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An Ethiopian woman's musings on Africa, the world and everything in between

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        Sunday, July 02, 2006
        Doing Bush’s homework
        Where do presidents get their information on issues and countries? And, how important is the source in shaping international policy? Or it really doesn't matter because there are other factors at play than accurate information?

        I am not throwing these questions to initiate discussion or to make you think. I am asking because I really don’t know the answers.

        When it comes to compiling country profiles, I used to imagine a sophisticated US information gathering system from several sources counter checked against the CIA's profile… I guess there must be a system that I don't know about.

        This is why…

        The coloured country is Sudan and the continent is Africa - just in case

        While talking to BBC’s Khartum reporter, Alfred Taban - one of the four African recipients of the National Endowment for Democracy award - Mr. Bush was surprised to hear that the South Sudan peace agreement was not working 18 months after it was signed. "That's not the information I'm getting." was what Mr. Bush said.

        Now you understand why I'm wondering who feeds presidents with information, is there a political/economic motive behind selective/misconstrued information… I'm all paranoid with conspiracy theory here.

        But whatever the reason, how difficult is it for the president to google "south sudan peace agreement" and get a feel of what (information) is out there. I don't expect him to read all 44,200,000 sites, but just the first 10 sites will do.

        Perhaps the President is relying on only one source, USAID Sudan, for his updates on the country. Then it is totally understandable that he is misled into thinking that things are looking much brighter in Southern Sudan. You have to dig deeper to get the real albeit limited humanitarian reports beneath the "we're doing this, we gave that, we're going to do the other" usual let's-feel-good-about-ourselves-and-justify-our-existence talks. This obvious cover up effort is highly possible (say I, Agatha Christie of Development) because USAID’s bashing of African leaders wasting money on "white elephant projects" has come back to bite them in arse as they are being bashed for wasting tax payers money. Mr. Bush should know this because it’s a high profile reprimand involving Congress.

        Whatever the reason, the fact remains that Mr. Bush is in the dark when it comes to the situation in Sudan. Therefore, I took it upon myself to list the following links for the president. I don’t have anything better to do this stormy Sunday afternoon while my daughters are playing science with the neighbour boy (occasionally bursting out laughing) – oh boy.

        Information sources on Sudan
        Kofi Annan’s Nightmare
        What the agreement was, its limitations, how frigile it is… here
        A bloggers message to President Bush
        Darfur right outside the White House
        War News
        Global Genocide Watch
        Before you take a test on Sudan

        I know that the New York Times is in the dog house with White House for reporting on the government’s surveillance of confidential banking records, but it has some good articles on the situation in Sudan.

        Let me know if you need more, Mr. President, and I’ll be on it.

        By the way
        The other three recipients of the award are

        • Zainab Bangura, human rights and women's rights campaigner from Sierra Leone
        • Immaculee Birhaheka, human rights and women's rights activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo
        • Reginald Matchaba-Hove, human rights activist from Zimbabwe.
        posted by Fikirte @ 2:44 PM   Digg!
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