Voltaire Network
Rape in Libya

America’s recent major wars have all been accompanied by memorable falsehoods

As Peter Dale Scott’s article substantiates, history is repeating itself in Libya. The only difference is the enormity of the fabrications, which appear to escalate and reach new levels of outrageousness with each new war and new Administration.

+
JPEG - 19.3 kb
Chief Prosecutor Luís Moreno Ocampo

It is a troubled time for NATO’s campaign against Libya. President Obama has seen a near-revolt in Congress against the costly war, while Defense Secretary Gates in Brussels has warned his European allies that their tepid response “is putting the Libya mission and the alliance’s very future at risk.” [1] Back home, according to the London Daily Mail, “Mr Gates has requested extra funds for Libya operations, but has been rebuffed by the White House.” [2]

The past history of American wars tells us that, when the war-going begins to get tough, the professional PR campaigns get going, often with wholly invented stories. For example, when in 1990 Colin Powell (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) was expressing doubts that the United States should attack Kuwait, stories appeared that, as revealed by classified satellite photos, Saddam had amassed 265,000 troops and 1500 tanks at the edge of the Saudi Arabian border. Powell then changed his mind, and the attack proceeded. But after the invasion a reporter from the St. Petersburg Times viewed satellite photos from a commercial satellite, and “she saw no sign of a quarter of a million troops or their tanks.” [3]

Hawks in Congress, notably Tom Lantos and Stephen Solarz, secured support for the attack on Iraq with a story from a 15-year-old girl, that she had seen Kuwaiti infants snatched from their incubators by Iraqi soldiers. The story was discredited when it was learned that the girl, the daughter of the Saudi ambassador in Washington, might not have visited the hospital at all. She had been prepped on her story by the p.r. firm Hill & Knowlton, which had a contract for $11.5 million from the Kuwaiti government. [4]

The history of American foreign interventions is littered with such false stories, from the “Remember the Maine” campaign of the Hearst press in 1898, to the false stories of a North Vietnamese attack on U.S. destroyers in the so-called Second Tonkin Gulf incident of August 4, 1964. We know furthermore that in their Operation Northwoods documents, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962 proposed a series of ways, some of them lethal, to deceive the American people in order to engineer a war against Cuba. [5]

Since the fiasco of the false Iraqi stories in 1990-91, these stories have tended to be floated by foreign sources, usually European. This was conspicuously the case with the forged yellowcake documents from Italy underlying Bush’s misleading reference to Iraq in his 2003 State of the Union address. [6] But it was true also of the false stories linking Saddam Hussein to the celebrated anthrax letters of 2001. (Their anthrax was later determined to have come from a U.S. biowarfare laboratory.) [7]

This recurring history of falsified stories to justify interventions should be on our minds as we now face the allegations, as yet neither proven nor disproven, that Gaddafi has been using rape as a method to fight insurrection, and may have been guilty of raping victims himself. These charges were made on June 8 by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), who claimed (according to Time Magazine): there were indications that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi had ordered the rape of hundreds of women during his violent crackdown on the rebels and that he had even provided his soldiers with Viagra to stimulate the potential for attacks. [8]

Here Moreno is apparently repeating a charge first circulated back in April by Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

On Thursday [April 28], US ambassador Susan Rice announced that Libyan government troops were being issued Viagra and told to rape as a terror weapon. She made the comment as part of a debate with another envoy to highlight that “the coalition is confronting an adversary doing reprehensible things.” Several diplomats said Rice provided no evidence for the Viagra allegation, which they said was made in an attempt to persuade doubters the conflict in Libya was not just a standard civil war but a much nastier fight in which Gadhafi is not afraid to order his troops to commit heinous acts.

However, today, MSNBC was told by US military and intelligence officials that there is no basis for Rice’s claims. While rape has been reported as a “weapon” in many conflicts, the US officials say they’ve seen no such reports out of Libya. [9]

According to Time, the rape stories are being circulated by doctors who claim to have met and treated patients but do not have patients’ permission to reveal their identities. Earlier, according to a Libyan doctor interviewed in an Al Jazeera video, “many doctors have found Viagra and condoms in the pockets of dead pro-Gaddafi fighters, as well as treated female rape survivors. The doctor insists this clearly indicates the Gaddafi regime is using rape as a weapon of war.”

But what of Moreno’s charge that “Now we are getting some information that Gaddafi himself decided to rape, and this is new.” [10] This is a sensational charge: until we learn there is a reliable source for it, one can suspect it was made to grab headlines.

One problem in investigating these charges is that Libyan culture is so unkind to rape victims that they are reluctant to come forward. Researchers for Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International were unable to find one woman who said she had been raped. A U.N. human rights investigator, Cherif Bassiouni, told Agence France-Presse that the rape and Viagra stories were being circulated by the Benghazi authorities as “part of a ‘massive hysteria.’” In fact he had discovered only three cases. [11]

Military conflict of course is normally accompanied by rape. What might constitute a war crime would be whether (to quote Time) Gaddafi “had provided his soldiers with Viagra.” Moreno actually said, according to the Associated Press, that “some witnesses confirmed that the [Libyan] government was buying containers of Viagra-type drugs ‘to enhance the possibility to rape.’"

Others have objected that the purchase of Viagra-type drugs falls far short of indicating a war crime. Former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, in Tripoli on an investigative mission, has pointed out in her emails that to date the one army known to have distributed Viagra as part of its war operations is the U.S. Army – as a bribe to entice information from aging tribal leaders in Afghanistan. [12]

Time’s subtle enhancement of Moreno’s claim – from purchasing Viagra to providing it to soldiers, reminds us of the sorry record of the U.S. mainstream media in circulating past false stories to justify war. It is painful to say this, but virtually every major U.S. military intervention since Korea has been accompanied by false stories. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo should be pressed to come forward quickly with the supporting evidence for his charges, which should be based on more than the testimony of doctors working for the Benghazi regime.

Source
Asia Pacific Journal (Japan)
www.japanfocus.org

[1] “Gates rebukes NATO allies, warns of ’dismal’ future ,” Agence France-Presse, June 10, 2011.

[2] “The billion dollar war? Libyan campaign breaks Pentagon estimates costing U.S. taxpayers $2 million a day,” London Daily Mail, June 9, 2011.

[3] “No Casus Belli? Invent One,” Guardian Unlimited (London), February 5, 2003.

[4] Ted Rowse, “Kuwaitgate - killing of Kuwaiti babies by Iraqi soldiers exaggerated,” Washington Monthly, September 1992.

[5] “The Terrorist Attacks Planned by the American Joint Chief of Staff against its Population”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 5 November 2001,

[6] “George W. Bush: 2003 State of the Union Address”, by George W. Bush, Voltaire Network, 28 January 2003.

[7] Consider the following story in the London Daily Mail by Simon Reeve: Iraq has been identified as the most likely source of the anthrax used to terrorise America during recent weeks. New plans are now being considered for retalia tory military strikes against Saddam Hussein, according to American government officials. Although studies of the anthrax spores sent through the mail are continuing, American scientists have discovered “hallmarks” that point to Iraqi involvement. American investigators are increasingly convinced that the anthrax was smuggled into the US and mailed to a number of targets by unidentified “sleeper” supporters of Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda organization. (Simon Reeve, “Scientists Link Iraq to Anthrax Terror Attacks,” Sunday Mail, [London], October 28, 2001; discussed in Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine, pp. 194-95). [The example is also interesting in its fusing of Saddam and Al Qaeda, in fact bitter rivals.

[8] Karen Leigh, "Rape in Libya: The Crime That Dare Not Speak Its Name," Time, June 9, 2011.

[9] Eric Garris, “Susan Rice’s Viagra Hoax: The New Incubator Babies,” AntiWar.com, April 30, 2011; “US intel: No evidence of Viagra as weapon in Libya,” MSNBC, April 29, 2011.

[10] "Qaddafi ordered sex drugs for Libya rapes, ICC prosecutor says", Agence France-Presse, 9 June 2011.

[11] UN investigator casts doubt over Libya mass rape claims, Agence France-Presse, 9 June 2011.

[12] Toby Hamden, “CIA give Afghan warlords Viagra in exchange for information on Taliban,” Telegraph [London], December 26, 2008.

Voltaire Network

Voltaire, international edition

Article licensed under Creative Commons

The articles on Voltaire Network may be freely reproduced provided the source is cited, their integrity is respected and they are not used for commercial purposes (license CC BY-NC-ND).

Support Voltaire Network

You visit this website to seek quality analysis that enables you to forge your own understanding of today’s world. In order to continue our work, we need you to support our efforts.
Help us by making a contribution.

How to participate in Voltaire Network?

The members of our team are all volunteers.
- Authors : diplomats, economists, geographers, historians, journalists, military servicemen, philosophers, sociologists. You can send us your article proposals.
- Professional-level mother-tongue translators: you can help us by translating our articles.

US jitters over China
US jitters over China
by Manlio Dinucci, Voltaire Network
 
Address of Pope Francis to the Council of Europe
Address of Pope Francis to the Council of Europe
by Pope Francis, Voltaire Network
 
Address of Pope Francis to the European Parliament
Address of Pope Francis to the European Parliament
by Pope Francis, Voltaire Network
 
210. The Swiss Gold Reserves
«Current Concerns», n° 27, 11 November 2014
The Swiss Gold Reserves
Partners
 
209. Popular initiative “Save our Swiss Gold”
«Current Concerns», n° 26, 28 October 2014
Popular initiative “Save our Swiss Gold”
Partners
 
208. Washington wants to change the regime in Russia
«Current Concerns», n° 25, 12 October 2014
Washington wants to change the regime in Russia
Partners
 
207. The long Swiss humanitarian tradition
«Current Concerns», n° 23/24, 5 October 2014
The long Swiss humanitarian tradition
Partners