Saturday, 28 April 2012

US murdered head of UN but culprits remain unpunished

Buried History CIA and MI5 linked to assassinations in the Congo in sixties With the recent scandal of ‘destroyed’ Foreign Office documents in connection with Britain’s bloody colonial past and more recent revelations of our secret services’ murky complicity with Gadafhi’s security services it is perhaps worth recalling Britain’s role in the nefarious conspiracy in the Congo after it gained independence from Belgium in June 1960. The Belgians had done nothing to prepare the country for independence, and it quickly degenerated into chaos, providing a motive for the Belgians to keep troops there. While the Belgians favoured Joseph Kasavubu to lead the new nation, the Congolese chose Patrice Lumumba as Prime Minister. Lumumba asked the United Nations, then headed by Dag Hammarskjöld, to order the Belgians to withdraw, and the UN voted to send a peacekeeping mission to the Congo. Impatient and untrusting of the UN, Lumumba threatened to ask the Soviets for help in expelling Belgian forces. He was no communist, but was interested in getting aid from wherever he could, including from the Soviet Union. He’d also sought and, for a time, obtained American aid. Civil war broke out four days after independence, and local leader Moise Tshombe announced copper-rich Katanga's secession in July. In 1959 Lumumba had visited businessmen in New York, and stated unequivocally, ‘The exploitation of the mineral riches of the Congo should be primarily for the profit of our own people and other Africans.’ The country had rich deposits of copper, gold, diamonds, and uranium. Asked whether the Americans would still have access to uranium, as they had during the Belgian occupation, Lumumba responded, ‘Belgium doesn’t produce any uranium; it would be to the advantage of both our countries if the Congo and the US worked out their own agreements in the future.’ The US, though, didn’t trust Lumumba to protect their interests. Investors in copper and uranium in the Congo at that time included the Rockefellers, the Guggenheims and C. Douglas Dillon, who participated in a National Security Council meeting where the removal of Lumumba was discussed. In September, only twelve weeks after his election, his government was indeed overthrown in a western-backed coup by the military, and he was allegedly shot while escaping custody in January 1961. The CIA was not satisfied solely with the death of Lumumba. One of the barriers to completing the takeover of the Congo remained the United Nations, and more specifically, the Swede Dag Hammarskjöld who was UN Secretary-General. Hammarskjöld was killed only nine months after Lumumba in September in a mysterious air crash. Allegations were immediately made of a link between the two and of Western involvement, but firm evidence was difficult to come by. His death was part of an attempt to prevent Katanga's mineral wealth falling under the control of a progressive government. He was flying aboard the Albertina to the Ndola airport at the border of the Congo in Northern Rhodesia, where he was to meet with Tshombe to broker a cease-fire. The pilot of the Albertina filed a fake flight plan in an attempt to keep Hammarskjöld’s ultimate destination hidden. Despite this and other measures taken to preserve secrecy, less than 15 minutes into the flight the press was reporting that Hammarskjöld was en route to Ndola. Hammarskjöld and 15 other people were killed when their aircraft crashed entering what was then Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, where the UN head was due to meet rebel leader Moise Tshombe to negotiate a truce in the Congolese civil war. Newspapers at the time alleged British involvement in a plot to kill Hammarskjöld to prevent UN support for Tshombe and his diamond-rich Katanga province. However, in 1998 Reuters reported that South Africa's Truth Commission chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu Wednesday had released documents which suggested a Western plot was behind the death of the head of the United Nations in 1961. Tutu said his Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was investigating crimes committed during the apartheid era, had decided to release the documents although it could not verify their authenticity. Commission investigators stumbled across the documents by chance while researching an unrelated issue. They link South African agents to the death of Dag Hammarskjöld. The papers also revealed that the project was plotted at the highest levels of the CIA and MI5. The alleged plot was revealed as the brainchild of at least two British security agencies - MI5 and the Special Operations Executive, together with the CIA - as these top-secret documents show. A series of messages between a ‘commodore’ and a ‘captain’ point to a plot hatched on South African soil by a group which had access to large sums of money and the ability to muster mercenary forces to protect Western investments in turbulent post-colonial Africa. The letters, with South African Institute for Maritime Research (SAIMR) letter-heads, include references to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British MI5 security service [SAIMR was a front company for the South African military]. In addition to outlining Operation Celeste - the plan to get rid of the ‘troublesome’ Hammarskjöld - the documents also implicate the SAIMR and international intelligence agencies in the death of Patrice Lumumba and they also implicate then CIA chief Allen Dulles. They claim that the explosives used for the bomb that downed the aircraft were supplied by the Belgian mining conglomerate, Union Minière. The company had extensive interests in copper-rich Katanga, and was known to have backed Tshombe's use of mercenaries, including the group led by South Africa's Colonel ‘Mad Mike’ Hoare. The most damning document, marked ‘Top Secret’, refers to a meeting between MI5, Special Operations Executive, the CIA and the SAIMR at which it was recorded that Dulles ‘agrees ... Dag is becoming troublesome and ... should be removed’ and ‘…I want his removal to be handled more efficiently than was Patrice.’ These documents have predictably been dismissed as fakes by both MI5 and the CIA who still deny any involvement in Hammarskjöld's death. However, they bear a striking resemblance to others emanating from the SAIMR seven years before, when it was headed by ‘commodore’ Keith Maxwell-Annandale and had developed links with both South Africa's military intelligence and the National Intelligence Services. These documents also show that the SAIMR masterminded the abortive 1981 attempt to depose Seychelles president Albert René, and that it was also behind a successful 1990 coup in Somalia. The CIA later opened its files on Cold War assassinations and admitted it had ordered the murder of Patrice Lumumba, but it still denies any involvement with that of Hammarskjöld. The former UN Representative in Africa under Hammarskjöld, Conor Cruise O’Brien, said, ‘I do not think there was anyone there who believed that his death was as accident.’ He and another of Hammarskjöld’s close associates, Stuart Linner, had both been targets of assassination attempts. Interestingly, in 1976 a long-time CIA operative, Bud Culligan, a man with a grudge against his former employer, claimed he personally shot down Hammarskjöld’s plane. He had kept a detailed journal of every assignment he had performed for the CIA. He had dates, names, places - he was a professional assassin. He clearly worked for the CIA in Africa but the extent of his involvement is impossible to prove. We may never be able to uncover the real truth behind Hammarskjöld’s death, but there is certainly no shortage of precedents for CIA involvement in other successful and unsuccessful assassinations of progressive leaders, from Fidel Castro, Salvador Allende, to Omar Torrijos and Bishop Romero. END

Cats are sociopaths!

Psychopaths in the garden It's almost like admitting publicly that you are a paedophile. But I'll admit it anyway: I hate cats! Cats are the world's greatest and most cunning opportunists. They are, in their essence, wild animals that have opted to accept human propinquity because it guarantees ready meals and a dry bed for the night. Cats are unlike any other domestic pet; they cannot be properly tamed or confined, so are free to wander anywhere they want, including into my garden. If my neighbours or even their dogs were continually trespassing on my property I could undertake measures to stop them, even resorting to the courts if necessary. But with cats I have no redress whatsoever - they are a law unto themselves. They can come and go as they please, bury their faeces in my vegetable patch, sunbathe on my patio and hide under the hedge, waiting to pounce on any bird foolhardy enough to hop within range of their vicious claws. In the UK we have 10.3 million cats - that's one for every six people! Just imagine the mountains of food and the tonnage of cans needed to package it. Our supermarkets dedicate metres of shelving to satisfy feline taste buds; cats are offered almost as much choice of food as we humans. Then there are the vet bills, the expensive catteries to park these creatures when their owners go on holiday. This is a multi-million pound industry supporting a vast army of killing machines – a feline-industrial-complex so to speak. Cats are serial killers and they are allowed to murder with impunity. The most recent figures from a British Mammal Society report (2012), estimates that the UK's cats catch up to 275 million prey items per year, of which 55 million are birds. This is the number of prey items that were known to have been caught; we don't know how many more the cats caught, but didn't bring home, or how many escaped injured and subsequently died. On a world scale the figures are even more mind-numbing. Jonathan Franzen in his novel Freedom also lays it on the line about cats through the words of the environmental activist Lalitha: ‘Kitty cats,’ she said. "C-A-T-S. Everybody loves their kitty cat and lets it run around outside. It's just one cat - how many birds can it kill? Well, every year in the U.S. one billion song birds are murdered by domestic and feral cats. It's one of the leading causes of songbird decline in North America. But no one gives a shit because they love their own individual kitty cat.’ I like most animals, but particularly birds. I relish their songs in spring, their animated activity in the nesting season; I like watching them bathe in the water bath and grub for worms on the lawn. But the omnipresence of my neighbours' cats means that their numbers are rapidly reduced and they are driven from my garden. It's even worse in the breeding season when the young hatch, as they have no experience of the wicked wide world outside the nest and no previous contact with those louring beasts of the urban killing fields. Last week a pigeon was pounced on as he strutted calmly around my lawn; only a pile of feathers drifting in the breeze was left behind as evidence. My neighbour’s children told me how their cat brings home dead frogs on a regular basis – culled from around my pond! Cats don't need to catch other animals for food; they do so merely out of instinct. Whereas most town dogs have had their hunter instinct largely bred out of them or can be suitably controlled by their owners, cats are averse to training of any kind. The enormous wastage in terms of the lives of birds and other small animals, due entirely to cats, is mind-boggling. The cat population, I would argue, needs to be seriously reduced if we are to save the remnants of our wildlife. We cull pigeons, foxes and other pests, so why not cats too? Cat-owners should be obliged to make their cats wear bells on their collars or contraptions to prevent their killing. Because they are always well nourished, cats can spend hours simply lounging, grooming themselves, just waiting for any bird, frog or mouse to appear within their vision, before pouncing, just for the sheer hell of it. In conclusion, I can find no better words than those of Franzen’s protagonist in Freedom: ‘Walter never had liked cats They’d seemed to him the sociopaths of the pet world, a species domesticated as an evil necessary for the control of rodents and subsequently fetishized the way unhappy countries fetishize their militaries...’ END 735 words John Green