CIA 'funded Haitian drugs operation'

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WASHINGTON - The CIA created an intelligence service in Haiti in the 1980s which was meant to fight cocaine traffickers, but instead it ended up running drugs and helping to overthrow the elected government, writes Patrick Cockburn.

The revelation is part of the growing controversy over the role of the CIA in Haiti, where it has appeared to undermine policies adopted by the White House and the State Department. Not only did the Haitian intelligence service fail to use any of the millions of dollars supplied by the CIA to provide information about drug traffickers, but it threatened to kill the head of the US Drug Enforcement Agency in Haiti last year.

The CIA set up the Haitian intelligence service, known as SIN, in 1986 but says it severed connections with it after the coup which overthrew the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991, according to the New York Times. A key CIA informant on political conditions in Haiti over the years was Lt-Gen Raoul Cedras, the army commander who led the military takeover.

'It was a military organisation that distributed drugs in Haiti,' a US official formerly at the American embassy in Port-au-Prince, was quoted as saying about SIN. 'It never produced drug intelligence. The agency gave them money under 'counter-narcotics' and they used their training to do other things in the political arena.'

Brian Latell, the CIA's leading analyst on Latin America, told congressional leaders last month that Fr Aristide was mentally unstable. Supporters of Fr Aristide within the administration have countered with details of the agency's past intimacy with the soldiers who are balking at a return to civilian rule.

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