to take over.” Brice then quotes Noriega as saying, “I have no doubts that some Cubans would use violent means to deal with Venezuelans.”
These examples are indicative of CNN’s desire to spin a yarn of intrigue. Venezuela’s October presidential vote should be no different from the past. Closely monitored, free and fair elections have been the final word in political outcomes in Venezuela. But by relying on telephone interviews with self-proclaimed “analysts” almost exclusively based in the United States, CNN portrays Venezuelan politics as a grand chess game of “powerful men trying to bend the arc of history because they believe their president’s life may be slipping out of the hands of doctors and into the hands of God.” For CNN, Venezuelan voters play a marginal role, if any at all—it’s a sensationalized struggle between drug-dealing generals, Cuban spooks, well-connected cronies, armed militias, and a dying, charismatic strongman in thrall to Fidel Castro.
Had Brice decided to report on the ground from Caracas, he may have produced a video segment similar to the one that appears alongside his own article on CNN’s website. Journalist Paula Newton describes the free, government-provided medical attention in poor areas—a “concrete” reason why broad support for Chavez “isn’t exactly blind,” she says. Newton also shows Chávez voters displaying (reasonable) skepticism toward conjectures that the president is about to die or is already dead—a potentially valuable lesson for CNN, considering Brice’s general credulousness.
Noriega’s buffoonish commentary in outlets like CNN would be more amusing if not for his hands-on experience in crafting devastating U.S. policies toward Latin America. Noriega’s career in government, one may recall, includes administering “non-lethal” aid to the Nicaraguan Contra insurgency as a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) official in the 1980s. He followed this up as a senior staffer to Senator Jesse Helms in the 1990s, co-authoring the Helms-Burton Act, which intensified the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Bush II appointed him as ambassador to the Organization of American States in 2001, and in 2003, he replaced Iran-Contra veteran and Venezuelan coup-backer Otto Reich as Bush’s Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. For this post—his last in government before switching over to the private sector—Noriega had big shoes to fill, and he undoubtedly rose to the occasion.
Whereas Reich failed to roll back the leftward tide of Venezuela in 2002 during his tenure (the military coup which overthrew Hugo Chávez lasted only two days), Noriega triumphed in damming the populist flood of Lavalas in Haiti. As the only mass-based political movement in the most unequal country in the hemisphere, Lavalas, headed by the democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was an obvious threat to the Bush administration. The denouement of the administration’s destabilization campaign occurred in February 2004 when Aristide and his family were spirited away by a U.S. plane in the middle of the night. Noriega initially denied that the United States played a role in Aristide’s removal, feebly claiming that Aristide had embarked on the plane by his own volition. But according to Dr. Paul Farmer—Harvard health specialist and UN Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti—Noriega admitted “during a House hearing that Aristide did not know of his destination until less than an hour before landing in the Central African Republic.” Robert White, a former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador and Paraguay, told Newsday right before the coup that “Roger Noriega has been dedicated to ousting Aristide for many, many years, and now he’s in a singularly powerful position to accomplish it.”
Today, Noriega divides his time between his post as a Latin America “scholar” at the pro-corporate American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think tank, and as a registered lobbyist for various interests in countries that are the subjects of his widely published commentaries. Noriega’s influence-peddling has been extremely effective in recent years. For example, in addition to writing opinion pieces defending the 2009 Honduran coup d’etat, Noriega—who was hired to represent a Honduran textile manufacturers group—organized a meeting between the coup regime’s supporters and U.S. Senators less than 10 days after the overthrow of the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya. Daniel W. Fisk, who helped set U.S. policies in Central America as a high-ranking government official in the 1980s and ‘90s, attended the meeting. According to The New York Times, Fisk was “stunned by the turnout.” “I had never seen eight senators in one room to talk about Latin America in my entire career,” he was quoted as saying.
The Times framed Noriega’s actions toward Honduras as a vestige of Cold War planning. Noriega, Reich, and Fisk, wrote The Times, viewed Honduras as “the principal battleground in a proxy fight with Cuba and Venezuela,” two countries that the three men characterized “as threats to stability in the region in language similar to that once used to describe the designs of the Soviet Union.” Noriega certainly warned against a new red menace when he supported Zelaya’s overthrow; Honduras was ground zero in what Noriega called “the continued spread of Chavista authoritarianism under the guise of democracy.”
Given Noriega’s disturbing record, it is astonishing that CNN produced a news piece on Venezuela through the lens of a lobbyist with obvious conflicts of interest in Latin America. Brice’s article, which never mentions Noriega’s lobbying, is dominated by comments like these:
Noriega and other observers have said [Chávez’s] appointments of Cabello and Rangel Silva have turned Venezuela into a narcostate. . . . ‘If Cabello and Rangel Silva resort to dirty work to hold things together, Maduro is a guy they can bring in to give a veneer of respectability to the international community,’ Noriega said, calling [the hypothetical scenario he just created] a ‘junta kind of arrangement.’ . . . The military also would face deep divisions if called upon to fire on Venezuelan citizens. . . . “The elections are, from [Cabello and Rangel Silva’s] standpoint, expendable,” [Noriega] said. “On the other hand, if they believe they can add a patina of legitimacy, they will hold them. They’re going to be hard-pressed to make a legitimacy argument with a narco kingpin in power.”
Through CNN, Noriega is able to publicly fret over the prospects of a Venezuelan military coup (like the one the Bush administration and the IMF supported in 2002) and criticize Venezuela’s purported drug trafficking (like the kind carried out by CIA asset Manuel Noriega and the U.S.-backed Contras). Noriega preemptively disapproves of a hypothetical Venezuelan election whose purpose, he says, would be to “add a patina of legitimacy” (despite Noriega’s own endorsement of the U.S.-backed sham elections in Honduras in 2009, which were conducted under a dictatorship).
There is also some historical context behind Brice’s unquestioning use of terms like “narcogenerals,” “narcostate,” “narcoterrorism,” and “narco kingpin” with relation to Venezuela. Many of these instances originate from Noriega’s direct quotes to CNN. This is just the latest example of media manipulation that Noriega’s colleagues mastered long ago. From 1983-86 Reich headed a taxpayer-funded propaganda outlet, the Office of Public Diplomacy, which, among other activities, placed false reports in major outlets that the Sandinista government in Nicaragua was involved in narcotrafficking. Haiti is another case: In 1992, the CIA created a fraudulent psychological profile on Aristide, which Senator Jesse Helms then used to denounce the president as a “psychopath,” a claim that was uncritically parroted by the press at the time. Aristide, the diminutive liberation theologian, was also the subject of a U.S. grand jury investigation due to his alleged involvement in narcotrafficking. Although the media repeated the claim that Aristide’s was running drugs, human-rights attorney Brian Concannon pointed out in 2006 that ultimately, “not a single charge [was] issued from the courthouse.” (U.S. efforts to assassinate Aristide’s character through the courts continue up to the present day.)
Roger Noreiga’s nuttier theories, thankfully, were not incorporated into the piece. Here are just a few short excerpts of Noriega’s baseless output as of late:
- In a March 2011 article for AEI titled, “U.S. Diplomats Clueless on Alleged Chávez Plot to Kill the President of Panama,” Noriega asked, “If Panamanian authorities dismissed this as a hoax, why have senior officials of that government expressed their gratitude to me for revealing the plot months since the incident? And why on earth would Chávez risk an attack on Martinelli? I cannot answer these questions.”
- In another AEI entry from October 2011, titled “The Mounting Hezbollah Threat in Latin America,” Noriega contends that “Hezbollah’s presence in Latin America dates to the mid-1980s, when it began sending operatives into the notoriously lawless region known as the tri-border area . . . Their activity also includes pirating software and music.”
- In the March 2011 Washington Post op-ed “Is There a Chavez Terror Network on America’s Doorstep?” Noriega is able to find both al-Qaeda and Iranian operations in Venezuela: “The threat posed by globe-trotting terrorists is ever-present,” he writes. “A U.S. security official told me in mid-January that two known al-Qaeda operatives were in Caracas planning a ‘chemical’ attack on the U.S. embassy . . . A Venezuelan government source has told me that two Iranian terrorist trainers are on Venezuela’s Margarita Island instructing operatives who have assembled from around the region. In addition, radical Muslims from Venezuela and Colombia are brought to a cultural center in Caracas named for the Ayatollah Khomeini and Simon Bolivar for spiritual training.”
- In Noriega’s April 2010 ultimatum in The Wall Street Journal, “Time to Confront the Tehran-Caracas Axis,” he uncovers yet another sinister plot: “[T]he Canadian uranium exploration company U308 Corp has recorded a substantial source of uranium in the Roraima Basin, which straddles the border between Guyana and the Venezuelan province of Bolívar. Iranian or other Middle Eastern individuals operate a tractor factory, cement plant and gold mine in this region.”
Noriega concludes this WSJ op-ed by appealing to international law. He writes that Venezuela’s nefarious plans “should be challenged as a threat to peace and an act of aggression under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter.” This is a perfectly appropriate way to deal with any rogue state that, in Noriega’s words, is prone to “meddle in the internal politics” of other countries, and provides “support for terrorist groups in the Americas.” Unfortunately, Noriega has it upside down. It is not Venezuela, but the United States that is unequivocally responsible for doing both kinds of activities. But don’t hold your breath waiting for Noriega to equally apply such standards.
- US ambassadors to Venezuela: chronology of failure (alethonews.wordpress.com)
May 16, 2012 - Posted by aletho | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | CNN, Diosdado Cabello, Paula Newton, Roger Noriega, United Socialist Party of Venezuela, United States, Venezuela
1 Comment »
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
or go to
From the Archives
By PIERRE PICCININ | March 06, 2012
More than a year after civil unrest broke out and plunged part of Syria into the chaos of the ‘Arab Spring’, the Baath government remains firmly in control and the majority of the country is calm; almost untouched by an opposition which is scattered and confined to the cities of Homs and Hama, as well as a few towns on the Turkish and Lebanese border. The main reported cases of unrest are linked to regular attacks from Salafist bands which are of an extremely violent nature and more importantly, the Free Syrian Army. The latter counts amid its ranks numerous Qataris and Libyans, all whom have been trained in the art of urban guerilla warfare by the French army in refugee camps, which provide perfect bases from which to operate and orchestrate attacks.
How can one explain the resilience of this regime? A regime which is more or less in complete control despite facing what is usually described as a “revolutionary populist uprising”? One which is determined to overthrow the “Alawite dictatorship” from the political and economic realms of Syrian society, the so-called privilege of the Alawi, a community which accounts for no more than about 10% of the population?
Perhaps it is because the reality does not correspond to this over simplified equation. … continue
Aletho News Exclusive Content
This article will examine some of the connections between the US and UK National Security apparatus and the appearance of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory beginning after the accident at Three Mile Island. … continue
Also by Aletho News:
November 13, 2011
September 19, 2011
March 8, 2011
January 2, 2011
October 10, 2010
July 5, 2010
February 25, 2010
February 7, 2010
January 5, 2010
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 4, 2009
May 9, 2009
- The entire globe is a battlefield for Pentagon May 25, 2013
- “This time they destroyed everything”: Uprooted Bedouins face more evictions May 25, 2013
- Palestine: 85 percent of east Jerusalem children are below the poverty line,olive trees burned with chemicals & youths held at the Ibrahimi Mosque May 25, 2013
- Protesters march against Monsanto in 250 cities May 25, 2013
- ‘Sayyed Nasrallah: I promise you victory again’ May 25, 2013
- Obama legitimates drones outside US airspace & Pakistan slams drone strikes May 24, 2013
- The Palestine Liberation Movement is not about Anti-Semitism May 23, 2013
- United Against Scholarship May 23, 2013
- Gilad Atzmon on Muhammad and Friends (TV Show) May 23, 2013
- [Video] An interview with Professor James Petras May 25, 2013
Looking for something?
This site is provided as a research and reference tool. Although we make every reasonable effort to ensure that the information and data provided at this site are useful, accurate, and current, we cannot guarantee that the information and data provided here will be error-free. By using this site, you assume all responsibility for and risk arising from your use of and reliance upon the contents of this site.
This site and the information available through it do not, and are not intended to constitute legal advice. Should you require legal advice, you should consult your own attorney. Materials accessible from or added to this site by third parties, such as comments posted, are strictly the responsibility of the third party who added such materials or made them accessible and we neither endorse nor undertake to control, monitor, edit or assume responsibility for any such third-party material.
The posting of stories, commentaries, reports, documents and links (embedded or otherwise) on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such posted material or parts therein.
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more info go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Visits Since December 2009
- 1,465,712 hits
Contact:atheonews (at) gmail.com
- Ocean of corruption in Spain May 25, 2013
- Kafr Qaddum – Blocked from life’s basics; pushed back when doing something about it May 25, 2013
- Obama Expands Militarization of Police May 25, 2013
- MI5 ‘tried to recruit’ Woolwich murder suspect May 25, 2013
- Wall Street is writing its own regulation bill May 25, 2013
- Obama Distorts ‘Just War’ Principles May 25, 2013
- UK: Woolwich attack sparks Labour calls for snooper’s charter May 24, 2013
- Colombia: extrajudicial executions killings still ongoing according to report May 24, 2013
- Hospital patients in Gaza poisoned by gas from Israel May 24, 2013
- A million Israeli landmines planted in occupied Palestinian West Bank May 24, 2013
- “We will stand in front of the bulldozers” – Beit Dajan homes threatened with demolition May 25, 2013
- Kafr Qaddum – Blocked from life’s basics; pushed back when doing something about it May 25, 2013
- Photo essay: Gas, frisbees and the Apartheid Wall in Ni’lin May 24, 2013
- Jamila Shalaldeh, accused of assaulting 13 soldiers found innocent by Ofer Military Court May 23, 2013
TagsAfghanistan Africa Al-Manar American Civil Liberties Union Benjamin Netanyahu Canada Central Intelligence Agency CIA Egypt European Union France Gaza Hamas Hebron Hezbollah Honduras Hugo Chávez Human rights International Atomic Energy Agency International Solidarity Movement Iran Iraq Israel Israeli settlement Jerusalem Latin America Lebanon Middle East NATO New York Times Obama Pakistan Palestine Palestinian prisoners in Israel Press TV Russia Sanctions against Iran Saudi Arabia Syria Turkey United Nations United States Venezuela West Bank Zionism
skulzstudios on Ocean of corruption in Sp… B. Benhamid on Kafr Qaddum – Blocked from lif… B. Benhamid on Obama Distorts ‘Just War’… Lissakrhumanelife on Colombia: extrajudicial execut… skulzstudios on What an Anonymous U.S. Officia… skulzstudios on Jewish settlers injure childre… traducteur on Church of Scotland Report Chal… Goliath on US government admits to killin… Goliath on ‘Never in his life… Dr. Ernesto Cantina on The Role of the United States… Ribeekah Grant on Church of Scotland Report Chal… skulzstudios on US government admits to killin… Ribeekah Grant on US government admits to killin… Rohrabacher’s Plan t… on Rohrabacher’s Plan to Partitio… skulzstudios on Rohrabacher’s Plan to Partitio…