Coupfusing

By , July 5, 2009 4:41 pm

This is maddening. In a July 1, 2009, State Department “Background Briefing,” an unidentified “Senior Administration Official One” responded to a reporter’s question/statement that “earlier this week, Secretary Clinton gave us to understand that you were holding off on a determination on whether [the removal of President Zelaya] was indeed a military coup. . . . that the Legal Advisor’s Office has begun the process of determining whether [the removal] was a military coup . . .” by saying:

In regard to the first question, both the President and the Secretary have described events in Honduras as a coup, which they certainly were once the current claimant to the presidency swore – was sworn in before the congress after the forcible removal of the legal and constitutional president, Mel Zelaya. 

Fine, so “this is properly classified as a military coup, right?

“Senior Administration Official One” again:

Well, I mean, it’s a golpe de estado. The military moved against the president; they removed him from his home and they expelled him from a country, so the military participated in a coup. However, the transfer of leadership was not a military action. The transfer of leadership was done by the Honduran congress, and therefore the coup, while it had a military component, it has a larger – it is a larger event.
 

So it’s a at least a coup then, if not a full blown military one? I mean, really, “I’d like to know if you have finished the formal review to declare officially the expulsion of President Zelaya as a coup-d’etat.”
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This time “Senior Administration Official Two” steps to the plate:
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. . . as I believe it was answered earlier, the review is ongoing.
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Got that? These guys can’t shoot straight.

Coup Knew?

By , July 3, 2009 12:19 pm

I just wrote Edward Schumacher-Matos about the so-called “coup” in Honduras, so called, because the State Department has yet to decide if, legally speaking, it was actually a coup. Below is my correspondence with Mr. Schumacher-Matos, a writer syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group, who, by the way, says the Hillary Clinton “declined to call the action a coup.” Not if you believe what she said on Monday, June 29 at a State Department Briefing. 

Per the former Senator, in response to a reporter’s question: “Well, we do think that this has evolved into a coup.” 

Any way, here’s my correspondence:

Edward,
I’ve read most of the Washington Post’s coverage and virtually all of the New York Times’, but I’ve yet to read what I read today in the Christian Science Monitor. So I ask–because you seem to know what you’re talking about–why is what happened in Honduras a coup? How/why is Mr. Sanchez (the author of the CS Monitor piece) wrong? And why has neither the WaPo nor the NYT (to my knowledge) mentioned Article 239 of the Honduran constitution in their coverage?
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Thanks in advance for responding,
Greg Taggart
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As a P.S. I note that the State Department–Hillary Clinton’s and President Obama’s statements notwithstanding–has not decided that what happened in Honduras as actually a “coup.” And I quote, from Ian Kelly’s Daily Press Briefing of July 1, 2009:
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QUESTION: To start with Honduras, yesterday, you told us that the Legal Adviser’s Office has begun its formal review of whether the U.S. Government regards this as a military coup.            

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: And therefore triggers the aid cutoff.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is that review complete? You had also said you didn’t think it would take that long.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Is it complete, and have you made a determination?

MR. KELLY: Yeah. It’s always dangerous when you put any kind of time-related adverb on any statement. In point of fact, we have not completed our legal determination. As I said yesterday, though, our legal advisers are actively assessing the facts and the law in question, which we take very seriously. We take our obligations under that law very seriously. And of course, I’ll let you know as soon as this determination is made.

That’s on the legal side. Of course, there’s also the diplomatic side, which has been extremely active. We’re very focused on this multilateral process that’s taking place now, particularly through the Organization of American States. As you know, the Secretary General Insulza of the OAS has a mandate to get the government that – the self-proclaimed government down there to step down and restore the duly elected president, Mr. Zelaya. The Secretary General has, as you know, 72 hours to do this. And we, of course, are – want to play a constructive role in that process. 

And from his July 2 briefing:
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QUESTION: Do you have any news on the review of possible aid cutoff to Honduras?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I do have an update for you on that if you’ll just hold on a second.

The legal review is ongoing. We’re trying to determine if Section 7008 of the Foreign Assistance Act must be applied. In the meantime, we’ve taken some actions to hit the pause button, let’s say, on assistance programs that we would be legally required to terminate if it is determined – if the events of June 28 are determined to have been, as defined – I’m sounding more and more like a lawyer here – as defined, under the Section 7008 of the Foreign Assistance Act, as defined as a military coup. 

Frankly, I find the Obama/Clinton reaction to Honduras odd and more than a bit from the hip. Can this gang shoot straight? 

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