Sunday, May 24, 2009

We thought binLaden was hard to catch

In the latest issue of Newsweek, I read an article that both horrified and bewildered me. The atrocities depicted were as troubling as any I have ever read or heard about. Normally; I oppose any US involvement in other country’s problems unless it directly affects our nation. However, in this case, I applaud former President Bush for his advocating our assistance to help put an end to this reign of terror. The problem is that despite our efforts, as well as those by the United Nations, the atrocities continue.

Joseph Kony has been hunted by the Ugandan government for 23 years. He is the leader of an insurgent organization called the Lord’s Resistance Army. When Idi Amin’s dictatorship ended in 1979; Uganda didn’t exactly transform into a “kinder, gentler nation.” In fact, it opened the door for the creation of new, more ruthless groups trying to gain control of the country. Among them was a group led by now President Museveni. Unlike other groups; Museveni’s guerillas were known for their discipline and refusal to harm innocent civilians. Many Ugandans viewed this group as true liberators and because of this; Museveni was allowed to fight his way to Kampala and assume power.

Once Museveni became president, he essentially declared war on the most viscous groups. At the top of his list was the Lord’s Resistance Army led by Kony. Well known for his pathological cruelty and complete disregard for human life; Kony became the primary focus of the government. “Kony has forced new male recruits to rape their mothers and kill their parents. Former LRA members say the rebels sometimes cook and eat their victims.” To date, the LRA is responsible for the slaughter of an estimated 65,000 civilians.

What troubles and confounds me is the inability to stop this animal. Not only was President Museveni obsessed with Kony; President Bush and the United Nations were as well. In 2006, a mission called Operation Lightning Thunder was devised with the support of the UN and US military intelligence operatives. A group of US trained soldiers were given the task of capturing or killing Kony and his rebels. The mission proved to be another disastrous failure as all of the soldiers were killed, their commander beheaded, and Kony was nowhere to be found.

Over the years; negotiations with the LRA have taken place. Though Kony normally sends David Matsauga, his chief negotiator and fall down drunk; Kony himself has attended these talks on occasion. This begs the question: Why not simply capture him during these talks? When then assistant secretary of state for African affairs asked that very question, Museveni replied “We don’t ambush people. If we’re in the bush and somebody’s back is turned, before we’ll strike, we cough.” Are you kidding me? Not only do they refuse to “ambush” him; they provide food for what Kony claims to be his 5,000 troops. More credible sources estimate the amount to be 800. Is anyone else bewildered by all of this?

The International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Kony’s arrest in 2005. The reason for why it took that long escapes me. I assume that would have given the Ugandan government the right to apprehend him and hand him over to the ICC to stand trial for his crimes against humanity. Apparently, my assumption was wrong. While the name binLaden strikes fear in governments throughout the world; Kony remains an enigma. I went through a text from college (2007) which focused on terrorism worldwide and there was not one mention of Kony or the LRA. One critic of Museveni, Norbert Mao, stated “I suspect the incompetent management of the military may be deliberate.” That is a very bold accusation but considering Kony’s ability to evade capture for 23 years; it may very well be a valid one.

All information was derived from the May 25th issue of Newsweek. The article is entitled Hard Target: The Hunt For Africa’s Last Warlord written by Scott Thompson.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cheney continues to dig a deeper hole

As if Dick Cheney hasn’t made a big enough ass of himself already by defending the torturous acts allowed during Bush’s tenure; he has decided to amplify his image by siding with Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell. Let me see if I have this correctly: He prefers to ally himself with an obnoxious political pundit who has never proposed an alternative agenda over a retired 4-Star General and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is important to note that Cheney and Powell have been at odds for years.

Limbaugh, once again, chose to play the race card stating that Powell endorsed President Obama purely on the fact that they both happen to be black (I can’t believe anyone takes this moron seriously). This is just another example of the ignorance exemplified by Rash every time he opens that big mouth of his. Powell has admitted to endorsing Obama but he insists he remains a member of the Republican Party. “He has described himself as a Republican and a right of center conservative, though not as right as others would like.” Ahhh-now I get it. By not adhering to Limbaugh’s neo-conservative ideology, he has betrayed the party. How dare Colin Powell strive for bipartisanship to help his country get out of the mess it is in?

Colin Powell was originally a proponent of the war in Iraq but became increasingly disgruntled with the handling of the war and the methods used to curb terrorism. Now what would a 4-Star General know about military affairs? Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld were all in agreement over the handling, or mishandling, of “suspected” terrorists. Powell, a soldier in every sense of the word, expressed his objection to these practices and eventually gave up his position of Secretary of State after GW’s first term. This opened the door for another Bush puppet, Condoleezza Rice who, like Cheney, continues to defend the horrid treatment advocated by the Bush administration. I believe her effectiveness was shown when she was stumped by a question asked by a 4th Grader!

In a CBS interview on Face the Nation, Cheney continued to defend said practices and demanded the release of CIA memos that allegedly show the successes attained by implementing torture as a means of interrogation. President Obama, along with his national security adviser retired Marine General James Jones; contend that these tapes prove nothing since no other means of interrogation were ever tried. Cheney went on to say that when Guantanamo Bay closes and these suspected terrorists are brought to US soil, the threat to national security will be drastically heightened. General Jones refuted that assertion as well. Cheney believes that allowing these prisoners rights in a fair trial is a bad precedent. OK!

Dick Cheney received 5 deferments when he became eligible for the draft during the Vietnam War. After flunking out of Yale, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Wyoming. If you’re wondering where I’m going with this-here it comes. How does someone with absolutely no military experience become Secretary of Defense; as he did under the elder Bush? And what right does he have to challenge the views of the likes of Colin Powell and Gen. James Jones on issues of national security and military matters? While Limbaugh gets paid a handsome sum to spew his vile diatribes; Cheney appears to do it out of sheer arrogance. His defense of, and apparent alliance with Limbaugh prove to be just one more example of the trouble the GOP is in.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Rehashing the deceit of the Bush regime

The revelation of deceit perpetrated during the Bush regime is by no means an original concept. However, I have begun reading a book entitled WHAT HAPPENED by Scott McClellan, former Press Secretary for George W. Bush. McClellan has been criticized by both the right and left for choosing to reveal the inner workings of the Bush administration. The left is angry because he failed to speak out against these blatant deceptions earlier and the right simply views him as a turncoat. They contend that he wrote the book based on a lucrative offer by the publisher, Public Affairs, not because of any crisis of conscience. Regardless of his reason; his book soared to #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. Though I have only read a few chapters of WHAT HAPPENED, I find it to be both fascinating and appalling.

The author began as a true believer in George W. Bush and was honored to be a part of something he envisioned as the beginning of a historical change in American politics. Well; he had the historical aspect right. Unfortunately for McClellan, his Camelot-like perception was quickly and painfully crushed. “I believed in George W. Bush’s leadership and agenda for America, and had confidence in his authenticity, integrity, and judgement. But today the high hopes that accompanied the early days of his presidency have fallen back to earth.” It would be difficult to debate Bush’s authenticity but arguing about his integrity and judgement would be too easy.

The crux of McClellan’s opening chapters is the deceit practiced to justify the our entry into the war in Iraq. The role the CIA played in this is both criminal and expected. Bush based his reasoning for waging war on the threat of Iraqi nuclear capabilities and their attempt at furthering those capabilities. This was predicated on the discovery of Iraq’s interest in purchasing uranium, also known as yellowcake, from Niger. The fundamental problem with that is the fact that it never happened and the president and his lemmings were fully aware of that. Adding insult to injury; Mohamed ElBardari, the director general of the United Nations’ nuclear inspection and verification division, claimed that the allegations were anything but credible (nice job CIA) and there was “no evidence or plausible indication” that Iraq was involved in any form of a nuclear build-up. He issued this statement just days before Bush authorized the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I must confess that I consider that operational term to be somewhat ironic at this point.

I have always been of the opinion that Bush was/is either too ignorant or too arrogant to admit when he has mud on his face. Proof of that would be the interview in which he stated that he could not think of a single mistake he made as president. If he had simply called me; I could have helped him with that answer. To further exacerbate this problem was his statement that became known as “the sixteen words” in the inner circle of the White House. “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” That’s it GW, blame it on the Brits! This alleged transaction was found in documents that were admittedly forged by the CIA! To encapsulate; Bush sent our young men and women off to fight a war based on a lie that he was fully aware of.

Much of the verification of this deception was credited to, at the time, an unnamed source. That source proved to be former Ambassador Joseph Wilson who had been sent to Africa in January of 2002 to investigate the collusion between Iraq and Niger. Once the source was revealed; Vice President Dick Cheney, who was concerned about his credibility (why would that be in question?), and his shadow Scooter Libby began a campaign of covertly attacking the veracity of Wilson. According to McClellan; Richard Armitage, Karl Rove, and McClellan’s predecessor, Ari Fleischer (I can’t imagine those shoes were difficult to fill) joined forces with Cheney and Libby in their attack on Wilson. The author went on to say that Bush himself aided this band of idiots with his handling of the documents pertaining to the yellowcake fiasco. What took place next is one of the most disgusting and diabolical things ever initiated by high ranking members of our government.

As a means of retaliation; the aforementioned group “anonymously” leaked the identity of Wilson’s wife to the press. Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, just happened to be a covert CIA operative. In their pathological zeal to avenge Wilson’s perceived betrayal, they jeopardized the life of a government official and the lives of anyone professionally affiliated with her. These vindictive bastards were responsible for decision and policy making for the most powerful nation in the world. For lack of a better phrase: I find that fact to be very, very scary. More to come…