Exactly 60 years ago today, Congolese national liberation leader Patrice Lumumba was assassinated. Those responsible were most likely troops of a rival government acting on behalf of the Congo’s former colonial master, which had retained a presence in the Central African country. But there’s more to the assassination than initially meets the eye. There has been a gradual accumulation of credible evidence that the world’s post-WWII colonial superpower, the US, along with its sidekick the UK, played a hand in the events leading to Lumumba’s assassination.
The episode remains a bleak reminder of how the West continued to have a brutal role in the Global South, even after its former colonies gained independence. And this kind of self-interested meddling still continues to this very day.
The Congo’s first democratic leader, elected then killed
Lumumba was the Congo’s first democratically elected leader following the country’s independence from Belgium in 1960. He became prime minister after his party, the Congolese National Movement (MCN in its French initials), won the first democratic elections in its history. But though Lumumba was an immensely popular figure at home, he had already earned powerful enemies on the international stage.
His decision to make contact with the Soviet Union certainly raised eyebrows. But it was his firmly stated desire to use the Congo’s resource wealth for the benefit of the country’s own people that attracted the most ire. And as an African nationalist and outspoken proponent of anti-colonialism, he was seen as a potential threat to Western interests throughout the continent. When Congo’s former colonial master Belgium, which still had troops in the country, backed a rival, pro-Western secessionist government, Lumumba was quickly arrested.
Shortly after, on 17 January 1961, Lumumba was assassinated by a “firing squad under Belgian command”. The circumstances surrounding his death remained mysterious for decades. Belgium long denied involvement in his assassination, but eventually issued an official apology for its role in 2002.
Evidence pointing to involvement of the US…
Subsequent revelations indicate that parties other than Belgium were involved in Lumumba’s killing. In fact, there’s evidence that the US shares partial responsibility for the events leading up to his death.
United States involvement
The 2001 report by the Belgian Commission describes previous U.S. and Belgian plots to kill Lumumba. Among them was a Central Intelligence Agency-sponsored attempt to poison him, which was ordered by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. CIA chemist Sidney Gottlieb, a key person in the plan, devised a poison resembling toothpaste. In September 1960, Gottlieb brought a vial of the poison to the Congo with plans to place it on Lumumba's toothbrush. The plot was abandoned, allegedly because Larry Devlin, CIA Station Chief for the Congo, refused permission.
As Madeleine G. Kalb points out in her book, Congo Cables, the record shows that many communications by Devlin at the time urged elimination of Lumumba. As well, the CIA station chief helped to direct the search to capture Lumumba for transfer to his enemies in Katanga. Devlin was involved in arranging Lumumba's transfer to Katanga, and the CIA base chief in Elizabethville was in direct touch with the killers the night Lumumba was killed. John Stockwell, a CIA officer in the Congo and later a CIA station chief, wrote in 1978 that a CIA agent had the body in the trunk of his car in order to try to get rid of it. Stockwell, who knew Devlin well, believed that Devlin knew more than anyone else about the murder.
The inauguration of John F. Kennedy in January 1961 caused fear among Mobutu's faction, and within the CIA, that the incoming Democratic administration would favor the imprisoned Lumumba. While awaiting his presidential inauguration, Kennedy had come to believe that Lumumba should be released from custody, though not be allowed to return to power. Lumumba was killed three days before Kennedy's inauguration on 20 January, though Kennedy did not learn of the killing until 13 February.
In 1975, the Church Committee went on record with the finding that CIA chief Allen Dulles had ordered Lumumba's assassination as "an urgent and prime objective". Furthermore, declassified CIA cables quoted or mentioned in the Church report, and in Kalb (1982), mention two specific CIA plots to murder Lumumba: the poison plot and a shooting plot.
The Committee later found that while the CIA had conspired to kill Lumumba, it was not directly involved in the murder.
U.S. government documents
In the early 21st century, declassified documents revealed that the CIA had plotted to assassinate Lumumba. The documents indicate that the Congolese leaders who killed Lumumba, including Mobutu Sese Seko and Joseph Kasa-Vubu, received money and weapons directly from the CIA. The same disclosure showed that, at the time, the U.S. government believed that Lumumba was a communist, and feared him because of what it considered the threat of the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
In 2000, a newly declassified interview with Robert Johnson, who was the minutekeeper of the U.S. National Security Council at the time in question, revealed that U.S. President Eisenhower had said "something [to CIA chief Allen Dulles] to the effect that Lumumba should be eliminated". The interview from the Senate Intelligence Committee's inquiry on covert action was released in August 2000.
In 2013, the U.S. State Department admitted that President Eisenhower authorized the murder of Lumumba. However, documents released in 2017 revealed that an American role in Lumumba's murder was only under consideration by the CIA. CIA Chief Allan Dulles had allocated $100,000 to accomplish the act, but the plan was not carried out.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Monday, January 18, 2021. Convicted killer Phil Spector has died and you can see it as a test for the press. If it was a test, the press yet again failed.
The press lies. From stupidity, from the need to whore -- they lie for a variety of reasons. Never forget it. Phil Spector has thankfully died. The artist Phil Spector died years ago. A record producer and sometime songwriter (he took credit for a lot of songs he wrote no part of), Phil was influential in the sixties. While the artist died long ago, the person just died January 16th. THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER has a laughable obit. This may be the most hilarious passage ever:
Spector’s domestic life, along with his career, eventually came apart. After his first marriage, to Annette Merar, broke up, Ronettes leader singer Ronnie Bennett became his girlfriend and muse. He married her in 1968 and they adopted three children. But she divorced him after six years, claiming in a memoir that he held her prisoner in their mansion, where she said he kept a gold coffin in the basement and told her he would kill her and put her in it if she ever tried to leave him.
I love Ronnie Spector but I love the truth even more. Not ''after his first marriage broke up." He began sleeping with Ronnie in 1963. In August of 1963, Annette was informed that Phil was having an affair with one of the Ronnettes. She thought it was Nedra Talley because Nedra was considered the pretty one. She checked the recording studio to see if Phil was with her. Phil wasn't at the recording studio. Then she remembered he had a little studio several floors below their apartment. She called down there. And what were her exact words upon Phil answering? "Get that whore out of my building."
Phil got her to come downstairs and show her it was Ronnie, not Nedra, like that was going to make a difference. He then promised Annette that it was over between him and Ronnie. It wasn't over. The affair would continue.
The notion that Ronnie was his muse? I think the Ronnettes would laugh really hard at that because Phil and Ronnie's affair -- and eventual marriage -- did not mean the group became a priority. It actually meant that Phil lost interest in the group.
The obit tells us that he gave an early break to Cher.
That's hilarious. Cher was living with Sonny Bono at the time and Sonny was his gopher. Phil used Cher for background vocals because he could pay her cheap and non-union (I think he paid her $15 a session). He didn't give her a break. He also set out to destroy her when Sonny kept begging him to record her as a lead artist. The Ringo song was mean to mock Cher and meant to make people think a man was singing it. Phil never helped anyone but himself.
His songwriting credits are mentioned without pointing out that many times he stole credit from the songwriters. He was more apt to steal from Carole King and Gerry Goffin than from Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil because Barry and especially Cynthia wouldn't put up with it.
He died in prison, yes, but he died a very wealthy man (estimated worth most recently was $30 million) and a lot of that money came from stealing writing credits on songs.
I looked over CRAPAPEDIA and what did I see? One lie after another coming after me.
I wondered as I read the obits -- with one lie after another -- from the various outlets how they got it so wrong and how they didn't grasp what a loser Phil was. CRAPAPEDIA.
It pretends it has all the singles Phil did from 1958 to 2003. I'm not seeing "A Woman's Story." That's the bomb he produced for his label (distributed by WARNER BROS in the US, I believe by POLYDOR in the UK). 1974 was the year. Ignore YOUTUBE's claims, it was 1974. If you see it listed as 1975, be sure before you e-mail to argue that you have a solid source. I'm not in the mood this week. And CRAPAPEDIA is not a solid source. Oh, wait, let's stop the e-mails before they start.
Check the copyright at the bottom of the record above -- 1974. Here's the track.
Phil had no real success after the sixties ended. The Beatles? He didn't produce LET IT BE, he assembled it. And Paul's right -- and was demonstrated to be right when LET IT BE NAKED was released -- the songs sounded better before Phil added effects to them.
Back to Cher. Why leave that single out?
He died in prison. He deserved to be in prison. He'd threatened people and resorted to violence for years. He did it with John Lennon, shooting off the gun and having John tell him that he needed his hearing to record. It's cute how they want to do a greatest hits for killer Phil that's musical but not one that includes all the times he threatened people and physically harmed people.
Cher? She would record the STARS album and that would be released. None of her work with Phil in 1974 was released on an album. Those recording sessions were a nightmare and you'd think the obit of a killer would take a moment to note that.
Or is it normal that billionaire David Geffen left a studio with a busted lip? That is what happened during Cher's recording sessions. David was disagreeing with the gop and goo Phil was adding to the song and Phil punched him. David fell to the floor and Phil and Phil's bodyguards had all pulled guns on him.
Phil killed Lana Clarkson and, at any moment throughout the decades, he could have killed someone else. Ronnie was terrorized by him. Dee Dee Ramone says Phil pulled a gun on him when The Ramones worked with Phil. He put a gun to Leonard Cohen. He pulled a gun on Debbie Harry. These stories -- and there are so many more -- go to the type of person he was. Phil Spector was a toxic person.
From THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER obit, "Darlene Love also feuded with him, accusing Spector of failing to credit her for her vocals on "He’s a Rebel" and other songs [. . .]"
Excuse the f**k out of me? Darlene accuses him? It's established fact, not just a charge. First off, she was Darlene Wright. Second, he took her songs -- including "He's A Rebel" -- and issued them as songs by the Crystals -- a group that had scored hits already with "Uptown" and "There's No Other Like My Baby." Darlene Wright and the Blossoms recorded "He's A Rebel" and had the hit but Phil credited it to the Crystals. Darlene Wright, now renamed Darlene Love, then recorded "He's Sure The Boy I Love." It was a top twenty hit on the pop and R&B charts and it was supposed to be credited to Darlene Love. Instead, it was listed as a song by the Crystals. Darlene was not a member of the Crystals. "He's a Rebel" is Darlene Love and it's a number one song but it's credited to the Crystals. Darlene's not making accusations, she's stating facts and shame on anyone trying to besmirch her to praise a convicted killer.
Phil didn't just steal Darlene's credits from her, he did a number on her. Annette has long spoken of how Phil was manipulative and would destroy your self-worth as a game. That's all it was to him.
Now I love "Be My Baby," for example. And I'll always love that song. I can even say Phil did a great job producing it. But that doesn't make Phil a good person. He was a violent man who wrecked a lot of lives, threatened a lot of people and died in prison for killing Lana Clarkson. As a record producer, he really had nothing to offer after the Checkmates' 1969 releases. His violence continued for years and years after.
Turning to Iraq, Hussain Abdul-Hussain (TIMES NEWS NOW) offers:
Militias need war to legitimise them. That is how the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and elsewhere in the region justify their existence. Iraq has seen plenty of war for 40 years, but the latest threat, from ISIS, has been seen off with American help, and the US will soon withdraw its troops. If there ever was a need for the militias – which is doubtful – it is no longer there. But despite all entreaties, the Iraqi militias refuse to go.
In the words of Abdul-Aziz Al-Muhammadawi, also known as Abu-Fadak or Al-Khal (meaning “uncle”), the armed militia he leads, the Popular Mobilization Unit (PMU), is “more legitimate than all other armies” and will remain in existence “until God wills otherwise.”
Until then, “Uncle” will refuse the options offered by Baghdad of either disarming all militias and transforming them into political parties, or of being absorbed into Iraq’s regular military and security forces. Abu-Fadak, of course, ultimately takes his orders from another capital, and Tehran says the militias must retain their arms in order to “liberate” Iraq from “American military occupation.”
parliament’s human rights committee on Friday called for an urgent
investigation into a newly discovered mass grave in Salahaddin province,
in which tens of bodies were reportedly found, some belonging to
Locals on Wednesday uncovered a mass grave in the town of Ishaqi, which according to the commission contains “” of bodies.
The Salahaddin Clan Council issued a the same day confirming the site’s discovery.
The council’s spokesman Tami al-Majmei told Rudaw English on Saturday that the mass grave “contained the remains of more than 50 people from Salahaddin, including women, and children between 8 and 12 years old.”
He says the presence of women and children is evidence “that militias committed a mass execution of families," referring to units of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, known as Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic) that he says control security in the area.
In response, Brookings' Ranj Alaaldin Tweets:
More evidence of the crimes against humanity committed by Iran-aligned militias in Iraq: “the presence of women & children is evidence militias committed a mass execution of families, referring to units of the Popular Mobilization Forces that he says control security in the area”
The University of Kent's Conflict Analysis Research Centre has published a paper (January 15th) entitled "Militias as a Tool For Encouraging Ethnic Defection: Evidence from Iraq and Sudan." Last Wednesday, Human Rights Watch published "World Report 2021" and this is from their section on Iraq:
Arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings of demonstrators by Iraqi security forces in late 2019 and into 2020 led to government resignations and the nomination of a new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, in May 2020. Despite an initial seeming willingness to address some of Iraq’s most serious human rights challenges, al-Kadhimi’s government failed to end abuses against protesters.
Iraq’s criminal justice system was riddled with the widespread use of torture and forced confessions and, despite serious due process violations, authorities carried out numerous judicial executions.
Iraqi law contained a range of defamation and incitement provisions that authorities used against critics, including journalists, activists, and protesters to silence dissent.
The Covid-19 pandemic had a particularly harmful impact on students kept out of school for months during nationwide school closures, many of whom were unable to access any remote learning.
Excessive Force against Protesters
In a wave of protests that began in October 2019 and continued into late 2020, clashes with security forces, including the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or Hashad, nominally under the control of the prime minister), left at least 560 protesters and security forces dead in Baghdad and Iraq’s southern cities.
In July 2020, the government announced it would compensate the families of those killed during the protests and that it had arrested three low-level security forces officers. As far as Human Rights Watch is aware, no senior commanders have been prosecuted. After a spate of killings and attempted killings of protesters in Basra in August 2020, the government fired Basra’s police chief and the governorate’s director of national security but seemingly did not refer anyone for prosecution. In May 2020, when Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took office, he formed a committee to investigate the killings of protesters. It had yet to announce any findings publicly as of late 2020.
In May, security forces in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region arrested dozens of people planning to participate in protests against delayed government salaries, a persistent issue since 2015. At August 2020 protests by civil servants in the Kurdistan Region demanding unpaid wages, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) security forces beat and arbitrarily detained protesters and journalists.
Silencing Free Speech
Iraq’s penal code, which dates back to 1969, enshrines numerous defamation “crimes,” such as “insult[ing] the Arab community” or any government official, regardless of whether the statement is true. Although few individuals served prison time on defamation charges, the criminal process itself acted as a punishment. Reporting on corruption and abuses by the security forces was especially risky.
Authorities also invoked other laws and regulations to limit free speech. The Communications and Media Commission (CMC), a “financially and administratively independent institution” linked to parliament, in 2014 issued without legal basis “mandatory” guidelines to regulate media during “the war on terror”—a phrase it did not define. These guidelines were updated in May 2019 and renamed the “Media Broadcasting Rules.” They restrict freedom of the press to the point of requiring pro-government coverage.
The CMC suspended Reuters’s license under its broadcast media regulations powers for three months and fined it 25 million IQD (US$21,000) for an April 2, 2020 article alleging that the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country was much higher than official statistics indicated. Authorities lifted the suspension on April 19.
The KRG used similar laws in force in the Kurdistan Region to curb free speech, including the penal code, the Press Law, and the Law to Prevent the Misuse of Telecommunications Equipment.
Civil society efforts were successful in preventing passage of a deeply flawed cybercrimes bill in November.
Iraqi forces arbitrarily detained Islamic State (also known as ISIS) suspects for months, and some for years. According to witnesses and family members, security forces regularly detained suspects without any court order or arrest warrant and often did not provide a reason for the arrest.
Despite requests, the central government failed to disclose which security and military structures have a legal mandate to detain people, and in which facilities.
Fair Trial Violations
In January 2020, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) published a report assessing the criminal justice system, based on independent monitoring of 794 criminal court trials, 619 of them for men, women and children charged under Iraq’s dangerously overbroad counterterrorism law. It supported Human Rights Watch findings that basic fair trial standards were not respected in terrorism-related trials.
Iraqi judges routinely prosecuted ISIS suspects solely on the overbroad charge of ISIS affiliation, rather than for the specific violent crimes they may have committed. Trials were generally rushed, based on a defendant’s confession, and did not involve victim participation. Authorities systematically violated the due process rights of suspects, such as guarantees in Iraqi law that detainees see a judge within 24 hours and have access to a lawyer throughout interrogations, and that their families are notified and should be able to communicate with them during detention.
Detainees have shared graphic accounts of torture during interrogations in Mosul’s prisons under the control of the Ministry of Interior, in some cases leading to their deaths. These allegations are consistent with reports of the widespread use of torture by Iraqi forces to extract confessions instead of carrying out robust criminal investigations.
Authorities can prosecute child suspects as young as 9 with alleged ISIS affiliation in Baghdad-controlled areas and 11 in the KRI, in violation of international standards, which recognize children recruited by armed groups primarily as victims who should be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society, and call for a minimum age of criminal responsibility of 14 years or older. One Mosul committee improved its handling of the prosecution of child suspects.
Conditions in Detention
Authorities detained criminal suspects in overcrowded and in some cases inhuman conditions. According to media reports, authorities released 20,000 prisoners in April as a preventive measure in response to the Covid-19 pandemic but did not share any information on the identities of those released and the criteria for selecting them. Authorities refused to respond when asked to share or make public the number of people in Iraqi prisons, making it impossible to assess whether the releases sufficiently reduced the acute overcrowding to enable social distancing. In July, there were 31 Covid-19 cases reported at a prison in Baghdad.
The following sites updated: