The Los Angeles Times’ Tracy Wilkinson conducted a rare interview with Miguel Facussé Barjum, considered by many to be the most powerful man in Honduras, and also believed to be behind the killings of dozens of campesinos in the Aguan Valley, where Facussé has extensive land holdings. He has been the subject of much recent scrutiny, as Wilkinson notes, especially following the assassination of attorney Antonio Trejo Cabrera, who worked on behalf campesino organizations in the Aguan. Wilkinson describes some of the allegations and criticism leveled at Facussé from members of the U.S. Congress and human rights organizations:
In October, shortly before he lost reelection, U.S. Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Valley Village) took the unusual step of singling out Facusse in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Berman demanded a major overhaul of U.S. policy toward Honduras, including suspension of aid to human rights abusers. He repeated Trejo’s accusation, calling for an investigation of Facussé.
“It is breathtaking that Facusse has been so untouchable,” said a House of Representatives staffer with knowledge of the issue, who spoke anonymously in keeping with Washington protocol.
The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, in filings with the International Criminal Court, alleges that Facusse may have committed “crimes against humanity” in the killings of Trejo and several peasant farmers.
As we have previously noted, Facussé has admitted the killings of some campesinos by his security forces. A 2011 human rights report from the FoodFirst Information and Action Network, the International Federation for Human Rights and other groups details a number of killings, kidnappings, torture, forced evictions, assaults, death threats and other human rights violations that victims, witnesses and others attribute to Facussé’s guards. In May this year, Reporters Without Borders declared Facussé to be a “predator” of press freedom. Facussé’s response has sometimes been to threaten to sue for defamation. As he explains in the LA Times article, “He said he considered suing Berman but was advised by friends that legal action would be a waste of time.”
Perhaps seeing the limits to suing for defamation when the allegations are supported by evidence, Facussé, it appears, wanted to sit down with Wilkinson in order to set the record straight. He explains that, while yes, his airplane was “was used to illegally carry the foreign minister out of the country against her will” during the 2009 coup d’etat; and yes, drug planes have used his property to traffic cocaine; and yes, he normally keeps a pistol on his desk; and yes, he “keeps files of photos of the various Honduran activists who are most vocal against him,” and yes, he was aware of the plans for the 2009 coup in advance – he’s misunderstood. One has to appreciate the tremendous pathos as Facussé laments, “My name is mud all over the world,” he said. “I’m the bad guy in the world.”
As for the allegations of involvement in the lawyer’s killing?
“I probably had reasons to kill him,” he said, “but I’m not a killer.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives debated H.Res. 568, an AIPAC-sponsored bill designed to outlaw diplomacy with Iran and take the United States Congress one step closer to authorizing an illegal, unprovoked and premeditated military attack on Iran.
Debunking statements about Iran made by House Representatives and Senators on the floor of Congress is tedious and boring. Most of the statements are inarticulate readings of AIPAC-drafted talking points and boilerplate hasbara. M.J. Rosenberg has already excellently addressed the point of this legislation and there is no need to repeat, ad nauseum, why most of what’s in the bill is wrong, how 13,000 AIPAC operatives were dispatched through the halls of Congress to garner sponsorship and support for the bill, how shameful it is for elected officials to spout pure propaganda about silly cartoon drawings and absurd assassination plots, and how – despite the many repetitions of the same infamous and long-debunked claim (which has literally appeared in over 50 Congressional resolutions since 2005) – even Israeli Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor admitted on Al Jazeera that Iran has never threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.”
No, instead of all that, this time around it’s best to just take a look at how statements made during yesterday’s floor debate compare to statements made over a decade ago, if not longer. After so much deceit, destruction and death, how can anyone take this stuff seriously?
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), October 9, 2002:
Saddam Hussein is not far from developing and acquiring the means to strike the United States, our friends and our allies with weapons of mass destruction. Thus, if we do not act now, when?
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), May 15, 2012:
The Iranian regime continues to pose an immediate and growing threat to the United States, to our allies, and to the Iranian people. We are running out of time to stop the nightmare of a nuclear weapons-capable Iran from becoming a reality…We must meet our responsibility to the American people and protect the security of our Nation, our allies, and the world from this threat of a nuclear capable Iran.
Madeleine Albright, February 18, 1998:
[T]hat the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.
Rush Holt (D-NJ), May 15, 2012:
The threat of nuclear proliferation is the greatest threat to world peace. A nuclear Iran would destabilize the region and threaten the United States and our allies.
Howard Berman (D-CA), October 10, 2002:
But under today’s circumstances, the best way to give peace a chance and to save the most lives, American and Iraqi, is for America to stand united and for Congress to authorize the President to use force if Saddam does not give up his weapons of mass destruction. Confront Saddam now, or pay a much heavier price later.
Howard Berman (D-CA), May 15, 2012:
What better time for this body to send an unambiguous message that Iran must never be allowed to achieve a nuclear weapons capability and that its nuclear weapons program must end once and for all?
George W. Bush, January 29, 2002:
By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger…[T]ime is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.
Gene Green (D-TX), May 15, 2012:
Iran is developing the capability to quickly produce a nuclear weapon at a time of its choosing. Iran’s acquisition of such a capability would create a significant new regional danger and be an immediate threat to America’s interest and allies in the Middle East.
John McCain (R-AZ), Jesse Helms (R-NC), Henry Hyde (R-IL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Harold Ford (D-TN), Jr., Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Trent Lott (R-MS), Ben Gilman (R-NY) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), December 5, 2001:
The threat from Iraq is real, and it cannot be permanently contained…We have no doubt that these deadly weapons are intended for use against the United States and its allies. Consequently, we believe we must directly confront Saddam, sooner rather than later.
Howard Berman (D-CA), May 15, 2012:
And so, as the window is closing, we send a clear message that the House is aligned with the administration in thoroughly rejecting containment…In fact, we have no choice but to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program before it ever reaches that point.
Steny Hoyer, (D-MD), October 9, 2002:
[Saddam Hussein] continues his efforts to develop and acquire weapons of mass destruction, and he sponsors international terrorism. Saddam Hussein continues to be an unacceptable threat whose duplicity requires action, action now.
Steny Hoyer (D-MD), May 15, 2012:
The most significant threat to peace, regional security, and American interests in the Middle East is Iran’s nuclear program…Iran continues to be a sponsor of groups committed to the destruction of our ally Israel and of groups that threaten Americans throughout the world.
John Edwards (D-NC), October 7, 2002:
Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally, Israel… Every day he gets closer to his longtime goal of nuclear capability. We must not allow him to get nuclear weapons.
Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), May 15, 2012:
[I]t is imperative that the United States and the international community understand that a nuclear-capable Iran is a global threat and a danger to the United States and, just as important, to the State of Israel…This is a direct threat to our closest ally in the Middle East.
George W. Bush, March 19, 2003:
The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, May 15, 2012:
For the Iranian regime, the possession of the capability to produce a nuclear weapon would be almost as useful as actually having one…Tehran would be in the driver’s seat, and the security of the United States, Israel, and our many other allies would be in their hands.
George W. Bush, March 13, 2002:
First of all, we’ve got all options on the table, because we want to make it very clear to nations that you will not threaten the United States or use weapons of mass destruction against us, or our allies or friends…[Saddam Hussein] is a problem, and we’re going to deal with him. But the first stage is to consult with our allies and friends, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Rob Andrews (D-NJ), May 15, 2012:
[W]e are negotiating with a country that has conceived its nuclear weapons program in secret, that has brandished its nuclear weapons program with the rhetoric of hostility, and for whom the attainment of a nuclear weapon would be fraught with peril for free people everywhere…[O]ur position must be that we will not support or stand for an Iran with nuclear weapons.
George W. Bush, August 13, 2005:
As I say, all options are on the table. The use of force is the last option for any president and you know, we’ve used force in the recent past to secure our country…In all these instances we want diplomacy to work and so we’re working feverishly on the diplomatic route and we’ll see if we’re successful or not.
Barack Obama, January 24, 2012:
Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.
Howard Berman (D-CA), May 15, 2012:
The urgent nature of the Iranian nuclear threat demands that the United States work with our allies to do everything possible diplomatically, politically, and economically to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. No option, as the President has said, can be taken off the table.
- AIPAC Resolution Demanding War With Iran On House Floor Tomorrow (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- U.S. Sides With Israel’s Nukes Over Iran’s Lack Thereof (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- AIPAC Bomb Iran Resolution On House Floor TODAY (mjayrosenberg.com)
There has been no media reporting on H.R.4133 — United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 introduced into the House of Representatives of the 112th Congress on March 5th “To express the sense of Congress regarding the United States-Israel strategic relationship, to direct the President to submit to Congress reports on United States actions to enhance this relationship and to assist in the defense of Israel, and for other purposes.” The sponsors include Eric Cantor, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Howard Berman (all of whom are Jewish) and also Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who is Norwegian but might as well be Jewish given his frequently expressed love for Israel. The bill provides Israel with a blank check drawn on the US taxpayer to maintain its “qualitative military superiority” over all of its neighbors combined. It is scheduled for passage on a “suspension of the rules,” which means it will not actually be voted on and will be approved by consent of Congress.
It is perhaps no coincidence that on Monday the Republicans in the guise of the redoubtable Howard “Buck” McKeon released their proposal for increased defense spending (yes, increased) for 2013. It includes a cool $1 billion for Israel to upgrade its missile defenses. That’s on top of the $3 billion it already receives plus numerous co-production programs that are off the books and defense spending that is not considered to be part of the annual grant. Perhaps “Buck” should consider changing his sobriquet to “Warbucks.” Buck is not Jewish but he is a Mormon, perhaps a sign of what will be coming if we are so unlucky as to vote into office the born again Hawk Mitt Romney. Mitt has a foreign policy team consisting of more than thirty stalwarts, mostly drawn from the Bush Administration, and nearly all of whom are neocons. It features Robert Kaplan, John Bolton, and Dan Senor.
Israel and its partisan hacks in Congress are utterly shameless. At a time when the country is screaming for some measure of restraint in government spending, Israel is the one budget line that only sees increases.
Philip Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues.