Monday, July 03, 2006

Not the land of milk and honey

I admit I was surprised to read this piece at the BBC's website.

While in Washington, the Beeb's correspondent in Sudan's capital, informed President Bush that things were not going so well in the southern part of the African country, 18 months after a peace deal was signed.

"That is not the information I'm getting," [Bush] told the BBC's Khartoum reporter Alfred Taban, who was in Washington to receive an award.

Taban spent more than a quarter hour talking with the president. "He asked me if the peace agreement was working and I said, 'Mr President, it is not working,' and he was very surprised," the reporter explained.

When the president said that this was not what he had been informed, our reporter said he told Mr Bush: "Well, whatever information you're getting, that peace agreement is not being implemented by the government in Khartoum."
He went on to tell the president that people in southern Sudan were still waiting to see improvements to their lives.

"There's no water, there's no electricity, nothing in Juba," our correspondent said, describing life in the capital of south Sudan.

During the discussion Mr Bush called one of his aides and asked to be given more details on southern Sudan.

"He appeared to be taking it very seriously," our reporter said, describing the president's manner as warm and welcoming, despite the intimidating surroundings.

On one hand, it's certainly creditable that the president didn't brush off the reporter's comments and apparently wasn't complacent about the disturbing information shared with him.

On the other hand, it raises serious questions about the quality of intelligence being provided to the chief executive. Are the problems with the intelligence agencies themselves or in the way they are being filtered before they reach the president's desk? In the wake of the Iraq debacle and the mythical WMDs, it's an important question that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Regardless, if the president can find out that I bought dinner with my debit card last night, he certainly should not be learning something this obvious from a ordinary journalist.


At 10:01 PM, Blogger mc1 said...

If the high-level people in Bush administration are not held accountable for their failures in Iraq then the entire American effort in the middle east will be doomed. 2 more years of incompetence is an eternity and in war there is no room for Gentlemen's Cs.


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