Argentina Holds Confiscated U.S. Air Force Cargo

The only thing I know for sure in this case is that what is being said is not the truth.  Never trust the CIA to be forthcoming, nor the US State Dept.  And with the way that this Timerman guy is conducting himself, you can see that it is being politicized in Argentina.  The story provided by the US is plausible, to be sure….but it doesn’t speak to any secondary operations.

Regardless, the things listed as seized do not seem to be that big of a deal.  It seems that, when used for training, it is pretty mundane stuff.  Still…if i were a foreign leader, I would not want the CIA operating anything in my country.

Argentina’s relations with the U.S. took a sharp turn for the worse Monday as the country continued to hold military equipment it confiscated last week from a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane sent as part of a training course for local police.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, called on Argentina to return the property without delay.

“It’s absolutely necessary that they immediately return that material. It makes no sense for it to have been confiscated this way. This material was intended for a joint exercise in training people to rescue hostages,” Mr. Valenzuela said Monday on CNN en Espanol.

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman quickly rebutted Mr. Valenzuela and called on the U.S. to apologize for violating Argentine law.

“I told him, ‘Arturo, we have to be careful about this. The laws are made to be followed here and in the U.S. We all need to follow them,'” Mr. Timerman said on CNN en Espanol.

Mr. Timerman accused the U.S. of using the plane to smuggle undeclared firearms, surveillance equipment and “various doses of morphine” into the country for ulterior motives.

He also said that U.S. officials have refused to offer any explanation about the seized material, something State Department officials adamantly deny.

“They refuse to collaborate with us,” he said, adding that Argentina has lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. government and will return the cargo only after investigators say they no longer need it.

Mr. Timerman personally supervised the seizure of the cargo at Argentina’s Ezeiza International Airport as perplexed U.S. officials looked on.

A State Department official familiar with the seizure told Dow Jones Newswires most of the material, which was intended for use in a hostage-rescue course, had been properly declared and previously approved by Argentine authorities.

The only thing that hadn’t been declared was the medication confiscated at the airport, said the official, who asked to remain anonymous because of the delicate nature of the issue.

The medication, including morphine, is part of a first aid kit belonging to an Army medic who participates in the training courses, the official said. The course uses real weapons and live-fire exercises, making it imperative to have medication available in an emergency, the official said.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in Washington at a Monday afternoon briefing the U.S. government is “disturbed” about the seizure, and continues to seek explanations from the Argentine government.

Meanwhile, State Department officials say they have tried repeatedly to explain the matter but that Mr. Timerman won’t listen.

Relations between Argentina and the U.S. have deteriorated rapidly since U.S. President Barack Obama said in January that he would visit El Salvador, Brazil and Chile next month, skipping Argentina.

Argentine officials reportedly considered Mr. Obama’s decision an affront, especially after Argentine President Cristina Fernandez in December blocked a bid by some South American nations to formally condemn U.S. policy amid the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables scandal.

The leaked cables contained unflattering comments about several Latin American leaders, including Ms. Fernandez.

But analysts say Argentina’s anti-U.S. rhetoric may be as related to domestic politics as it is to frustration with the U.S. Some see this as a move by Mr. Timerman and Ms. Fernandez to win votes ahead of next October’s presidential election.

“They’re trying to lure the left with this anti-U.S. position and traditionally this has worked in Argentina,” Emilio Cardenas, Argentina’s widely respected former ambassador to the United Nations, told Dow Jones Newswires. “It seems to me that this is mostly an electoral move used by someone who does very little as a foreign minister and a lot as pro-government journalist.”

Mr. Timerman, who is highly critical of Argentina’s media, is a former journalist. He spends much of his day bashing journalists, opposition politicians and critics via Twitter.

The U.S. training team that arrived with the C-17 includes eight special forces officers from Fort Bragg, N.C., and the medic. As the team is also an emergency response unit, it travels with whatever equipment it would need to respond on the fly, the State Department official said.

The U.S. provided a similar training course in August 2009 and tried to repeat it in August 2010. At the time, the Air Force sent another flight to Argentina to prepare for the course, but the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires sent it back to the U.S. after discovering that its contents did not match what was ordered for the course.

Earlier this month, Mr. Timerman insinuated that a U.S.-sponsored police training program in El Salvador, the International Law Enforcement Academy, was teaching torture tactics to members of the City of Buenos Aires police force.

The critique was seen as a dig at Mayor Mauricio Macri, who has said he plans to run for president in October.

Meanwhile, city officials and local police noted that Argentina’s federal government itself has been sending people to the training program for years.

In January, Mr. Timerman hinted that the U.S. had tried to sell weapons to Argentina and suggested that Mr. Obama may be avoiding Argentina because the South American nation doesn’t kowtow to its foreign-policy requests.

Mr. Timerman said relations between the countries are “fluid,” but that there are lines with the U.S. that Argentina “should not cross” in areas like arms purchases, military cooperation and free trade.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: