Upheaval in Africa taints secretary of state nomination for Ambassador Susan RiceBy Askia Muhammad -Senior Correspondent- | Last updated: Dec 13, 2012 - 3:30:36 PM
A group of 50 House members—who have no vote on confirming presidential appointees—led by female members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), expressed their strong support of Ambassador Rice following what they deemed unfair attacks from various Senate and House Republicans.
“The baseless ad hominem attacks on Ambassador Rice by several members of the Senate—most notably Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)—calling into question her very character, basic level of intelligence, trustworthiness, and qualifications is not only disingenuous but at odds with the actions and stances they have taken in the past, with other potential nominees,” Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) told reporters on Capitol Hill in November.
“Ambassador Rice is enormously talented, highly educated, and capable, with a depth of experience that makes her a qualified candidate for a variety of high-level positions. These unwarranted attacks only serve to deter other qualified women from seeking similar high profile positions for which they are eminently qualified—and it is our nation that loses,” Rep. Moore continued.
She was joined at the press conference by CBC members Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) the incoming CBC chair; and by Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).
President Obama also vigorously defended Ambassador Rice during his own mid-November press conference in the White House Rose Garden. Dr. Rice was criticized for her promoting a now-disproven explanation for the deadly attack on an American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stephens and three other U.S. diplomats were killed on Sept. 11, 2012.
She was widely criticized by Senators McCain and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for her remarks which she said were based on information she received from the CIA.
Others, including Dr. Ron Daniels, the chair of the progressive Institute of the Black World 21st Century, concurred. “We find it utterly incredulous that the Honorable Senators who uncritically supported the war against Iraq, based on inexplicably flawed intelligence or outright deception, could even perk their lips to criticize Ambassador Rice,” Dr. Daniels said in an open letter.
But some observers are far less forgiving of Dr. Rice and the policies she has supported particularly in Africa, the area of her academic specialty. She earned a Ph.D. from Oxford University, studying post colonial Zimbabwe.
“Susan Rice has abetted the Congo genocide for much of her political career,” Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report wrote. “The invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo by U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda, in 1996, set in motion a genocide that left six million Congolese dead. Another wave of mass killings now looms with this month’s capture of Goma, an eastern Congolese city of one million, by ‘rebels’ under Rwandan and Ugandan control,” Mr. Ford reported.
Dr. Rice’s supporters remain unfazed. “I have known Ambassador Rice for over 25 years, long before her political appointments and outside the glare of Washington politics,” said Rep. Sewell. “I can personally speak to her integrity, professionalism and character. Ambassador Rice is a brilliant scholar, an outstanding American diplomat and has served our nation with great honor, dedication and leadership. These recent attempts to discredit and smear the reputation and extraordinary diplomatic work of Ambassador Rice are simply outrageous,” added Rep. Sewell.
Countless U.S. diplomats have notoriously fallen victim to the lies dictated to them by anonymous intelligence officials who work in the obscurity of the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other clandestine agencies. Ambassador Rice is apparently no different.
Secretary of State Colin Powell famously convinced the UN Security Council to authorize the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq based on false, CIA-provided information about Iraq obtaining “yellow cake” uranium in Africa with which to make non-existent “weapons of mass destruction.”
John Stockwell is the highest-ranking CIA official ever to leave the agency and go public. He ran a CIA intelligence-gathering post in Vietnam, was the task-force commander of the CIA’s secret war in Angola in 1975 and 1976, and was awarded the Medal of Merit before he resigned and wrote a book, “In Search of Enemies.”
“Our ambassador to the United Nations, Patrick Moynihan, he read continuous statements of our position to the Security Council, the general assembly, and the press conferences, saying the Russians and Cubans were responsible for the conflict (in Angola), and that we were staying out, and that we deplored the militarization of the conflict. And every statement he made was false. And every statement he made was originated in the sub-committee of the NSC (National Security Council) that I sat on as we managed this thing,” Mr. Stockwell said in a lecture in June, 1986.
“We would write papers for him. Four paragraphs. We would call him on the phone and say, ‘call us 10 minutes before you go on, the situation could change overnight, we’ll tell you which paragraph to read.’ And all four paragraphs would be false. Nothing to do with the truth. Designed to play on events, to create this impression of Soviet and Cuban aggression in Angola. When they were in fact responding to our initiatives,” Mr. Stockwell continued.
It is U.S. policies in Africa—including the U.S. role in the overthrow of the Libyan revolution led by Col. Muammar Gadhafi—which opponents of her appointment point out as being the most problematic. “The main player in suppressing information on Congo’s neighbors’ role in the ongoing genocide is U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice,” said Mr. Ford, who is not alone in in his condemnation of the role she has played in African conflicts.
“I’m a little bothered by Ms. Susan Rice for a couple of reasons,” Dr. Sam Hamod, former director of the Islamic Center in Washington and a retired professor of English at Howard University told The Final Call. “One is—and I don’t want to use his name because I haven’t asked his permission—but a friend of mine who was in the bush with (African freedom fighters Joshua) Nkomo, Mobutu (Sese Seko), and a whole bunch of others when they were fighting (for) independence, he himself was (shot) six times; said when she came to talk to the people of Africa, she treated the leaders there as though they were kids, like she was a queen and they were her servants.
“Her attitude was really very condescending to them. Then of course her behavior at the UN, treating the Palestinians as sub-human (following the latest siege by Israel of the Gaza Strip) as if their deaths didn’t matter, but Israeli deaths did. All deaths matter.
“So, I’m a little bothered by her behavior and her attitudes towards people. I don’t know who she thinks she is. I don’t think she’s fit to become secretary of state, based on her behavior and the values she seems to portray,” Dr. Hamod continued.
Glen Ford agrees. “Susan Rice has abetted the Congo genocide for much of her political career,” he wrote. “Appointed to President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council in 1993, at age 28, she rose to assistant secretary of state for African affairs in 1997 as Rwanda and Uganda were swarming across the eastern Congo, seizing control of mineral resources amid a sea of blood.”
Peter Rosenblum, a human rights lawyer and professor at Columbia Law School, says that the U.S.’s reluctance to single out governments responsible for the modern African holocaust is significant, especially at the UN.
“It shows (Dr. Rice) is willing to expend political capital to cast something of a shield over Rwanda and Uganda,” Mr. Rosenblum told Mr. Ford. “These are the things that in diplomatic settings, they are remarked upon. People see that the U.S. is still there defending the leaders of these countries at a time when many of their other closest allies have just grown sort of increasingly weary and dismayed.”
Ambassador Rice’s “blatant insensitivity” towards Africans and Palestinians in particular, should disqualify her from eligibility to be secretary of state, according to Dr. Hamod. “I think we’ve got a lot of nonsense going on here about truth and about reality. I’m also disappointed that (President) Obama is wasting so much of his political currency defending her, that he needs to solve the nation’s problems,” said Dr. Hamod.
Susan Rice is Bad News for Africa (BlackAgendaReport, 12-02-2008)