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Request to Hold Hearings on Cuba Bio-Terror Charge

Biden Requested to Hold Hearings on Cuba Bio-Terror Charge

Council on Hemispheric Affairs
1444 I St. NW Suite 211
Washington DC 20005
(202) 216-9261
For Immediate Release

Wednesday, 5/15/02

Letter to Senator Biden of Delaware, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Calls for Full-Scale Probe of Bolton's Bio-Terrorism Charge Against Cuba

* COHA Director Calls Accusations a Total Hoax and Bolton a Fabricator

In a letter sent today to Senator Joe Biden, Jr. (D-DE) Larry Birns, Director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, requested that the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee convene that body as early as possible in order to investigate and either disprove or substantiate the "explosive charges made by Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control John R. Bolton before the Heritage Foundation on May 6." The letter to Biden suggests that an executive session of that body may be in order to determine the credibility of Bolton's accusations, which charge Cuba of exporting "dual-use biotechnology" to "rogue nations" and engaging in "offensive biological warfare research and development."

Birns' request draws attention to the questionable nature of Bolton's charges which were refuted almost immediately by senior scientists, some of them defectors, familiar with Cuba's biotech industry, as well as high-ranking U.S. government officials conversant with intelligence data in the field of bio-warfare. Furthermore, his letter highlights the fact that Bolton's comments were not based on "any new information provided to the State Department" but rather on documents recently de-classified at the behest of the Assistant Secretary of State for inter-American Affairs, Otto Reich. Birns went on to accuse the Reich-led campaign of being part of a crusade by Bush administration zealots to "generate a more incendiary confrontation" between the two nations. In doing this, Reich and Bolton may not only be stretching the truth to the breaking point, but also may be participating in a "well-orchestrated cabal to justify a whole array of anti-Castro initiatives that will be codified on May 20 when the State Department releases the results of its Reich-ordered 'review' of U.S. policy towards Cuba," according to a previous COHA press release. The letter to Biden indicates that there is good "reason to suspect that a high-powered political alliance of ultra-conservative Cuban-Americans in senior policy-making positions are cooperating with like-minded administration hardliners like Bolton," to produce a more inflammatory era in U.S.-Cuba relations. "The danger," Birns adds, "is that the situation could inadvertently spiral out of control under the appellation of being part of the war against such 'terrorist' nations like Cuba, triggering armed conflict between the two ancient adversaries." COHA's director reminded Senator Biden that "Mr. Bolton cannot be described as an anonymous public servant of unblemished rectitude, but should be seen as a well-known rightwing activist, who ever since his days with the Reagan administration's Justice Department has shown himself as a shock-trooper for ultra-conservative causes." The letter calls on Biden to fully investigate all of the sources used to produce such a one-sided and circumstantial analysis in order to determine the merit of the Bolton's allegations, which were wrongfully downplayed by Secretary of State Colin Powell on May 13.

Birns asserts that Bolton's comments, which came on the eve of former President Jimmy Carter's historic visit to Cuba, were clearly meant to blunt the impact of that upcoming trip by "triggering a hostile environment where constructive dialogue could not occur." The letter cites Carter's intense briefings by the State Department's "experts on intelligence" who repeatedly assured him that there was no "evidence that Cuba has been involved in sharing any information with any country on earth that could be used for terrorist purposes" as yet another indication that Bolton's accusations do not appear to meet the credibility test.

Moreover, Birns voices skepticism when he doubts, "Mr. Bolton's objective was simply to disseminate accurate information to the American public." His letter asserts that the disclosures were "driven more by a desire to undermine the Castro regime and to heighten tensions between the U.S. and Cuba then to spotlight a legitimate threat to the nation."


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