The New York Times, KONY2012, And The U.S. Pro-War Spin Machine In Africa

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The bigger story, which Gettleman totally avoids is that the U.S. administration has now partnered with an unindicted war criminal, Gen. Yoweri Museveni, to go after an indicted war criminal Joseph Kony.
After Kony is brought to justice, will the U.S. then end its alliance with Gen. Museveni and also bring him to justice? Perhaps Gettleman will raise this question in his next article.

[Publisher's Commentary]

How To Unspin Corporate Media Spin


Is The U.S. deployment of military assets in East and Central African primarily to help "search" for Joseph Kony, the warlord and leader of The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA)?

Kony committed some of his worst atrocities in Uganda in the 1990s and the early 2000s; why would the U.S. wait until his forces have practically been decimated and when he's hiding in the jungles to go "rescue" children in East and Central Africa? And is it mere coincidence that U.S. armed forces are deploying in East and Central Africa at the same time that major major oil fields -- coveted by both China and the U.S. --  have been discovered?

The pro-military campaign, launched by Invisible Children's KONY2012, which has been endorsed by U.S. politicians, the U.S. army, and President Obama himself, continues.

Yesterday I read Jeffrey Gettleman's New York Times' story on the "search" for Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony -- read 'search for Kony' as securing "oil" fields to understand what's really going on. I wondered why the article read like a press release by the U.S. government and the Ugandan regime.

Although Gettleman has never written an article about Ugandan dictator Yoweri K. Museveni's own role in Uganda's brutal conflicts, yesterday's article even went beyond his typical softballs.
 
The story even included a photograph of U.S. special forces soldiers posing with Ugandan soldiers around them, clearly portraying which force was leading the mission. This is the same Ugandan army which as The Washington Post  reported in an earlier article published on April 16, 2012, has been committing atrocities in the Central African Republic, just as the LRA has also been doing.

It's also the same Ugandan army, with the same commander Gen. Museveni, that was found liable for war crimes in the Congo by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2005.

In an article published June 8, 2006, The Wall Street Journal  also reported that Gen. Museveni contacted then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and asked him to block a separate criminal investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Gen. Museveni feared possible indictment on war crimes; more than six million Congolese have perished since the invasion and occupation of Congo by Uganda's army between 1997 and 2003.

I didn't expect to see any of this background in Gettleman's report yesterday; sure enough, he didn't disappoint me, even though his own employers recently published Op-Eds discussing atrocities by Gen. Museveni's army.

After reading Gettleman's article, I did some research and discovered that a Washington Post reporter, Craig Whitlock, had also written an article yesterday.

Whitlock's article also had similar quotes from the same sources, U.S. commanders, as Gettleman's article used -- about the challenges the U.S./Uganda military team faced in searching for Kony in the dense jungles of the Central African Republic.

It was only then that I discovered, that the U.S. military had actually arranged for the media trip for a score of reporters, including Whitlock's, and The Times' Gettleman.  At least Whitlock made this clear in his own report; Gettleman certainly did not, aside from mentioning "ground rules" set by the army that precluded the use of full names of the officers.

It was disingenuous for The Times' Gettleman not to reveal that his "news" story was aided and abetted by the U.S. and Ugandan militaries. Both the U.S. and Uganda have a vested interest in presenting their own spin on the calamity created in East and Central Africa by the two warlords, Kony and Gen. Museveni.

Since Gen. Museveni has stationed thousands of troops in Somalia -- the U.S. fears that war torn country could become a haven for Al Qaeda -- the U.S. is eager to help Uganda rehabilitate the image of its brutal military.


Since the U.S. is committed to a military approach, why partner with
Uganda's discredited army which is guilty of gross human rights abuse in
Uganda and in Congo? Why not team up even with South Sudan's army or
that of the Central African Republic? Uganda's military has failed to
deal with Kony in 26 years so certainly it can't claim to bring any
expertise to the battle field.


Gettleman's  article "In Vast Jungle, U.S. Troops Aid in Search for Kony," published on April 29, has a sort of Joseph Conradish "Heart of Darkness," feel to it. (Here is the U.S. military and its partner, the Ugandan military, deep in this dangerous jungle in Africa, hunting for this dangerous voodoo-priest-like-man and sometimes rebel).

Perhaps this was intended to justify the U.S. deployment to the region and to deflect from the revelations that both the Ugandan army and the LRA are committing crimes in Central Africa as revealed in an earlier April 16, Washington Post article.,
 
"One hundred of America’s elite Special Operations troops, aided by night vision scopes and satellite imagery, are helping African forces find a wig-wearing, gibberish-speaking fugitive rebel commander named Joseph Kony who has been hiding out in the jungle for years with a band of child soldiers and a harem of dozens of child brides," Gettleman wrote.

(Since Kony has been so elusive, and Uganda's army hasn't been able to locate him, one can only speculate as to how Gettleman can confidently describe him as "wig-wearing" and "gibberish-speaking" with "a harem of dozens of child brides.")

While Kony is a criminal who's committed atrocities against civilians for decades, journalists should be wary of disseminating information from government sources; even when they are deservedly nasty things about a nasty man like Kony. This is because once journalists become receptive to propaganda, it's hard for them to become selective; they become vulnerable and end up disseminating propaganda favorable to other nasty folks, including the Ugandan military.
 
Gettleman quotes
Ken Wright, a Navy SEAL captain and the commander of the joint American detachment assisting in the Kony hunt who says the mission “is not going to be an easy slog.”

And he adds: "Still, in the past several months since they arrived, the Americans say Mr. Kony’s army of around 300 fighters is showing cracks. No longer is Mr.. Kony able to direct the massacres he directed just a few years ago when his fighters waylaid entire towns and hacked hundreds of people to death. His armed acolytes are breaking up into small, desperate groups, American officials say, and for the first time they are abandoning many of the women and children they had abducted who cannot keep up as they flee deeper into the bush."

The most important passage in Gettleman's piece -- one could call it a buried lead -- is further down in the story: "American officials believe Mr. Kony is hiding in an especially remote corner of the Central African Republic, though some Ugandan officials said he had moved into Sudan, with the blessing of the Sudanese government."

The Ugandan regime is hoping to escalate the war in the region; it's itching for a reason to move into South Sudan, in order to divert attention from the growing civil opposition and peaceful protests against Museveni's 26-years dictatorship.

What better excuse than to claim that it's pursuing Kony, move into South Sudan, and team up with South Sudan's embattled new government and "stand" up against Sudan?

Last week, as the U.S. State Department was telling South Sudan to withdraw from the oil city of Heglig, which it had occupied, Uganda's leadership told local media that it was ready to send its army to team up with South Sudan's to fight Sudan.
 
Gettleman also has a very charitable view of Invisible Children, the now totally discredited so-called non-governmental organization from San Diego, and makers of KONY2012, the pro-war propaganda video viewed millions of times on Youtube.

He writes that, "no other American military project in sub-Saharan Africa has generated the attention — and the high expectations — as the pursuit of Mr.. Kony, partly thanks to a wildly popular video on Mr. Kony’s notorious elusiveness and brutality, “Kony 2012,” that set YouTube records with tens of millions of hits in a matter of days."

"Gen. Carter F. Ham, the overall commander of American forces in Africa, has a “Kony 2012” poster tacked to his office door. As one American official put it: “Let’s be honest, there was some constituent pressure here. Did ‘Kony 2012’ have something to do with this? Absolutely," Gettleman writes.

Gettleman is clearly three months behind the timeline of the Invisible Children story. Since KONY2012 came out, The Black Star News has contributed to showing that Invisible Children has been working with the Ugandan regime to promote warfare -- at the expense of negotiations, which is the approach preferred by people and church leaders in the war affected zones.

The Black Star News discovered and published several memos written by the U.S. ambassador to Uganda and other embassy officials in 2009; the memos, revealed by WikiLeaks exposed Invisible Children's compromised relations with the U.S. government and Ugandan regime:

The memos showed that:

>>Invisible Children  had contacted the then U.S. ambassador Steven Browning in 2009 and promised to produce videos that would help promote more military operations against the LRA. (This exposes the falsehood on Invisible Children's website that it does not support any of the brutal armies engaged in the war when in fact it essentially conducted public relations on behalf of the Ugandan regime).

>>Invisible children, according to the embassy's Political Affairs Director, Kathleen FitzGibbons, gave a tip to the Ugandan dictatorship, leading to the arrest of a former child soldier, Patrick Komakech, who was in the care of Invisible Children. As people familiar with Uganda know and as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International has reported, arrested suspects are tortured. Subsequently, nine other suspected regime opponents were arrested. All 10 now face treason charges, which carries the death penalty in Uganda.

>>One of the memos, by ambassador Browning, also revealed that the Ugandans -- clearly with U.S. knowledge since the ambassador wrote the memo -- were planning to coordinate their pro war PR campaign, presumably to mislead journalists and the international community with the government of the Congo.
 
So, is The New York Times going along with this Ugandan charade? Readers can make their own judgment: The New York Times has yet to write a single article about one of the biggest stories within Uganda today -- the brutal sexual attack on Ingrid Turinawe, leader of the women's league of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

Turinawe's right breast was squeezed and pulled, in broad daylight, by para-military police, who were arresting her as she recently drove to a peaceful protest. She was further punched by police on her breasts after she had been shoved into a police van and later reported she'd been abused so roughly her breast bled.

A few days later, a group of young women -- including my young sister Barbara -- were arrested when they protested Turinawe's sexual assault in front of police headquarters. The women unbuttoned their shirts to expose their bras and refused to cover themselves, as police insisted, leading to the detention of several women, who were released after a few hours.

Is it mere coincidence that this story has yet to be mentioned by Gettleman?
 
Gettleman has never written anything about Ugandan dictator Gen. Museveni's links to war crimes, and how Ugandans, Congolese and Central Africans are victims of both Kony's and Museveni's brutal warmongering.
 
And of course the bigger story, which Gettleman totally avoids is that the U.S. administration has now partnered with an unindicted  war criminal, Gen. Yoweri Museveni, to go after an indicted war criminal Joseph Kony.

After Kony is brought to justice, will the U.S. then end its alliance with Gen. Museveni and also bring him to justice? Perhaps Gettleman will raise this question in his next article.
 
We won't hold our breath.


"Speaking Truth To Empower."


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