If you had free reign over classified networks… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do?”
“God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms… I want people to see the truth… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.
Bradley Manning, “Manning-Lamo Chat Logs Revealed” Wired (July 2011).
Alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning’s pretrial hearing is expected to end next week. In what little media coverage the trial has received so far, attention has focused more on the harsh conditions of Manning’s imprisonment than the disruptive political ramifications of having exposed the secret machinations of the most powerful nation in the world.
In one of the thousands of leaked diplomatic cables, former US Ambassador to Haiti Janet Sanderson described Haiti as a “small, poor nation in the shadow of the American behemoth.” Unsurprisingly, as the Atlantic Wire put it, the cables “highlight how America has been micromanaging and manhandling the Haitian government into aligning their policies with U.S. interests.”
Consider this less-than-comprehensive overview of the profound American impact on Haiti in three key areas, as revealed by Manning and WikiLeaks:
US officials led a far-reaching international campaign aimed at keeping former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide exiled in South Africa, rendering him a virtual prisoner there for the last seven years, according to secret US State Department cables … The cables show that high-level US and UN officials even discussed a politically motivated prosecution of Aristide to prevent him from “gaining more traction with the Haitian population and returning to Haiti.”
The Aristide Files, The Nation (5 August 2011).
The United States, the European Union and the United Nations decided to support Haiti’s recent presidential and parliamentary elections despite believing that the country’s electoral body, “almost certainly in conjunction with President Preval,” had “emasculated the opposition” by unwisely and unjustly excluding the country’s largest party, according to a secret US Embassy cable.
Cable Depicts Fraudulent Haiti Election, The Nation (8 June 2011).
Even before the Haitian government authorized it, Washington began deploying 22,000 troops to Haiti after the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, despite U.S. Embassy officials saying there was no serious security problem, according to secret U.S. diplomatic cables provided to Haïti Liberté by the media organization WikiLeaks.
U.S. Militarization of Post-Quake Aid, Haiti Liberte (21 June 2011).
A prominent Haitian businessman and a top U.S. Embassy official urged UN occupation troops to attack a crowded Haitian slum, fully expecting that “unintended civilian casualties” would occur, according to secret diplomatic cables provided by WikiLeaks to Haiti Liberté.
U.S. Embassy Approved of Deadly Attack on Haitian Slum, Haiti Liberte (13 September 2011).
United Nations forces that have occupied Haiti since June 2004 were poorly trained, spied on student groups, mismanaged and staged elections, and recklessly shot, killed and wounded hundreds of civilians, according to secret US diplomatic cables.
Cables Paint Portrait of Brutal, Ineffectual and Polluting UN Force, The Nation (6 October 2011).
Contractors for Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked in close concert with the US Embassy when they aggressively moved to block a minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest-paid in the hemisphere, according to secret State Department cables … But the factory owners refused to pay 62 cents per hour, or $5 per day, as a measure unanimously passed by the Haitian Parliament in June 2009 would have mandated. And they had the vigorous backing of the US Agency for International Development and the US Embassy when they took that stand.
Let Them Live on $3 a Day, The Nation (1 June 2011).
“International oil companies are increasingly concerned—both Texaco and Esso will meet with the Ambassador in the near future—that they will have to buy their oil from the GOH [Government of Haiti],” wrote Ambassador Sanderson in a May 17, 2006, cable, concluding that “we will continue to raise our concerns about the PetroCaribe deal with the highest levels of government.”
The PetroCaribe Files, The Nation (1 June 2011).
Disaster capitalists were flocking to Haiti in a “gold rush” for contracts to rebuild the country after the January 12, 2010, earthquake, according to a secret cable from US Ambassador Kenneth Merten. … “Other companies are proposing their housing solutions or their land use planning ideas, or other construction concepts. Each is vying for the ear of President in a veritable free-for-all.”
The Post-Quake ‘Gold Rush’ for Reconstruction Contracts, The Nation (15 June 2011).
“These cables show over and over, the U.S. considered Haiti to be its ward and regardless of whomever is in power, either democratically elected or not, they expect that person to do their bidding,’’ said Alex Dupuy, author of The Prophet and Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti and the International Community.
WikiLeaks cables show US calling the shots in Haiti, Miami Herald (21 July 2011).
Image: A U.S. Marine stands guard outside the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 2010, Department of Defense.