Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dispute over Aristide, CIA Boils on at Hearing

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dispute over Aristide, CIA Boils on at Hearing

Article excerpt

SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-Mass., and other Democrats have charged that Central Intelligence Agency officials tried to sabotage President Bill Clinton's policy on Haiti by describing exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide as mentally unstable. But the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the CIA was "getting a bad rap."

"It is very clear to me that a very concerted and dangerous effort has been engaged in by some people within the framework of the CIA," Kerry said Thursday in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. "I don't brand the entire CIA . . . But there is no doubt that individuals within that agency are engaging in a separate foreign policy track."

Kerry charged that CIA officers had deliberately given a secret personality profile of Aristide - branding the Haitian leader as "mentally unstable" - to opponents of Clinton's administration "in an effort to run a course counter to the policy of this country."

"That is a very perfidious, dangerous undertaking," Kerry said.

But Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., the intelligence panel's chairman, said he had investigated the CIA's conduct and found it blameless.

"I think the CIA may be getting a bad rap," DeConcini said in a written statement. ". . . We have no information suggesting any concerted effort by the CIA to weaken or discredit President Aristide since he was elected president of Haiti."

DeConcini said that some of the conclusions in the CIA's analysis were "debatable" but that there was no evidence that they had been deliberately distorted.

DeConcini said the committee had asked CIA officials about a report in The Los Angeles Times that the agency had attempted to support Aristide's opponents in Haiti's 1988 election. "While we are continuing to investigate the allegations in question, we have no evidence that the CIA sought to prevent Mr. Aristide from coming to power," he said. …

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