Buried lede: WaPo reports that Maduro had advance knowledge of Guaido's plans to draw the military back to the side of democracy
Always the anti-Trump operation, the Washington Post ran an inside-beisbol account of disagreements between the Trump administration and the Pentagon over the viability of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela. Naturally, the Trumpsters came out looking like raging, intemperate, bad guys, and the reluctant Pentagon generals were portrayed as reasonable people.
The story used almost exclusively anonymous sources, so it's possible to have a pretty good idea about who leaked it.
But well within the administration 'chaos' described at the top was a buried lede way down near the bottom that needed a lot more attention: Somehow in the events leading up to the May Day protests that rocked Caracas over the last three days, Maduro got advance word that his military leaders were about to defect, forcing acting president Juan Guaido to start his street protests a day earlier than scheduled. The leak to Maduro also forced military, now on its backfoot, to show an exaggerated sort of loyalty to the Maduro dictatorship to keep themselves out of the torture chambers, or maybe just plain dead - which is why we saw such a brutal military response to the protests in the streets, with in one instance, the military running a truck over protestors.
Here is the Post's reported sequence of events, with that buried lead highlighted by me near the bottom:
But “the last few weeks, it was clear that . . . they were reaching agreement” with Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López, along with the head of the Maduro-appointed Supreme Court and the commander of his presidential guard, to switch sides, this official said.
While not officially recognizing Guaidó, Padrino and the others were said to be ready to sign documents declaring their loyalty to the Venezuelan constitution, under which the opposition-led National Assembly had declared Maduro’s reelection last year invalid and, on Jan. 23, named Guaidó interim president. The United States and more than 50 other countries, primarily in Latin America and Europe, have also recognized him.
In exchange, the Venezuelan officials would keep their jobs and be integrated into the new administration. For those who might want to leave the country, the United States had given indirect assurances they would not be barred from doing so, and might even be allowed access to any assets stashed overseas.
Over the past two weeks, administration officials said, they had received indications that even Maduro himself might be prepared to fly to Cuba.
On Monday, however, the opposition and the administration received word that Maduro was aware of the plan. Early Tuesday, Guaidó appeared at a military base in eastern Caracas, along with a small band of armed men in military uniforms, to announce that “Operation Liberty” had begun.
So obviously, someone told him. Was it the Russians, who are desperate to prop up the regime? They may well might have that kind of surveillance capacity (or spies within) -- and that needs to be stopped. Or was it a leak from the inside, maybe one of the obstinate Pentagon guys, the ones the Post made look so reasonable in is piece, all to undermine Trump? If it was, what a callous leak, given the violence that was unleashed on the Venezuelans by the brutal Maduro regime in the last three days - and likely very illegal. Or could it have been a product of some kind of Cuban, Russian, or Chavista surveillance or indiscretion in the Guaido camp, which could have had nothing to with the U.S.? That's something the Guaido camp must find out.
Because someone has the answer to this somewhere: How did Maduro get advance notice of Guaido's plans to spirit the military back into the democratic orbit?
This is something that needs to be found out, because so much is on the line in that collapsing country. Obviously, someone leaked or spied - and needs to be punished for this. If the Russians were involved, sanction or bust the Russians. If the Guaido people stumbled, they need to make changes on their own front. And if this was the Pentagon undermining Trump, someone needs to be busted and removed from his or her post.
The U.S. needs to get to the bottom of this because this was a blown operation and now the Maduro regime seems stronger and more openly thuggy than ever. Someone needs to pay for this.
Image credit: Hugoshi, via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0