WHAT A DIFFERENCE AN ELECTION MAKES: OR DOES IT?
Prepared Statement of Wayne Madsen
Wayne Madsen is an investigative journalist who has written for The Village Voice, The Progressive, CAQ, and the Intelligence Newsletter. He is the author of Genocide and Covert Activities in Africa 1993-1999 (Lewiston, NY:Edwin Mellen, 1999), an expose of U.S. and French intelligence activities in Africa’s recent civil wars and ethnic rebellions. He served as an on-air East Africa analyst for ABC News in the aftermath of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Mr. Madsen has appeared on 60 Minutes, World News Tonight, Nightline, 20/20, MS-NBC, and NBC Nightly News, among others. He has been frequently quoted by the Associated Press, foreign wire services, and many national and international newspapers. Mr. Madsen is also the author of a motion picture screen play treatment about the nuclear submarine USS Scorpion. He is a former U.S. Naval Officer and worked for the National Security Agency and U.S. Naval Telecommunications Command.
I wish to discuss the record of American policy in Africa over most of the past decade, particularly that involving the central African Great Lakes region. It is a policy that has rested, in my opinion, on the twin pillars of unrestrained military aid and questionable trade. The military aid programs of the United States, largely planned and administered by the U.S. Special Operations Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), have been both overt and covert. ACRI, ACSS, and the covert programs all involve the use of private military training firms and logistics support contractors that are immune to Freedom of Information Act requests. More troubling than these overt problems are those that involve covert assistance to the Rwandan and Ugandan militaries. Sources in the Great Lakes region consistently report the presence of a U.S.-built military base near Cyangugu, Rwanda, near the Congolese border. The base, reported to have been partly constructed by the U.S. firm Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, is said to be involved with training RPF forces and providing logistics support to their troops in the DRC.
The increasing reliance by the Department of Defense on so-called Private Military Contractors (PMCs) is of special concern. Many of these PMCs — once labeled as “mercenaries” by previous administrations when they were used as foreign policy instruments by the colonial powers of France, Belgium, Portugal, and South Africa — have close links with some of the largest mining and oil companies involved in Africa today. PMCs, because of their proprietary status, have a great deal of leeway to engage in covert activities far from the reach of congressional investigators. They can simply claim that their business in various nations is a protected trade
secret and the law now seems to be on their side.
THE DESTABILIZATION OF AFRICA
America’s policy toward Africa during the past decade, rather than seeking to stabilize situations where civil war and ethnic turmoil reign supreme, has seemingly promoted destabilization. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was fond of calling pro-U.S. military leaders in Africa who assumed power by force and then cloaked themselves in civilian attire, “beacons of hope.” In reality, these leaders, who include the current presidents of Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Angola, Eritrea, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo preside over countries where ethnic and civil turmoil permit unscrupulous international mining companies to take advantage of the strife to fill their own coffers with conflict diamonds, gold, copper, platinum, and other precious minerals n including one that is a primary component of computer microchips.
Some of the companies involved in this new “scramble for Africa” have close links with PMCs and America’s top political leadership. For example, America Minerals Fields, Inc., a company that was heavily involved in promoting the 1996 accession to power of the late Congolese President Laurent-Desire Kabila, was, at the time of its involvement in the Congo’s civil war, headquartered in Hope, Arkansas. Its major stockholders included long-time associates of former President Clinton going back to his days as Governor of Arkansas. America Mineral Fields also reportedly enjoys a close relationship with Lazare Kaplan International, Inc., a major international diamond brokerage whose president remains a close confidant of past and current administrations on Africa matters.
One of the major goals of the Rwandan-backed Rassemblement Congolais pour la democratie (RCD), a group fighting the Kabila government in Congo, is restoration of mining concessions for Barrick Gold, Inc. of Canada. In fact, the rebel RCD government’s “mining minister” signed a separate mining deal with Barrick in early 1999. Among the members of Barrick’s International Advisory Board are former President Bush and former President Clinton’s close confidant Vernon Jordan. Currently, Barrick and tens of other mining companies are stoking the flames of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Each benefits by the de facto partition of the country into some four separate zones of political control. First the mineral exploiters from Rwanda and uganda concentrated on pillaging gold and diamonds from the eastern Congo.
Now, they have increasingly turned their attention to a valuable black sand called columbite-tantalite or “col-tan.” Col-tan is a key material in computer chips and, therefore, is as considered a strategic mineral. It is my hope that the Bush administration will take pro-active measures to stem this conflict by applying increased pressure on Uganda and Rwanda towithdraw their troops from the country.
However, the fact that President Bush has selected Walter Kansteiner to be Assistant Secretary of State for African, portends, in my opinion, more trouble for the Great Lakes region. A brief look at Mr. Kansteiner’s curriculum vitae and statements calls into question his commitment to seeking a durable peace in the region. For example, he has envisaged the splitting up of the Great Lakes region into separate Tutsi and Hutu states through “relocation” efforts and has called the break-up of the DRC inevitable. I believe Kansteiner’s previous work at the Department of Defense where he served on a Task Force on Strategic Minerals and one must certainly consider col-tan as falling into that category — may influence his past and current thinking on the territorial integrity of the DRC. After all, 80 per cent of the world’s known reserves of col-tan are found in the eastern DRC. It is potentially as important to the U.S. military as the Persian Gulf region.
The U.S. military and intelligence agencies, which have supported Uganda and Rwanda in their cross-border adventures in the DRC, have resisted peace initiatives and have failed to produce evidence of war crimes by the Ugandans and Rwandans and their allies in Congo. The CIA, NSA, and DIA should turn over to international investigators both signals intelligence and human intelligence evidence in their possession, as well as overhead imagery, including thermal imagery indicating the presence of mass graves and when they were dug. There must be a full accounting before the Congress by the staff of the U.S. Defense Attache’s Office in Kigali who served there from early 1994 to the present time.
A LINGERING QUESTION ON ASSASSINATIONS
The present turmoil in central Africa largely stems from a fateful incident that occurred on April 6, 1994. That was the missile attack on the Rwandan presidential aircraft that resulted in the death of Rwanda’s Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana, his colleague President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, Habyarimana’s chief advisers, and the French crew. This aerial assassination resulted in a genocide coordinated by the successor militant Hutu Rwandan government that cost the lives of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. This was followed by a counter-genocide orchestrated by the Tutsi-led Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) government that resulted in the deaths of 500,000 mostly Hutu refugees in Rwanda and neighboring Zaire/Congo. No one has even identified the assassins of the two presidents let alone sought to bring them to justice. There have been a number of national and international commissions that have looked into the causes for the Rwandan genocide.
These have included investigations by the Belgian Senate, the French National Assembly, the United Nations, and the Organization of African Unity. None of these investigations have identified the perpetrators of the aerial assassination. In 1998, French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere launched an investigation of the aircraft attack. After interviewing witnesses in Switzerland, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Russia, Bruguiere apparently has enough evidence to issue an international arrest warrant for President Kagame. A former French Judge, Thierry Jean-Pierre, now a Member of the European Parliament, in an entirely separate and private investigation, came to the same conclusion that Kagame was behind the attack. The United States government must come to its senses, as it did with past intelligence assets like Sadaam Hussein, Alberto Fujimori, General Suharto, Ferdinand Marcos,and Manuel Noriega, and support a judicial accounting by Kagame. If it is proven that U.S. citizens were in any way involved in planning the assassination, they should also be brought to justice before the international war crimes tribunal.
Immediately after the attack on the presidential plane, much of the popular press in the United States brandished the theory that militant Hutus brought it down. I suggest that following some four years of research concentrating on the missile attack, there is no basis for this conclusion. In fact, I believe there is concrete evidence to show that the plane was shot down y operatives of the RPF. At the time, the RPF was supported by the United States and its major ally in the region, Uganda. Prior to the attack, the RPF leader, the current Rwandan strongman General Paul Kagame, received military training at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Many of Kagame’s subordinate’s received similar training, including instruction in the use of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) at the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. It was Soviet-designed SAMs that were used to shoot down the Rwandan president’s airplane. By its own admission, the U.S. Defense Department provided official military training to the RPF beginningin January 1994, three months before the missile attack on the aircraft.In testimony before the French inquiry commission, former French Minister for International Cooperation Bernard Debre insisted that the two SAM-16s used in the attack on the aircraft were procured from Ugandan military stocks and were “probably delivered by the Americans . . . from the Gulf War.”
He was supported by two former heads of the French foreign intelligence service (DGSE) Jacques Dewatre and Claude Silberzahn, as well as General Jean Heinrich, the former head of French military intelligence (DRM). Former moderate Hutu Defense Minister James Gasana, who served under Habyarimana from April 1992 to July 1993, stated before the French inquiry that his government declined to purchase SAMs because they realized the RPF had no planes and, therefore, procurement of such weapons would have been a waste of money. The contention by French government officials that the RPF was responsible for the aerial attack is supported by three former RPF intelligence officers who disclosed details of the operation to UN investigators. The three informants were rated as Category 2 witnesses on a 4-point scale where 1 is highly credible and 2 is “true but untested.” The RPF informants claim the plane was downed by an elite 10-member RPF team with the “assistance of a foreign government.” Some of the team members are apparently now deceased. A confidential UN report on the plane attack was delivered to the head of the UN War Crimes Tribunal, Judge Louise Arbour of Canada, but was never made public. In fact, Arbour terminated the investigation when details of the RPF’s involvement in the assassination became clear. The UN now denies such a report exists.
Michael Hourigan, an Australian lawyer who first worked as an International War Crimes Tribunal investigator and then for the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services, confirmed that the initial war crimes investigation team uncovered evidence of the RPF’s involvement in the attack but their efforts were undercut by senior UN staff. After the former RPF intelligence team revealed details of the attack, they were supported by yet another former RPF intelligence officer named Jean Pierre Mugabe. In a separate declaration, Mugabe contended that the assassination was directed by Kagame and RPF deputy commander-in-chief James Kabarebe. The RPF, according to Mugabe, campaigned extensively for the regional peace meeting in Dar es Salaam from which Habyarimana was returning when he was assassinated. Mugabe claimed the idea was to collect the top Hutu leadership on the plane in order to easily eliminate them in the attack.
Yet another defector from the RPF, Christophe Hakizabera, in a declaration to a UN investigation commission, states that the “foreign power” that helped the RPF shoot down the airplane was, in fact, Uganda. According to Hakizabera, the first and second assassination planning meetings were held in Uganda in the towns of Kabale and Mbarara, respectively. A third, in which Kagame was present, was held in March 1994 in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. As it did with the three other RPF defectors, the UN took no action as a result of this complaint. It appears, and this is supported by private conversations I have had with former UN officials, that some other party is calling the shots in the world body’s investigation of human rights violations in Africa.
The involvement of Uganda in the assassination tends to support the contention of the former French government ministers that the SAMs were provided to Uganda by the United States from captured Iraqi arms caches during Desert Storm. My own research indicates that these missiles were delivered to Uganda via a CIA-run arms depot outside of Cairo, Egypt. After the transfer, Uganda kept some of the missiles and launchers for its own armed forces and delivered the remainder to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the RPF. Other evidence pointing to an RPF role in the attack includes COMINT (communications intelligence) picked up by military units and civilian radio operators in Rwanda. A Rwandan Armed Forces COMINT listening station picked up a transmission on an RPF frequency, which stated “the target is hit.” This was reported to a Togolese member of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR).
A Belgian amateur radio operator reported that after the attack, he heard someone on a frequency used by a Belgian PMC in Kigali state, “We killed Le Grand (Habyarimana).” The Belgian operator also stated that all Rwandan Armed Forces messages following the attack indicated the Rwandan army was in complete disarray n something that would not have been the case had the Rwandan government perpetrated the attack on its own president. Another source of COMINT was a French signals intelligence unit sent to Kigali from the French military base in Bangui, Central African Republic. According to French Judge Jean-Pierre, copies of French intercepts of RPF communications indicate, beyond a doubt, the culpability of the RPF in the attack on the aircraft. Some formerly classified US State Department cables, which I received following a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal that the U.S. foreign policy establishment was of two minds over the April 6 attack. The U.S. Embassy in Burundi kept a surprisingly open mind about its theories about the missile attack, even suggesting a Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) role in it. Other U.S. diplomatic posts, most notably that in Kigali, seemed to follow the script that the aircraft was downed by hard-line Hutus who wanted to implement a well-planned genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
A May 25 1994 Secret message from the Department of State to all African diplomatic posts also reports that “the RPF has summarily executed Hutu militia alleged to have been involved in the massacres and the RPF has admitted to such killings.” The same message states that “Rwandan government officials who controlled the airport” or “French military officials” recovered the downed presidential aircraft’s black box after securing the airport and removing the body of the French pilot from Habyarimana’s plane. However, according to officials I interviewed who were involved with UN air movements in the region, the black box was secretly transported to UN Headquarters in New York where it remains to this day.
Officially, the Rwandan government claims the black box went missing. According to the UN investigators, the black box was spirited away by UN officials from Kigali to New York via Nairobi. In addition, this shipment was known to US government officials. According to the UN sources, data from the black box is being withheld by the UN under pressure from our own government. The investigators also revealed that RPF forces controlled three major approaches to Kayibanda Airport on the evening of the attack and that European mercenaries, in the pay of the RPF and US intelligence, planned and launched the missile attack on the Mystere-Falcon. The CIA figuredprominently in the UN investigation of the missile attack. According to the investigators, the search for the assassins ultimately led to a warehouse in Kanombe, near the airport. From this warehouse, during the afternoon of April 6, the missile launchers were assembled and readied for action by the mercenaries. As the UN investigation team was nearing its final conclusion and was prepared to turn up evidence indicating the warehouse had been leased by a Swiss company, said to be linked to U.S. intelligence, its mandate was swiftly terminated.
It is clear that the United States, contrary to comments made by its senior officials, including former President Clinton, played more of a role in the Rwandan tragedy than it readily admits. This involvement continued through the successive Rwandan and Ugandan-led invasions of neighboring Zaire/Congo. Speculation that Rwanda was behind the recent assassination of President Laurent Kabila in Congo (and rumors that the CIA was behind it) has done little to put the United States in a favorable light in the region. After all, the date of Kabila’s assassination on January 16 this year — was practically 40 years from the very day of the CIA-planned and executed assassination of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba. The quick pace at which Kabila’s son and successor Joseph Kabila visited the United States n at the same time of Kagame’s presence, and his subsequent meetings with Corporate Council for Africa officials and Maurice Tempelsman (the majordomo of U.S. Africa policy), calls into question what the United States knew about the assassination and when it knew about it.
Also, particularly troublesome is a conclusion the CIA is said to have reached in an assessment written in January 1994, a few months before the genocide. According to key officials I have interviewed during my research, that analysis came to the conclusion that in the event that President Habyarimana was assassinated, the minimum number of deaths resulting from the mayhem in Rwanda would be 500 (confined mostly to Kigali and environs) and the maximum 500,000. Regrettably, the CIA’s higher figure was closer to reality. Certain interests in the United States had reason to see Habyarimana and other pro-French leaders in central Africa out of the way. As recently written by Gilbert Ngijol, a former Assistant to the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN to Rwanda in 1994, the United States directly benefited economically from the loss of influence of French and Belgian mining interests in the central Africa and Great Lakes regions.
There is also reason to believe that a number of people with knowledge of Kagame’s plot against the presidential aircraft have been assassinated. These possibly include Tanzania’s former intelligence chief, Major General Imran Kombe, shot dead by policemen in northeastern Tanzania after he was mistaken for a notorious car thief. His wife maintains he was assassinated. Kombe had knowledge of not only the planned assassination of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents but a plot against Kenya’s President Moi and Zaire’s President Mobutu, as well. There is a belief that Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bukavu, Emmanuel Kataliko, was assassinated last October in Rome by members of a Rwandan hit team acting on orders fromKagame. Other Tutsi and Hutu leaders who oppose Kagame’s regime continue toflee Rwanda to the U.S. and France in fear of their lives.
Rwanda’s figurehead Hutu President Pasteur Bizimungu was forced to resign last year under pressure from the only power in Rwanda, his then-Vice President, Paul Kagame. Deus Kagiraneza, a former intelligence officer in Kagame’s Military Intelligence Directorate (DMI), interim Prefect of the Ruhengeri province, and member of the Parliament, is now in exile in Belgium. He charges that Kagame’s top government and military are responsible for torturing and executing their political opponents. Kagiraneza maintains that the RPF has pursued such policies since the time of the 1990 invasion of Rwanda from Uganda.
It is beyond time for the Congress to seriously examine the role of the United States in the genocide and civil wars of central Africa, as well as the role that PMCs currently play in other African trouble spots like Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Ethiopia, and Cabinda. Other nations, some with less than stellar records in Africa, France and Belgium for example, have had no problem examining their own roles in Africa’s last decade of turmoil. At the very least, the United States, as the world’s leading democracy, owes Africa at least the example of a critical self-inspection.