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November 28, 2007 5:27 PM   Subscribe

Operation PLIERS. An internal CIA memorandum has been obtained by Venezuelan counterintelligence from the US Embassy in Caracas that reveals a plan to destabilize Venezuela during the upcoming constitutional referendum. The plan, titled "OPERATION PLIERS" was authored by CIA Officer Michael Middleton Steere and was addressed to CIA Director General Michael Hayden in Washington. The full text of the memo will be released soon for verification purposes. Many previously.
posted by scalefree (42 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Doomed to failure.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:32 PM on November 28, 2007


Oops, I wanted to include this link about US companies sponsoring election propaganda.
posted by scalefree at 5:32 PM on November 28, 2007


Oh & I also found this document listing Steere's previous posting to Chile. And the Washington Post lists his 2004 purchase of a house in McLean, VA (not linked, go find it yourself).
posted by scalefree at 5:39 PM on November 28, 2007


Doomed to failure.

The CIA's alleged efforts to destabilize Venezuela? Or this post?
posted by Rangeboy at 5:39 PM on November 28, 2007


Rangeboy: No, YOUR MOM.
posted by papakwanz at 5:42 PM on November 28, 2007


Why not both?
posted by scalefree at 5:44 PM on November 28, 2007


But I'm sure they'd never do anything like that HERE! Do, please, be serious.

this post sponsored by People To Forget GHWB Was Once CIA Director
posted by DU at 5:44 PM on November 28, 2007


I'm not sure who I should be rooting for. A belligerent Chavez trying to stay in office forever, or the CIA, doing their usual job.
posted by anthill at 5:45 PM on November 28, 2007


See this is why the american gov't should get out of the business of secret information crud. Cuz when it comes out in the open it's like a big deal. If we were totally up front with the fact we think Chavez is a multiple expletive and should be trapped in a large pressure cooker stewing in his own juices, the world would be a better place.

When you play chess, you don't tell the guy you're playing the game with that you really want him to win and you actively offer him friendly advice on how to beat you that is secretly bad advice that gives you an edge. You just do your best to defeat the butthead. That's the way it oughtta be.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:46 PM on November 28, 2007


The CIA is almost entertainingly hilarious in the reliable consistency of its incompetence. That's the joy of secrecy, however: no one can ever hold you accountable because no one really knows what you've done. I wish my job were secret!
posted by mr_roboto at 5:47 PM on November 28, 2007


mr_roboto, if it makes you feel any better, I have no idea what your job is. But I'm sure you do it very well, only to be thwarted by your pointy-haired boss.
posted by wendell at 5:53 PM on November 28, 2007


Operation Tenaza has the objective of encouraging an armed insurrection in Venezuela against the government of President Chavez that will justify an intervention of US forces

"We'll just bring the Marines close, you'll see how they beg us to liberate them." You'd think they would have learned from all the times that plan has gone horribly wrong.
posted by micayetoca at 6:07 PM on November 28, 2007


This is probably a violation of the charter of the Organization of American States.

And of course it's (*yawn*) totally shocking that the US wouldn't keep its word.
posted by mullingitover at 6:10 PM on November 28, 2007


Chavez is just one more tin horn dictator. He cares more about his own power than he does about his people.
posted by caddis at 6:31 PM on November 28, 2007


But, will Bush pardon you for revealing the name of the operative? Or is that so in vogue these days?

I remember some propaganda that must have come out of this recently, in which Chavez's government was only going to allow a choice from 100 names for new infants born in Venezuela. I read the Utah papers, they will believe, and print anything at times.

There was an article today from some pundit named Oppenheimer, implying that Brazil's new oil strike, should be managed by someone with a cooler head. He felt it was scary that the elected leader of Brazil might take on populist, messianic tendencies.

When did we go back to the sixties? Where is the LSD, the free love, the stable of dictators? Oh the stable is nearly done? Well, what about the rest?
posted by Oyéah at 6:38 PM on November 28, 2007


But, will Bush pardon you for revealing the name of the operative? Or is that so in vogue these days?

I remember some propaganda that must have come out of this recently, in which Chavez's government was only going to allow a choice from 100 names for new infants born in Venezuela. I read the Utah papers, they will believe, and print anything at times.

There was an article today from some pundit named Oppenheimer, implying that Brazil's new oil strike, should be managed by someone with a cooler head. He felt it was scary that the elected leader of Brazil might take on populist, messianic tendencies.

When did we go back to the sixties? Where is the LSD, the free love, the stable of dictators? Oh the stable is nearly done? Well, what about the rest?
posted by Oyéah at 6:38 PM on November 28, 2007


Uh oh, flashback.
posted by Oyéah at 6:39 PM on November 28, 2007


Yes Caddis, and that gives the USA the right to determine others' governments. Glad we've got that all sorted out.

The CIA need exterminating.
posted by pompomtom at 6:40 PM on November 28, 2007


oh pompomtom, you read far too much into my comments

what, you like this guy?
posted by caddis at 6:43 PM on November 28, 2007


Come on. He also says CNN is trying to kill him.

The US is no innocent when it comes to Venezuela, but their propaganda is still propaganda. Chavez is stirring up fights with everyone because he is worried he will lose the upcoming election. I'll believe this when the document is published.
posted by blahblahblah at 6:44 PM on November 28, 2007


Chavez is just one more tin horn dictator. He cares more about his own power than he does about his people.
posted by caddis at 7:31 PM on November 28


And that's different from Bush how?
posted by Eekacat at 6:49 PM on November 28, 2007


This is really shaky info for an FPP, by the way. A single article on a website, by a source with a clear axe to grind, promising a document that has not yet been delivered is presented as being true....
posted by blahblahblah at 6:59 PM on November 28, 2007


I know it won't mean much to anyone else but it feels authentic to me. I verified as well as I could that Steere is CIA & I think Chavez would risk too much blowback to try to pull off a forgery of this magnitude.
posted by scalefree at 7:13 PM on November 28, 2007


Yeah, I just read a memo from the future about this.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:20 PM on November 28, 2007


micayetoca quotes "Operation Tenaza has the objective of encouraging an armed insurrection in Venezuela against the government of President Chavez that will justify an intervention of US forces"
Come, get out of the way, boys
Quick, get out of the way
You'd better watch what you say, boys
Better watch what you say
We've rammed in your harbor and tied to your port
And our pistols are hungry and our tempers are short
So bring your daughters around to the port
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

We pick and choose as please, boys
Pick and choose as please
You'd best get down on your knees, boys
Best get down on your knees
We're hairy and horny and ready to shack
And we don't care if you're yellow or black
Just take off your clothes and lay down on your back
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

-- Phil Ochs
posted by orthogonality at 7:28 PM on November 28, 2007


oh pompomtom, you read far too much into my comments

Quite possibly. I'm fairly good at that.

what, you like this guy?

Which guy, Chavez? Hmmm.

Far more than I like the CIA. Or, say, Mugabe, or Bush, or Than Shwe, or Johnny Wilkinson.

*thinks*

You know, I think I'd buy him a beer.
posted by pompomtom at 9:26 PM on November 28, 2007


They both need a good tasing.
posted by craniac at 9:37 PM on November 28, 2007


Chavez appears to be a crazy-as-a-fox dictator (he's not tin pot, he's the real zinc. He's the bismuth) but as it stands he's more agreeable than George W Bush because he's actually done some good things for the people of Venezuela. Bush has done fuck all for anyone, and is far worse of a threat to the world in general. Bush is a fucking war criminal. Chavez looks like Ghandi next to Bush.

I'm sure if George W Bush did not exist, that we would all think Chavez was the worst extreme of a tyrant, and loathe him en masse. There would be mass loathing sessions. Ten minute loathings.

But tyranny is so relative.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 11:54 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


What definition of "dictator" are people using here?

Chavez is stirring up fights with everyone because he is worried he will lose the upcoming election.

That's not a fight that Chavez started, and it's a referendum, not an election.
posted by stammer at 12:54 AM on November 29, 2007


(Sigh) Anything coming from the loud, unpleasant, and propaganda-powered Chavez regime should be given as much credence as spin and guff from the desk of Scooter Libby. It is a real shame that Venezuala's political system could not produce a credible, responsible left rather than a red beret sporting, quasi-fascist demagogue with very little respect for the rule of law and even less for freedom of speech. The poor have done better under him in some ways, but the small and medium sized businesses and middle class that are the backbone of any healthy economy have suffered (or just fled) from what I hear. It is also a shame that much of the opposition to Chavez is antidemocratic itself and offers few real solutions of its own. In the end though, Chavez needs to sell his oil and logistics mean that North American market access is crucial so there is more heat than light between him and Dubya. His people deserve better than a cabaret Mussolini impersonator addicted to a comic book reading of Marxism, though...
posted by The Salaryman at 3:49 AM on November 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


One more thing. I suppose that Venezuela's bad luck is now a cause celebre for an exhausted, angry and impotent feeling international left but I would rather be bereft of pin-up leaders utterly than rely on so flawed, corrupt and comical a man as a foil to Dubya and the other irritants.
posted by The Salaryman at 3:58 AM on November 29, 2007


Chavez is a populist and I have no sympathy for anyone who staged a coup. That said, he's been elected twice and diverted some money to the poor while the opposition in Venezuela staged a coup with US and local capital support and would probably give lip service to democracy and then go on ordering the population around. Both suck.
posted by ersatz at 4:51 AM on November 29, 2007


From today's New York Times:
Other analysts, including investigators who had previously uncovered financing of Venezuelan opposition groups by the United States government, expressed doubts about the authenticity of the memo, dubbed by Venezuelan officials as part of a plan called “Operation Pliers.”

“I find the document quite suspect,” said Jeremy Bigwood, an independent researcher in Washington. “There’s not an original version in English, and the timing of its release is strange. Everything about it smells bad.”
posted by blahblahblah at 6:09 PM on November 29, 2007


Chavez is becoming ever more grandiose and paranoid as the referendum nears. If it goes down I expect there will extensive violence and repression.
posted by aerotive at 6:26 PM on November 30, 2007


Well, guess what, he lost, and he accepted it publicly immediately.

So much for the "dictatorship" argument I hope.
posted by micayetoca at 4:48 AM on December 4, 2007


He has a few more years left to try this stunt again and retain his power, and if that fails there are other creative options such as those being explored by Vladimir Putin.

In modern usage, the term "dictator" is generally used to describe a leader who holds an extraordinary amount of personal power, especially the power to make laws without effective restraint by a legislative assembly. ^
posted by caddis at 9:03 AM on December 4, 2007


Good one, caddis, but let's keep in mind that it was Chavez who changed the system from a democracy by representation (where a legislative assembly keeps the Executive in line) to a democracy by participation (where the people keep everyone in line).

Anything that Chavez "dictates" and the assembly "fails to restrain" (such as the Constitutional Reform last Sunday) has to go through a referendum, where the people decide if they accept it or reject it, just like they rejected Chavez' proposal.

This renders the sweeping superpowers that the legislative assembly granted Chavez useless and transfers the power directly to the voters, not to representatives who may very well be acting on behalf of corporations or pressure groups, as we have seen happens in other countries.

In a nutshell, in Venezuela, both the "dictator" and the ineffective legislative assembly are effectively restrained by the people.
posted by micayetoca at 10:22 AM on December 4, 2007


Anything that Chavez "dictates" and the assembly "fails to restrain" (such as the Constitutional Reform last Sunday) has to may go through a referendum, where the people decide if they accept it or reject it, just like they rejected Chavez' proposal.

fixed that for you. you can read the 1999 Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela here if you would like. You will be looking for articles 71 to 74. You might also note that compared with the previous constitution this one weakens the legislature and strengthens the hold the president exerts over the military. Couple that with Chavez's suppression of opposition views in the press and he ends of wielding dictatorial power.

It's not that he has failed to do many good things for the poor of Venezuela, it's more that especially in the last few years has been more interested in maximizing his personal power. He and Putin are similar in this regard. They have both done some great things for their countries, yet they seem to enjoy power perhaps a bit too much. If I were a poor peasant in Venezuela I would probably distrust him yet vote for him.
posted by caddis at 11:36 AM on December 4, 2007


Ok, I'll quote from your link:

"Matters of special national transcendence may be referred to a consultative referendum, on the initiative of the President of the Republic, taken at a meeting of the Cabinet; by resolution of the National Assembly, passed by a majority vote; or at the request of a number of voters constituting at least 10% of all voters registered on the national, civil and electoral registry.

Ten percent of the registry isn't hard to get, as it was proved by the 2004 referendum against Chavez. The Popular Referendum has already proven to be an effective recourse for the people to limit the power of the President.

And:


"Article 341: The procedure for adopting amendments to the Constitution shall be as follows:

(3) Electoral Power shall submit the amendments to a referendum within 30 days of formally receiving the same."


And there are other provisions related to the empowerment of the people, such as Chapter IV, Citizen Power, which I won't quote, just to make our lives easier.

Now, caddis, you are making me sound like I am defending him, which I am not, so I'll further explain my point:

I live in Venezuela. It's a great country, it's undergoing a very interesting process of social change and I hate it when I see it reduced to a blanket statement, like that of the dictatorship. I really don't believe there is a dictatorship here (nor do I think that Chavez is perfect, wise and unmistakable).

I agree with you that Chavez has 5 years left to come up with another solution for his problem of not being able to run for another reelection. I agree with you that he has more power now than 3 years ago, but I'll add that he didn't acquire it with his mischievous ways, it was an easy concession from the opposition when they decided to abstain themselves from democratic processes. (And this is a perfect occasion to say that I never cease to be amazed at how stupid the opposition leaders are. They remind me -and everyone here- of Wil. E Coyote with their wit and resourcefulness).

Summarizing, I think we agree in a lot of things. I just think that Venezuela is a very interesting case and that we could benefit from resorting to new terms to describe what is going on here.
posted by micayetoca at 12:13 PM on December 4, 2007


I think we agree on a lot of things too. I hope Chavez does right by Venezuela in the long run. Despite his love for power he just might. I think he wants to. It just all boils down to whether he will become overly seduced by power or not. He should be concentrating on developing viable successors who can take the reins when he leaves and continue leading the country in the direction of justice for all citizens. That constitution is a thing of beauty. Let's hope it gets respected. The Soviet Union had a constitution too. My take, as an outsider who gets his news through the US and British media for the most part, Chavez's devotion to justice, including this constitution, peaked in 1999 or so and he has shifted more of his priorities toward his own power since then.
posted by caddis at 3:33 PM on December 4, 2007


Yeah, I hear you. Hopefully he will also focus on more urgent things, as opposed to the major changes for posterity he is always embarking in. Sometimes it feels as if he does everything trying to leave a great impression for historians in 300 years, which is great, but it doesn't solve things that complicate the day-to-day lives of Venezuelans.

Another thing I'd like to say here that is kinda related to what you said about his devotion to justice, is that I'm still very impressed with what happened on Sunday's referendum. I have no doubt whatsoever that he won the previous elections by a landslide, and it was clear that this time around it wasn't going to be that easy. To be honest, before Sunday I thought this could be the (sad) occasion where they started resorting to fraud in order to advance their "vision". It was very impressive that they didn't and things already feel different around here. I think we haven't "digested" what happened in that referendum, and it will bring very good things for the country.
posted by micayetoca at 4:15 PM on December 4, 2007


caddis, one little appendix to what I was saying yesterday. There I was, celebrating the most democratic moment I've seen in Venezuela in recent years, and not even a whole day after, he goes and calls the result of the referendum 'a shit victory'.

Not a particularly joyful event, but I felt it was only fair to mention it.
posted by micayetoca at 4:05 PM on December 5, 2007


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