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And, yes, I DO take it personally: CNN, Charles Taylor and the Wash Out of History
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Friday, July 21, 2006

CNN, Charles Taylor and the Wash Out of History

According to a report by CNN, Charles Taylor, the 22nd president of Liberia, now sits in an uncomfortable prison cell outside the Hague, Netherlands, awaiting trial for crimes against humanity. Apparently, (he does not like the food or the “draconian” conditions in which he languishes), he is unable to make the necessary phone calls to prepare his defense. Reading this article, one would not havé the slightest clue as to who this man is. But his is an illustrative story, one that every US citizen should know well, as it is tied in so many ways to the horrendous situations we often find our “military by choice” facing, that is, the situations in which our Executive often places them.

But of course, I have to keep it short, as the minute details might be boring, and there are so many other mad-dog tyrants out there whose stories compel…

It all starts in Liberia. Actually, Liberia is another interesting story. Created by free but abject and unwanted slaves from the US in 1821, shortly after they helped secure independence for the colonies, it was hailed as a concrete example of the cutting edge in abolitionist theology. Send the free ones back to Africa! The freed, and not so freed, slaves left the states to build their paradise that was just out of reach in America in the disease ridden swamplands of West Africa, what is now Sierra Leone, but kept at least some fond memories of the Yanks, including a Declaration of Independence and even named the capital after a famous president of the US. It took the US about 40 years, but the people of Liberia eventually got their golf course sized nation recognized and things were, well, not so great, (civil wars, military coups, famine, pestilence, rumors of slavery) but at least they were free, ah, to make mistakes.

Meanwhile, a lot of things happen, but in 1948, Liberia churns from the nape of its fetid rice patties one Charles Taylor, future president, warlord, torturer, slave master, diamond trader, CIA sub-contractor and all around party animal. Taylor attended Bentley College in Mass from 1972-1977, (anyone remember partying with that dude?), where he got his degree in Economics. In 1979 he was briefly held on suspicion of embezzling 900,000 from Liberia’s lunch money fund but was released. In 1984, he was arrested for embezzling 922,000 intended for Liberian machinery parts in Somerville Mass. He was later detained in Plymouth Mass. In 1985, he escaped from prison, hid out, and then fled the US, turning up in the Libyan guerilla training camp of Muammar Qaddafi, where he prepared, with some other esteemed colleagues, including Foday Sankoh who helped foment the Sierra Leone civil war, for his eventual incitement of civil war in his home state. From there it was a dizzying whirl of diamonds, arms, money, sex slaves, hatchet jobs, informing for the CIA. But it gets better folks.

As has been reported by the Boston Globe, in 2001 Taylor played gentleman host to a couple of Al Qaida operatives who bought and sold his diamonds, etc. It is well known that there was a large West African diamond connection with AQ, a great source of their funding (this info, widely published, was left out of the 911 commission report). In fact, post 9-11, the Defense Department had prepared for a raid on their hideouts but called it off, at the last minute. The Al Qaida operatives continued for some time to enjoy Taylor’s dashing hospitality. Apparently, the sting operation that was called off, intended to capture a couple of dudes named Ghailani and Mohammed, the very same Ghaliani who planned some embassy bombings and was aprehended later in Pakistan.

Back to Taylor; in 1997, he was elected by 75 percent of the population of Liberia under the campaign slogan, “He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him." (Bush and Cheney could only dream of something like that.) Somewhere along the way, about 1999, the Virginian-Pilot reported the Taylor and that old wizard Pat Robertson, (700 Club Pat), had extensive business dealings. Righteous Pat had apparently bought up a bunch of diamond mines in Liberia, and reportedly in Zaire under Mobutu Sese Seko, used his Operation Blessing (in disguise?) planes to move mining equipment to Liberia while the weeping viewers at home thought their hard earned dollars were going to relieve the victims of genocide in Rwanda. However, Attorney General Mark Earley of Virginia, of the whip-maker Earleys, blocked prosecution for Pat. How nice. This story has all the elements, doesn’t it? Just take a look at the rise of the Neo-cons in the late 70s, Taylor is there, in one way or another, every step of the way, the Yin to their Yang.

Now, back to this recent article in CNN about Taylor’s eventual and hopeful prosecution, one which the US Executive is loathe to see take place. There is a certain quality I would liken to the reporting you can find at CNN lately, a certain fecal smelling quality. No back story, no context, no nothing. These guys are taking their cues straight from the horses mouth, and that horse lives on a ranch in Crawford Texas. Can anyone take the reports coming out of CNN seriously?

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