Development alternatives Inc. to the aid of a hapless non-governmentJanuary 10, 2017, 9:07 pm
By Dr Kamal Wickremasinghe
It would be an understatement to say that Sri Lanka is a country beset with acute crises on political, economic and societal fronts. It is probably the worst peace-time crisis faced by Sri Lanka since the 1950s, largely a case of the ‘chickens (of past mistakes) coming home to roost’. The intractability of the situation is not helped by the incompetence, apparent dishonesty and lack of focus— by way of a comprehensive plan to salvage the country — by what passes for government in Sri Lanka. Their misery and insecurity is evidenced by the invitation to the American CIA front organisation the Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI) to help.
Just to summarise the political, economic and societal chaos the country is facing, the government of convenience formed in 2015 is fractured along SLFP-UNP lines, probably beyond repair. To further complicate matters, the SLFP is internally divided, with unprincipled, corrupt politicians sniffing around for the best offer before deciding on ‘their’ futures — the plight of the poor Sri Lankans does not appear to bother them in the least.
The utter bewilderment of the government is displayed by the status of the grand legislative plan the government promised to gain power in 2015: abolishing the executive presidency appears to be out-of-the window, with the pro-Sirisena SLFP faction and those dependent on his graces for their time at the trough, now ‘demanding’ that the idea be ditched in favour of Sirisena contesting the presidency again in 2020; The scheduled parliamentary debate on the draft constitution is differed indefinitely;Then there is the farcical situation of the refusal by the Minister of Local Government to accept the ‘Gerrymander Report’ he himself disingenuously commissioned. The ‘icing on the cake’ of the dysfunctional government came in the form of the NGO Task Force recommendation that war crimes tribunals be formed — with at least one foreign judge in each.(The naive Task Force leadership appeared to have been fooled also to reinforce its underlying logic by requesting ‘witness protection’ of those who provided information.)
The government displayed its apparent strategy of attempts to ‘hoodwink’ the Sri Lankan people by laying foundation stones on ‘imaginary’ mega-investment projects as their solution to the economic (debt) crisis the country is facing. The foundation stones are likely to be the only things that will remain at the sites where a ‘Volkswagen’ assembly plant was declared open without the participation of Volkswagen Deutschland, a tyre manufacturing plant without support from its supposed Italian partner, and the Hambantota development project without any agreement with the China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited, were declared open.
The sale of state-owned property and investments continued, with the Bank of Ceylon selling its share of Mireka Capital Land (Pvt) to its parent, the Singapore owned Overseas Realty Ceylon PLC (ORCL) for Rs.3.88 billion. ORCL that owns and operates the World Trade Centre will now be the sole-owner of the Havelock City mixed-development venture.
Amidst this depressing scenario came the typically confusing news from the government, of an invitation to the known CIA front organisation DAI to help us with their speciality of ‘democracy promotion’. The ‘fog’ covering the engagement was blinding: coordinating secretary to the president, assured that such a venture will not be embarked upon as it is ‘foolish and it will not bring any result’; Speaker Karu Jayasuriya admitted to ‘not being aware of it’, but was not concerned since he believes that the US congress selected the DAI, ‘a reputed firm’.The DAI however, is busy looking for ‘Chief of Party’ and other recruits, suggesting that they are here with or without government invitation!
In a gesture almost deliberately designed to convey his hopelessness, the prime minister in the meantime flew out on the annual pilgrimage to Davos-Klosters, Switzerland to worship the mafia of ‘Rulers of the Universe’ at the 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, to be held from 17-20 January;He will come back home with orders from the ‘Rulers’ — issued to all ‘good leaders’ of the Third World — on how to deliver on the theme of this year’s Meeting, ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership’ as required to perpetuate their control of the globe.
The invitation to DAI — or its offer to support the government in its adversity — by an outfit propagandised as an ‘international development company’ with more than 45 years of experience, tackling fundamental social and economic development problems caused by inefficient markets, ineffective governance, and instability, easily outdoes all other issues that may matter to concerned Sri Lankans.
Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI) is a known CIA front
The fact that DAI is a CIA front has been out in the open for longer than a decade, putting the suitability to govern of any developing country leader unaware of this fact in to serious question: it was the former CIA officer named Philip Agee who first disclosed that DAI was part of a private corporate structure used by CIA to disguise its covert destabilisation programs in countries of interests to neocons’ geopolitical interests (Venezuelanalysis.com, September 8, 2005).
DAI as an entity is assigned with carrying out the ‘dirty work’ of CIA’s Office of Transition Initiatives(OTI) that sits at the head of a network of front entities (International Republican Institute (IRI), National Endowment for Democracy (NED), National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), Freedom House and numerous others).The function of these entities is effect the transfer of US funds to opposition parties and other pro-American groups in countries of strategic interest,using the pretext of ‘promoting democracy’. The OTI’s charter is to finance the formation of, and deep infiltration of civil society groups (NGOs) for use in their subversive activities including regime change in strategically important nations with governments unwilling to succumb to US dictates.
As to the broader USAID activities in Sri Lanka, the Assistant Director of its Asia Bureau outlining budget priorities for 2017 to a US Congress Foreign Affairs subcommittee last year emphasised the role of the USAID in advancing US foreign policy goals in South Asia; In the next breath he said that in Sri Lanka, USAID would be working with key institutions, including parliament, the judiciary, the elections commission and auditor general the ‘reform, accountability and reconciliation agenda’.He probably did not expect any questions on the obvious lack of a nexus between the two statements.
A brief look at the budgeted expenditure of USAID in Sri Lanka shows that their perceptions of our country’s problems are quite different to what the reader may think them to be: out of a total budget of $39.80 M, 22.02 M (55%) would be spent on Democracy and Human Rights, 9.78M (25%) on what is vaguely identified as Peace and security, with economic development coming as a poor third, again in combination with governance, afforded a mere 8 M (20%) of their not-too-generous budget in the first place; So USAID appears to be expecting to assuage the hunger pangs of our poor with generous serves of democracy, human rights and governance rather than morsels of food! They are also promoting a Social Media Lab with an introduction into Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
As to previous involvement in Sri Lanka, DAI has just completed (2013-2016) an European Commission,funded program on ‘Public Diplomacy and Outreach in India and the SAARC’, and a short-term technical assistance by way of a Sri Lankan Parliament Project (2015-2016). It is currently engaged (2016-2019) in a USAID-funded Strengthening Democratic Governance and Accountability Project aimed at strengthen public accountability systems; improve planning, communication, policy reform, and implementation; and increase the participation of women and underrepresented groups in Sri Lanka.
DAI is currently engaged in a program of expansion in South Asia, from its traditional ‘hunting ground’ of Latin America. Currently it is managing a USAID-funded Maternal and Newborn Health program in 10 remote regions of Indonesia;In Afghanistan it manages a USAID-funded a range of civil society and government activities to ‘combat corruption’ in the public sector.In Pakistan, programs referred to as Azm-e-Pakistan and Alif Aliaan purportedly seek to counter violent extremism in conflict-prone communities and to make education a central part of the national conversation in Pakistan, respectively.
In Benin in Africa, it is about ‘feeding the future: building capacity for African Agricultural Transformation Program. In Jordan, USAID's Jordan Competitiveness program, a five-year program that aims to enhance Jordan's competitiveness in high value added sectors, promote sustainable economic growth, and increase employment for Jordanians. In the neocon-created Kosovo, it is about transparent, effective, and accountable Municipalities (TEAM), a five-year project designed to address corruption at the municipal level by increasing the transparency and effectiveness of municipal procurement.
Looking at the DAI’s patronising sounding plan to ‘build the capacity of component institutions through parliamentary committees and commissions and facilitate cooperation and information sharing across institutions and with the public to strengthen the overarching political system’ raises the question as to how Sri Lanka’s democracy functioned at all, at least since the so-called Independence.They plan to engage in the self-serving agenda of assessing how commissions and ministries use external research in policy making and use results to ‘create space’ for a broader group of stakeholders, including NGOs, think tanks to provide input into policy processes.They also plan to ‘engage’ with the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration to introduce international best practices into the role of public servants in policy development and implementation.Provide technical assistance and grants to support government and civil society stakeholders to address priority laws and policies identified as affecting the rights of women and under-represented groups.
All this words reveal — to the discerning reader — the ulterior motives behind their impending intervention in our country. Their past record provides ample evidence that should prompt the government to give them the marching orders. Failure to do so would suggest that the government is seeking protection from the impending upheavals by formally becoming an American ‘client state’.
DAI in Venezuela
DAI, under USAID contract, was caught acting as a conduit for USAID funds (through the OTI) and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to Venezuelan labour unions and media outlets that supported the CIA-led,failed-coup against the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2002;DAI had been asked by the CIA to keep specific personnel in Venezuela and was required to consult with USAID about any staff changes.
By 2003, DAI began to fund a purpose-created group named Súmate, led by the leader of the failed coup,Maria Corina Machado. Súmate soon became the principal opposition organisation directing campaigns against President Chávez, including the August 2004 recall referendum with DAI and NED delivering more than $10 million, without success: Chávez won a 60-40 landslide victory; OTI still remains in Venezuela, with DAI as its principal contractor, funding more than 600 organisations, political parties, programs and projects, mainly in opposition sectors, with an annual budget of more than $10 million.
DAI in Cuba
The arrest of the American DAI employee Alan Gross, on 5 December 2009, in Havana exposed the illegal covert operations DAI was engaging in (recruiting agents, infiltrating political groups and distributing resources destined to promote destabilisation and regime change in Cuba.
The facts that emerged during Gross’ trial removed any remaining doubts about DAI’s dishonourable, clandestine activities, exposing it as nothing but a spy agency harming people in poor countries.Gross was the owner of a company specialising in installing computer electronics in remote areas, and had worked previously for the CIA in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.Following Gross’ arrest, president and CEO of DAI, Jim ‘Boomgard’, issued a statement confirming that:‘the detained individual was assisting Cuban civil society organisations on a new $40 million USD Cuba Democracy and Contingency Planning Program’ DAI was managing for OTI in Cuba since 2008.
It emerged during the trial that DAI had subcontracted Gross’s firm, JBDC, to carry out ‘civil society’ work in Cuba — to distribute cellular telephones, computers and other communications equipment to counterrevolutionary groups working to promote US agenda in Cuba;Gross’ work was part of development of a fake Twitter program named ZunZuneo (a Cuban slang word for a hummingbird’s tweet). CAI also used Mobile Accord, Inc. and front companies in the Cayman Islands, the UK and Spain to hide USAID funding of ZunZuneo.
Gross had visited Cuba four times in five months in 2009 on a tourist visa before his arrest while delivering computer and satellite equipment to three Jewish community groups.When he was arrested, Gross was carrying a high-tech chip capable of hiding the source of satellite phone transmissions for 400 kilometres, issued only to the CIA agents and the US Department of Defense agents.
According to The Washington Spectator, Gross had enlisted the help of American Jews to transport electronic equipment, also travelling with American Jewish groups under the cover of bogus ‘humanitarian’ missions to Cuba.
Cuban authorities revealed that Gross was in their Radar since 2000 when he delivered a video camera to a Cuban intelligence agent working under cover.In March 12, 2011, Alan Gross was convicted of ‘acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state of Cuba’ and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Gross’ appeal to the Supreme Court of Cuba was rejected.
In 2012 Alan Gross and his wife Judy filed a $60 million lawsuit against the US government and DAI, claiming that Gross should have been given better information and training for his work. In 2013, DAI announced the settlement of the lawsuit after agreeing to pay an undisclosed sum of money. USAID had previously agreed to pay $3.2 million to Gross.
The claims to moral uprightness upon the jailing of Gross, by the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reeked of hypocrisy and dishonesty of the highest order: she claimed that Gross had been ‘unjustly jailed for far too long’ and demanded that he be allowed to leave Cuba. Gross’ wife hired the public relations company Burson-Marsteller on the State Department′s recommendation, starting an official website.
Gross’ case was of such importance to the CIA and the US’ global subversive machinery that they negotiated a ‘prisoner exchange’ with Cuba in 2014, dressed up as a ‘thawing’ of relations between Cuba and the US: on December 17, 2014, the Cuban government released Gross on humanitarian grounds in exchange for the remaining of the ‘Cuban Five’ — who had been in US jail since 1998— were also released on December 17, 2014, although the governments characterised the two releases as being unconnected.The head of USAID, Raj Shah, announced his resignation on the day before news broke of Obama's shift in Cuba policy. In January 2015, Gross was guest of honour at the State of the Union address at the White House.
It is of further interest that the outgoing-president Barack Obama had virtually grown-up under the shade of DAI. It is common knowledge in intelligence circles that Obama’s mother met her second husband -Obama’s stepfather — colonel, Lolo Soetoro of Indonesia was linked closely to USAID covert programs in Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Vietnam, Thailand, Palau, Malaysia, and other Asian-Pacific nations.
President Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham Soetoro, worked for DAI in Java at the same time, after previous stints with other organisations with intimate CIA connections,such as The Ford Foundation, Agency for International Development (AID), the Asia Foundation, and the East-West Center of Hawaii, as an anthropologist,an ideal position to gather intelligence about local communities.
Now we have DAI fully operational in Sri Lanka.We can expect fun and games, while India is being fooled by their ‘friend’ at the same time.
The situation reminds of the Bible, Ecclesiastes 1:9 to be exact, where it is prophesied:‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun’.
Sri Lanka is a case in point!
Last Updated Mar 25 2017 | 04:49 pm