Amidst Dick and George's continued petulance a big African country may have slipped right past even the most ardent afficianado of the news.
But first, you're probably intimately aware of the Dick and George Dating Game
Bush, doing his best Clinton impersonation, has spent the last week or so defining what the definition of "relationship" is
The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. For example, Iraqi intelligence officers met with bin Laden, the head of al Qaeda, in the Sudan. There's numerous contacts between the two.
There. Did you see it?
Probably not. You were hoodwinked by Cheney, doing his best impersonation of an honest man
There clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming...It goes back to the early '90s. It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts with Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials.
For Dick and George a "relationship" that is a justification for war and American occupation is predicated on "numerous contacts." No actual intimacy need be necessary, mind you. Just contacts. You know, just general hangin' out together at the malt shop.
Well, while Dick and George were busy gossiping and complaining like middle school girls about who might
have been hanging out with whom, you may not have noticed the news about those who truly were
hanging out together. Embedded in the 9/11 Commission Staff Statement
-- the document which set off the whole "relationship" brouhaha -- are these telling facts about al Qaeda's "contacts" with another country.
In 1989, the regime in Sudan, run by a military faction and an Islamic extremist organization called the National Islamic Front, invited Bin Ladin to move there. He sent an advance team to Sudan in 1990 and moved there in mid-1991. Bin Ladin brought resources to Sudan, building roads and helping finance the government's war against separatists in the south. In return, he received permission to establish commercial enterprises and an operational infrastructure to support terrorism.
...In Sudan, Bin Ladin built upon the al Qaeda organization he had established back in the Afghanistan. Al Qaeda had its own membership roster and a structure of "committees" to guide and oversee such functions as training terrorists, proposing targets, financing operations, and issuing edicts -- purportedly grounded in Islamic law -- to justify al Qaeda actions.
...Bin Ladin set up training camps and weapons and supply depots in Sudan. He used them to support al Qaeda and other members of the Islamic army. Bin Ladin's operatives used positions in his businesses to acquire weapons, explosives, and technical equipment such as surveillance devices. To facilitate these activities, Sudanese intelligence officers provided false passports and shipping documents. At this time al Qaeda's operational role was mainly to provide funds, training, and weapons for attacks carried out by allied groups.
...Bin Ladin also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein's secular regime. Bin Ladin had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded Bin Ladin to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Ladin in 1994. Bin Ladin is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded. There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after Bin Ladin had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior Bin Ladin associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.
...In May 1996, Bin Ladin left Sudan and moved back to Afghanistan. His departure resulted from a combination of pressures from the United States, other western governments, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Libya, all three of which faced indigenous terrorist groups supported by Bin Ladin. The pressure on Sudan intensified in April 1996 when the UN sanctioned Sudan for harboring individuals from the group that had attempted to assassinate Egyptian President Mubarak in June 1995.
So, while Bin Ladin may
have been flirting with Iraq he was undoubtedly married to Sudan. Alas, this was not the first time the GOP family values team was distracted by their prurient interest in a superficially titillating (potential) dalliance at the expense of understanding and acting upon real issues and actual problems.
Dick and George's sixth grade logic infers mortal threat from "numerous [possible] contacts." What then is implied by actual long-standing, widespread operational cooperation, coordination, and financing relationships? If a few "contacts" are sufficient justification for an invasion, occupation, humanitarian assistance, and nation building -- we are still calling what we're doing in Iraq "nation building" aren't we? -- then surely al Qaeda's actual presence merits at least a little Sudanese penetration. But no -- sigh. Sudan wasn't, shall we say, sexy enough. Dick and George could only be satisfied with hunky Saddam.
And it really is a shame that Dick and George are so easily distracted. Because the second thing you may have missed (though the story has been brewing for weeks) is the burgeoning genocidal crisis in the known al Qaeda consort of Sudan
. Unfortunately, you'll probably be hearing a lot more about Sudan in the coming weeks. Like Rwanda (10 years ago this month), Sudan is on the verge of, at best, a massive humanitarian crisis. At worst we may again being hearing about widespread ethnic cleansing.
Already over 30,000 people have been killed by government sponsored death squads. Optimistic projections forecast at least 300,000 deaths as Sudan heads into its rainy season when it will be more difficult to intervene in the ongoing rebellion and deliver aid. That number will likely go much higher unless substantial relief is delivered quickly.
Can the United States do anything at this point? Diplomatically, perhaps. Militarily, no. In both cases, America finds itself forlorn and impotent in the face of a different relationship. One predicated on "contacts."