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In May, I wrote about how beltway lobbyists, led by Patton Boggs were cashing in big time on the war in Sri Lanka. The lobbying firm, I noted, was being paid $35,000 per month by that country’s government to, at least in part, sanitize its role in the violence. “It’s hard to know who bears more responsibility for the bloodshed in Sri Lanka, the government or the Tamil Tigers, but it’s clear that huge numbers of civilians are being killed in the crossfire,” I wrote.
This prompted an angry reply from the embassy of Sri Lanka, which basically said that reports of government atrocities were exaggerated by doctors who were either under the influence of or biased towards the Tigers. It will be interesting to see how the embassy and Patton Boggs spin the release of a new U.S. report:
The State Department’s top war crimes official called on Sri Lanka on Thursday to conduct a “genuine” investigation into allegations of war crimes by Sri Lankan troops and Tamil rebels during the bloody final months of the country’s 25-year-long civil war. The appeal by Stephen Rapp, the U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes issues, came hours after his office presented Congress with a detailed account of alleged atrocities during the conflict that suggests both sides may have violated international law and committed crimes against humanity.
The report listed numerous allegations against the Tigers, including that they “forcibly recruited children as young as 11 to fight, killing relatives who objected, and “regularly fired on civilians attempting to flee the war zone.” But it also cited numerous allegations against government forces, such as “government shelling of civilian populations, hospitals, churches and schools in rebel-controlled territory, often in areas designated by authorities as no-fire zones. The U.S. Embassy reported several cases in which large numbers of civilians were reportedly killed in shelling,” including nine in the bombardment of a hospital.
Who will the government and the country’s lobbyists blame now that the doctors can no longer serve as scapegoats? According to the Washington Post, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry has already released a statement “saying that the allegations contained in the report ‘appear to be unsubstantiated and devoid of corroborative evidence.’ It said that Sri Lankan security forces had been ‘engaged in a humanitarian mission’ aimed at freeing captive civilians from the ‘clutches’ of the separatist group.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”