An internet site dedicated to the satellite surveillance of southern Sudan goes live on 29 December 2010. Satellite Sentinel is the latest CIA find in terms of political communication: the aim is to come up with evidence of President Omar al-Bashir’s guilt pending his appearance before the International Criminal Court, which has charged him with three counts of genocide.

The launching of the website was trumpeted by a posse of Hollywood stars summoned by George Clooney for his Not on our Watch organization.

The site and the collection of satellite imagery were devised by Trellon and Google. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative run by Jennifer Leaning and Michael Van Rooyen will be in charge of deciphering them, while the Enough Project headed by Gayle Smith and John Prendergast (who formerly steered the South Sudan separation project within the US National Security Council) will supply the political analysis.

The problem is that while the reality of the abuses perpetrated in Darfour is not in dispute, an extensive debate is unfolding both as regards the responsibility for and the scope of the crimes. Considering their poor definition, the satellite images will show blazing villages and/or population displacements - only after a 24 to 36 hour delay -, but will prove useless for the identification of the criminals or for assessing the number of casualties.

In short, the whole exercise will be pointless, except to give the impression that President Omar al-Bashir is guilty of all the accusations against him and ultimately to legitimize the division of Sudan by the United States.