CIA Paid Colombian Intelligence Agency
DAS-CIA Operation to Spy on South American Embassies
By Susana Pimiento
On May 4, the Colombian Senate held a special hearing on the illegal activities of the Colombian intelligence Agency (DAS). Such activities have included not only illegal surveillance, but a series of acts that amount to State terrorism, such as death threats, kidnappings, harassment of children, blackmailing and framing of Supreme Court Justices, opposition leaders, journalists and human rights defenders. DAS even created a manual that instructed agents how to threaten the children of their targets.
At the hearing opposition senator Gustavo Petro unveiled the alleged role of United States in one of these operations, citing official documents. Under the code name “Operacion Bahía” (Bay Operation), an illegal operation in 2007 and 2008 was directed not by the Colombian intelligence agency, but by the US. The operation targeted diplomatic representatives from Colombian neighbors from “all the Latin American left,” including Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Cuba. Similar operations were undertaken under the code names “Salomon”, “Fenix” and “Condor.”
Petro asked the head of DAS, Felipe Muñoz, also attending the hearing “if it is valid for a state that respects international law to use this kind of mechanisms, illegal in Colombia, unconstitutional, to carry out an operation within the so called ‘political war.’”
Regarding the legality of such activities under U.S. law, Adam Isacson of Washington Office on Latin America stated that while those intelligence activities are permitted and the CIA is allowed to hire foreign human sources to gather intelligence, such activities are carried out when the target is a state considered “enemy”, but unthinkable against a friendly regime such as Canada or France.
The episode is likely to have an impact on stability in South America. It clearly shows Colombian willingness to act as trampoline from which Washington launches illegal surveillance activities. How then can either government be trusted when they claim that the US-Colombia military base agreement is not going to used against Colombia’s neighbors?