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2001-12-20

"Black Hawk Down": As Washington Paves the Way for An Attack On Somalia, Hollywood Joinsforces with the Pentagon to Transform the 1993 Invasion From What President Clinton Called His Darkest Hour, to

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It appears that the US is preparing to attack Somalia in the next stage of the so-called war on terrorism.

A senior German official said yesterday, "It’s not a question of 'if' but of 'how' and 'when'." The official’sremarks came after Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld briefed NATO defense ministers Tuesday. Rumsfeld told reportersthat the US required no new authorization from the U.N. Security Council to strike targets outside Afghanistan,saying: "Every country has the right to self-defense." But he is denying the German official’s remarks.

Meanwhile, U.S. diplomat Glenn Warren has arrived in Mogadishu. It is the first time in seven years that a USdiplomatic official has visited the Somali capital. Warren told the country’s interim government yesterday the USwas determined to fight terrorism. He is scheduled to meet with rival clan leaders today.

And British and Kenyan papers are reporting that Kenya has given its consent for US and British forces to use thecountry as a base for action against the neighboring country. Diplomatic sources said the deal was reached duringtalks in Nairobi between the British Defense Secretary and President Moi of Kenya. President Moi is said to beexacting a high price for his cooperation: the deal is expected to open the way for the easing of aid to Nairobi asthe country moves into an election year.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Hollywood producers are rushing to release a blockbuster about the 1993 US invasionof Somalia in the next few days ­ months ahead of schedule. The Clinton administration presented the mission ashumanitarian, designed to liberate thousands of starving Somalis from a brutal clan leader who was blocking U.N. foodshipments and massacring UN workers. But when US forces dropped into a teeming market in Mogadishu on October 3,1993, 18 US soldiers, and over a thousand Somalis, were killed. President Clinton called the massacre one of thedarkest hours of his administration.

But former Disney studio chief Joe Roth, whose Revolution Studios made the $120 million movie, says his team wouldwork to assure the audience that "it is, in fact, America’s brightest hour."

Today, we’ll spend the hour discussing the events of October 3, 1993 from a few different perspectives, how thePentagon helped to shape the movie "Black Hawk Down," and U.S. interests in Somalia, past and present. In a fewminutes we’ll be joined by a Somali NGO leader and a Somali former UNDP official. But we go now to Mark Bowden,author of the book ??Black Hawk Down. I spoke to him before he left for Europe, and asked him to tell us whathappened, from his perspective, on October 3, 1993.

Guests:

  • Mark Bowden, author of ??Black Hawk Down.
  • Faiza Jama Mohamed, Africa director of Equality Now, a women’s organization which promotes political anddecision-making roles for women in the region.
  • Abdalla Hirad, scholar who has given papers to the Somali Studies and African Studies Association, andformer program officer for UNDP on Somalia.
  • Claudia Carr, board of director of the Board on Science and Technology for International Development ofthe National Academy of the Sciences. She was also on scientific panels on the academy, including on the Horn ofAfrica.

Tape:

  • "Black Hawk Down", movie promo clip.
  • Montage of major U.S. television network news broadcasts, October, 1993.

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