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CIA, DEA, Operated Without Oversight in Brazil

by Carlos Castiho

CIA had bugged President's private telephones
(IPS) RIO DE JANEIRO -- The military aide to Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso admitted that the government did not have complete control over U.S. intelligence agents operating in Brazil.

The military aide, General Alberto Cardoso, said the lack of control was only transitory. But he failed to explain just why the CIA and DEA agents enjoyed such freedom of action here.

Nor did the general explain how the government planned to resolve the problem.

The actions of U.S. agents in Brazil hit the headlines after a local magazine, 'Carta Capital,' reported early this month that the CIA had bugged President Cardoso's private telephones two years ago.

According to the weekly, Cardoso's phones were bugged in search of inside information regarding the negotiations on the installation of a sophisticated air surveillance system aimed at detecting drug trafficking operations in Brazil's Amazon region.

The project, known by its acronym SIVAM, sparked heated debate due to allegations of corruption among high-level military officers and government officials, denounced by executives of the U.S. company Raytheon, interested in holding onto a deal worth an estimated one billion dollars.

Brazilian air force officers shipping cocaine to Europe in military airplanes
The connections between the CIA, DEA, the military and drug traffickers returned to the Brazilian political agenda after the discovery, in the last week of April, that Brazilian air force officers were involved in shipping cocaine to Europe in military airplanes.

One of the main suspects in that case is Lieutenant-Colonel Paulo Sergio Oliveira, one of the officers in charge of air surveillance over the Amazon basin, where SIVAM operates.

Oliveira and three other officers were identified after a suitcase carrying 33 kilos of Colombian cocaine was found April 19 on a Hercules air force plane, shortly before it was to take off to Las Palmas, on Spain's Canary islands.

The entire operation, that culminated in the interception of the drugs, was coordinated by U.S. agents -- which annoyed Brazil's military brass and gave rise to friction with the U.S. Embassy, according to the local press.

U.S. adviser Craig Peters Osth was identified by the magazine 'Carta Capital' as the head of the CIA in Brazil.

The Hercules airplane incident remains shrouded in mystery, despite parallel probes launched by the military and parliament.

Although the president's aide-de-camp denied that the DEA and CIA had listened in on Cardoso's phone conversations, he acknowledged that U.S. agents enjoyed ''too much freedom'' to move about and operate in Brazil.

The general said the Brazilian government had more control over CIA agents than those working for the DEA.

According to Deputy Jose Genoino of the opposition leftist Workers Party, the DEA has at least 12 agents working secretly in Brazil.

Foreign Minister Luis Felipe Lampreia and Justice Minister Renan Calheiros will be summoned before parliament this month to account for the latest episode in the complex saga involving business, narco-trafficking, espionage and corruption.

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Albion Monitor May 31, 1999 (

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