In his book, The Prince of Darkness, the late journalist Robert Novak described how the Washington Post, which carried his columns, censored one of them. The censored column concerned the activities in Washington, D.C. of Cuban agent-of-influence Orlando Letelier. Novak describes how the Post’s editorial page editor, Philip Geyelin, “spiked” the column because of “displeasure with the column’s content.”
Letelier, a Chilean Marxist working for Cuba, had been manipulating the media and Congress before his death from a car bomb in 1976. Novak had received Letelier’s incriminating briefcase papers, recovered after his death.
“I retell this story because the incident was so unusual in my long, friendly relationship with the Washington Post,” Novak said. Novak was always a strong anti-communist, just like Accuracy in Media founder Reed Irvine, who also covered the significance of the Letelier briefcase papers.
The story is worth retelling now, not only because of the passing of this great journalist, but because America’s enemies continue to be very well organized in Washington, D.C., especially in regard to the “new Cuba”-Venezuela.
The Post has long been blind to the activities of communist agents in the nation’s capital. Consider the coverage of Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela. The August 24 edition of the paper has an excellent editorial about what Chávez is doing to silence the opposition in Venezuela, threaten his neighbors, and oppose America’s national security interests in Latin America. The editorial is even critical of how the Obama Administration has handled the problem.
But the paper has failed to tell the story of what the Chávez regime has been doing here.
The Latin America Information Office, once known as the Venezuela Information Office (VIO), is the official registered agent for the Chávez regime in Washington.
Natali del Carmen Fani, former associate director of the VIO, told me in a telephone conversation on August 14 that the VIO would not have sponsored the trip to Venezuela made by communist terrorist and now Professor Bill Ayers back in 2006. She said the regime’s Ministry of Education probably sponsored and paid for Ayers’ trip. Ayers has said this was his fourth trip to Venezuela.
Our previous column goes into detail about the role played by Ayers’ son Chesa Boudin, the Red-diaper baby of Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, both of whom went to prison for murder. Boudin worked for Chávez in the presidential palace and was an interpreter for Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn when they traveled to Venezuela in 2005 and talked to various audiences concerning a film about their days as members of the communist terrorist Weather Underground.
Hugo Chávez’s attempts to win friends and influence people have been mostly associated with the highly-publicized efforts of the Venezuela-owned Citgo Petroleum Corp. to provide cheap oil in the United States to poor people through former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II and his Citizens Energy Corporation.
On the propaganda front, filmmaker Oliver Stone announced in January that he intends to do a sympathetic film about the Marxist ruler.
Less well known is the “Suitcase scandal” in which five foreign nationals were arrested and charged in the U.S. with being unregistered foreign agents of the Chávez regime and attempting to conceal the role of Chávez in smuggling $800,000 in cash from the Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) to then-Argentine presidential candidate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Four were convicted and sentenced but Antonio José Canchica Gómez, an alleged agent of the Venezuelan Directorate of Intelligence, DISIP, remains a fugitive.
Venable LLP, a law firm, was hired by the Venezuelan Embassy in the U.S. and registered as a foreign agent for Venezuela to “Provide strategic advice and counseling to the embassy with respect to fostering of Venezuelan/U.S. relations” and to “work to help arrange meetings with contacts in [the] U.S. Congress, the U.S. executive branch, and U.S. private sector.” The December 30, 2008, agreement, signed by Lorenzo David Diaz, Minister Counselor and Chief of Staff of the embassy, and Michael D. Sherman, a partner at Venable, also included an objective to “Discreetly seek to obtain information about the likely foreign policy thinking of the Obama Administration towards Latin America in general and Venezuela in particular.”
A written report was supposed to be prepared by April 15, 2009. However, Sherman informed me on August 10 that his firm no longer represents the embassy and that any report or communication with the embassy is covered by the attorney-client privilege and can only be waived by the client.
The Venezuelan Embassy (1099 30th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007) has consular offices in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan, and Washington, D.C.
I had the opportunity soon after I came to Washington to understand first-hand why a paper like the Post shies away from exposing the activities of communist agents of influence in the nation’s capital.
Lawrence Stern, the national news editor of the paper, passed away in 1979, and Reed asked me to attend and observe his memorial service. I was astounded when a man identified as Teofilo Acosta was introduced and told the service: “I’m from Cuba. I am Marxist-Leninist. I am human. Larry Stern was my friend, one of my best friends. I loved him.” Acosta was publicly known as a First Secretary in the Cuban Interests Section that has been set up inside the Czech Embassy in Washington. In reality, he was a Cuban intelligence agent.
Hence, one reason the Post shies away from exposing the activities of communist agents is that their reporters and editors may associate with them. The husband of Post reporter Dana Priest works for the Center for International Policy (CIP), a far-left group created with the assistance of Letelier.
A one-time registered foreign agent for Venezuela, Jennifer Schuett, had been a “program associate” with the Cuba program of the CIP and a participant in the “Imperatives for a New Cuba Policy” conference sponsored by the group in October 2007. The Cuba program, headed by Wayne Smith, former Chief of Mission at the U.S. interests section in Havana (1979-82), declared support for full normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba and claims the communist regime is not sponsoring terrorism. Schuett says she was a registered agent for Venezuela between September 2008 and May 2009, working on “public diplomacy” and connecting communities in the U.S. and in Venezuela.
Deborah James, now the Director of International Programs at the “progressive” Center for Economic and Policy Research, was the first executive director of the VIO and a registered foreign agent. She previously served as Director of the WTO program at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and Global Economy Director at Global Exchange.
In this regard, her bio at Global Exchange, which sponsors trips to Venezuela and Cuba, says merely that:
“In 2004, Deborah served as the first Executive Director of the Venezuela Information Office in Washington, DC, an organization that reframed public debate of the exciting progressive social transformation happening under Hugo Chávez’s leadership and successfully shifted US foreign policy towards Venezuela.”
This “progressive transformation” includes active collaboration with the narco-terrorists known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In fact, on September 12, 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department designated two senior Venezuelan officials, Rangel Silva and Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, and one former official, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, as materially assisting the narcotics trafficking activities of the FARC.
The “Chavista” network in the U.S. also includes the Venezuela Solidarity Network, which is housed at the Alliance for Global Justice (AGJ) in Washington, D.C. The headquarters of the AGJ is a townhouse building at 1247 E St., S.E., Washington, D.C., 20003. This location has also served as an address for ANSWER-the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism group. A search of records discovered that the address was the ANSWER contact for “anti-war” actions in 2003 and 2004. One flier declared: “You can also make a tax deductible donation by writing a check to A.N.S.W.E.R./AGJ and sending it to A.N.S.W.E.R., 1247 E St. SE, Washington DC 20003.”
ANSWER is a front of the Workers World Party, a communist group so extreme that it promotes the Stalinist regime of North Korea as well as the FARC. The Workers World Party publishes the Workers World newspaper.
The Venezuela Solidarity Network has a “steering committee” that includes the International Action Center, another WWP front; the International Socialist Organization; the Socialist Workers Party; Alliance for Global Justice; and the U.S. Peace Council, an old Communist Party USA front.
The WWP was the subject of an April 1974 investigative report of the House Committee on Internal Security. The report, “The Workers World Party and its Front Organizations,” documented how WWP members had been involved in prison revolts and support for Arab terrorists and communist regimes. WWP leaders were pictured, including one who had traveled with the Weather Underground- and Cuban-sponsored “Venceremos Brigades” to Cuba for communist indoctrination.
Bill Ayers’ wife Bernardine Dohrn was one of the coordinators of the Venceremos Brigades.
Yet, Post reporters Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson, authors of a new book about the presidential campaign, refer to Ayers as just “a 1960s antiwar radical who had been a founder of the Weather Underground, a group that bombed the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon.” Notice that there is nothing in their account about the continuing investigation into the alleged roles of Ayers and Dohrn in the 1970 bombing murder of a San Francisco policeman.
What’s more, the description is false. Ayers wasn’t “antiwar;” he was pro-war. He wanted the communists to win in Vietnam. This is why his Prairie Fire manifesto was dedicated to Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, an anti-war candidate.
In its editorial about Ayers’ comrade Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, the Post laments that the Obama Administration has failed “to call attention to the genuine and serious hostile actions that Mr. Chávez has taken against his neighbors and the democratic opposition in his own country. Those should rightfully be the subject of urgent inter-American consultations. That they are not shows how far the administration is from mounting effective Latin American diplomacy.”
This is yet another indication that the paper doesn’t seem to understand that Obama, Ayers and Dohrn are all on the side of Chávez. There should be no confusion.
Robert Novak understood what was happening in Washington and exposed it. His voice and pen will be greatly missed.