CIA Operation Pliers uncovered in Venezuela

An internal CIA memorandum has been obtained by Venezuelan counterintelligence from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas that reveals a very sinister — almost fantastical, were it not true — plan to destabilize Venezuela during the coming days.

The plan, titled “Operation Pliers,” was authored by CIA Officer Michael Middleton Steere and was addressed to CIA Director General Michael Hayden in Washington. Steere is stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas under the guise of a “regional affairs officer.”

The internal memorandum, dated Nov. 20, refers to “Advances of the Final Stage of Operation Pliers” and confirms that the operation is coordinated by the team of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) in Venezuela.

The memo summarizes the different scenarios that the CIA has been working on in Venezuela for the upcoming referendum vote on Sunday, Dec. 2. The “Electoral Scenario,” as it’s phrased, confirms that the voting tendencies will not change substantially before Sunday and that the “Yes” vote in favor of the constitutional reforms proposed by President Hugo Chavez has an advantage of about 10-13 points over the “No” vote. The CIA estimates that 60 percent of the voters will abstain from voting and states in the memo that this voting tendency is irreversible before the elections.

CIA officer Steere emphasizes the importance and success of the public relations and propaganda campaign that the CIA has been funding with more than $8 million during the past month — funds that the CIA confirms are transferred through the USAID-contracted company, Development Alternatives, Inc., which set up operations in June 2002 to run the USAID’s Office for Transition Initiatives. The latter office funds and advises opposition nongovernmental organizations and political parties in Venezuela.

The CIA memo specifically refers to these propaganda initiatives as “psychological operations” (PSYOPS) that include contracting polling companies to create fraudulent polls that show the No vote with an advantage over the Yes vote, which is false.

The CIA also confirms in the memo that it is working with international press agencies to distort the data and information about the referendum, and that it coordinates in Venezuela with a team of journalists and media organized and directed by the president of Globovision, Alberto Federico Ravell.

Steere recommends to Gen. Hayden two different strategies to work simultaneously: Impede the referendum and refuse to recognize the results once the Yes vote wins. Though these strategies appear contradictory, Steere claims that they must be implemented together precisely to encourage activities that aim toward impeding the referendum and at the same time prepare the conditions for a rejection of the results.

How is this to be done?

In the memo, the CIA proposes the following tactics and actions:

• Take the streets and protest with violent, disruptive actions across the nation • Generate a climate of ungovernability • Provoke a general uprising in a substantial part of the population • Engage in a “plan to implode” the voting centers on election day by encouraging opposition voters to “VOTE and REMAIN” in their centers to agitate others • Start to release data during the early hours of the afternoon on Sunday that favor the No vote (in clear violation of election regulations) • Coordinate these activities with Ravell & Globovision and international press agencies • Coordinate with ex-military officers and coup-makers Pena Esclusa and Guyon Cellis — this will be done by the Military Attaché for Defense and Army at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Office of Defense, Attack and Operations (DAO)

To encourage rejection of the results, the CIA proposes: • Creating an acceptance in the public opinion that the No vote will win for sure • Using polling companies contracted by the CIA • Criticize and discredit the National Elections Council • Generate a sensation of fraud • Use a team of experts from the universities that will talk about how the data from the Electoral Registry has been manipulated and will build distrust in the voting system

The CIA memo also talks about: • Isolating Chavez in the international community • Trying to achieve unity amongst the opposition • Seek an alliance between those abstentionists and those who will vote No • Sustain firmly the propaganda against Chavez • Execute military actions to support the opposition mobilizations and propagandistic occupations • Finalize the operative preparations on the U.S. military bases in Curacao and Colombia to provide support to actions in Venezuela • Control a part of the country during the next 72-120 hours • Encourage a military rebellion inside the National Guard forces and other components

Those involved in these actions as detailed in the CIA memo are: • The CIA Office in Venezuela — Office of Regional Affairs, and Officer Michael Steere • U.S. Embassy in Venezuela, Ambassador Patrick Duddy • Office of Defense, Attack and Operations (DAO) at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas and Military Attaché Richard Nazario

Venezuelan Political Parties: • Comando Nacional de la Resistencia • Accion Democratica • Primero Justicia • Bandera Roja

Media: • Alberto Federico Ravell & Globovision • Interamerican Press Society (IAPA) or SIP in Spanish • International Press Agencies

Venezuelans: • Pena Esclusa • Guyon Cellis • Dean of the Simon Bolivar University, Rudolph Benjamin Podolski • Dean of the Andres Bello Catholic University, Ugalde • Students: Yon Goicochea, Juan Mejias, Ronel Gaglio, Gabriel Gallo, Ricardo Sanchez

Operation Pliers has the objective of encouraging an armed insurrection in Venezuela against the government of President Chavez that will justify an intervention of U.S. forces stationed on the military bases nearby in Curacao and Colombia. The plan mentions two countries in code as Blue and Green. These refer to Curacao and Colombia, where the U.S. has operative, active and equipped bases that have been reinforced over the past year and a half in anticipation of a conflict with Venezuela.

The document confirms that psychological operations are the CIA’s best and most effective weapon to date against Venezuela, and it will continue its efforts to influence international public opinion regarding President Chavez and the situation in the country.

Operation Pliers is a very alarming plan that aims to destabilize Venezuela and overthrow (again) its legitimate and democratic (and very popularly supported) president. The plan will fail, primarily because it has been discovered, but it must be denounced around the world as an unacceptable violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty.

The original document in English will be available in the public sphere soon for viewing and authenticating purposes. And it also contains more information than has been revealed here.

For the full text in Spanish, see: Operación Tenaza: Informe confidencial de la CIA devela plan de saboteo al referéndum del 2 de diciembre

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This article originally appeared on Nov. 28 at .