There is "something rotten in Denmark," and the stench can be traced to a small but significant item posted in Stars and Stripes last July.
Instead of directing help to Walikale or Masisi, considering that both communities were besieged by corrupt and murderous FARDC and FDLR forces, the US-trained elite Congolese 391st battalion was positioned to fight the M23. "The U.S. spent roughly $15 million to build the battalion, which the DRC later decided to use in operations against the Lord's Resistance Army," the post said. So, instead of fighting proven atrocities against women, children, the old and the infirm, no expense was spared in a failed attempt to stop the M23.
And who is responsible for the drumbeat of rumors? The international media consistently repeats rumors and innuendos in a seemingly coordinated a campaign to discredit M23.
The most damaging is the continuing accusation by most media, including AlJazeera, that wanted war criminal Bosco Ntaganda is directing the M23 ground assaults. It has become a mantra, so effective, that a false narrative is morphing into truth.
In several emails to leaders of M23, whom I met in 2008-09 while interviewing then CNDP leader Laurent Nkunda, the question of Ntaganda has been raised. The pummeling narrative about Ntaganda caused considerable doubt in me. In every instance, men whom I had looked in the eye in 2009, denied any involvement with Ntaganda. Finally, in exasperation, an M23 spokesman sent me this:
I told you we are not with BOSCO NTAGANDA. That is what I am telling you. It is my word and the friend of you who is informing you about us. I think you can believe what your heat (heart) seems to show you is right to do... as friend I swear we are not with Bosco and I don't know how we can be connected to this guy. I tried to explain to you but I think that you still have some doubt, anywhere (sic), we will still fight for that and try to give you the right information.
Sometimes you have to take a stand, and I believe my contact. I have no reason to believe an inattentive State Department or a discredited human rights organization.
What is the US interest in siding with the corrupt regime in Kinshasa? Look no further than oil in Virunga and US and United Kingdom mining concessions in eastern Congo.
I saw how villagers lived in CNDP controlled territory in 2009 and it was a complete contrast to what I read in the media. Sometimes you just have to believe your own eyes.
I am an American first, but I am disheartened and disappointed at the response of the United States.
In 2009, I received a request from an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It read, "You seem to know a lot of people on the ground (in eastern Congo)," and went on to ask for suggestions of organizations that Clinton's office could contact. I spent a week organizing contacts to Congolese human rights organizations, midwives, community leaders in the IDP camps, church groups, and others who would offer an accurate narrative. Clinton chose instead a photo-op with President Joseph Kabila and a dog and pony show at Heal Africa.
Still, upon her return, Clinton issued a hopeful press release where she indicated she went to Goma to send a clear message, "The United States condemns these attacks (crimes against humanity) and all those who commit them and abet them."
Clinton was speaking of the Mugunga Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp.
Since the beginning of 2012, the conflict has uprooted close to 650,000 people in North and South Kivu provinces, according to UNHCR. More than 40,000 people have fled to Uganda and 15,000 to Rwanda since April.