-For Ellen’s Protection
|National Security Advisor |
to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf,
Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh
“….. others got the same response from me and were convinced. They did not publish the story because they saw the absurdity of the story. Why would U want to publish something that is patently nonsensical. “ Text Message from H.B. Fahnbulleh
Self-preservation, proverbially said, is first law of nature. But self-preservation or protection at the detriment and cost of national coffers could open debates over sincerity and honesty among people who complain of living in perpetual hardship. Of course, as a post-war situation, what Liberia needs most, first is security stability; but brows now have already begun to raise over reports that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and government did spend US $53 million dollars to contract three white American security experts for a period of six years that covers her first term only. Well, with civil society organizations demanding that government justifies reason for spending such huge amount on just three men when reports are that it cannot adequately cater to the AFL and other security apparatuses; and with government denying that it spent such amount on the three white SSS guys, the debate is left to the public to dichotomize the truth. Samuka V. Konneh Of Our Staff reports.
Countries living the aftermath realities of conflicts and wars usually consider security a priority, notwithstanding, other sectors are not of less concentration. Almost six years after her ascendency as president of Liberia, the country continues to enjoy a lot of international recognition and respect as well as plausible internal peace and security.
But recent reports filtering in to this paper say that a considerable factor of the relative peace and security Liberians enjoy today under this political regime is a result of huge capital expenditure of state funds in contracting “international security” personnel for the individual protection of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and plus guidance on international security threats.
The report says the government has used fifty three ($53) Million US Dollars of tax payer money to contract just three white American security experts on a six years contract which possibly covers the entire first term of President Sirleaf’s six year constitutional presidency.
Mr. Emmanuel C. D. Gonquoi, Executive Director of a local civil society organization, Peace Interaction Network, who revealed what he calls, well-secreted information, says it was a misguided waste of national resources by government in spending over fifty million US Dollars on three persons in the name of presidential security when salaries of teachers, doctors and soldiers cannot cope with present day realities of hardship.
Mr. Gonquoi says a deal to spend such a huge amount of the nation’s monies signals the President’s distrust in citizen securities; yet, government continues to confuse citizens with its continued recruitment of more Liberians in the security sectors when it cannot, in his words, contain their upkeep.
Well, amidst claim of wasting public funds to hire just three white security men, the National Security Advisor to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, has come in the defense of his boss and government; describing the report as “utter rubbish.” When quizzed about the frankness of his description of the report, Dr. Fahnbulleh told this paper that the information was “patently nonsensical” and did not deserve consideration.
But it seemed this paper may not have been the first to have got hand-on information about the US$ 53 million dollars security deal, as the National Security Advisor to the President told this paper that “……others got the same response from me and we convinced. They did not publish because they saw the absurdity of the story.”
With less than a year for the 2011 elections, news that the President and government of Liberia did contract three white American SSS officers to protect Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on a six years contract could raise public debate, especially so when insistent reports that almost half the numerical strength of the Armed Forces of Liberia has defected and yet the report of defection has not been settled by security management authorities.
Last week, US Ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas-Greenfield maintained that the US Government no longer considers its Liberian Mission a “danger post”; a reflection of the positive changes that have occurred in Liberia since 2006.
Commentators and security experts say it is no surprise that the three SSS men, valued at US $53 million in six years, are but Americans; considering the re-strengthened ties between Liberia and the United States of America at a time when global terrorism is unprecedented against American interests.
At a July 17, 2003 panel discussion on America’s intervention in Liberia, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Amb. Herman Cohen, said US intervention in Liberia was justified because, as a failed state, Liberia could serve as a terrorist "breeding ground" and platform for attacks on America as well as the rest of the world.
The forum, under the theme "Liberia: The Bush Doctrine Comes to Africa," held at the American Enterprise Institute was also attended by U.S. Special Forces officer Major Roger Carstens, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer and New Republic magazine writer Ryan Lizza.
Amb. Cohen, who helped negotiate and resolve several conflicts on the continent, said that "in a time of globalized peril...the failed state is a breeding ground for all sorts of problems."
As for Liberia, Cohen said, "It should be the neighbors taking care of the problem. But the track record of West Africans in Liberia has not been good. We have spent a lot of money supporting West African troops who did not solve the problem."
US Special Forces officer, Maj. Roger Carstens, agreed with Cohen that the stakes are high for Liberia and that its stability is a part of America's greatest battle to date, the war against terror. He added that the events of September 11, 2001 changed the way the U.S. administration looks at its security interests -- everything now was viewed through terrorist-colored glasses. "Constitutionally speaking, intervention in Liberia may be providing for the common defense of the U.S. -- not this year, not next year, but probably five or ten years from now when a failed state could become a problem just like Afghanistan did," the soldier told the panel.
According to New Republic magazine write, Ryan Lizza, al-Qaeda bought large quantities of diamonds from the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group supported by Taylor, in exchange for weapons and cash. The operation, which peaked in the months before September 11, 2001, is believed to have offered Al-Qaeda a way to convert its assets into a form that could be moved across borders more easily.
Lizza said, "This relationship has been carefully documented by the Washington Post's Douglas Farah, by a year-long European intelligence investigation, and most recently, in a 100-page report the nongovernmental organization Global Witness released in April." He added, "Liberia's links to al-Qaeda, in other words, are far more well-documented than Iraq's."
Sometimes during the inception of this administration, the United States African Military Command, AFRICOM, had announced Liberia as its Africa base; which decision was later reversed as political debate mounted in Liberia for fear that the country could be used as a target by terrorists groups, such as Al-Qaeda. Developments still unfolding