The Haitian Money Trail

So how is it that we are about to spend our money and waste young American lives to prop up a man who has been described as “a cross between Idi Amin and the Singing Nun” — to impose a kind of  democracy on Haiti that Pol Pot could love?

If you really want to get to the bottom of anything there is one method that is always fool-proof,  follow the money.  Christopher Caldwell laid that trail out in July for The America Spectator.

After Jean-Bertrand Aristide was presented with the choice of resigning or being brought to trial on nine charges of violating the Haitian constitution, he departed for the United States.  President Bush, whose foreign policy consisted of supporting existing, stable governments no matter how bad or corrupt they were, wanted to send a message to the militaries of our Caribbean and Latin American neighbors that coups don’t pay.  He slapped Haiti with an embargo and signed an executive order that put the country’s treasury at the disposal of Aristide.  Big mistake; not to mention a probable violation of international law.

Now, Aristide may be unbalanced, paranoid and dishonest, but he isn’t dumb.  He began funneling money to Clinton’s political allies in one of the most expensive lobbying efforts in recent memory. The man who ran Clinton’s Maryland campaign, Michael Barnes, is Aristide’s chief Washington lawyer.  His firm Hogan and Hartson, at one time was billing the deposed president $55,000 per month.  In what could be a colossal conflict of interest, one of Hogan & Hartson’s former partners, Sandy Berger, just happens to be Mr. Clinton’s chief Haitian advisor, and a Barnes’ buddy.

Mr. Aristide also shells out plenty of dough to the $175-per hour public relations firm of McKinney & McDowell to shape the news.  This firm has also represented the African National Congress, the NAACP and the National Organization for Women.

Aristide’s champion in the Senate is Christopher Dodd, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on Western Hemisphere and Peace Corps Affairs.  Dodd spent two years on the opposite end of the island Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic while in the Peace Corps.  He is said to brag about his long-standing, intimate relationship with members of the Duvalier family.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus also had a cordial relationship with both Duvalier dictators.  And let us not forget that Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was a highly-paid lobbyist for the Duvalier regime.  So follow the money trail.  It’s not exactly straight and narrow.   And,  it certainly doesn’t lead to or from democracy.

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