The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Sunday, September 28, 2003
NSA listening post in Algeria - an excess of kif or what?
A strange little story from weeks ago that made me sit up and take notice.
An AP report from September 7 takes me to a piece in the Quotidien d'Oran of the same date:
... le chef d'état-major de l'ANP, le général de corps d'armée, Mohamed Lamari reçoit, depuis hier, le général Charles F.Wald, commandant adjoint des forces américaines en Europe, à Alger. Une visite qui sera marquée par l'étude d'un projet d'installation d'une station d'écoute américaine dans le sud algérien indiquent des sources informées.
For those with rightfully suspicious minds, I can confirm that General Wald is not only a real person, but, according to his USAF bio, has a chestful of medals and is a pretty important guy: Deputy Commander, Headquarters U.S. European Command, Stuttgart. Lamari is, from my present sketchy appreciation of Algerian politics, the important guy over there .
The piece says that Wald was coming
...avec un projet d'installation d'une station d'écoute, probablement de la National Security Agency (NSA), l'agence fédérale qui est chargée des interceptions des communications mondiales, qui serait basée dans la région de Tamanrasset. Une station qui viserait à intercepter puis analyser toutes les communications - par téléphone, Internet, réseaux informatiques ou radio...and was possibly going south to visit the local commander, Gen Saheb .
It suggests three reasons, apart from the GSPC activity , for US interest in such a project:
And points out that the moves come as part of generally buddying-up between Algerian and US forces - US training of Algerian officers, joint naval exercises, and so on.
From one perspective, Algeria is potentially the Islamist dagger pointing at the belly of Europe - and therefore, its present government, however unsavoury, is naturally our son of a bitch material - as proof of its zeal in the matter, around 100,000 died in the civil war which has, for now, largely returned the Algerian Islamists to their box.
A strange piece of historical reflux in the shape of one Senator John F Kennedy, who regaled the Senate on July 2 1957 with a speech more or less calling for USG to ditch the French and prepare for an FLN victory in the 1954-62 war . The old and paradoxical American fatal attraction for supposedly revolutionary causes (the mountains of cash, rather than vomit, that landed in the NORAID buckets, for instance) which runs in tandem with the loathing of all things communistic.
The successors to the FLN who now rule Algeria have long been cured of communism (to the extent they were ever ill with it) and, it seems, are ready to vindicate JFK's support of so long ago.
A piece of Google detritus provides a modest sidebar - apparently, round about the same time as JKF's speech, WaPo icon Ben Bradlee had his own Algerian experience:
Leaning left in those days, he thought it unfair that French views were well-covered but not the views of the Algerian FLN (after the war he had joined the left-wing quasi-Marxist American Veterans Committee), so he went to Algeria to interview the FLN. Trouble was, the fedayeen he met clandestinely were French counter-intelligence actors, and he was ordered to leave France. Ambassador Dillon got the expulsion order canceled.
free website counter