UPDATE: As of 6:30 a.m. April 11, we were advised by the publisher of The Black Star News that the website www.blackstarnews.com was back online. Allimadi said: “For several hours, people were unable to access our news site, which is of course a terrible thing in the media business. We are back online, at least for now, and we will keep our readers informed on any developments. We appreciate the effort by all our colleagues in journalism who were able to repost parts of our original article about Invisible Children spying for the Ugandan regime.”
At the end of the April 8, 2012, KPFA Weekend News, we broadcast this news report that Milton Allimadi had published “Invisible Children, Makers of Kony 2012, Spied for Ugandan Regime – Wikileaks” just before the newscast began on the website of his New York City-based paper, the Black Star News, blackstarnews.com. Today KPFA and the Bay View received this letter from Allimadi, published just below the news report, saying that his website has become inaccessible due to a “distributed denial-of-service attack” (DDoS attack). – Ann Garrison
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni tests Obama in Africa
by Ann Garrison
KPFA Weekend News Host Cameron Jones: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is the USA’s principle ally in the U.S. military operation to hunt down minor East African warlord Joseph Kony, which was applauded in the record breaking viral YouTube video “KONY 2012.” However, this week Museveni and his cabinet outlawed the country’s nonpartisan, nonviolent Activists for Change Coalition, which has been protesting soaring food and fuel prices, government corruption and election fraud since February 2011. KPFA’s Ann Garrison spoke to Milton Allimadi, Ugandan American editor of the New York City-based Black Star News, about Museveni’s attempt to outlaw his opposition and about his just published report that Invisible Children, makers of KONY 2012, have been spying for the Ugandan government.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Milton Allimadi, could you tell us what Americans should most understand about Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni outlawing the opposition coalition Activists for Change?
Milton Allimadi: Well, first of all, Americans should understand that this country should not be supporting the Ugandan regime. This is a test not only of democracy in Uganda and in Africa, but it’s also a test of the credibility of the Obama administration. In Egypt, in Syria, in Libya, when people started protesting, the United States came out very forcefully and said that the governments should not suppress popular demonstration.
In Uganda, we have this loud, deafening silence. The U.S. has not said anything critical since Ugandans started protesting. This silence Ugandans see as an endorsement of the suppression, sometimes with violence, killing, by the Ugandan regime.
KPFA: How effective do you think this ban on the opposition is likely to be?
Milton Allimadi: I won’t be surprised to see those protests continue and ultimately I think we will see in Uganda the same things that we saw in Egypt, where even though President Mubarak had been there about 30 years and had a huge army supported by the United States, street popular protest drove him from office.
KPFA: And what do you think this is going to mean for the U.S. Special Forces in the region applauded by Invisible Children in the viral video “KONY 2012”?
Milton Allimadi: Ugandans question that video. We here at the Black Star News criticize that video because we believe it had ulterior motives. Number one, the LRA is no longer in Uganda. It’s in Central African Republic. And it’s there for a reason. Between 2004 and 2006, the LRA had been negotiating the end of conflict with the Museveni regime. And in fact they assembled their fighters in Congo, in a camp near Garamba and what happened was that the Museveni regime attacked those camps with helicopters, using U.S. logistical and intelligence assistance. And that’s why the LRA was driven into Central Africa, where both the LRA and Museveni’s soldiers are actually now committing atrocities against civilians in Central Africa.
But the other reason why the Ugandans were critical of the deployment of U.S. troops in the region that is being promoted by Invisible Children’s “KONY 2012” is they believe the deployment actually helps shore up the Yoweri Museveni dictatorship. And now, in the course of doing our own research at the Black Star News, we’ve discovered Invisible Children has been spying on behalf of the Ugandan regime and actually provided information that led to the arrest of many Ugandans who are accused of being members of a new anti-Museveni insurgency, and many of them are protesting their innocence. And we obtained this information through official memos written by U.S. Embassy officials in Uganda that were leaked by Wikileaks, and that’s what we’re publishing today as well.
KPFA: That was Milton Allimadi, Ugandan American editor of the New York City-based Black Star News. His report, “Invisible Children, Makers of Kony 2012 Spied for Ugandan Regime – Wikileaks,” was posted to the website of the Black Star News, blackstarnews.com, just before this newscast began.
San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News, the Newsline EA (East Africa) and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, Weekend News on KPFA and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story first appeared on her website.
Statement from Black Star News publisher Milton Allimadi
April 10, 2012 – At about 4:30 p.m. today, The Black Star News’ website, www.blackstarnews.com, went down and we couldn’t access our news site.
We immediately contacted our hosting company’s technical department and informed them of the problem. We were informed by the hosting company that the website was being “DDosed,” a word from the term “distributed denial-of-service attack” (DDoS attack).
This is how Wikipedia explains DDoS:
“A denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) or distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) is an attempt to make a computer or network resource unavailable to its intended users. Although the means to carry out, motives for, and targets of a DoS attack may vary, it generally consists of the concerted efforts of a person or multiple people to prevent an Internet site or service from functioning efficiently or at all, temporarily or indefinitely.”
On April 8, 2012, we published a story of interest, “Invisible Children, Makers of KONY 2012, Spied for Ugandan Regime,” which was subsequently reposted by several other news sites and blogs around the world.
Our expose cited memos written in 2009 by U.S. embassy officials in Uganda, including then Ambassador Steven Browning, crediting Invisible Children with providing intelligence information to Ugandan authorities leading to the arrest of a suspected regime opponent named Patrick Komakech (the U.S. memo, dated June 11, 2009, was written by Kathleen FitzGibbon, the political affairs officer, and misspelled that common Ugandan name as Komekech). In addition to Komakech, the Ugandan authorities arrested several other suspects, according to the FitzGibbon memo. The Ugandan government newspaper, The New Vision, later published an article about the arrest, indicating that 10 suspects were being charged with treason, including Komakech.
When we contacted the U.S. Department of State for comment prior to posting our article on April 8, a spokesperson declined, citing standing procedure not to comment on any U.S. memos made available by WikiLeaks. Invisible Children didn’t respond to a phone message left for CEO Ben Keesey seeking comment. An outside PR agency working for Invisible Children also didn’t respond to our inquiries.
We are not sure who is behind the DDoS attack against The Black Star News.
We demand that this attack stop immediately. Once we determine who is behind this disruption of our mission to “Speak Truth to Power” and to provide information to the public we will explore all legal options to the full extent of the law against the responsible party or parties.
This is the second time that The Black Star News has been a victim of apparent DDoS. In September 2011, our website was down for three days. When we finally regained access, an editorial we wrote, which was highly critical of the U.S. and NATO’s military campaign against Libya, had been deleted without our knowledge or permission by an outside party.
We believe that the freedom of the press is a cornerstone of any democratic society. The Black Star News will continue its tradition of vigorous investigative journalism without fear or favor. Any attempt to disrupt our journalistic mission will only strengthen our commitment to “Speak Truth to Power.”
Contact Milton Allimadi at email@example.com or (212) 481-7745.