When reading any document from the CIA or a government division that was once considered as classified information, the one feature that is nearly always consistent is that the identities of people who are still alive are blacked out.
This was not the case, however, with Jennifer Harbury, an American lawyer, human rights activist and author, whose work is particularly focused on revealing the CIA’s involvement in human rights abuse.
In a document dated June 1996 that is published on the CIA’s Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room, most of the names and writing has been blacked out, except Jennifer Harbury, who, according to the paper, is a fraud.
Harbury’s Love Story
Jennifer Harbury’s story is certainly a tragic and courageous one.
After finishing law school in the early 1980s, Harbury worked for a small legal aid bureau on the Mexico and Texas border. Here the young graduate witnessed U.S. immigration sending back thousands of Guatemalan Mayan refugees who were escaping to Texas from death squads in their own country.
Jennifer Harbury decided to travel to Guatemala herself and it was here that she met Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, more commonly known as Comandante Everado.
Comandante Everado was the leader of the Mayan resistance to the brutality the people of Guatemalan were suffering under the hands pf the Guatemalan oligarchy.
The couple fell in love and got married. Shortly after, Comandante Everado was captured, tortured for almost three years, and then murdered. (1)
Determined to expose the truth about what happened to her husband, Harbury conducted hunger strikes both in Guatemala and in front of the White House.
Initially, U.S. officials refused to admit any knowledge about the situation but eventually, according to Americans Who Tell The Truth, the truth was leaked by an official in the U.S. State Department that the CIA had participated in Everado’s torture and murder. (1)
In the subsequent years, Harbury published several books. In Truth, Torture, and the American Way, published in 2005, Harbury documents the CIA’s use of torture and how there was nothing new about interrogation methods used at Guantanamo.
In 1995, Jennifer Harbury was awarded with the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award and two years later received the Cavallo Award for Moral Courage. Harbury shared the Moral Courage award with Richard Nuccio, the official of the U.S. State Department who had disclosed the CIA’s involvement with Everado’s torture and murder. (1)
Hero or Fraud?
Instead of viewing Jennifer Harbury as a human rights hero, by complete contrast, the CIA believes the American lawyer and human rights activist to be a fraud.
In an official CIA document, where much of the text and names are blacked out, the suggestion that Harbury is a fraud has been left clearly visible on the paper for all to read.
The document states:
“… has witnesses who will testify that Efrain Bamaca Velasquez committed suicide when he realised he was going to be apprehended by the Guatemalan Army,” and that there is proof beyond a doubt that U.S. citizen Jennifer Harbury is a fraud.” (2)
While the so-called evidence that “proves” Jennifer Harbury is a fraud has been conveniently blacked out so that readers are none the wiser to why the CIA is so adamant Harbury is a fraud, the human activist’s name has been “conveniently” left on the document.
The very fact that the CIA failed to protect the identity of Jennifer Harbury in a released document could suggest that the CIA does in fact have something to hide and is desperate to frame Jennifer Harbury as a fraud in its attempt to cover up its involvement in Everado’s murder.
What is keeping the CIA afloat in this case is the fact there has been no evidence provided that implicates the American intelligence agency with Everado’s murder.
In a statement issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in September 2000, it was concluded:
“Our [Court of Appeals] task is to assess neither the strength nor plausibility of Harbury’s allegations, but to determine whether, assuming the truth of her allegations, she can prove any set of facts in support of her claim which would entitle her to relief.” (3)
While there may be no concrete evidence to prove the CIA’s involvement with the torture and murder of Comandante Everado, the fact that the CIA deviated from its own practice of hiding the identities of people involved in cases that are still living suggests that the agency is keen to frame Jennifer Harbury as a fraud.
The fact that Richard Nuccio, the U.S. State Department official who leaked the information about the CIA’s alleged complicity in the torture and murder of Everado, was denied his federal security clearance, could also make one suspicious that the CIA has indeed got something to hide.