Corridors of Power: Venezuela and Drugs, Khalilzad for President, and More

Corridors of Power: Venezuela and Drugs, Khalilzad for President, and More

DRUG TRAFFIC -- On Feb. 5, Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that "Venezuela has been a major departure point" for Colombian cocaine since 2005, and Venezuela's "importance as a transshipment center continues to grow." On March 1, the State Department is expected to address the same issue in its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, one of those report cards about other people's faults that State grinds out every year -- this one, of course, about the anti-drug war worldwide.

Three years ago, the Venezuelan government halted regular cooperation with the United States on counterdrug operations, but until 2006 the State Department's report also added to its report that Venezuelan anti-drug teams cooperated with U.S. Drug enforcement agencies, resulting in major drug busts in Venezuela. That reference to unofficial cooperation is expected to be dropped from the 2008 report (which covers the previous year). Last year, according to U.S. sources, the Colombians moved 200 metric tons of cocaine through Venezuela, with the cooperation of Venezuelan officials.

If Colombia seems incapable of closing its own borders to the transiting traffickers, Chávez is to blame, McConnell suggests, "by giving traffickers access to alternative routes and transit points."

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