On 19 November 2001, the
United States government stated that "we are concerned about
the growing interest of Sudan...in developing a biological
weapons programme". (1) This unsubstantiated claim was made
by John Bolton, American Under-Secretary of State for Arms
Control, at a conference in Geneva. It must be said that
such a claim is deeply irresponsible to say the very least,
and is very much in keeping with the previous Clinton Administration's
failed attempts to isolate Sudan from the international
community by making similarly unsubstantiated claims. It
is also clear that the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency has previously played its own part in putting political
policy and expediency before science with regard to Sudan.
Following Washington's disastrously inept attack on the
al-Shifa medicines factory in Khartoum in 1998, the U.S.
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency made inaccurate and
misleading claims which it subsequently had to retract.
It should also be noted that John Bolton is an appointee
more responsive to United States domestic politics with
regard to Sudan than scientific facts. (2) Bolton's claims
also jar with Bush Administration statements that Sudan
has been cooperative on security issues.
The cornerstone of the previous Administration's rationale
for its policies towards Sudan were similarly vague, repeated
claims that Sudan was a supporter of international terrorism.
This was constantly cited both in statements by Administration
officials and in media coverage. That much of this imagery
was very flawed has become increasingly obvious. The Clinton
Administration's 1993 listing of Sudan as a state sponsor
of terrorism was questioned from the start by former President
Jimmy Carter. The 1998 attack on the al-Shifa medicines
factory in Khartoum because of alleged involvement with
chemical weapons was subsequently revealed to have been
a disastrous fiasco, with Washington repeatedly turning
down invitations for weapons inspectors to visit Sudan.
And it is also documented that over one hundred CIA reports
on Sudan and terrorism from 1993-96 had to be withdrawn
as unreliable or having been fabricated. This level of incompetence
led the London 'Times' newspaper to state that such a circumstance
"is no great surprise to those who have watched similar
CIA operations in Africa where 'American intelligence' is
often seen as an oxymoron." (3) There is nothing to suggest
that the basis for Mr Bolton's unsubstantiated claims differs
in any way from this pattern of unreliability. American
"intelligence" on Sudan is not just unreliable, but disinformation
- and what amounts to little more than propaganda - has
often been dressed up as "intelligence", and then used in
attempts to justify questionable policy towards Sudan. This
has not gone unnoticed by the European Union and other members
of the international community. For its own credibility
on this serious issue the Bush Administration cannot allow
its reputation with regard to arms control and non-proliferation
to be sullied for the sake of cheap propaganda attacks on
Additionally, a September 2001 article in 'The Observer'
newspaper in Britain reported that Sudan's attempts to actually
cooperate with the United States on anti-terrorism issues
had been rebuffed for several years before being acted upon
by Washington in 2000. (4) It has also been revealed that
Sudan offered to hand Osama bin-Laden over to the American
government in 1996. Amazingly, the offer was declined. (5)
After several years of declining repeated Sudanese invitations
for American intelligence and counter-terrorist personnel
to come to Sudan and investigate whatever they wanted to,
joint CIA, FBI and State Department teams have been in Sudan
since early 2000. (6) In August 2001 Bush Administration
officials confirmed that the Sudanese-American cooperation
on counter-terrorism had been positive. (7) In fact, based
on this dialogue, the United States had agreed to the lifting
of the limited United Nations sanctions on Sudan. (8) They
were originally due to have been lifted in the same week
as the attacks on America. 'The Observer' observed that
Washington had given Sudan "a clean bill of health" in May
2001, a long-overdue development.
This American-Sudanese intelligence cooperation was said
to have "covered everything". (9) Given that Mr Bolton is,
by statute, defined as advising the Secretary of State on
matters "related to international security policy, arms
control and proliferation" one would have expected him to
have been aware of these key developments pertaining to
"international security". There are simple questions that
must be asked.
Given that CIA, FBI and State Department investigation teams
have been active in Sudan for eighteen months or so (and
bearing in mind that the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency is part of the State Department) were the claims
in question not raised or investigated? Would queries about
biological warfare programmes not be at the top of the agenda
for any such investigation teams? If they were raised with
the Sudanese government, and Khartoum was uncooperative
would Washington have described Sudanese-American cooperation
as positive? Surely the American government would not have
given Sudan "a clean bill of health" if there had been either
any evidence whatsoever of Sudanese involvement in developing
a biological warfare programme or if Khartoum had been uncooperative
in American enquiries?
Given the seriousness of the claims made by Mr Bolton, especially
in the wake of the horrific attacks on New York and Washington-DC,
and in the light of previous American intelligence incompetence
with regard to Sudan, one would have expected considerably
more professionalism from him, the U.S. Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency and the American government in general.
The time of repeating almost ritual, unsubstantiated claims
about Sudan is over. One had hoped that the Bush Administration
would be distancing itself from the failed policies and
propaganda excesses of the Clinton Administration. (10)
All this has succeeded in doing is fuelling an already extensively
misinformed and increasingly vocal anti-Sudan lobby within
the United States which continues to distort American policy
towards Khartoum. Such claims also undermine the reputation
of the United States within the international community.
In addition to the al-Shifa fiasco, it is also worth noting
that there have been several other attempts to propagandistically
implicate Sudan with weapons of mass destruction. In February
1998, the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional
Warfare claimed that 600 Scud missile systems had been transferred
to Sudan from Iraq. Even the Clinton Administration had
to deny this claim, stating that: "We have no credible evidence
that Iraq has exported weapons of mass destruction technology
to other countries since the (1991) Gulf War." (11) In addition
to the American government, in February and March 1998,
the British government also stated that there was no evidence
for any such weapons of mass destruction technology transfers
from Iraq to Sudan. This was the view of both the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office and the Defence Intelligence staff
of the British Ministry of Defence. On 19 March 1998, Baroness
Symons, the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, stated in Parliament
in relation to claims of weapons of mass destruction technology
transfers, including chemical and biological weapons, from
Iraq to Sudan, that: "We are monitoring the evidence closely,
but to date we have no evidence to substantiate these claims....
Moreover, we know that some of the claims are untrue...The
defence intelligence staff in the MoD (Ministry of Defence)
have similarly written a critique which does not support
the report's findings." (12) Baroness Symons also stated
that: "Nor has the United Nations Special Commission reported
any evidence of such transfers since the Gulf War conflict
and the imposition of sanctions in 1991." (13)
There have also been several claims that the Sudanese government
usedchemical weapons in southern Sudan in July 1999. (14)
In this instance it was possible to take samples from the
area concerned. The British government's chemical and biological
defence agency at Porton Down rigorously tested seventeen
such samples of water, soil and shrapnel for the spectrum
of known chemical agents. In the government's response,
the British Minister of State for Defence stated that "very
careful analysis of all the available evidence" led the
government to "conclude that there is no evidence to substantiate
the allegations that chemical weapons were used in these
incidents in the Sudan." More samples were independently
tested in Finland and the United States. These also tested
negative. In fact, the British government remarked on "the
consistency of results from these three independent sets
of analysis". The British government reiterated its findings
in October 2000, when they once again stated that "there
was no evidence to substantiate the allegations that chemical
weapons were used in Sudan. (15) A United Nations medical
team had also travelled to the area in which it was claimed
the chemical weapons attack took place. The United Nations
stated that: "The results...as reported to the United Nations,
indicated no evidence of exposure to chemicals." (16)
The United States government has been party to a series
of blunders, or outright deceit with regard to its claims
about Sudan. It is against this background that these, the
most recent claims of interest in biological warfare should
also be viewed and assessed.
The Listing of Sudan as a "State Sponsor of International
The Clinton Administration listed Sudan as a state sponsor
of terrorism in August 1993. Sudan joined Iran, Iraq, Libya,
North Korea, Syria and Cuba on the American list. Whatever
other states on the list may or may not have done, Sudan
was included in spite of the fact that there was not a single
example of Sudanese involvement in any act of international
terrorism. And it is also clear that Sudan was listed without
any evidence of its support for terrorism. This much is
a matter of record. Former United States President Jimmy
Carter, long interested in Sudanese affairs, went out of
his way to see what evidence there was for Sudan's listing.
Carter was told there was no evidence: "In fact, when I
later asked an assistant secretary of state he said they
did not have any proof, but there were strong allegations."
It would appear, therefore, that despite no evidence whatsoever
of involvement in any act of terrorism, Sudan was listed
as a state sponsor of terrorism. In addition to former President
Carter, Donald Petterson, the United States ambassador to
Sudan at the time of Sudan's listing, stated that he was
"surprised" that Sudan was put on the terrorism list.
Petterson said that while he was aware of "collusion" between
"some elements of the Sudanese government" and various questionable
organisations: "I did not think this evidence was sufficiently
conclusive to put Sudan on the U.S. government's list of
state sponsors of terrorism." (18) Moreover, it would seem
that Ambassador Petterson, the American ambassador to Sudan,
was not even briefed prior to the decision to list Sudan
being taken. When he queried the decision, he was told by
an assistant secretary of state that the "new evidence was
conclusive". (19) One can only speculate as to whether the
assistant secretary of state briefing Ambassador Petterson
was the same assistant secretary of state who told former
President Carter a few days later that the Clinton Administration
did not have any proof, but that there were "strong allegations".
A clear example of an American policy of putting a policy
of demonising Sudan before facts.
The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing
The United States government has also both claimed and denied
that Sudan had been involved in the February 1993 bombing
of the World Trade Center in New York. At first, the United
States government reported that the World Trade Center bombing
was carried out by a poorly trained local group of individuals
who were not under the auspices of a foreign government
or international network. (20) In June 1993, the American
authorities again stated there was no evidence of foreign
the New York bombing or conspiracies. (21) In August 1993
it was alluded to that Sudan had in some way been involved
in the attack. In late April 1996, however, in the wake
of two lengthy trials which convicted those responsible
for the outrage, Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox Jr, the Department
of State's Coordinator for Counterterrorism, made it very
clear that there was no Sudanese involvement whatsoever
in the World Trade Center bombings:
"We have looked very, very carefully and pursued all possible
clues that there might be some state sponsorship behind
the World Trade Center bombing. We have found no such evidence,
in spite of an exhaustive search, that any state was responsible
for that crime. Our information indicates that Ramzi Ahmed
Yousef and his gang were a group of freelance terrorists,
many of whom were trained in Afghanistan, who came from
various nations but who did not rely on support from any
Yet, earlier that month, on 3 April, the then American ambassador
to the U.N., Madeleine Albright, in meetings at the United
Nations, claimed that two Sudanese diplomats had been involved
in the World Trade Center bombing, and other "plots". (23)
This presents an interesting situation. The political appointee,
Mrs Albright, with a political and policy line to follow,
claiming one thing, and the professional anti-terrorism
expert, Ambassador Wilcox, saying something completely different.
On an issue as serious as allegations of terrorism such
as divergence is totally unacceptable and once again undermines
the credibility of American claims with regard to Sudanese
"involvement" in terrorism.
The 1998 American Attack on the al-Shifa Pharmaceutical
The American government's cruise missile attack on the al-Shifa
medicines factory in Khartoum in August 1998 provides a
case study of an incompetent, bumbling intelligence and
policy process concerning claims of Sudanese involvement
in international terrorism.
On 7 August 1998, terrorist bombs devastated United States
embassy buildings in Kenya and Tanzania. Hundreds of people,
some of them American, were killed in the explosion in Nairobi
and dozens in the blast in Dar-es-Salaam. Thousands more
were injured. On 20 August, American warplanes attacked
and destroyed the al-Shifa medicines factory in Khartoum.
The American government claimed that the factory was linked
to Osama bin-Laden and the National Security Advisor, Sandy
Berger, went on record stating: "There is no question in
our mind that facility, that factory, was used to produce
a chemical that is used in the manufacture of VX nerve gas
and has no other commercial distribution as far as we understand.
We have physical evidence of that fact and very, very little
doubt of it." (24)
Sudan requested the convening of the Security Council to
discuss the matter, and also requested a technical fact-finding
mission to verify American claims. (25) The United States
deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Peter Burleigh,
dismissed Sudanese calls for independent verification of
the site: "I don't see what the purpose of the fact-finding
study would be. We have credible information that fully
justifies the strike we made on that one facility in Khartoum."
The Sudanese government also stated that it was prepared
to allow Americans to visit Khartoum to establish whether
the al-Shifa factory was involved in the production of chemical
weapons. (27) The Sudanese foreign minister also invited
an investigation committee from the United States government
itself to come and investigate "whether this factory...has
anything to do with chemical (weapons)." (28) On 22 August,
the Sudanese President invited the United States Congress
to send a fact-finding mission: "We are fully ready to provide
protection and all other facilities to enable this mission
to obtain all information and meet anyone it wants." (29)
In the weeks and months following the al-Shifa bombing,
the Sudan repeatedly called upon the United Nations and
United States to inspect the remains of the factory
for any evidence of chemical weapons production. The Americans
have steadfastly refused to inspect the site. This is ironic
given that in 1998, the United States and Britain militarily
attacked Iraq because that country would not allowed the
inspection of certain factories and the remains of factories,
but when the Sudanese requested a similar inspection of
a site claimed to have been a chemical weapons factory,
the Clinton Administration pointedly refused. 'The Washington
Post' quoted a Sudanese diplomat at the United Nations:
"You guys bombed Iraq because it blocked U.N. weapons inspectors.
We're begging for a U.N. inspection and you're blocking
The American intelligence claims about the al-Shifa factory
fell by the wayside one by one. After just over one week
of sifting through American government claims, 'The Observer'
newspaper spoke of: "a catalogue of US misinformation, glaring
omissions and intelligence errors about the function of
the plant." (31)
The American Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering went
on record to claim that: "The physical evidence is a soil
sample, analysis of it shows the presence of a chemical
whose simple name is EMPTA, a known precursor for the nerve
agent VX....We think that it was this evidence, and evidence
like it, which made our decision to carry out this strike
on this particular target the correct and proper decision
under the circumstances." (32)
The soil samples were said to have been obtained from the
factory itself. (33) An American intelligence official added
that: "It is a substance that has no commercial applications,
it doesn't occur naturally in the environment, it's not
a by-product of any other chemical process. The only thing
you can use it for, that we know of, is to make VX." (34)
This was immediately challenged by 'The New York Times',
which stated that: "The chemical precursor of a nerve agent
that Washington claimed was made at a Sudanese chemical
factory it destroyed in a missile attack last week could
be used for commercial products."
(35) 'The New York Times' cited the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as stating that the
chemical could be used "in limited quantities for legitimate
commercial purposes". These purposes could be use in fungicides,
and anti-microbial agents. It should be noted that the OPCW
is an independent international agency which oversees the
inspections of governments and companies to ensure they
are not making substances that contravene the chemical weapons
It also appears that the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency played its part in putting propaganda policy before
science. On 26 August, for example, the U.S. Arms Control
and Disarmament Agency claimed that Empta was listed as
a so-called Schedule 1 chemical - an immediate chemical
weapons precursor with no recognised commercial use - by
the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency had to change
its position within a matter of hours, after OPCW officials
confirmed that Empta could have commercial uses. Contradicting
the claims made by the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical
Weapons said that the organisation classifies Empta on its
Schedule 2b of compounds that could be used to make chemical
weapons but which also have commercial uses. The OPCW said
that Empta is identified with a process to make plastics
flexible and also with some fungicides and anti-microbial
agents. (36) Sources at the Organisation for the Prohibition
of Chemical Weapons also pointed out that Empta is difficult
to isolate when in soil. A chemical weapons expert at OPCW
also stated that pesticide traces in the soil could result
in a false-positive result. (37) Mike Hiskey, an expert
at the world-renowned Los Alamos National Laboratory in
the United States, said that the chemical had commercial
uses, including the manufacture of some herbicides and pesticides.
(38) 'The Guardian' newspaper in London also reported that:
"a search of scientific papers showed that it could be used
in a variety of circumstances." (39)
The London newspaper, 'The Observer', stated that:
"US credibility has been further dented by Western scientists
who have pointed out that the same ingredients are used
for chemical weapons and beer, and that mustard gas is similar
in make-up to the anti-clogging agent in biro ink. It has
also been pointed out that the cherry flavouring in sweets
is one of the constituent parts of the gas used in combat.
Empta also has commercial uses not linked to chemical weapons."
On 6 September 1998, 'The Washington Post' in an editorial
entitled 'Intelligence Lapse?', called American intelligence
claims about the al-Shifa factory into question:
"the possibility of an intelligence failure in the choice
of targets in Sudan is so awful to contemplate...But enough
questions have been raised, and the administration's story
has been often enough revised, to warrant further inquiry...How
could the CIA not have known more about the factory - not
have known what so many ordinary citizens apparently knew?
Some officials reportedly pointed to a search of the factory's
Internet site that listed no products for sale. We can only
hope that, if the administration could speak more openly,
it could make a more persuasive case. At a minimum, there
is room here for congressional intelligence committees to
This editorial was amongst the first of many American newspaper
editorials and articles explicitly questioning the Clinton
Administration's attack on the al-Shifa factory. In February
1999, extensive tests by Professor Thomas Tullius, chairman
of the chemistry department at Boston University, on samples
taken from the wrecked al-Shifa plant and its grounds, found
that "to the practical limits of scientific detection, there
was no Empta or Empa, its breakdown product." (41) In a
1 September briefing, American Defence Secretary Cohen was
forced to admit that the evidence linking bin-Laden to the
al-Shifa plant "was a little tenuous". (42) That is to say,
two weeks after the American government destroyed the al-Shifa
factory because, in large part, American intelligence claimed
that Osama bin-Laden either owned, part-owned, or had a
financial interest in, the al-Shifa factory, the best the
American Defence Secretary could come up with was that the
claimed link was "a little tenuous".
For the National Security Advisor to have publicly made
such a mistake over what should have been the very easily
verifiable issue of whether al-Shifa produced medicines
or is yet another key indicator as to the quality and accuracy
of American intelligence on the factory. A simple telephone
call to the Sudanese chamber of commerce would have sufficed.
The al-Shifa incident also provided a further clear cut
example of serious claims made by the American government
which subsequently turned out to have been false. Following
the attack Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering stated
that who owned the plant "was not known to us". When, several
days later, the American government learnt, from subsequent
media coverage of the attack, who actually owned the factory,
that person, Mr Saleh Idris, was then retrospectively listed
under legislation dealing with "specially designated terrorists".
On 26 August, 1998, the Office of Foreign Assets Control,
the unit within the U.S. Treasury Department charged with
the enforcement of anti-terrorism sanctions, froze more
than US$ 24 million of Mr Idris's assets. These assets had
been held in Bank of America accounts. On 26 February 1999,
Mr Idris filed an action in the U.S. District Court for
the District of Columbia, for the release of his assets,
claiming that the government's actions had been unlawful.
His lawyers stated that while the law used by the Clinton
Administration to freeze his assets required a finding that
Mr Idris was, or had been, associated with terrorist activities,
no such determination had ever been made. Mr Idris had never
had any association whatsoever with terrorists or terrorism.
On 4 May 1999, the deadline by
which the government had to file a defence in court, the
Clinton Administration backed down and had to authorise
the full and unconditional release of his assets. (43)
Given that the credibility of the American government was
in question regarding al-Shifa, perhaps the final word about
the attack should be given to U.S. Senator Pat Roberts:
"[T]he strike in regards to the Khartoum chemical plant
cannot be justified...These are pretty harsh words. I know
one thing for sure. The intelligence agencies of other countries
look at that and they think, 'Wait a minute, if you hit
the wrong target or if in fact the justification was not
accurate, it is either ineptitude or, to get back to the
wag-the-dog theory, something else is going on. That gets
to our credibility. And that is why both the administration
and the Congress must insist on a foreign policy where if
you draw a line in the sand, if you make a statement, your
credibility is tremendously important." (44)
The American Government Has Previously Had to Withdraw Over
100 "Fabricated" Reports on Sudan
There is ample evidence that American government has repeatedly
accepted at face value claims about Sudanese involvement
in terrorism which were subsequently revealed to have been
fabricated. In September 1998, in the wake of the al-Shifa
fiasco, both 'The New York Times' and 'The Times' of London
reported that the Central Intelligence Agency had previously
secretly had to withdraw over one hundred of its reports
alleging Sudanese involvement in terrorism. The CIA had
realised that the reports in question had been fabricated.
A striking example of this was the closure by the Clinton
Administration of the American embassy in Khartoum in 1996.
This decision was presented as yet one more example of concern
over Sudan's alleged support for international terrorism.
CIA reports were said to have stated that American embassy
staff and their families were in danger. (46) The Clinton
Administration's spokesman, Nicholas Burns, stated at the
"We have been concerned for a long period of time about
the activities and movements of specific terrorist organizations
who are resident in Sudan. Over the course of many, many
conversations with the Sudanese Government, we simply could
not be assured that the Sudanese Government was capable
of protecting our Americans against the specific threats
that concerned us...[T]he specific nature of these threats,
the persistence of these threats, and our root belief at
the end of all these conversations that this particular
government could not protect them led us to take this extraordinary
measure of withdrawing all of our diplomats." (47)
It is now admitted the reports cited in justifying this
decision were subsequently withdrawn as having been fabricated.
As 'The New York Times' investigation documented:
"In late 1995 the CIA realized that a foreign agent who
had warned repeatedly of startling terrorist threats to
U.S. diplomats, spies and their children in Khartoum was
fabricating information. They withdrew his reports, but
the climate of fear and mistrust created by the reports
bolstered the case for withdrawing personnel from the U.S.
Embassy in Khartoum, officials said...The embassy remained
closed, even though, as a senior intelligence official put
it, "the threat wasn't there" as of 1996." (48)
'The New York Times' also reported that there were similar
unverified and uncorroborated reports that the then national
security advisor, Antony Lake, had been targeted for assassination
by terrorists based in Sudan. Lake was moved into Blair
House, a federal mansion across the street from the White
House and then to a second, secret, location. 'The New York
Times' reported that Lake "disappeared from view around
the time the embassy's personnel were withdrawn". There
is little doubt that the supposed threat to Lake was as
fabricated as the CIA reports concerning the American embassy
in Khartoum. The newspaper stated that:
"The threat to Tony Lake had a chilling effect on the National
There is no doubt that the equally spurious "threats" to
American diplomats and their children in Khartoum had an
equally chilling effect on the State Department and other
agencies. The fact remains however that these "threats",
then seen as proof of Sudanese complicity in terrorism,
were contained in the over one hundred reports that the
CIA later admitted it had to withdraw because they had been
fabricated. To have to withdraw one or two intelligence
reports on such serious matters is bad enough. To have to
withdraw over one hundred such reports can only be described
as a massive systemic intelligence failure. One can only
but point out that the Clinton Administration used the Sudanese
government's inability to react to "specific" threats made
by "specific" terrorist organisations against American diplomats,
non-existent fabricated threats, as one more example of
Sudan's involvement with terrorism. The American embassy
in Khartoum was subsequently partly re-opened in October
1997, and Antony Lake eventually did come out of hiding.
And yet, as late as March 2000, four years after the above
intelligence fiasco, the White House was still falsely stating:
"In 1996, we removed full-time staff from the Embassy and
relocated them to Nairobi for security reasons." (49) In
what could pass for a snapshot of the accuracy of Clinton
Administration claims about Sudan and terrorism in general,
'The New York Times' stated that:
"the Central Intelligence Agency...recently concluded that
reports that had appeared to document a clear link between
the Sudanese Government and terrorist activities were fabricated
and unreliable...The United States is entitled to use military
force to protect itself against terrorism. But the case
for every such action must be rigorously established. In
the case of the Sudan, Washington has conspicuously failed
to prove its case." (50)
Ambassador Petterson, the United States ambassador to Sudan
from 1992-95, clearly documents an earlier example of the
Clinton Administration acting upon fabricated and unreliable
claims of Sudanese complicity in "terrorism". In his memoirs
of his time in Sudan Ambassador Petterson reveals that in
August 1993, "information about a plan to harm American
officials led the State Department to order an evacuation
of our spouses and children and a reduction of my American
staff by one-third". Petterson stated that "[w]e at the
embassy had seen or heard nothing manifesting a clear and
present danger from either terrorists or the Sudanese government.
But the order was firm and irrevocable". (51) Petterson
also documented that subsequently "new information" had
been "acquired" which indicated "an increasingly precarious
situation for Americans in Khartoum". Ambassador Petterson
later reveals that the allegations in question were unfounded:
"The months wore on, no credible threat to embassy Americans
materialized, and eventually serious doubt was raised about
the validity of the information that had led to the evacuation."
It perhaps goes without saying that for a government to
evacuate the spouses and children of diplomats, and to reduce
its embassy staff, is a serious matter. It is an even more
serious matter when a government totally closes an embassy,
withdrawing all diplomats and dependants. This was done
on two occasions in Sudan. The partial evacuation happened
in 1993. The total evacuation was carried out in 1996. The
Clinton Administration ordered both evacuations on the basis
of intelligence information received which supposedly warned
of threats to American diplomats and their families. On
both occasions the Administration also demanded that the
Sudanese government somehow deal with these threats, and
it was inferred that if Khartoum did not do so this would
be more evidence of Sudan's involvement with terrorism.
It is now clear, as outlined by independent sources such
as Ambassador Petterson, and 'The New York Times' that both
the partial evacuation of American embassy staff and dependants
in 1993, and the full withdrawal of the embassy in 1996,
were the results of faulty intelligence reports based on
subsequently revealed to have been fabricated.
The American Government Refused Several Previous Requests
for American Investigations
After other invitations, in early 2000 the Clinton Administration
finally accepted Sudanese invitations to send anti-terrorist
and counter-terrorism teams down to Sudan to investigate
anything they wished to. It is clear that several other
attempts on the part of the Sudanese government to enter
into cooperation with Washington on counter-terrorism were
similarly ignored or rejected. The Clinton Administration's
poor record and questionable judgement with regard to intelligence
and the issue of terrorism was further highlighted by the
September 1998 revelation of 'The New York Times' that:
"In February 1997, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir sent
President Clinton a personal letter. It offered, among other
things, to allow U.S. intelligence, law-enforcement and
counterterrorism personnel to enter Sudan and to go anywhere
and see anything, to help stamp out terrorism. The United
States never replied to that letter."
In April 1997, there was another invitation, once again
inviting the Clinton Administration to send FBI counterterrorism
units to Sudan to verify any information they may have had
about terrorism. The letter was addressed to Representative
Lee Hamilton, the then chairman of the House Foreign Affairs
Committee, and is part of the Congressional Record. (53)
This offer was eventually turned down four months later.
Several other invitations followed before one was accepted.
Within the context of this catalogue of American intelligence
blunders, together with Washington's questionable and increasingly
transparent use of serious allegations against Sudan for
policy and propaganda reasons, renewed American claims about
Sudanese involvement "in developing a
biological weapons programme" must be seen for what they
are, unsustainable and deeply irresponsible.
1 "US Accuses Iraq, N.Korea, Iran of Building Germ Warfare
Stocks", News Article by Agence France Press, 19 November
2 For example, Bolton was also previously involved with
the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom,
a federally-funded body that has produced very questionable
and deliberately skewed material on Sudan. In his March
2001 nomination hearing Bolton stated that he had met on
the issue of Sudan with former Secretary of State Albright
and National Security Adviser Samuel Berger while working
with the Commission. Both Albright and Berger who have been
identified with claims on Sudan that were either distorted
or deliberately deceitful.
See, for example, 'Partisan and Hypocritical: The U.S. Commission
on International Religious Freedom and Sudan', The European-Sudanese
Public Affairs Council, London, 2000, available at www.espac.org
3 'The Times', London, 22 September 1998.
4 David Rose, "Resentful West Spurned Sudan's Key Terror
Files", 'The Observer', London, 30 September 2001.
5 "Sudan Offered Up bin Laden in '96", 'The Washington Post',
3 October 2001.
6 See, for example, "US Sees Good Progress in Terrorism
Talks with Sudan ", News Article by Reuters on 25 September
7 "Powell Mulls U.N. Action on Sudan After Report African
Government is Moving in Right Direction on Terrorism ",
News Article by Associated Press on 22 August 2001 and "Sudan
Provides Intelligence to U.S.", News Article by Reuters,
29 September 2001.
8 See, for example, "US Allows UN Council to End Sanctions
Against Sudan", News Article by Reuters on 28 September
2001; "US Ready to End U.N. Sanctions on Sudan Friday",
News Article by Reuters on 28 September 2001; "US Allows
UN Council to End Sanctions Against Sudan", News Article
by Reuters, 28 September 2001.
9 "Foreign Minister Says Sudan has been Cooperating with
the United States in the Fight Against Terrorism for More
Than a Year ", News Article by Associated Press on 25 September
10 See, 'Farce Majeure: The Clinton Administration's Sudan
Policy 1993-2000', The European-Sudanese Public Affairs
Council, London, 2000, available at www.espac.org
11 "White House Says No Sign Iraq Exported Arms", News Article
by Reuters on 17 February 1998.
12 House of Lords 'Official Report', London, 19 March 1998,
13 House of Lords 'Official Report', London, 19 March 1998,
14 See, for example, Norwegian People's Aid, 'Confirmed
Chemical Bombing in Southern Sudan', 2 August 1999, posted
on Relief Wet, www.reliefweb.int.
15 House of Lords 'Official Report', 31 October 2000, cols.
16 'Note for the Spokesman of the Secretary-General on Sudan',
Note delivered by the United Nations Resident Coordinator,
Mr Philippe Borel, to the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, 17
17 'The Independent', London, 17 September 1993.
18 Donald Petterson, 'Inside Sudan: Political Islam, Conflict
and Catastrophe', Westview Books, Boulder, 1999, p.69.
20 'The New York Times', 26 March 1993.
21 See, for example, 'The New York Times', 'The Washington
Post', 25 June 1993.
22 'Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1996 Briefing', Press
briefing by Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox Jr, Washington-DC,
30 April 1996 on US Government Home Page, at http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/960430.html
23 "U.S. Expels Sudanese Diplomat: Diplomat Implicated in
U.N. Bomb Plot", News Article by United States Information
Agency, 10 April 1996.
24 "Sample From Sudan Plant Said to Link It to Weapons",
'International Herald Tribune', 25 August 1998.
25 'Letter of H.E. Bishop Gborial Roric, State Minister
at the Ministry of External Affairs to the President of
the United Nations Security Council on the Flagrant American
Aggression Against the Sudan', Ministry of External Affairs,
Khartoum. See, also, "Sudan Formally Asks for UN Meeting,
Probe of Plant", News Article by Reuters on 22 August 1998
at 05:44 pm EST; "Khartoum Seeks Condemnation, Damages and
Fact-Finding Team", News Article by Agence France Presse,
23 August 1998.
26 "US "Reveals" Nerve Gas Evidence", News Article by BBC
World, 25 August 1998.
27 "Sudan Willing to Accept US-led Probe into Factory Attack",
News Article by Agence France Presse, 23 August 1998.
28 "Minister: Sudan Invites an American Verification Committee",
News Article by Associated Press, 22 August 1998.
29 "Sudan President Invites Fact-Finders, Warns of Retaliation",
News Article by BBC Online, 22 August 1998.
30 "Absent at Conference, Sudan is Still Talking With U.S.
", 'The Washington Post', 17 March 2000.
31 "Sudanese Plant 'Not Built for Weapons", 'The Observer',
London, 30 August 1998.
32 "U.S. State Dept. Says Soil Showed VX-Sudan Link", News
Article by Reuters, 26 August 1998.
33 "US Strives to Justify Air Strike on Sudan Factory",
'The Independent' 26 August 1998.
34 "US Strives to Justify Air Strike on Sudan Factory",
'The Independent' 26 August 1998.
35 "Chemical Made at Bombed Sudanese Factory had Commercial
Uses: Report", News Article by Agence France Presse, 27
36 "'Smoking Gun' for Sudan Raid Now in Doubt", 'The Chicago
Tribune', 28 August 1998.
37 "More Doubts Rise Over Claims for U.S. Attack", 'The
Wall Street Journal', 28 August 1998.
38 "'Smoking Gun' for Sudan Raid Now in Doubt", 'The Chicago
Tribune', 28 August 1998.
39 "Expert Queries US Labelling of Sudan Chemicals", 'The
Guardian', London, 28 August 1998.
40 "Sudanese Plant 'Not Built for Weapons'", 'The Observer',
London, 30 August 1998.
41 "Experts Find No Arms Chemicals at Bombed Sudan Plant",
'The New York Times', 9 February 1999.
42 "Administration Officials Detail Missile Strike Strategy",
News Article by Associated Press, 2 September 1998.
43 See, "US Unfreezes Assets of Sudan Factory Owner", News
Article by Agence France Press, 4 May, 1999, 20:51 GMT;
"US Oks Payout for 'Sudan Mistake': Faulty Intelligence
Blamed for Air Strike", 'The Washington Times', 5 May 1999;
"US Admits Sudan Bombing Mistake", 'The Independent', London,
4 May 1999; "US to Unfreeze Accounts Frozen Over Plant",
'The Asian Wall Street Journal', 5 May 1999.
44 "Roberts Calls US Missile Attack on Sudan Unjustified",
by Dennis Pearce, 'The Wichita Eagle', 28 October 1998.
Senator Roberts is a member of both the Senate Intelligence
and Armed Forces Committees.
45 'The Times', London, 22 September 1998; 'The New York
Times', 21 and 23 September, 1998.
46 "Withdrawal of US Diplomats - Security Council Condemnation",
'Keesings Archives', Volume 42, 1996.
47 Daily Press Briefing, U.S. Department of State, 1 February
1996 available at http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/briefing/daily_briefings/1996/9602/960201db.html
48 "Decision to Strike Factory in Sudan Based on Surmise",
'The New York Times', 21 September 1999.
49 Extract on Sudan from the Daily Press Briefing, the United
States Department of State, 3 March 2000, 12:35 PM.
50 "Dubious Decisions on the Sudan, Editorial", 'The New
York Times,' 23 September 1998.
51 Petterson, op.cit., p.71.
52 Petterson, op.cit., p.91.
53 "Perspective on Terrorism - Olive Branch Ignored", 'The
Los Angeles Times', 30 September 1998.