Saturday, March 13, 2010

Foreign Policy: Inside a Dictator's Secret Police

Reed Brody writes about uncovering evidence on Chad's Hissène Habré and his secret police. Habré may be facing a trial soon.

The article is interesting, but one excerpt caught my eye:

Back in 1981, it would have been hard to imagine Habré where he is today. U.S. President Ronald Reagan saw the then-warlord as a bulwark against the ambitions of Libya's Muammar al-Qaddafi, Chad's expansionist neighbor to the north. Habré had already earned a reputation for extreme brutality, once kidnapping a French anthropologist and then murdering the officer sent to negotiate her release. But Washington could not pass up a chance to "bloody Qaddafi's nose," as Secretary of State Alexander Haig reportedly put it, and Habré's march on N'Djamena in 1982 was buoyed by generous covert U.S. support. Once he took over, the United States provided Habré with massive military aid and used a clandestine base in Chad to train captured Libyan soldiers as members of an anti-Qaddafi force. Habré served Washington's purpose; when the Libyans moved into northern Chad in the 1980s, Habré swiftly kicked them out. But Habré also turned his country into a police state, the legacy of which still lingers today under the current Chadian president, the man who ousted Habré, Idriss Déby.

Both the U.S., under then-President Ronald Reagan, and France supported Habré, as

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