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in the House of Representatives

THURSDAY, MAY 23, 1996

Washington, DC, December 1, 1995.

The White House.

John Conyers, Jr., Carrie Meek, Julian Dixon, Alan Mollohan, Jim Traficant, Marcy Kaptur, Nancy Pelosi, Eva Clayton, Kweisi Mfume, Barney Frank, Ron Dellums, Joe Moakley, Paul Kanjoriski, Cardiss Collins, Dave Bonior, Sheila Jackson-Lee, George Brown, John Lewis, Louis Stokes, George Miller, Maurice Hinchey, Bennie Thompson, Martin Sabo, Peter DeFazio, Joe Kennedy, Henry Gonzalez, Victor Frazer, Neil Abercrombie, Bobby Rush, Eliot Engel, Major Owens, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Earl Hilliard, Ed Towns, Donald Payne, Sam Gibbons, Chaka Fattah, Bernard Sanders, Vic Fazio, Nita Lowey.

Washington, DC, January 30, 1996.

The White House.

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Washington, DC, April 12, 1996.

Hon. Togo D. West, Jr.,
Secretary of the U.S. Army, The Pentagon, Washington, DC.

Dear Togo: I know you are aware that our relations with haiti are of great concern to me. I have traveled there many times over the years, most recently with Ambassador Madeleine Albright to witness that nation's first peaceful transfer of power as the democratically elected Rene Preval was sworn in as president. While this was cause for celebration, difficult challenges for Haiti remain.

One of the most pressing issues facing Haiti is to establish security among the people and confidence in the new justice system by investigating human rights crimes and continuing the disarmament process. I am concerned that the United States is not doing everything it could to advance these goals. While the Republican Congress is preoccupied with a few select murder cases, new gangs and paramilitary organizations threaten a new surge of vigilante violence because their weapons have not been taken away. News reports from Haiti indicate as many as ten armed anti-democratic gangs are currently operating.

During the restoration of democracy to Haiti in the fall of 1994, the U.S. military seized photographs, thousands of pages of documents, and other materials from the Haitian Army (the FAH'd), the headquarters of the Front for Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH) and other locations. I am well aware of the ongoing discussions between the United States Government and the Government of Haiti to arrange for the return of the Haitian documents.

I have written two letters to President Clinton about this matter, signed by a cumulative total of 50 members of Congress. I believe that a return of these materials could make an important contribution to the establishment of peace and justice in Haiti.

I commissioned a Congressional Research Service study by the American Law Division which determined that according to the Foreign Relations Law of the United States and international law as interpreted by the United States, the seized documents clearly belong to the legitimate government of Haiti. The opinion also noted that their seizure and retention is a departure from these norms.

This letter, however, is a request for information about the directives that were given prior to the seizure of the documents and materials and what happened in the period after they were taken. Since the U.S. Army constituted a large proportion of American involvement in the multinational operation in Haiti, I thought you would be able to provide me with some details about the actual seizure of the documents and the decisions leading up to that action. Specifically, I would like to know (1) generally what troops were told to look for by commanding officers before the searches; (2) which locations were searched and if a complete list of these sites is available; (3) if SALUTE forms or other inventories are available describing everything that was found; and most importantly, (4) what the established priority intelligence requirements and information requirements were.

I understand that captured enemy material is an important element of intelligence , and that seizure of CEM is vital to gaining information about the adversary. In meeting that requirement, it seems to me that the armed forces involved in the seizures did an admirable job. The seizures in Haiti are a special case because they occurred during a multinational operation. The `Joint Doctrine for Intelligence Support to Operations' (Joint Pub. 2-0) notes in its chapter on multilateral operations that `. . . nations should share all relevant and pertinent intelligence about the situation and the adversary to attain the best possible common understanding of the threatened interests, determine relevant and attainable objectives, and achieve unified efforts against the adversary.' I am a strong supporter of the United Nations and the UN is of course facing increased skepticism in the United States. Therefore my fifth and final request is to hear--from the Army's perspective--how information contained in the seized materials was shared with other members of the multilateral forces and how that contributed to the successful prosection of the overall mission.

The restoration of Haiti's legitimate government was a great success for the cause of democracy in general and the foreign policy of President Clinton in particular. UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who I met with yesterday, agrees with me and I know you do too. For that reason, I hope you will assist me in my effort to learn more about our operation in Haiti. I look forward to hearing from you, and I hope you will personally contact me if you have any questions.


John Conyers, Jr.,
Member of Congress.

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Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 5: In the months after the United States invasion of Haiti, American officers repeatedly told their troops that the country's most dreaded paramilitary group was actually a legitimate opposition political party. `They're no different from Democrats or Republicans,' soldiers in Haiti dutifully echoed when asked about their instructions.

But a review of classified cables sent by the American Embassy in Haiti to the Defense and State Departments shows that for a year before the invasion in September 1994 the Pentagon knew that the official version was not true.

Within weeks of the founding of the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, the papers indicate, American intelligence agencies had concluded the group was a gang of `gun-carrying crazies' eager to `use violence against all who oppose it.'

`All over the country, Fraph is evolving into a sort of Mafia,' a cable from the office of the American military attache in Port-au-Prince warned in the spring of 1994, using the group's acronym. `Its use of force to intimidate and coerce is sanctioned by the local military, which derives both political and especially material benefits from their relationship.'

With United States troops now in Bosnia pursuing some of the same objectives as in Haiti, the documents raise questions about the soliders' mission, the information they are given by superiors and the action they take in the field.

Human rights observers and others who have seen the papers say they also raise the question whether the military ordered American troops to ignore human rights abuses committed before they arrived.

What remains uncertain is why the Pentagon took a public stance clearly at odds with the classified information it had collected in Haiti.

In separate raids on the headquarters of Fraph and the Haitian armed forces after the invasion, American troops seized more than 150,000 pages of official documents, which were taken to the United States. Haiti has demanded their return.

Several hundred pages of United States documents relating to Fraph were obtained last year by the Center for Constitutional Rights for a suit filed in Federal Court in Brooklyn by Alerte Belance, an Aristide supporter now living in New Jersey. She says the group abducted her in Haiti in 1993 and attacked her with a machete, cutting off one of her arms, an ear, and parts of her nose and tongue before leaving her for dead.

Human rights groups say such brutality was typical of Fraph, which they hold responsible for many of the more than 3,000 deaths during Mr. Aristide's exile, from 1991 to 1994.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a motion for a default judgment against Fraph, which has failed to respond to the suit. But Ms. Belance's lawyers have asked the presiding judge to delay any award of damages until their client obtains additional documents, including tens of thousands of the pages seized by American troops from Fraph's headquarters.

`These documents are relevant to establish that Fraph was acting under color of official authority when it carried out the torture of Alerte Belance, and therefore violated international law,' the Center for Constitutional Rights contended in court papers filed last month.

Cables that have already been declassified by the Defense Intelligence Agency as part of the suit indicate that American intelligence agencies had a broad network of informants both within the Haitian armed forces and Fraph. In public, however, all parties denied that they were connected.

Soon after Fraph was formed, a State Department cable on Oct. 28, 1993, concluded, `Their effectiveness is a function of the willingness of their patrons' in the Haitian Armed Forces `to use intimidation and violence (carried out by armed civilian attaches) to `enforce' their political initiatives.'