When "Counter-Terrorism" Supports Terrorism

[Editor's note: Sudan expert Eric Reeves has written a very troubling but piercingly accurate article about U.S. counter-terrorism policy in Sudan. Titled "U.S. Counter-terrorism -- In Lieu of Foreign Policy: the Case of Sudan" (http://www.sudanreeves.org/2013/10/29/4409/). Reeves illustrates how, in the name of counter intelligence, the US government is allowing the genocidal regime in Khartoum to get away with murder -- mass murder. Reeves' insights show us how destructive "political solutions" can be to problems that are inherently spiritual. Political solutions are always short-sighted, while "Kingdom solutions" take the long view. Political solutions make everyone expendable. Kingdom solutions ascribe value to the least in society. Political solutions are plagued by situational ethics. Kingdom solutions stick to the moral high ground. I have included sections in Reeves' article for your information. The good news for us is that political solutions do not factor into our responsibility as people desiring to engage in Active Compassion for the Persecuted. God working through your generosity allows us to bring physical relief and spiritual hope to many victims of persecution.]

By Eric Reeves*                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

National Counterterrorism Center

The Obama administration's refusal to say more than that the U.S. is not now, and will not in the future, tap the official cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (and other senior officials) leaves us with an obvious inference, already made by many: the U.S. has done so in the past. While significant in its own right, this remarkable intrusion by U.S. intelligence officials -- very likely senior officials -- brings into sharp relief the competing claims of rational foreign policies based on cooperation with allies (none more valuable than Germany) and the pervasive, uncontrolled lust for intelligence bearing on counter-terrorism. In this competition, the U.S. intelligence community is now clearly having its way; and its willingness to engage in such high-risk activities as tapping the phone of the democratically elected leader of a major international ally -- as well, evidently, of official and unofficial phones of other allies -- is a measure of the breathtaking arrogance with which the NSA and the broader U.S. intelligence "community" understand their role in defining America's place in the world, and even the priorities of our society...
                                                                                                                                    But the very arrogance and presumption defining this action by the intelligence community -- increasingly opaque and beyond the control of the State Department -- help make sense of any number of otherwise bewildering features of U.S. foreign policy.
                                                                                                                                    In Sudan, for example, the Obama administration has known for more than two years that the campaign by the Khartoum regime against the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile is genocidal in nature -- targeting the Nuba and other African tribal groups in these two northern states. The deliberate assault on agricultural production through relentless aerial bombardment; the destruction of food and seed stocks; the cold-blooded murder of civilians, including women and children -- the Obama administration knows about all this and yet issues only an occasional, largely perfunctory condemnation. The U.S. has also failed to show leadership in creating humanitarian corridors to the populations in rebel-held territory, upon which Khartoum has imposed a virtually total humanitarian blockade...
DSC00508What is going on here? Why not at least powerful condemnations of acts that are war crimes and, in aggregate, constitute crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute, the basis for the International Criminal Court? Why have we heard the tendentious skepticism about realities in Sudan -- military and humanitarian -- that has characterized statements by Obama's previous presidential special envoys? Why in May 2011, on the eve of Khartoum's military seizure of Abyei -- the region now most likely to serve as catalyst for renewed north/south war -- did the Obama administration do nothing to warn off the regime from this explosively provocative action, even as the military assault had become increasingly obvious for many weeks? Why did the U.S. not publicly warn Khartoum about the consequence of its military onslaught in South Kordofan, which began two weeks after the failure of the U.S. to condemn in appropriate terms the seizure of Abyei?

cluster bomb

Notably, the military action in South Kordofan began on June 5, 2011; on June 2, 2011 John Brennan -- current head of the CIA, and a career man at the agency, most recently with primary responsibility for counter-terrorism -- was in Khartoum talking to senior regime officials. We were told by the Obama administration that this was merely coincident with Brennan's travels "in the region." But Brennan had no diplomatic experience, and diplomacy can hardly have been his mission. With so many warnings about an impending attack on South Kordofan, the U.S. intelligence community certainly knew what was about to occur, and Brennan's task was likely to re-set the relationship between the regime and Washington concerning the provision of "counter-terrorism intelligence" in anticipation of the attack.
                                                                                                                                    To be sure, the excessive value placed on Khartoum's provision of counter-terrorism "intelligence" precedes the Obama administration. Salah Gosh, the ruthless head of Khartoum's security services and minder of Osama bin Laden during his years in Sudan (1992-1996), was flown to Washington on an executive jet by the CIA in June, 2005. Notably, the State Department had been kept out of the loop, as we discovered in a fine piece of investigative reporting that appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Gosh had been deeply complicit in a wide range of atrocity crimes at the time, but this seemed not to trouble the CIA in its insatiable quest for counter-terrorism intelligence. Ken Silverstein of the Times reported at the time:
Salah Gosh                                                    The CIA and Mukhabarat [Khartoum's intelligence and security services] officials have met regularly over the last few years, but Gosh had been seeking an invitation to Washington in recognition of his government's efforts, sources told The Times. The CIA, hoping to seal the partnership, extended the invitation. "The agency's view was that the Sudanese are helping us on terrorism and it was proud to bring him over," said a government source with knowledge of Gosh's visit. "They didn't care about the political implications..."
                                                                                                                                The U.S. feels it has a lot at stake in its relationship with Khartoum's genocidaires. A few "missteps" in following international law were not going to end that relationship, Brennan may well have suggested. Certainly we must wonder about the perversely stubborn skepticism concerning the genocidal nature of the campaign that ensued in South Kordofan following Brennan's June 2, 2011 trip. Evidence included satellite photography of mass graves, first-hand accounts of ethnic targeting reported by journalists in the area where fighting began, as well as additional reports of roadblocks and house-to-house searches targeting people of Nuba ethnicity. And in early July 2011 the UN human rights team that had been in Kadugli (capital of South Kordofan) the entire month of June produced an extraordinary report of atrocity crimes committed by the regime's forces, many witnessed by the UN reporters themselves (the report was leaked in a matter of days).
bomb victim in kauda1
                                                                If, however, the U.S. is willing to tap the phone of a major European ally, why should we believe that it would have any scruples about distorting what U.S. intelligence knew at the time of Khartoum's plans and actions in South Kordofan?
                                                              The intelligence community would have us believe that they are getting very useful counter-terrorism information from the regime; many knowledgeable Sudan experts doubt this, but of course all is classified and the matter can't be settled. Perhaps a new release by Edward Snowden will clarify matters. But for now U.S. priorities seem best measured by the $172 million U.S. embassy that has been completed in Khartoum -- and this doesn't include the pricey bits of intelligence and surveillance equipment that likely more than double this cost. Clearly some sort of quid pro quo has been arrived at secretly for the U.S. to be allowed to build the facility and equip it as our intelligence people wish. From the standpoint of establishing an ideal "listening post" for North Africa, Khartoum could hardly be better. And certainly the movement of international terrorism suggests that the migration from Afghanistan to the Arabian Peninsula to North Africa is well underway.
P1070907                                                        But are we as a country really willing to pay not only hundreds of millions of dollars for this listening post, but turn away from the human cost imposed by the continuing brutal tyranny of a regime that we refuse to confront with real determination? Change is coming to Sudan, sooner or later, as the economy continues to implode and popular unrest explodes. Will a new government in Sudan be content simply to ignore our many egregious sins of omission? That question is at present unanswerable.
                                                                                                                             *Eric Reeves is the author most recently of Compromising with Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007-2012; available without cost at www.CompromisingWithEvil.org.