- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 8, 2012


The State Department confirmed Sunday that the United States has expelled a top Venezuelan diplomat news reports linked to an Iranian plot to hack into the computer systems of U.S. nuclear power plants.

Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington that Livia Acosta Noguera, the Venezuelan consul-general in Miami, has until Tuesday to leave the United States. He said the Venezuelan Embassy was notified Friday.

Mr. Toner gave no reason for her expulsion, but Spanish-language television network Univision recently reported the diplomat for anti-American President Hugo Chavez was involved with Iranian and Cuban officials who discussed cyberattacks on U.S. nuclear plants.

Ms. Noguera was in contact with the Iranian and Cuban diplomats in Mexico, where she was previously posted.

The news of her expulsion came as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepared to visit Latin America on Sunday, with his first stop in Venezuela.


Three top U.S. senators are warning Pakistan to uphold civilian law in an investigation of its former ambassador to Washington in a scandal involving the Pakistani president and a secret letter to the Pentagon.

Sens. Mark Kirk, Illinois Republican, Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and John McCain, Arizona Republican, denounced the “ongoing harassment and mistreatment” of Hussain Haqqani, who resigned as ambassador in November and now says he fears for his life.

“We are increasingly troubled by Ambassador Haqqani’s treatment since he returned home to Pakistan,” they said in a joint statement. “Like many in Washington, we are closely following Ambassador’s Haqqani’s case.”

Mr. Haqqani, who took up his post in Washington in 2008, stepped down after Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz claimed the ambassador was involved in a plot to get U.S. support for a plan to remove top members of the Pakistani military and intelligence service from the government.

Mr. Ijaz said Mr. Haqqani asked him last year to deliver a letter from Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until his retirement in September.

Mr. Ijaz said the letter outlined Mr. Zardari’s fear of a military takeover after U.S. forces embarrassed the army by killing al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who was hiding in a Pakistani garrison town.

Mr. Haqqani has denied any involvement in the scheme but is facing a judicial inquiry some observers believe will be controlled by the military and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Mr. McCain and Mr. Lieberman, who both serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Mr. Kirk, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, called on the Pakistani government to follow the rule of law in the investigation.

“We urge Pakistani authorities to resolve this matter swiftly and consistent with civilian rule of law and to prevent the judicial commission investigation of Ambassador Haqqani from becoming a political tool for revenge against an honorable man,” the senators said.

They called Mr. Haqqani a “tough-minded, eloquent and principled” diplomat who served his government with “patriotism and distinction.”


Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


• Irwin Cotler, a Liberal Party member of the Canadian Parliament, who discusses the intervention in Libya in a panel discussion at the Brookings Institute.

• Gen. Mieczyslaw Cieniuch, Poland’s chief of defense, who meets with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


• Johannes Vogel, a member of the German parliament from the Free Democratic Party. He discusses Germany’s government coalition in a briefing with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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