25 October, 2021

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American Hypocrisy & Obama’s Duplicitous Bureaucrats; Relevance To Sri Lanka

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

Al-Jazeera (English Service), the Doha based 24 hour news channel recently broadcast a documentary titled ‘Searching for Steels’ (originally broadcast in 2013). It is a brilliant piece of investigative journalism carried out based on classified US military documents released through WikiLeaks. It narrates the untold story of how the US administration trained a deadly sectarian para-military force of 17,000 men to fight those threatening America’s presence in Iraq. It was a decision that helped fuel a sectarian civil war that eventually ripped Iraq apart.

The investigation uncovers how Col. (Retd) James Steels, a counter terrorism expert was sent to Iraq in 2003 by the Pentagon. He was tasked with setting up a counter terrorism unit for the Iraqi government and to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centers to obtain information from fighters. Composed of violent Shia militias, these commandos evolved into death squads.

Steels worked closely with General David Petreaus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force – Iraq (MNF-I), in Iraq. He had come to know Petreaus, then a major based in El Salvador, in 1984. General David Petraeus is also implicated in the chain of command in this abuse of human rights.obama-pointx-large

By 2013, ten years after the invasion, 120,000 had died including 4,400 Americans as a result of the civil war brought about by this US trained paramilitary force. It divided the Shia and Sunni Muslims in Iraq as never before.

The film maker Maggie O’Kane has this to say:

“When the WikiLeaks documents came out in November 2010, there was one leak in particular that caught my attention. It referenced “Frago 242”, which was short for “Fragmentary Order 242” – a US military order instructing US soldiers to ignore Iraqi-on-Iraqi torture. 
Along with the team I work with, I found that the term “Frago 242” appeared more than a thousand times in the documents we examined. Having spent a lot of time covering the war in Iraq, we naturally wondered why this order was issued and what the story behind it was”.

“Our investigation uncovered how a retired US Colonel, James Steele, was overseeing Pentagon-backed death squads that tortured detainees for information on the armed groups. There were also references in the WikiLeaks files to a General Adnan Thabit, who was visiting the American embassy at the time”.

“The Iraq war is indicative of a very dysfunctional, brutal time. I hope this film will be a legacy that says: If you want to go to war, this is what war means. It means 14-year-old boys being hung up and tortured, it means men being turned on spits – that is your “counterinsurgency”. I feel it is important that this information comes out and I am shocked that we want to forget it so quickly.”

The documentary contains a video clip of an address to US troops and a statement by President Obama, which are reproduced below.

The video clip addressing US troops states; “It is harder to end a war than begin a war. Everything our troops have done in Iraq, all the fighting, all the dying, all the bleeding, the building, the partnering and the training; all of it has led to this moment of success”.

A statement issued a few months after entering the White House states;

“We’ve been through a dark and painful chapter of our history. Nothing will be gained in spending our time and energy laying blame for the past”.

In the light of documented events and video clips reported in the documentary ‘Searching for Steels’, it would be pertinent to examine the statements made by American bureaucrats visiting Sri Lanka and the advice given to Sri Lanka by US, since the end of LTTE terrorism.

Stephen J. Rapp, the United States ambassador at large for war crimes issues visiting the Northern Province with former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Michele J Sison in January 2014 in a Twitter message attaching a visual of the duo at St.Anthony’s grounds in Jaffna tweaked “St Anthony’s Ground – site of Jan 2009 killing of hundreds of families by army shelling #srilanka”

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Biswal on visit to Sri Lanka in February 2014 “We reiterated our commitment to Sri Lanka but we conveyed our concerns to senior government officials about the insufficient progress made in addressing justice and accountability. But as I have noted earlier, the patience of the international community is wearing thin with the pace of progress including with the implementation of the recommendations of the LLRC. We are concerned about the worsening situation with respect to human rights including continued attacks against religious minorities, as well as the weakening of the rule of law and an increase of the levels of corruption and impunity”.

Secretary of State John Kerry on visit to Sri Lanka in May 2015 during a news conference in Colombo emphasized US was not seeking to meddle in Sri Lankan affairs. “Everything we are talking about, we are offering, not demanding, everything we have suggested is exactly that, a suggestion” he said.

Ambassador Samantha Powers on visit to Sri Lanka in November 2015 and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski on visit to Sri Lanka in July 2016 were two other American bureaucrats who had unsolicited advice for Sri Lanka on human rights, reconciliation, peaceful coexistence and accountability.

Present US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap on visit to Jaffna in August 2016 “I have visited Jaffna several times and have heard the painful memories of how the people of the Northern Province suffered so greatly during the many years of war. While truth telling, reconciliation and accountability are essential, these will not bring back the lives lost and the lives destroyed”.

Secretary John Kerry’s statement “everything we are talking about, we are offering, not demanding, everything we have suggested is exactly that, a suggestion” after the US sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at UNHRC in Geneva is an insult to all Sri Lankans other than to those who opted to co-sponsor the resolution.

All the sermons by visiting US bureaucrats and current US Ambassador to Sri Lanka contradicts their own President’s statement “We’ve been through a dark and painful chapter of our history. Nothing will be gained in spending our time and energy laying blame for the past”.

Of special interest is the US military order “Fragmentary Order 242” or “Frago 242”, instructions for US soldiers to ignore Iraqis torturing Iraqis. It is hypocritical to lecture Sri Lankans on its ethnic divide while fermenting Shia and Sunni Muslim divide in Iraq. It is criminal to demand the investigation of deaths shrouded in the fog of war while funding the formation, training and arming of sectarian para-military forces for the sole purpose of eliminating opponents of US presence in Iraq. There is no better justification for a credible investigation than the 120,000 deaths in the hands of US trained death squads which took place not during but after the invasion.

The US should either desist from meddling on issues such as human rights, truth telling, reconciliation etc. in Sri Lanka or else initiate a credible investigation to establish the origins of the sectarian war in Iraq which resulted in over 120,000 deaths within ten years. US cannot have it both ways. To continue such a duplicitous course is an affirmation of its moral bankruptcy.

It is not this writer’s contention, crimes committed by Sri Lankan armed forces must not be investigated and those guilty not be punished. It must be done. Not because we are told to do so by the international community, but as a duty to our fellow citizens who suffered injustices. However, a clear distinction need be made between civilian deaths in a war zone which is inevitable and individual crimes committed by soldiers in their personal capacity which are punishable.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    1

    Bravo.

    Tell Atul Keshap, Samantha Powers & Biswas to clean up their own backyard. Prosecute War Criminals like Kissinger, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Pereaus, Clintons & the Bushes. To date US is one country that has not signed the Rome Agreement on the International Criminal Court. The reason given was that if US agrees, it will open the door for other countries to prosecute US soldiers!! This holier than thou hypocrisy of the US on the International War Crimes Tribunal is only exceeded by their own cockeyed belief that US is exceptional.

    What is probably true is that so long as the expat LTTErs keep funding the Democratic & Republican politicians and their allied lobbyists, US politicos & NGOs funded by them will talk of human rights in the context of SL politics.

    • 1
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      Rajeewa Jayaweera

      RE: American Hypocrisy & Obama’s Duplicitous Bureaucrats; Relevance To Sri Lanka

      American, British and French Hypocrisy & Duplicitous Activities from 50 to 100 years ago and its Relevance To Sri Lanka and other nations.

      The Secret of the Seven Sisters 1of4, Desert Storms:

      Published on Apr 18, 2014
      Al Jazeera documentary about the history of oil cartels and how geo-political relations are dominated by oil.

      The Secret of the Seven Sisters 2of4, The Black El Dorado

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTuzZ920AQs

      The Secret of the Seven Sisters 3of4, The Dancing Bear

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-Lub2ecXGM

      The Secret of the Seven Sisters 4of4, A Time for Lies

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3tGUjGl8AA

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TXG70xAnSU

    • 1
      1

      Rajeewa Jayaweera

      RE: American Hypocrisy & Obama’s Duplicitous Bureaucrats; Relevance To Sri Lanka

      Let’s apply this Hypocrisy to Sri Lanka.

      Sirisena Hypocrisy & Yahapalanaya Duplicitous Actions; Relevance To Sri Lanka and to Mahinda Rajapaksa.

      The Turncoat, Traitor, Gona, and Bribe taker Gon Sirisena exposed.

      Resist ingratitude’- answer to insults heaped on Civil society ! Massive public meeting at Public library auditorium !!

      This public meeting that is organized by the Citizen’s Force and the People’s movement for just society will be addressed by Professor Sarath Wijesuriya, Sahithyadara Gamini Viyangoda ,J.C. Weliamunne -a senior lawyer, Saman Rathnapriya – Trade union leader ,Sunil Perera – Gypsies leader , K.W Janaranjana –Editor Ravaya , among others. See Video below.

      https://youtu.be/M_aLlAtRPng

  • 2
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    Obama was a top class hypocrite. One wikileak – Asange inteview says that Obama’s cabinet was decided based on a List given by the citi bank.

    The major reason to Libya was,Hilary wanted some ammunition to the presidential election when she contested as the candidate. they di dnot consider about the world. It was mostly based on personal reasons. Now, Libya provides most of the terrorists and the refugee problems in the europe.

  • 3
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    “We’ve been through a dark and painful chapter of our history. Nothing will be gained in spending our time and energy laying blame for the past”.
    This is exactly what we should have said at the UN, instead we dug our own grave.

  • 1
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    Dear RJ:

    Reading your article, what made my eye brows to raise was last paragraph. It puts me of joint a bit out. Because reading all that before the last paragraph, I have sort of made up my mind that we have to exactly do a “We’ve been through a dark and painful chapter of our history. Nothing will be gained in spending our time and energy laying blame for the past”, move on dropping all what we have been doing in terms of finding the truth about alleged war crimes, as there exists some precedence going by what the USA did in Iraq, which appears to be very similar to what GoSL did in the internal war with its own people in 2009. More compelling in the USA’s involvement in Iraq was, it resulted in ending up 120,000 lives, whereas GoSL’s was lesser, which is only about 100,000. This number comparison of deaths was also relatively eased my pain to not to pursue these nonsensical war crime investigations.
    Given all what you wrote and trying to prove, the final paragraph should have been concluded rather that, the X equal to Y, so we don’t need to do any investigation. Start screw the next chapter in the history of this island.
    Instead, you went on a U turn to write this, “It is not this writer’s contention, crimes committed by Sri Lankan armed forces must not be investigated and those guilty not be punished. It must be done. Not because we are told to do so by the international community, but as a duty to our fellow citizens who suffered injustices. However, a clear distinction need be made between civilian deaths in a war zone which is inevitable and individual crimes committed by soldiers in their personal capacity which are punishable.”
    This is what that am struggling to come to grip with. It is as if you beat a person to death and wear him a garland and go away.
    Even in it, you could not hide yourselves fully that where your real focus was, by writing the obvious that “a clear distinction need be made between civilian deaths in a war zone which is inevitable” and going into defensive. Isn’t it be seen as that someone preempting to take some covers expecting what to come out in a fair investigation? What are these words exactly imply “individual crimes” and “personal capacity”. Are you suspecting some of our heroes who went on their own and killed someone to snap some valuable exploiting the situation that numbers were also being lumped into this war crimes causality numbers? Try you luck!
    Writing all this, it is bizarre that you didn’t comprehend why the IC keeps saying to do something. Don’t you realize going against let an independent commission to look into this issue is not about preserving the sovereignty in its pristine that those opposed have concern of, but it is those who in power already knew what the outcome of such an inquiry will be that prevent having such a hearing. Knew it will open up a Pandora box implicating up the top, and it is an open secret now and well known to any average Joe, not in SL but in the world. It is not about even the forces, it is some individual as you rightly say , in their personal capacity, yes, outside the war zone might have responsible for these crimes. But such personal seems to be the protected spices in SL, regardless of who comes to power. Under circumstance, to believe any GoSL will do a fair investigation is a day dream.
    To comprehend what could have happened in those fateful days of May, 2009, let me put this: If Thajudeen and Lasantha have got what the GoSL thought they deserved, what do you really expect to happen under the same command in the so called “No Fire Zone” where, in contrary to the wordings, all fires were directed having invited those starving and sleepless innocents. On hearing the announcement of an NFZ, these people, I was told, were walking past and leaving behind their loved ones’ dead bodies amidst the intense fire, into the narrow strip of land assuming going into it would be a safe heaven. If Lasantha can be killed in Colombo in the day light, be accused of one Pechai Jesuthan for it despite Lasantha’s loved ones say it was the GoSL, isn’t it hard to figure out what could have happened out there where law of the jungle was existed, no media, nothing. And, then to say to the world such things as zero causalities, UN human charter on one hand, did only humanitarian rescue……and, now comparing what the USA did in Iraq- we have come a long way and, a long way still to go before accepting what had been inflicted on the innocent civilians was crime against humanity.
    But, you don’t need to go after felons, by the time, those who committed would realize themselves that what they did was not liberating the land mass but a heinous crime, they start rotting themselves. Karma will chase them, we see some who are feeling remorse and have witnessed the cruel scenes already sharing those photographic and video records, which shocked the world. If you also write comparing what happened on or about 11 July 1995 in Srebrenica, where those Muslim men were blind folded and shot dead with their hands tied behind, which seems to depict what we saw happened on our lands, it would in a way help stop the recurrence. You know what Srebrenica Govt did in response, the moment the videos were shown to the world outside, the Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica ordered the arrest of those 8 animals who committed the crime. In Sri Lanka, despite the startling revelation, the GoSL, is still in complete denial, blaming everyone else other than them and we all can understand why they do. We have the habit of mollycoddle the very culprits in the name of heroes tarnishing the image of the entire nation, don’t you see the need to protect the image of a nation than a few individuals, if that was the case as you say? What the Army’s internal disciplinary arm has been doing? Seems only capable of court marshalling SF on a pick and choose basis? If you are capable of handling this inquiry as you say, and if it were a few individuals that committed the crimes as you guess, what is stopping the Army’s disciplinary arm from carrying out its rightful duty and show the world there were a few bad apples but others were real heroes. No point trying to spin stories thinking two wrongs make a right, which is what you have engaged yourselves.
    And, for some smart patriots, all that worries at the presence in this regards is the IC, and these annual encounters at the UN. So, you believe that publishing this kind of articles on the one hand would justify SL’s stand and the snail pace with which GoSL acting on this issue, on other, shunt the IC from the subject- which, being a patriot, you think is smart. What else to expect from smart patriots? What they want is a pure Sinhalese Buddhist country of their own, until it has been achieved, every one doing their share of jobs, some openly spew venom, some promises to good governance but then interfere in justice and safeguard the very criminal, some keep writing articles aimed at absolving criminals from the crimes they committed, but pretend that they don’t know who the criminal was, eying an opportunity if and when things get tougher, which I doubt, a few scape goats can be sacrificed at the altar as if shooting the messenger.
    Don’t fetch some examples from the USA, for all your wrong doings in SL. Think why they do the way do. If you think it is a horrible nation, why do even pure Sri Lankans opted to go there and live?

  • 2
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    Mr. Rajeeva Jayaweera,
    It is not strange different people have different views. It always happens in all family issues, County issues, friends and relatives issues and so on. Your wife can contradict you, my child can contradict me in our ordinary life. Just think to what extent contradictions can arise in the event of a war and disputes between warring parties. The point in contention centers on the cause of dispute and not on who disputes outside the warring parties. It is not so wise to take the disputing person outside of a warring party as a cause or as an issue for the dispute.
    What kind of parallel do anyone see in the concerns of U.S.A. worldwide and the concerns of Sri Lanka worldwide in the issue of the recently created history of Sri Lanka.
    If Sri Lanka looks inwards and do its role with dignity, why should other Countries/International Community intervene to help Sri Lanka?
    Do you get any dignity ridiculing other Countries or do you want other Countries respect you?

  • 2
    1

    Americans can do whatever they want. Hillary will lead to Eelam in a few years. Trump will be better for Sri Lanka. If Trump wins all the political appointees like Bishwal and Samantha will be kicked out. If Hillary wins expect Eelam in a few years. Notice how busy the US is brainwashing Tamils in the North and even introducing American Football. For what? That sport is very expensive. Why not promote Cricket? They are in a rapid escalation mode in Sri Lanka. Expect upheavals in the North soon after Hillary takes office IF she wins. Right now it is anyone’s guess. She is a crooked woman with horrible judgment, and Trump is a narcissistic mad man with zero moral compass and zero temperament.

  • 3
    1

    America Good. West Good. White Man Good.
    Why we dont listen to Good ?

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