Update On the Congo

by Author Keith Harmon Snow


Appeared in the Project Censored handbook:

Censored 2003: The News That Didn’t Make the News.



An appropriate subtitle for this update on war and propaganda is this: “How the despair and death of millions in Africa is daily determined by the lifestyle of ordinary Americans, in small town USA, with nary a word of truth in the US press, if anything at all, and why most of us know nothing about it, and do nothing to stop it when we do know.”

            Dissent is intolerable to those who have something to hide, and so the discussion about terrorism in Africa remains proscribed by academia, the media, and other institutions of American empire. Africa is off the agenda. People are getting away with murder, because they know they can, and the media doesn’t report it. Indeed, they cover it up.

            Since 1998 and the number of dead in Democratic Republic of Congo exceeds four million. No one in the international community is talking about it. No one is listening. Torture is commonplace. Refugees have been massacred. Innocent men, women and children have been slaughtered. Civil society is under attack. Children have been forcibly recruited as soldiers. Government is sowing terror. Government is getting away with murder, mutilation and rape.

            In 1990, the now President of Rwanda, Maj. Gen. Paul Kagame- returned from training at the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to lead the first U.S. supported invasion of Rwanda by the army of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF). Kagame is identified with the Tutsi tribe, but this is a meaningless social construction serving the western media theme of “African conflicts by African people” (a.k.a. tribalism, yet again).

            When the plane carrying the Hutu president of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down over the Rwandan capital on April 6, 1994, all hell broke loose. Under cover of “the genocide” - and a total U.S. media propaganda blitz - Kagame and the RPF invaded and secured Rwanda. Hundreds of thousands of killings attributed to “the genocide” were committed by RPF forces in 1994. The killings spread to DRC. With total U.S. military support, the RPF has committed countless crimes against humanity.

            Albright, Clinton, Bush Sr., the national security apparatus - all had extensive knowledge prior to April 1994 about the Hutu plan to exterminate their enemies. The U.S. did not merely let “the genocide” happen, they assisted.

            Zaire was invaded in August 1996, immediately after Paul Kagame visited the Pentagon to check his battle plans, and following George H.W. Bush’s telephone call to his long-time partner-in-crime Mobutu Sese Seko, Bush was securing the mining interests of his Barrick Gold Corporation, and those of his Swedish comrade Adolph Lundin. Washington’s MPRI mercenary firm -- and a handful of Israeli military experts -- advised the invading “rebel” forces. All hell broke loose, again.

            The second U.S. supported invasion of DRC began in 1998. The International Rescue Committee and the National Academy of Sciences independently determined that some 3.5 million people died in DRC between August 1998 and June 2001. The counting stopped there, but the killing didn’t.

            The U.S. is the leading arms dealer in central Africa. By 1995,

Halliburton subsidiary Brown and Root was setting up military bases in Rwanda. Back in the U.S. Jean Raymond Bouelle was setting up America Mineral Fields Corporation in Hope, Arkansas, signing mining contracts in DRC and Sierra Leone. U.S. Special Forces assisted the RPF and UPDF, and their Congolese allies in the U.S. proxy wars for the Congo. The Bouelle companies continue to pillage Africa under cover of war and executive privilege. The U.S. provided military support and training for all sides under International Military Education and Training, Joint Combined Exchange Training and the Africa Crisis Response Initiative. These programs involve psychological operations, tortures, massacres and disappearing as standard operating procedure.

            The contre-genocide continues. April 2003, the eastern DRC city of Bunia was devastated by RPF military operations. Tribal tensions have been inflamed by RPF, UPDF and -- certainly -- by U.S. Special Forces. Massacres of hundreds of people have lasted days at a time. Civilians have been herded into houses and set on fire. George H.W. Bush’s Barrick Gold runs a concession at the nearby Kilo-Moto goldfields. 

            Paul Kagame was received at the White House on March 3, 2003. He later spoke at the James Baker Institute, in Houston, where he met with his patron, George H.W. Bush.

            The DRC people daily die due to the complete breakdown of everything – while organized crime, sexual slavery and extortion proliferate. Eastern Congo has been absolutely, and unfathomably, ravaged. Malnutrition affects some 16 million people in DRC where, on average, some 2600 people have died every day of the war. It is protracted, horrible, unnecessary and stoppable.

            Ditto for Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola and Sudan.

The American way of life is intimately connected with war-as-cover for Africa’s petroleum, copper, manganese, uranium, gold, tin, bauxite, timber and water. Some 80% of world supplies of cobalt and columbo-tantalite (coltan) are found in DRC. Cobalt is the big story, never reported, stockpiled by the Defense Logistics Agency, elemental to the superalloys of the nuclear weapons complex. Coltan is essential for cell phones, playstations and computers. Africa’s diamonds are sold on Main Street, USA. Every diamond is a “blood” diamond.

            The New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times all manufacture the disinformation. Writers and academics like Philip Gourevitch, Christopher Hitchens, Mahmood Mamdani and 2003 Pulitzer winner Samantha Power – the bonified experts on “the genocide” in Rwanda – have covered these stories up. Indeed, ostensible “exposes” surfaced June 6, 2003, in the New York Times and other newspapers, and have run repeatedly on National Public Radio – an emerging propaganda campaign designed to legitimate the international mining cartels.

            Even the peace and justice community has dismissed the DRC, and Africa more broadly. People don’t hesitate to take action to try to stop war in Iraq. We struggle with the Palestinians. Our witnesses for peace frequent Latin America. Our conferences and workshops proliferate and, more often than not, Africa is entirely off the agenda. Worse still, the excuses abound. Meanwhile, the refugees and political dissidents are all around us. Africa suffers in silence. It is the legacy of our lifestyle and the intention of empire. It is depopulation, by design.




keith harmon snow is a journalist and photographer whose dispatches on war in Africa and disinformation in America won two Project Censored awards in. In 2000 keith spent seven months in Africa researching genocide and U.S. covert operations, and he attended the criminal International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda in Arusha Tanzania. In 2001 he provided expert testimony at a special congressional hearing on genocide and covert operations in Africa, in Washington DC.  He has worked in 16 African countries.