On Friday, Rush Limbaugh defended the Lord's Resistance Army, a murderous cult operating in Africa. In response to the news that President Obama had ordered 100 U.S. troops to help fight the LRA, Limbaugh said that he had sent “a hundred troops to wipe out Christians” and posted the story under the headline “Obama Invades Uganda, Targets Christians” on his website.
On Monday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) made comments on the floor of the Senate addressing some of Limbaugh's remarks. Inhofe explained, “Some people have mistakenly said this guy Kony is a Christian, and I want to make sure everyone knows he officially was disavowed by the Catholic Church in Uganda.”
Inhofe went on to note, “I stand behind the President in his decision. I do not very often stand behind this President, but I do in this case because we passed it without a dissenting vote. Every Member in here--there is not one who voted against it. So let's keep that in mind, that is the truth about what is happening now with the LRA. Joseph Kony and the LRA are responsible for one of the longest, most violent, and costly conflicts ever on the continent of Africa.”
Limbaugh responded today to Inhofe's comments by laughing them off and blaming the error on his staff, without explicitly conceding he had completely mangled the issue.
Transcript of Sen. Inhofe's remarks from the Congressional Record:
Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I am here today to clear up a lot of misunderstandings that are floating around the country concerning the decision to have some of our troops--not combat, but some of our troops--go into sections of Eastern and Central Africa to cooperate with about five countries that have been trying, for 25 years, to eradicate the Lord's Resistance Army and their leader whose name is Joseph Kony.
It has disturbed me quite a bit over the years that not many people care about Africa. I can remember back when President Clinton was in office that at that time I objected to sending troops into Bosnia and Kosovo because he was using as a reason to do that ethnic cleansing, and I said at that time, here at this desk on the floor: Why is he concerned about ethnic cleansing in Bosnia when on any one given day in any one country in Africa--at that time it was mostly in west Africa, and I used Sierra Leone as an example--in any one day there are 100 people more who are being ethnically cleansed in Africa than there are being ethnically cleansed in the same day in Bosnia or in Kosovo. But nobody cared.
Fortunately, that changed when 9/11 came and people realized there was a serious problem. When our country was attacked, it became evident that we needed to take action against terrorists in the Middle East. As the Middle East was squeezed many of the extremists would move south through Djibouti, through the Horn of Africa. So, wisely, we decided--and it was mostly the decision by the Senate Armed Services Committee, on which I serve--we would assist Africa in developing five African brigades located north, south, east, west, and central. That has been undertaken, not as rapidly as I wish it were, but, nonetheless, that is happening. The recognition there is, as terrorism goes down through Africa, if they are prepared--and I am talking about the Africans--to handle that terrorism and to stop that terrorism as it comes in, then we will not have to send our troops in.
That is essentially what happened last week when the President decided to send these troops into the north central part of Africa to address the problem with the Lord's Resistance Army, or the LRA, and Joseph Kony.
The past few days have been kind of interesting, Rush Limbaugh yesterday talked about this issue, and somebody brought it to my attention. Even though I disagreed, I do not disagree with him as often as some on the other side do. But he made a statement. I am quoting now:
Now, up until today, most Americans have never heard of the Lord's Resistance Army. And here we are at war with them.
Well, it is not true.
Have you ever heard of [them]?
He talked about it with three people who are always in his studio: Dawn and Brian and Snerdley.
Have you ever heard of [the] Lord's Resistance Army, Dawn?
How about you, Brian?
Snerdley, have you?
” You never heard of [the] Lord's Resistance Army? Well, that proves my contention, most Americans have never heard of it, and here we are at war with them.
Let me clarify, and in a minute I will talk about what their mission is there. We are not at war with them. In fact, we are specifically precluding our troops from any kind of combat in that area. But I wish to put it in proper context as to the significance of this.
I have had an opportunity to spend a lot of time in Africa--more than any other Member of this U.S. Senate, or any other Member of any other Senate even before this. I have had many conversations over the last 15 years with President Museveni of Uganda and his First Lady Janet about the problem.
It all started in northern Uganda. In the 1980s Alice Lakwena had a dream in which she was told to overthrow the government of Uganda. Alice founded the Ugandan “Holy Spirit Movement” and led a group of rebels against the government. Eventually, Alice was exiled and, her cousin, Joseph Kony took over her group. What happened was, Joseph Kony, who fancies himself a spiritual leader, has gone in and started building--you can call them a number of different things: a children's army or the “invisible” children--but to go in and build this massive army of young people--I am talking about kids from the age of 12, 13, 14 years old; young kids--he goes out and abducts them from villages. Then they come in, and they teach them how to operate AK-47s, how to join this army he has put together. If they do not do it, or if they fail in their training, then they are mutilated.
I will show you a chart in the Chamber with a series of pictures. These are young kids. These pictures give you an idea of how young they are: 11, 12, 13 years old, with AK-47s. That is what their army looks like. See that little kid there, he is 11 years old. This one in this other picture is 12 years old. They are carrying heavy weapons.
For the ones who do not do what he tells them to do, they mutilate them. Here is another chart with more pictures. As you can see, they do it by cutting off their nose, cutting off their ears, cutting off their lips--that is a big thing they do--cutting off their hands.
You see this picture right here. His name, by the way, is John Ochola. He is one we have seen before. They have taken his ears off, his nose off, cut off both of his hands.
Here is another picture up here, and one down here. This is a young child. His lip is cut off, his nose is cut off, and his ear is cut off. You can see that. That had just happened. They bandaged him up.
Once they are in this army, to go back to their villages and murder their siblings, and murder their parents. If they do not do it, this is the price they pay.
Anyway, we have made the decision to go and help them--and we also have a program that is called train and equip, which I will talk about in a minute--but to go in and actually be of assistance to these countries; in this case, taking out this particular maniac who has been there for 25 years.
It is not just in Uganda. I went up to Gulu. Gulu is in the northern part of Uganda. Senator Mike Enzi was with me at this time. We went up and we saw a lot of these kids who came back who had been mutilated. We went down and talked to President Kagame, the President of Rwanda. You might remember, Rwanda, in 1994, is where the greatest, the most devastating murder by genocide in recorded history in Africa took place, killing 800,000 people, using machetes, torturing them to death. They had the same problem down there.
Then, if you go over to the DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, that is Joe Kabila. Joe Kabila is one who is very much concerned. Of course, Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, is way over on the western side, and it is several time zones over to the eastern side where Joseph Kony was killing these kids at that time. In fact, the major city over there is Goma. We were in Goma shortly before Kony escaped and went north to the Central African Republic, and then back up to South Sudan.
I had occasion to be in South Sudan last week. That is a new country. It was an exciting thing to go into a new country and sit down with their members of Parliament. We talked for a good 2 hours. We had 25 members of the Parliament of the brand new country, South Sudan, and they told me one of their major concerns right now is getting this guy Joseph Kony. He has now been making runs up into South Sudan and getting these people. So this is a major thing that many of these countries have joined in to try to do something about Joseph Kony.
Well, anyway, last year, I got a little bit concerned that nothing was happening. One of the reasons--I have to say this, Mr. President--nothing much was happening is because if you take these countries--like President Museveni and President Kagame, these Presidents came out of the bush. I think when they feel they are not able to get one renegade group such as this, they feel it is kind of a blow to their ego. Finally, I was able to get the three of them together--that was Joe Kabila, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and President Museveni of Uganda--and we were able to get them all to agree to do something to eradicate this monster. So they are now in a position to do that.
That is another reason why our forces serve in a non-combat role. For the U.S. to capture or kill Kony would be a slap in the face to our allies. I respect them too much to do so. In 2009, I led a bipartisan group of Senators to pass into law S. 1067. It was called the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009. We had 64 cosponsors. This is the largest number of cosponsors on any kind of bill affecting Africa in history. We had these Senators cosponsoring the bill, and they all were very excited about it.
Let me tell you what the law says. It directs the administration to develop a regional strategy to “apprehend or remove” Joseph Kony, his top LRA commanders, disarm and demobilize the LRA fighters through political, economic, military, and intelligence assistance, and protect civilians from further attacks.
The law is kind of interesting because it specifically precludes us from entering into any kind of battle. I think that is the most important thing to talk about today because almost everyone who is reporting on this, including my good friend Rush Limbaugh, is talking about that our guys and gals are going to go into combat. No, they are not going to. They are specifically precluded from doing that. So it is not as it is in Libya. It has nothing to do with the War Powers Act because these are troops that are precluded from attacking except in self defense.
The Senate Armed Services Committee reported out the FY12 Defense Authorization Act, and we specifically--I know this because this is my language that we put in--prohibit the U.S. military forces from participating in combat operations to ``apprehend or remove'' Kony and the LRA. This is my language I put in the bill. So not only are they not going to be in combat, but they are precluded from being in combat. That is what we have right now, and it is before us today.
By the way, some people have mistakenly said this guy Kony is a Christian, and I want to make sure everyone knows he officially was disavowed by the Catholic Church in Uganda. I will read what a Catholic sister of the Comboni Catholic group said, who spent 15 years in Gulu--that is a place where I was some 15 years ago--in northern Uganda. I quote. This is a Catholic sister. She said:
I was in Gulu, North Uganda, when Joseph Kony took the leadership of this group that became famous for its atrocities. I saw people whose lips, mouth, ears, nose, were mercilessly cut without provocation. I still remember the 6 men who came to our premises in Gulu crying, asking for help as 3 of them had their right hand cut off--
As we saw a minute ago.
and the other three the right foot [cut off by machetes].
It was all done by the LRA. I am going on, still quoting this Catholic nun:
... people cut into pieces with the machete, burnt alive after smearing their bodies with palm oil, small children locked in the hut and set fire on it [burned alive], babies pounded in the container used to pound the maze. Let us not forget women and girls raped, killed or abducted as sex slaves. ... a Congolese lady on Christmas Day 2008 lost 17 members of her family who had gone to church for prayer, all killed with the machete.
This is brutality we have never seen anything like before.
I think the other thing that is important to understand is we have several programs that affect Africa and other places around the world. One is called train and equip authorized by sections 1206, 1207, or 1208. What we do with train and equip is send people in to teach them how to train people, in this case Africa. We have over a thousand U.S. forces right now doing essentially what these 100 who the President sent over are there to do. Our military-to-military programs include coun ter ter ror ism, border security, maritime surveillance, and all this, but not combat.
As I say, No. 1, the thing to remember is, we are already doing this. What we are doing with the 100 people who are sent over to Africa--we have a thousand there already doing this.
Then, secondly, it is something that is very significant in our fight against terrorism in that area. We are not going to have any of our troops in combat. But this type of thing you see in these pictures right here--to see this guy here with his nose cut off, his ears cut off, his hands cut off--all of this--this is going on today, right now, at this moment, as we are speaking.
I stand behind the President in his decision. I do not very often stand behind this President, but I do in this case because we passed it without a dissenting vote. Every Member in here--there is not one who voted against it. So let's keep that in mind, that is the truth about what is happening now with the LRA. Joseph Kony and the LRA are responsible for one of the longest, most violent, and costly conflicts ever on the continent of Africa.
With that, I yield the floor.