In a commentary last week about Gen. Charles Wilhelm recommending the withdrawal from Haiti of the 500 troops we still keep there because he was concerned about their safety, we said that it had been reported that an American had been found murdered in the capital of Haiti and that his body had been dismembered and the body parts scattered. The editor of the Haitian paper that reported this told us that the victim may have been a DEA agent and that his death might have been a factor in Gen. Wilhelm?s recommending the troop withdrawal.
We checked this story out and succeeded in finding someone in the government who knew something about it. The DEA said none of their agents was missing in Haiti. They had also heard the story, but they knew nothing more about it. The Pentagon came up with a similar reply. None of their personnel was missing. We finally obtained an authoritative answer after we got word to the State Department spokesman that he might be asked about this at his daily press briefing.
The answer was that an American named David Martin, a long time resident of Haiti, age 72, had been found dead on February 12 with his throat slit, but his body had not been dismembered. His car and valuables had been stolen. We regret having reported this story before we got this information, but we had what we thought was a reliable source and it appeared that it might have a connection with Gen. Wilhelm?s recommendation.
As a result of the queries we made about this report, we learned more about the current state of law and order in Haiti. Even though no American has been murdered and his body dismembered, we can better understand Gen. Wilhelm?s concern about the safety of his troops. We also learned that his recommendation has the support of Secretary of Defense William Cohen and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Henry Shelton. In acknowledging that even our troops are not safe in Haiti, these men are admitting that our intervention in Haiti has failed.
Clinton sent the troops in to restore to power a democratically elected president, but he made the mistake of thinking that having a democratically elected president was synonymous with democratic government. President Aristide had been booted from office by the military because, among other things, he was inciting mobs to threaten to burn to death judges and legislators if they did not do his bidding.
Aristide is no longer president. He no longer incites mobs to kill people by incineration, but he now controls a huge and highly profitable criminal enterprise ? the smuggling of cocaine from Haiti to the U.S. The president of Haiti is now his puppet. The government is in disarray, but crime is flourishing. The State Department warns that murders, carjackings and armed robberies occur even in crowded areas in daylight and that foreigners are often the target. There are no safe areas, it says. Even our troops are in danger. This is what Clinton?s four billion dollar investment in President Aristide did for Haiti. [ Now it?s Kosovo?s turn.]