The Woyome judgement debt payment scandal seems to have taken a better part of our attention for us not to consider as worth our bother other important events that have occurred within the period.
One had to do with Liberia’s former warlord and President, Charles Taylor. The United States authorities disclosed that form Taylor worked for its intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the Boston Globe reports (according to BBC News).
The revelation came in response to a Freedom of Information request by the newspaper. A Boston Globe reporter told the BBC this was the first official confirmation of long-held reports of a relationship between US intelligence and Taylor.
As would be expected, the CIA at the time denied such claims as “completely absurd”; but now, it has owned up. The Defence Intelligence Agency (the Pentagon’s spy arm) has disclosed that its agents and those of the CIA did later use Taylor as an informant, the Globe reported.
That was all the CIA was willing to disclose. Pentagon officials refused to give details on exactly what role Taylor played, citing national security. But they did confirm that Taylor first started working with US intelligence in the 1980s, the period when he rose to become one of the world’s most notorious warlords.
Shocking as this revelation might be, I don’t consider it as unusual. We already know of similar collaboration between African government officials and foreign intelligence organizations. Ghana had its share of the sell-out in 1986 under Rawlings’ PNDC (the Michael Soussoudis saga and those three officials of the Special Branch at the time comes to mind).
But this particular one involving Taylor is the first public disclosure of an African leader’s espionage activities against his own country (and who knows which others in Africa?) while serving as the President of the very country whose interests he vowed to secure against foreign penetration and damage.
Several unexplained events preceding Taylor’s rebellion and assumption of power left trails to suggest that a really strong power was behind his manouevres. And that some impish Lady Luck might be lurking around, smiling on him. Now, we know who that Lady Luck was and where she hid to favour Charles Taylor all along until he exhausted that magnanimity.
Again, the bizarre circumstances under which he left his country to settle in Nigeria only to be outmanouevred and arrested for prosecution in The Hague strongly suggest that he had exhausted his favour with that strong power on which he had depended to clinch power and to fall from grace to grass.
Out of the blues, we now know what that strong power is. Now that we know, all doubts are gone, to be replaced by apprehensions. We can confidently say that once again, the US has shown us what its interests, not friends, are. Charles Taylor couldn’t have outwitted the US intelligence and security system for nothing, and having allowed himself to be used as a pawn in the CIA’s game, he might have realized rather too late how unthinking he had been for allowing himself to be so used. He played with fire.
Of course, Taylor couldn’t have agreed to engage in this bizarre drama of self-immolation disguised as partnership with the US without being deceived by the short-term personal benefits that lured him into the maze. There must have been a quid-pro-quo arrangement to catalyze his rise from obscurity and danger to stardom in the highest office of the land. And in the painful twisting of his fate, tumbling from that pinnacle to the very nadir of hope that he has now been reduced to as a war criminal.
He is being tried for arming and controlling the RUF rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone during a 10-year campaign of terror conducted largely against civilians. He denied those charges but will soon know his fate when his trial ends. If convicted, Taylor would serve a prison sentence in the UK.
The murky circumstances under which Taylor escaped from jail in the US in 1989 are still inexplicable. As the BBC reported, rumours of CIA ties were fuelled in July 2009 when Taylor himself told his trial, at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Hague, that US agents had helped him escape from a maximum security prison in Boston in 1985. If there was no use for Taylor, why would he be so fairly treated? The US knew how to bend him to suit its purposes and did so.
When he found his way into Ghana, the Rawlings government arrested him for questioning but didn’t find anything incriminating to take legal action against him.
He slipped through into the Ivory Coast, where he carved a territory for himself in that country’s Western corridor, the border adjoining Liberia, where he established his operational base and from where he launched his rebellion against the Samuel Doe government in 1989. Preceding his rebellion, Brigadier Quiwonkpa had launched his own rebellion only to be snuffed out.
Initial successes chalked by the Taylor rebels pushed them further into Libierian territory, where they secured the Gbarnga area and consolidated into their stronghold. Providing a safe haven for Taylor and his rebels, Gbarnga would eventually become the launching pad to facilitate Taylor’s brutal rebellion.
We note that the Liberian crisis had many players, one of whom was Prince Yormie Johnson (now a Man-of-God and a Liberian Senator), the man behind the forces that physically breached the security cordon and captured Samuel Doe to be tortured to death while the West African Peacekeeping Force (ECOMOG) looked on.
Indeed, by that action, Johnson had indicated that he was operating with a stronger force than Taylor’s group could. After all, he had scoffed Taylor for “dancing around the target (Monrovia)” for two years without any indication that he could capture it.
Taylor’s eventual overthrow of the Samuel Doe government was occasioned by horrendous atrocities, which explains why he is today before the ICC in The Hague to answer for such a pogrom. Of course, he is also accused of supporting and funding the equally horrendous atrocities in neighbouring Sierra Leone by forces under the command and control of the late Foday Sankoh.
Any image coming from Liberia and Sierra Leone horrifies. It demonstrates clearly the high degree of wickedness that guided the actions of the rebels. The perpetrators must not escape justice, then.
So, now that we are being told that upon all that he did in search for power—and in the senseless exercise of that power, creating conditions for more destruction—Liberia’s Taylor worked for the CIA in Liberia, what do we make of him and the United States?
Indeed, before the fall of the Tubman dynasty, Liberia had been considered as the US’ geopolitical center in Africa. The April 12, 1980 overthrow of that dynasty by Samuel Doe destroyed that geopolitical base. The US still relied on the Liberian status quo to pursue its interests but stood by when the rebellion was launched against the Doe administration.
Apparently shirking its responsibility for a territory that was said to have been founded in 1824 by a group of freed slaves and in pursuit of the ideals of the American Colonization Society, the US stood aloof. On the quiet—and in the light of the current revelation that Taylor worked for its CIA—though, one might suspect that the US was covertly facilitating the rebellion so as to regain its foothold in Liberia through Taylor.
As we in Africa bemoan our sorry fate and cry for redemption, our leaders have found subtle ways to betray our cause. It is annoying that after the betrayal on the quiet, these same leaders come out to condemn the foreign powers in the open. These are the double-faced gods that we have endorsed to sell us out.
You see, for as long as our leaders join foreign forces to undermine our integrity, there is little we can do to reverse the sorry plight facing us.
We may cry all we can, organize demonstrations to denounce those foreign powers, threaten not to sell our primary commodities to them, or even timidly engage in diplomatic spat with them. But the hard fact is that it will all end up in smoke because we lack substance to initiate and sustain any prolonged battle with those forces. They already know everything about us and have our fate in their hands.
Our governments will spend our scarce national revenue supporting the security system all to no avail for as long as the very people who are presiding over our national security system turn round to betray our cause. Charles Taylor’s sordid example must scare every one of us and make us always suspicious of our leaders.
In Ghana, the recent revelations by Wikileaks have given us an insight into how our public officials willingly blow their mouths to betray us. For a mere pottage, they will sing like mad canaries to let out the very secrets that they have vowed to protect against foreign espionage. They are killing us softly and making it difficult for us to stand against the forces that continue to keep us down.
We must not look far to determine why we can’t ever outmanouevre those foreign forces. They know everything about our economies, politics, and anything that we may have on the drawing board to place us where we want to be, not the station that they have created for us to be.
Our plight is permanent, I daresay, until something drastic happens to re-order our systems. Will anything of the sort ever happen, though? Charles Taylor has really revealed the darkest side of the African leader. And we will be condemned to a life of misery, constantly looking over our shoulders and tripping all over the place in a vain attempt to survive. We can’t do otherwise as our leaders sell us to Uncle Sam. But we must not accept that condition, and must fight to ensure that our leaders stop betraying our interests.
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor