The United States is considering a long-term strategy that could deal more harshly with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, after concluding that a reasonable relationship was practically impossible, The New York Times said.
"We offered them a more pragmatic relationship, but obviously if they do not want it, we can move to a more confrontational approach," a high-ranking Republican congressional aide who works on Latin America policy told the daily.
US officials said a multiagency task force has been developing a new approach that top-level policy makers said would likely adopt a harder line towards Venezuela, which is a major oil producer.
Measures under consideration include increasing US support to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela and to urge Venezuela's neighbors to distance themselves from Chavez, who next year could be reelected to another six-year term in office.
Golly, pragmatism like this?
The U.S. government knew of a plot to oust Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chávez, in the weeks before a 2002 military coup that briefly unseated him, newly released CIA documents show, despite White House claims to the contrary a week after the coup.
Yet the United States, which depends on Venezuela for nearly one-sixth of its oil, never warned Chávez, Venezuelan officials said.
The Bush administration has denied it was involved in the coup or knew one was being planned.
"This is substantive evidence that the CIA knew in advance about the coup, and it is clear that this intelligence was distributed to dozens of members of the Bush administration, giving them knowledge of coup plotting," said Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C.
However, he said that while the documents show U.S. officials knew a coup was coming, perhaps implying tacit approval, they do not constitute definitive proof the U.S. was involved in ousting Chávez.
The Bush administration and Chávez, a fiery former paratrooper, have clashed repeatedly, with Chávez accusing the United States of backing the coup against him.
The documents were obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by Eva Golinger, a Long Island attorney and pro-Chávez activist who also is investigating U.S. funding of groups opposed to him.
Chávez was arrested and overthrown April 12, 2002, after military dissidents blamed him for violence at an opposition protest march that left 19 people dead and 300 wounded. He was returned to power two days later.
But the April 6, 2002, CIA document states that "dissident military factions, including some disgruntled senior officers and a group of radical junior officers, are stepping up efforts to organize a coup against President Chávez, possibly as early as this month."
And if somebody doesn't think that the Bush Administration's fingerprints were all over this coup they are living in fantasy land.