US admits African war crimes suspect Charles Taylor was CIA agent
January 19, 2012 8 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Editor’s note: Since publishing this story, The Boston Globe issued a correction, which includes the following: “This story drew unsupported conclusions and significantly overstepped available evidence when it described former Liberian President Charles Taylor as having worked with US spy agencies as a “sought-after source’’ […]. The Globe had no adequate basis for asserting otherwise and the story should not have run in this form”.
Ever since his 2006 arrest for war crimes, Liberia’s former President, Charles Taylor, has consistently claimed that he was an agent of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Now declassified US government documents have officially confirmed that Taylor was indeed an agent of the CIA and the US Defense Intelligence Agency for several decades. The 63-year-old, who ruled his West African homeland from 1997 to 2003, is currently being tried at the United Nations Court in The Hague on multiple counts of civilian murders, rapes, and deploying underage soldiers during a brutal civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone. Rumors that Taylor was being protected by Washington started surfacing in 2003, after he left Liberia and was given protection in US-allied Nigeria, despite his indictment by the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone. In July 2009, intelNews reported Taylor’s claim that his 1985 “escape” from the Plymouth County maximum security Correctional Facility in Massachusetts, which allowed him to return to Liberia and take over the country through a military coup, took place with US government assistance. His persistent claims led The Boston Globe newspaper to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which has resulted in the declassification of nearly 50 separate documents covering “several decades” of Taylor’s work for the CIA and the DIA. The documents confirm that both agencies employed Taylor as an agent beginning in the early 1980s, long before he became Liberia’s ruler. But the FOIA release does not contain details of Taylor’s work for US intelligence, in an alleged effort to “protect intelligence sources and methods” and so as not to “harm national security”, according to The Boston Globe. The paper quotes several legal experts involved in Taylor’s UN trial, including Allan White, formerly an investigator with the US Department of Defense, who helped author the UN’s indictment against Taylor. White told The Globe that the revelations “reinforced suspicions he had for years” and that they “might explain why some US officials seemed reluctant to use their influence to bring Taylor to justice sooner”. The paper notes that Taylor, who is the first African leader to be tried for war crimes, must have been able to provide the United States with intelligence on Libya and the Soviet Union during the closing stages of the Cold War and into the 1990s. The Liberian former President’s lawyer, Courtenay Griffiths QC, was reportedly contacted by The Globe but did not respond.