from arrogant USA
By Yvonne Ridley
-- -- Does being president of the United States mean you never have to say
Just how difficult is it to apologize when you are head of a global superpower
and you’ve blundered?
It was a thought which occurred to me as I was walking around the dust and the
rubble of the bombed out Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan recently.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of blood-soaked pieces of scorched earth which scar
our planet are testimony to a whole raft of blunders by various U.S. presidents
and intelligence agencies.
Despite all the bilge that comes out of Washington about honesty and
accountability, the consequences of the lies from U.S. administrations have
scarred the globe.
But there seems to be some sort of unwritten rule in Washington that U.S.
presidents can commit atrocities anywhere on the planet, so long as they don’t
do it in their own backyard.
It seems that a ‘domestic lie’ will send Congress into a spin and have my
lily-livered colleagues in the American Fourth Estate finding some lead in
their pencils as they demand resignations and impeachments.
But if the lie happens overseas it seems no one in the U.S. press corps really
This all brings me back to the site of the Al Shifa factory in Sudan. It bears
testimony to the recklessness of U.S. presidents and the buffoons who advise
More than a dozen cruise missiles laid the factory on the outskirts of Khartoum
to waste because, according to U.S. intelligence, the plant was manufacturing
chemicals to produce VX nerve gas.
Not only that, the CIA asserted that the factory was being financed by Osama
The truth would be funny if the outcome had not been so devastating… Al Shifa
So the intelligence was bogus (nothing new there, then) and guess what? No one
has resigned, quit in shame, or even said sorry. Not even the then president of
the United States.
And the U.S. media did their usual rendition of the three wise monkeys.
Thomas D. Tullius, chair of Boston University’s chemistry department, said
there was no scientific evidence of chemical weapons production, and evidence
from ex-CIA agents in the employ of Kroll O’Gara, the international
investigative firm, showed there were no financial, political, or terrorist
ties between the owner and Mr. Bin Laden.
In the days which followed, national security advisor Sandy Berger and other
foolish White House lackeys repeatedly claimed that Al Shifa produced “no
commercial products”, had a “secured perimeter patrolled by the Sudanese
military”, “in fact makes the components for VX gas and other chemical
weapons”, and “had links to Osama bin Laden.”
The media was too dumb or too lazy (you can never tell with the White House
press corps) to challenge the information, but within days news was leaking out
that the Clinton administration had bombed an aspirin factory.
Time to say sorry? No bloody way!
The CIA resorted to even more lies as it dug itself into a deeper hole. CIA
briefers, on condition of anonymity, said the factory had been under
surveillance for 18 months and that soil samples proved chemicals were being
produced to make the deadly VX gas.
What the briefers overlooked was the fact that the CIA had pulled out of
Khartoum in 1996 (a decision based largely on even more false intelligence
reports by a totally unreliable CIA asset), which meant that the CIA relied on
intelligence from assets with an axe to grind. Sound familiar? Remember Curve
Ball… one million dead and four million refugees later no one is anywhere near
to apologizing for the disaster which is Iraq.
So, if you’re a U.S. president and you realize that your advisers are the
equivalent of Dumb and Dumber, you can literally get away with murder just as
long as the crime isn’t committed on U.S. soil.
What I have established is that behind every intelligence failure is a policy
failure, and that is self-evident when you look at the U.S. approach to dealing
Sadly, it looks as though former U.S. president Bill Clinton got off scot-free
over his decision to bomb Al Shifa despite the best efforts of investigative
reporter Seymour Hersh, the equivalent of a journalistic oasis in a sea of
American media mediocrity.
However, I suppose I should give credit where credit is due -- Bill Clinton did
make a dramatic break with the policy of previous presidents by expressing
regret for the role the United States played in backing a brutal
counter-terrorism campaign that caused the deaths of thousands of civilians in
Guatemala’s civil war.
He made the apology in Guatemala City in March 1999 following the publication
in February 1999 of the findings of the independent Historical Clarification
Commission which concluded that the U.S. was responsible for most of the human
rights abuses committed during the 36-year war in which 200,000 people died.
“It is important that I state clearly that support for military forces or
intelligence units which engaged in violent and widespread repression of the
kind described in the report was wrong,” Mr. Clinton said. “And the United
States must not repeat that mistake. We must and we will instead continue to
support the peace and reconciliation process in Guatemala.”
He made the apology as the U.S. declassified thousands of documents made
available to the commission which tell how the U.S. initiated and sustained a
murderous war conducted by Guatemalan security forces against civilians
suspected of aiding left-wing guerrilla movements.
A report released by the Guatemala Truth Commission has confirmed that entire
communities were massacred. It said children were killed, abducted, forcibly
recruited as soldiers, illegally adopted, and sexually abused. Fetuses were cut
from their mothers’ wombs and young children were smashed against walls or
thrown alive into pits.
I suppose we should take comfort from the fact that Clinton did apologize for
But I wonder when -- if ever -- we will hear George W. Bush apologize for the
illegal war in Iraq, the one million dead, the four million refugees, the
torture, murder, and abuse in Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and other U.S. detention
Will he ever apologize to the Afghans for the deaths of 50,000 plus as a
fruitless, pointless war continues in Afghanistan -- a war, which like Iraq’s,
can not be won by U.S. soldiers, or any occupying force, come to that?
Will he ever apologize for twiddling his thumbs while Israel unleashed cluster
bombs over the civilian population of southern Lebanon after the Zionist army
was beaten into retreat by a victorious Hezbollah?
I am on my way to Guantanamo Bay very soon (I know, it is encouraging they are
allowing me in with a Press TV film crew… let’s hope they let us out as well!)
But I wonder if Bush will apologize for detaining hundreds of innocent men,
including a number of young boys, without trial and without charge.
Why is ‘sorry’ the hardest word to say, Mr. President