Bush's Moral Guide

President trades silence on Darfur for terrorist information from murderous Sudan

 We have not taken adequate measures given the enormity of the crimes because we don't want to directly confront Sudan [on Darfur] when it is cooperating [with us] on terrorism. John Prendergast, former National Security Council staffer during President Clinton's second term


Preventing terrorism is a critical issue for the United States, but if that means giving the Khartoum government carte blanche to continue terrorizing its own people, we undermine the values upon which this country was built. Making Americans safer should not come at the expense of others from around the world who themselves are victims of terrorism. Lori Heninger, senior coordinator for the Children and Adolescents Project, Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, in a May 7 letter to The New York Times


These are the bloody facts on the ground in Darfur—from Italian law professor Antonio Cassese, who wrote a report for the United Nations commission of inquiry after three months there:

"[The Sudanese government] openly uses militia gangs, gives them weapons and salaries and tells them to kill and burn and it backs them up with planes and helicopters. . . . There is no restraint. More than 2,000 villages have been burnt. The scale of looting, raping and torture is horrible."

Yet there is no discernible horror, or even concern, among most Americans. After all, the victims are just black Africans. If there were concerted pressure on Bush to stop the atrocities, churches and synagogues across the nation would be bursting with fiery sermons, and there'd be marches on Washington.

Amid the silence, Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, writes in the May 3 Washington Post: "Since January Bush and [Condoleezza] Rice have met with leaders from NATO and U.N. Security Council member countries 29 times, and they have mentioned Darfur publicly only once. That's no way to convince the world—and Sudan—that America is serious." (Emphasis added.)

"A time comes," said Martin Luther King, "when silence is betrayal."

Why have Bush, Rice, and the rest of the administration betrayed the black-Africans being slaughtered in Sudan? The answers are in a detailed report by Ken Silverstein in the April 29 Los Angeles Times, "Official Pariah Sudan Valuable to America's War on Terrorism."

Silverstein writes, the CIA sent "an executive jet . . . to ferry the chief of Sudan's intelligence agency [the Mukhabarat] to Washington for secret meetings [with CIA officials] sealing Khartoum's sensitive and previously veiled partnership with the administration, U.S. government officials confirmed." (Emphasis added.)

As Silverstein notes, the head of Sudan's equivalent of the CIA, Major General Salah Abdallah Gosh, was Khartoum's liaison with Osama bin Laden when that Al Qaeda flourished in Sudan during the 1990s. More recently, members of Congress have charged General Gosh and some of his colleagues in Khartoum with "directing military attacks against civilians in Darfur."

With their blood on his hands, General Gosh told the L.A. Times, "We have a strong partnership with the CIA. The information we have provided has been very useful to the United States."

General Gosh was not understating how valuable his partnership with the CIA has been, and continues to be, to the United States—so valuable that last October, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service confirmed that while Gosh has indeed been among those playing "key roles" in the genocide in Darfur, the Bush administration is "concerned that going after these individuals could disrupt cooperation on counter-terrorism."

Early during the genocide in Darfur, I spoke with Walter Kansteiner, then assistant secretary for African affairs at the State Department, and despite his assurances of Bush's determination to persist in ending the genocide, I was suspicious.

Now I know why. Toward the end of 2001, the L.A. Times article notes, Kansteiner and the CIA's Africa division chief held meetings at the U.S. embassy in London with Major General Yahia Hussein Babiker, deputy intelligence chief for the Khartoum regime. At that meeting, "[a] deal was struck."

The Bush team quickly showed its good faith to the genocidal killers: "Days later, the Bush administration abstained on a vote at the United Nations, with the result that Sudan was freed from international sanctions imposed for its alleged role in efforts to assassinate Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 1995."

I guess you could say that abstention was an indirect Bush pardon for the rulers of Sudan. Very soon, Khartoum began to honor (though I doubt that's the word) its part of the deal:

"At roughly the same time," the L.A. Times reports, "the Sudanese turned over to the U.S. a stack of intelligence files [containing] the cream of the information collected on members of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups during their years in Khartoum and thereafter." (Emphasis added.)

And now, according to an American who knows about this mutual deal, as quoted by the L.A. Times, "They've not only told us who the bad guys were, they've gone out and gotten them for us."

I take Bush at his word thathe is a practicing, serious Christian. Therefore, I would hope he is now facing an acute moral crisis. He needs the intelligence information on the terrorists he's getting from Khartoum to further safeguard us and others around the world from these monstrous killers.

But it is Bush who could publicly, and not just once, shame all the other world leaders who are silent on this genocide in Darfur—including the Arab nations, China, France, et al. As a beginning, he could get his Republican-controlled Congress to send him the Darfur Accountability Act, setting up international no-fly zones over Darfur and freezing the assets of Sudan's officials.

President Bush should ask himself what Jesus Christ would do. I mean this respectfully, because the president has said Jesus is his favorite philosopher.

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