New documents obtained by Al-Jazeera show that contrary to testimony, the USAID Cuban Twitter program was a covert operation laying the groundwork for a possible overthrow of the Cuban Government sometime in the future.
A firm contracted by the U.S. government to help set up a Twitter-like network in Cuba held secret level security clearance and was warned the operation could involve classified work, according to documents seen by Al Jazeera. And the documents show that the program was managed by a section of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) tasked with helping manage regime change in countries where U.S. interests are at stake.
These revelations contradict testimony before the US Senate under oath that it was not the case.
The revelations appear to undermine official statements that the ZunZuneo project was “discreet” but “absolutely not” covert, according to testimony USAID administrator Rajiv Shah gave before Congress.
“Even the best-intentioned assistance can be ineffective if the situation is not ripe for change. OTI cannot create a transition or impose democracy, but it can identify and support key individuals and groups who are committed to peaceful, participatory reform,” the contract reads.So, instead of change we can believe in, these revelations show that the culture of regime change and exceptionalism that is ingrained in Washington is still alive and well. Beverly Deepe Keever explains.
“Task orders under this contract may involve classified performance,” it states. “At the time of award, the contractor does have a secret level facilities clearance.” The contract’s final page is a Department of Defense contract security classification specification.
Some of the mystery was cleared up by the leaking of the secret Pentagon Papers in 1971. The internal U.S. government study revealed: “For the military coup d’etat against Ngo Dinh Diem, the U.S. must accept its full share of responsibility. Beginning in August of 1963 we variously authorized, sanctioned and encouraged the coup efforts of the Vietnamese generals and offered full support for a successor government.”Senator Fulbright's words are still true of the present administration over 40 years later.
That disclosure led to questioning what right the U.S. had to unleash such a coup d’etat — a question that reverberates even more loudly today with the U.S.-backed or -botched “regime changes” in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. This question was one that Sen. J. William Fulbright said was being ignored — not even mentioned — in all the confidential cable traffic between U.S. officials that was later evaluated by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he headed.
In the preface to the committee’s 75-page staff report, Fulbright wrote: “What is omitted from the story of the Diem coup tells a great deal about the American policy process. Absent is any questioning by U.S. officials of the U.S. Government’s right to reform the Vietnamese government or to replace it.”
Zeroing in on the U.S. government’s self-anointed “exceptionalism” that undergirds the interventionist impulse of many American leaders, Fulbright summed up, “The right to manipulate the destiny of others is simply assumed.”