In Um Seifa, a dusty village in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, a crowd of white-robed children stood outside their newly reopened school. . . . ‘The government never gave us education, development, health [services or] equality,’ said the headmaster. . . . So the people of Um Seifa built their own school. A week after your correspondent visited it, it was burned to the ground, and eight children murdered [by Sudanese army forces and the Arab Janjaweed] —The Economist, April 2, 2005
During George W. Bush’s campaign to spread the spirit—and eventually the letter—of freedom and democracy to other lands, he has made some nightmarish allies. Torture of prisoners, homegrown or supplied by the CIA, has been endemic in Jordan, Yemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Uzbekistan. In the latter’s prisons, the specialty of the house is boiling prisoners, including political prisoners, to death.
But now—thanks to a carefully documented report by Ken Silverstein in the April 29 Los Angeles Times, which has had far too little follow-up by the media—it is clear that the CIA, with the blessings of the Bush administration, is closely connected to the horrifying government of Lieutenant General Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, the head perpetrator of the ongoing genocide in Darfur: over 400,000 black Africans dead, with some 500 more dying every day, and more than two million, many in peril of starvation, turned into refugees as their homes and villages are destroyed.
The lead to the L.A. Times story by Ken Silverstein, datelined Khartoum: “The Bush administration has forged a close intelligence partnership with the Islamic regime that once welcomed Osama bin Laden. . . . The Sudanese government . . . has been providing access to terrorism suspects and sharing intelligence data with the United States.”
Before going into more details of this alliance from hell, the story explains the great concern of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof—who should have won this year’s Pulitzer Prize, instead of being a finalist, because he has done more than any other journalist in the world to keep the pressure on George W. Bush, the United Nations, and every one of us to force the government of Sudan to stop the killings, the mass rapes, and the murders of black Africans and their children.
In his April 17 column, Kristof wrote: “President Bush seems paralyzed in the face of the slaughter. He has done a fine job of providing humanitarian relief, but he has refused [for months now] to confront Sudan forcefully or raise the issue himself before the world.”
In his May 3 column, Kristof—who has made repeated trips to Darfur, at some risk—added: “Incredibly, the Bush administration is fighting to kill the Darfur Accountability Act, which would be the most forceful step the U.S. has taken so far against genocide.”
The bill, passed by the Senate, “calls for such steps as freezing assets of the genocide’s leaders and imposing an internationally backed no-fly zone to stop Sudan’s army from strafing villages.” (That bill has now been killed.)
It is up to the United States, the last hope of those who have so far escaped genocide in Darfur, to lead and organize a systematic and forceful rescue effort. The United Nations, after delaying meaningful action again and again, finally slid this horrendous problem—that the U.N. was formed to solve—to the International Criminal Court.
But—keep this in mind—a May 9 editorial (“Dying in Darfur”) in the Financial Times, which keeps prodding Britain and the United States to move to end the killing, revealed: “It will be at least a year, maybe two, before the ICC even issues its first indictments.” (Emphasis added.)
This is good news for the Janjaweed and Lieutenant General Bashir’s remorseless soldiers and attack helicopters.
The Financial Times editorial ends by despairing that Tony Blair will act: “The doctrine of humanitarian interventionism must be preserved. This is the moment for an untarnished leader to pick up the mantle.” No such leader was named.
The Bush administration, as Kristof says, is paralyzed. For example, in its April 29 article, “Official Pariah Sudan Valuable to America’s War on Terrorism,” the Los Angeles Times added: “Last month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent a letter to the Bashir government calling for steps to end the conflict in Darfur.”
This part of her letter was pro forma because, as the L.A. Times continues, “the letter, reviewed by the Times . . . also said the administration hoped to establish a ‘fruitful relationship’ with Sudan and looked forward to continued ‘close cooperation’ on terrorism.” (Emphasis added.)
John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute reminds us that “[r]eportedly, when President George W. Bush first read reports of former-President Clinton’s indifference to the genocide that left roughly 800,000 dead in Rwanda, he scribbled ‘not on my watch’ in the margins.”
Now, very much on his watch, to nurture his partnership with the genocidal government of Sudan, Bush has become an accomplice in that genocide by not mobilizing action against it.
Next week: unmistakable evidence that Sudan’s equivalent of the CIA, the Mukhabarat, is indeed providing the CIA with exceptionally valuable information on terrorists’ organizing, and their planned actions, against the United States. Can the Bush administration make a reasonable survival argument that for America’s self-defense, it has no choice but to continue its “fruitful relationship” with this ruthless force of evil—even if more white-robed children, like those outside the school in Um Seifa, are raped and murdered?
I’ll be very interested in your reactions.