Freeing rapists and covering up a massacre: Kristie Kenney’s PR work.

As the news of the Kandahar Massacre circles the globe, the eyes of the international community are once again scrutinising the USA’s dubious and often appalling human rights record – particularly when they are intervening/invading in some foreign country.

From urinating on corpses, drones bringing mass slaughter to wedding parties, death squads murdering completely innocent, unarmed teenagers and the unprovoked and brutal assassination of children asleep in their beds the USA’s intervention in Afghanistan has descended into pure terror. As President Ronald Reagan's former NSA Director and 3 Star General William Odom once put it “Terrorism is not an enemy. It is a tactic.”

Of course the chance of US soldiers facing a court in Afghanistan is absolutely zero. Without doubt the soldier responsible will be evacuated out of the country to face possible court-martial in the US. Regardless of the justice meted out there the Afghan people, including the families of the dead children, will not have their day in court.

But impunity and a complete disregard for local people within the countries they serve was always the way for the US military. And Thais should look no further than the present US Ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenney, for a perfect example of this.

Previously I’ve written about the Subic rape case here. In brief, a US Marine serving in the Philippines was convicted in a Philippine court of raping a local woman. The US government, however, refused, despite the overwhelming evidence at that time, to accept the conviction and the Marine was rushed to the protection of the US Embassy compound and never served a day of his sentence. The US hid the convicted Marine behind something called the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) – a legal device very similar to colonial-era laws where the dominant nation refuses to acknowledge the jurisdiction of local laws. Eventually under very dubious circumstances – with payoffs and the victim being granted US citizenship – the Marine won an appeal.

At that time Kristie Kenney was the US Ambassador to the Philippines. When I wrote my original piece the Embassy wikileaks cables relating to that period had not yet been released. They were last year and it’s fair to say, after reading them, that Kristie Kenney played a significant role in freeing this rapist and making sure that opposition to this abrogation of Philippine sovereignty by elected Filipino law-makers was stymied. (A list of cables involving Kenney and the Subic rape case can be found here)

Some of Kenney’s interventions have a deeply cynical taint to them and begin with a cable written by Kenney and entitle “Handling The Marine "rape" Case -- Next Steps” dated 27 April 2006. Kenney writes -

“Through our repeated public statements and in our private conversations with senior GRP [Government of Republic of Philippines] officials and members of the Philippine Congress, we have continued to steer a steady course that protects the rights of the four Marines...”

When set against the almost complete silence that Kenney has encouraged in the case of imprisoned US blogger (hear about her attempt to stop difficult questions by the Thai media here), Joe Gordon, someone she has never visited despite his being in prison only a 30minute drive from Kenney’s palatial house in downtown Bangkok, her evident enthusiasm to help free those charged with rape is extraordinary and very revealing.

In another cable Kenney bemoans the “sensational” media coverage at the time of the rape, dismisses feminists protesters as “token” and lays out a plan in case of a guilty verdict – in this scenario “Any Marines found guilty will remain in Embassy custody.”

One has to wonder if Kenney raised her intervention in the Subic rape case and her dismissal of Filipino feminists during her recent Embassy-hosted “International Women’s Day” party? Given her cynicism the answer can only be a resounding no.

In this cable Kenney lays out the services afforded to the US Marine, Lance Corporal Smith, who has by now been found guilty of rape, and makes sure his rights are being respected. In a section entitled “EMBASSY PROVIDES SIGNIFICANT SUPPORT” Kenney writes

“[Smith] is currently in a CONEX-type trailer, with basic amenities and access to fitness and sports facilities. Representatives from the III Marine Expeditionary Forces supervise him at all times.  The Regional Security Office has spent significant time and resources ensuring Smith's safety and security, including during Smith's appearances in court and, more recently, during Smith's hospital visits for minor procedures. American Citizen Services officers, who attended all trial sessions, have also kept close watch over the case, liaising with Smith's family and ensuring Smith's rights as a U.S. citizen are respected.”

Set against the conditions Joe Gordon has been kept in and that, unlike Smith, Joe committed his “crime” on US soil, the difference in treatment that Kenney helped secure is staggering. No matter how abhorrent the crime, impunity for serving members of US military seems to be paramount for Kenney. A blogger offering up a translation of Yale University book are entirely secondary. If only Joe Gordon had been a US Marine rapist.

Kenney reveals in another cable her personal concerns for the convicted US Marine rapist’s welfare –

Renewed high-level judicial and political focus on the rape case of Marine Lance Corporal Daniel J. Smith has underscored the profound importance of this issue ... for LCpl Smith's future.

But it is in a cable entitled INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE ELECTION Kenney’s cynicism really comes to the fore. Here the present US Ambassador discusses Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, an experienced and committed Filipino law-maker who is perceived as being anti the VFA which has kept Smith out of prison and grants the US military almost complete impunity.

Kenney writes –

Senator Santiago is a vocal advocate for justice, human rights, and the rule of law.  She is a passionate crusader against government corruption, and in the rough and noisy world of Philippine politics, has remained untainted by corruption scandals.

Kenney then adds

In late 2005, [Santiago] initiated a Congressional move to abrogate the agreement after the U.S. government turned down the Philippines' request for custody over the four servicemen accused in the controversial November 2005 Subic rape case.

However, and very strangely, Kenney then recounts Santiago’s opposition suddenly being dropped

“After a briefing at the U.S. Embassy and a visit to the accused servicemen, Senator Santiago dropped her efforts to abrogate the VFA.”

We’ll never know what was in that “briefing” but given the USA and Kenney’s obvious desperation in making sure the convicted rapist never faced a day in prison and that the important strategic US-Philippines military alliance, conditional on the VFA, held, we can only speculate.

Kenney finished out her days in the Philippines taking part in the “papaya dance” on national TV and making bitchy comments about elected Filipino politicians behind closed doors.

In Thailand she’s spent her time making sure that no progressive voices in Thai politics are arrayed against the US. This is despite the US being a huge supporter of the same Thai Army that has repeatedly crushed Thai democracy and murdered Thai nationals, often with US weapons and using US training methods. Publicly, she has spent more time taking part in tacky Tatler photo shoots than addressing the human rights of US nationals like Joe Gordon and seems content that the US-armed/trained Thai Army maintains its impunity. From rapists to those who arm murderers and on to the jailing of US bloggers there is very little Kristie Kenney won’t utilise her formidable PR skills in support of.

Maybe Kenney now needs to get on a plane to Kabul? Unfortunately though, there’s no Afghan Tatler for her to appear in. There is, however, a US Army murderer for her to save.

I don't think that Kenney is

I don't think that Kenney is any worse than, say, Boyce...

If an AmCit were to be charged with lese majeste, it is likely that a low key approach outside the public eye would stand the best chance of success in getting him or her out of custody and out of Thailand.

Kenney is certainly a bigger media profile at which to shoot, but she took the tack on lese majeste in reality which Boyce condoned in theory. Any American ambassador would work to see American rapists and murderers abroad - especially those in uniform - safely delivered home.

The problem is not with the messengers it's the message : US imperialism and US governments' willingness to have its response to American citizens' 'difficulties' abroad defined exclusively by its own perceived interests. This is 'just' another case of the banality of evil, to use the phrase coined by Hannah Arendt.

Looking for those living within the truth among the apparatchiks - of any nation - is a waste of time.

I'm truly confounded - these

I'm truly confounded - these same people you rightfully accuse of imperialism are literally keeping Prachatai's doors open and lights on with millions of baht year to year as well as fully backing Nitirat, the UDD and Thaksin himself through Western media, Washington & London lobbying, funding, and organizational assistance (USAID, NDI, IRI).

Unlike US Ambassadors who are a mixed bag of yes-men, yes-women, and occasionally ones with operational capacity like McFaul in Russia, the people funding Prachatai and backing Thaksin and his UDD are the very worst amongst America's political landscape. We are talking warmongers like Kenneth Adelman, Francis Fukuyama, Zalmay Khalilzad, Will Marshall, and Vin Weber - men who have demonstratively supported vicious chapters in America's global imperial expansion.

So either you are mistaken about the depravity of these people - which I don't think is the case, or you are mistaken about Prachatai, Nitirat, and the UDD who have clearly and successfully preyed on your good intentions.

Strangely, this Kony 2012 racket that is now being fully exposed as a propaganda stunt - is supported by the very same networks that stand behind Prachatai, including Amnesty International, Freedom House, Hollywood and the Western media - exposing them as all malicious liars and frauds - just as I've been saying all along.

Or do you John, and I highly doubt it, support AFRICOM's endless expansion in Africa to hunt "Kony" when current dictator for life Museveni in Uganda is guilty of ten times the criminality but with the difference of completely selling out Thaksin or Hun Sen style to the West?

Perhaps, but my wife likes to

Perhaps, but my wife likes to say, "If you are going to compare yourself, compare to something good and not something bad." Point - use a different example than Boeing's former US ambassador to Thailand. These people have a great deal of expertise in what make the wheel go round without knowing where the cart is heading.

Thanks for comments JFL and

Thanks for comments JFL and FGA

I revisited the Kristie Kenney story because I felt her hypocrisy was particular brazen after she hosted an International Women's Day party last week. I would challenge anyone to read the Subic cables and come to any other conclusion than that Kenney was going to do all in her power to protect and rescue the US Marines charged with rape even if they were convicted. Her sneering and dismissive comments about feminist protesters during the Subic trial are also hardly indicative of someone committed to women's rights. I referenced some small portions from the cables but there is a lot more in there.

Kenney's mouthings about 112 have been tiny and ineffective. She hasn't even made a low-key visit to see Joe, something which she could do without rousing too much comment. And, just because the PAD attacked her (did two things ever deserve each other more than the US Embassy and the PAD?) doesn't then mean her record shouldn't be scrutinised by 'progressives'.

Our capacity to be decieved

Our capacity to be decieved is sometimes disconcerting.

I do not care to know why it is that anyone would expect anything different from the USA, though in fairness, almost any country you might nominate will have just as many ugly skeletons rattling away in the closet somewhere.

Thais do not have the monopoly on deceit, impunity and effrontery, whoever might say different, but they are points in commonality with the USA that go part way to explaining why they get on so well together. When people refer to the USA as 'the great Satan', it is sometimes difficult not to find reasons to argue with them.

Personally I think Kenney is just a dumb twitter blonde on the make (one of many); her history is sufficient for her to be on the dole queue in any self-respecting country that values principle. Given that she works for the USA and is dishonest enough to get on famously with Thais, I should iamagine her future is bright indeed, we people don't seem to very discriminating these days...


Still, lets look on the bright side. The economic collapse they engineered with their greed and dishonesty and then managed to export throughout the world a few years ago has not yet finished with the USA economy. The USA is finished as the worlds number one nation - a prospect I regard with particular glee. I will be very happy to see the day when they have to go with their begging bowl to China. That fine day is not far off.

"When people refer to the USA

"When people refer to the USA as 'the great Satan', it is sometimes difficult not to find reasons to argue with them."

Oops. I won't pretend its satire and it wasn't a freudian slip either. It was a blunder.

Isn't it obvious by now that

Isn't it obvious by now that "Chicken on a stick Kenney" has forgotten about Joe Gordon? Once she confiscated Joe's US passport, she probably thought that her duty as US ambassador was done.

Disgraceful and shameful.

Did I miss something? Was

Did I miss something? Was Joe's passport revoked by the U.S.? Tell us more.

And, what has happened to the prosecutor's appeal? They were given until 8 March to appeal Joe's "light" sentence. What happened?

Hilariously - this same US

Hilariously - this same US State Department funds Prachatai and a myriad of linked NGOs as well as the National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House to support UDD, Nitirat, and of course Thaksin.

While it is true that the US has given funds to the Thai military and does indeed train with them - Spooner fails utterly to illustrate what agenda if any the Thai military is helping the US execute - aside from 40 years ago during the attempted recolonization of Indochina. Remember, the US also funds the Pakistani military while concurrently and OPENLY seeking to divide the country up.

The funding is to buy off sects of officers within the military and assess the military's strategic posture, even if the current vector sum of the military works against US interests. The US often admits recipients of its military aid willfully play the US for more funding while doing increasingly less jumping through hoops erected for US interests.

Spooner treads a precarious path trying to account for America's overt hypocrisy and very real atrocities, while attempting to remain blissfully ignorant that the activism here in Thailand he supports is fully compromised if not entirely contrived by the very people he tries to expose - in fact the very worst of American policy makers & shakers (PNAC for instance)!

We know for a fact that Prachatai, the UDD, and Thaksin himself are working in tandem with US interests. What about the Thai military and how does Spooner account for Freedom House, NED, the CFR, and Soros' organizations smearing the military and monarchy on a daily basis if they are in bed together?

Is it possible that sects within the military are working with the US? Sure - sects are openly working for Thaksin - some even led by his own family members. Spooner needs to either back up his innuendos with facts or reform his statements. Wishful thinking and blissful ignorance have no place in journalism.

Please advise readers the

Please advise readers the status of Joe Gordon's application for a royal pardon. You several weeks ago reported that the government was repeatedly blocking Gordon's application by repeatedly filing in court an extension of time for the government to appeal his sentence as too light. As long as the court repeatedly grants these extensions --three so far-- Gordon's case is not "final" and Gordon can not apply to the King for a pardon. So please advise us readers if the government is continuing to block Gordon's appeal to the king by means of the aforementioned ledgerdemain.