MARK DAVIS: Ira Kurzban thanks for joining us. We're hearing
reports from sources close to Aristide that he's been kidnapped and
was forced out of the country, can you confirm any of that
IRA KURZBAN, PRESIDENT ARISTIDE’S ATTORNEY: Yes. In fact the
president was kidnapped. The United States Government, I believe,
organised a coup against the democratically elected president
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, used force, used threats and intimidation
against him, then brought in a group of marines to escort him to a
plane, put him on that plane and for the next 15 hours clearly
kidnapped him to the extent that they would not allow him to make a
telephone call, they would not allow him to get out of the plane
when the plane stopped, they would not tell him where he was, they
would not tell him where they were going and they insisted that he
keep the shades down in the plane so he would not know where he was
landing at any time.
MARK DAVIS: But you would have heard Donald Rumsfeld
specifically denying this accusation?
IRA KURZBAN: Well, I'd like to see Donald Rumsfeld put on a
plane and told he couldn't make a telephone call and nobody would
tell him where he is and fly him halfway around the world for 15
hours and he would take the position that he wasn't kidnapped. It
sure sounds like kidnapping to me.
MARK DAVIS: Well, kidnapping's an extremely serious charge, of
course, and according to Aristide he claims that he was threatened
by US diplomats that he'd be killed if he didn't leave. Now is that
a threat or is it just good advice given that the mob was gathering
at the gates of the capital?
IRA KURZBAN: Well, first of all the question is who was that
mob and how were they organised and who paid for organised and
developed a paramilitary unit that entered Haiti about three weeks
The leader of that organisation is a gentleman named Jodel Chamblain.
Chamblain has been an asset of the Defence Intelligence Agency of
the United States and of the Central Intelligence Agency since 1993.
So there's a really serious question here of who organised this
paramilitary force that came into the country?
They are using M-16s, the United States Defence Department has
already admitted that some of the M-16s they were using were in fact
M-16s that the United States had given to the Dominican military.
There were secret operations in the Dominican Republic during the
previous year in 2003 leading up to this paramilitary organisation
crossing over from the Dominican border and those paramilitary
training sessions went on in the Dominican Republic. So the question
is who financed them, who directed them and we believe very strongly
that the United States had a direct hand in it, particularly through
its intelligence agencies.
So first, we see the wolf at the door, this organised paramilitary
unit. The next thing that happens is the president's own security
says to him that they've been told that they have to leave the
country, it's an American security team, and then they tell the
president that the other security that I was trying to obtain for
the president has been blocked by the United States and then the
next thing that happens, and this is all in, of course, a matter of
hours, the United States Embassy officials show up and they tell
Aristide that he's going to be killed, his wife's going to be
killed, all his followers will be killed and that the United States
intends to do absolutely nothing about it.
He is then told if he writes a letter of resignation that they will
put him on a plane and get him out of the country. The stories that
President Aristide approached the United States are just flat out
lies by US Government officials. He never approached the United
States in this matter. They directly approached him at the 11th hour
in the middle of the night, no pictures were taken of any of this.
The president never had an opportunity to say anything to the
Haitian people before he left.
MARK DAVIS: Perhaps the central question is though why would
America want to support this coup? What's in it for them?
IRA KURZBAN: Oh, I think there's three things in it for them.
First of all the United States Department of Defence has always
wanted the return of the Haitian military. You know the United
States created the Haitian army when it first occupied Haiti between
1914 and 1937. So the first principle is let's create the new army.
Aristide is an obstacle to that because Aristide abolished the army
in 1994 upon his return.
The second thing is Aristide is a political giant in that country.
The United States could never have its way, could never elect any
people they wanted to and the United States, through the
International Republican Institute spent literally millions and
millions of dollars in the 2000 election to come up with zeros,
basically, in their efforts to try and elect an opposition to
Aristide's party. So they needed to get Aristide out of the way in
order to have a level playing field.
And then the third thing, of course, is just ending old scores. The
first coup against President Aristide, the first military coup was
done under the first Bush Administration when Colin Powell was the
head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, When Dick Cheney was the head of
the Defence Department, when some of the same bad actors were
involved at that time. Now we have the second Bush Administration
and they're basically trying to even the old scores because their
first coup never went through as a result of President Aristide
being brought back to the country in 1994.
MARK DAVIS: Have you been in recent communication with
Aristide or his close associates and what's he saying most recently?
IRA KURZBAN: Well, I was in communication with President
Aristide on Saturday before this coup happened, and there was no
indication when I spoke to him that he was leaving the country, that
he'd made any plans to leave the country, that he'd even thought
about it. In fact, in our conversation he said he intended to fight
and to continue the fight. So there was certainly no indication that
he was going to leave that evening and that, I think, adds a great
deal of credibility to his claim that in fact he was coerced and
MARK DAVIS: What's his condition there now? I mean, is he a
prisoner as we're hearing or is he not as the government is very
firmly saying that he's not?
IRA KURZBAN: Well, he's not free to leave. He's under guard by
French soldiers and soldiers of the Central African Republic. He's
not free to go out and speak. He's not free to hold any press
conferences. He's basically been kept in this palace or what they
call a palace of the renaissance since he's arrived in the capital
city of the CAR. So I would say every indication is surely he is a
prisoner. If you're not free to leave I think by definition you're a
MARK DAVIS: Has he resigned in your opinion, or in his
opinion, has he resigned?
IRA KURZBAN: Absolutely not. He was very clear about it. They
put the maximum pressure on Aristide, in effect, put a gun to his
head by saying "The wolf was at the door and your security can
no longer protect you and we the United States will not protect
you." And if there's any doubt by the way that this was a coup,
let's just look at what the United States said. They said, "We
would not send in the marines until there was a political
solution." Today there's no political solution, yet the minute
that Aristide left and flew out of Port-au-Prince, the President of
the United States gave the direction to the Department of Defence to
ask the United Nations to have US troops land. So obviously the
United States idea of a political solution to the situation was to
have a coup against the democratically elected president and that's
MARK DAVIS: Ira Kurzban thanks again for joining us.
IRA KURZBAN: Thank you very much.
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