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Jewish World Review May 23, 2005/ 14 Iyar, 5765

Nat Hentoff

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Our genocidal ally in Khartoum | George W. Bush was the first world leader to directly rebuke Sudan's murderous ruler, Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, for his government's responsibility for the mass killings, rapes and brutal displacement of black Africans in the Darfur region of Sudan last year. And the then Secretary of State Colin Powell forthrightly and accurately called these atrocities genocide.

But Bush has been silent for some time about Darfur, where the death toll is at least 400,000, many murdered by Sudanese armed forces and their accomplices, the savage Arab Janjaweed. Every day — every single day — at least 500 more corpses are being added to the total (according to the watch group Coalition for International Justice), and more than 2 million are living perilous lives after being driven from their homes and villages.

The body count, at a death every three minutes, may actually exceed the 800,000 murdered in Rwanda's genocide in 1994. Back then, a worldwide chorus vowed "Never Again!" And reading of President Clinton's lethal decision not to intervene in time, George W. Bush is said to have written on that account, "Not on my watch."

As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof — who continually alerts this nation and the world about the horrors in Darfur — noted on May 3, the Bush administration strangely "is fighting to kill the Darfur Accountability Act, which would be the most forceful step the U.S. has taken so far against the 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."

And on April 29, the Los Angeles Times revealed that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — while sending a letter to the Bashir regime asking it to stop the attacks in Darfur — added the Bush administration's anticipation of continuing its "close cooperation" with Lt. Gen. Bashir's regime in the war on terrorism.

In the April 29 Los Angeles Times, journalist Ken Silverstein explains this reaching out to Khartoum and the loss of outrage by the Bush administration on the genocide in Darfur.

Why the White House's change in attitude toward Darfur? Silverstein, reporting from Khartoum, notes that, "the Bush administration has forged a close intelligence partnership with the Islamic regime that once welcomed Osama bin Laden here (in Darfur), even as Sudan comes under harsh U.S. and international criticism for human rights violations.

"The Sudanese government, an unlikely ally in the U.S. fight against terror, remains on the latest U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. At the same time, however, it has been providing access to terror suspects and sharing intelligence data with the United States."

The Los Angeles Times' substantially and carefully documented report makes clear that this collaboration between our CIA and the Mukhabarat, the Sudanese equivalent of the CIA, has produced very important results in our war against terrorism. For instance "A U.S. source familiar with Sudan's cooperation said, 'They've not only told us who the bad guys were, they've gone out and gotten them for us.'"

Furthermore, a Muslim intelligence agency like the Mukhabarat "can 'get firsthand information, while we get 10th-hand information,' said Lee S. Wolosky, a former National Security Council staffer in the Clinton and Bush administrations."

Accordingly, in countries where barbaric jihadists organize and plan against us — and where the CIA has very limited contacts — Sudan's intelligence agents can be of considerable, and possibly life-saving, help.

Silverstein points out that this "cooperation is politically delicate for both sides. Bashir's government faces strong internal opposition — including critics within the regime itself — to cooperating with the U.S. ... (and) official acknowledgement of the relationship could also create a political backlash in the United States."

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But now that other media have begun to cite the Los Angeles Times' disclosure, more Americans will know of this grim relationship. But will there actually be a "political backlash?" Especially when most Americans are still engrossed in the Pitt-Jolie-Aniston soap opera and the endless Michael Jackson trial?

Isn't this liaison between the CIA and the Mukhabarat a necessary, vital act of self-defense by the United States against those who now murder our soldiers in Iraq, and may still yet come here?

But does it matter that the head of the Mukhabarat, intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Salah Abdallah Gosh — who used to have regular contacts with Osama bin Laden in Sudan and is now in contact with CIA boss Porter Goss — has been accused by members of Congress of planning military attacks on black African civilians in Darfur?

By being involved with — and indebted to — Bashir and Gosh, what is our responsibility for the rising death toll in Darfur? The International Criminal Court (ICC) is now in charge of prosecuting the committers of genocide, but a May 9 editorial in the Financial Times says "it will be at least a year, maybe two, before the ICC even issues its first indictments."

Meanwhile, the slaughter and gang rapes continue, unabated.

To protect ourselves, is the bargain with these forces of evil justified? What do you, the reader, think?

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Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of several books, including his current work, "The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance". Comment by clicking here.

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