Super-loyal readers may have been paying attention the afternoon of December 26 when I noted Major Kelley Thibodeau seemingly going off her game to explain that “Officially, we haven’t put anybody in Somalia. The Americans don’t go forward with the Ethiopians. They are training Ethiopians in Ethiopia.” According to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross the truth is that:
U.S. ground forces have been active in Somalia from the start, a senior military intelligence officer confirmed. “In fact,” he said, “they were part of the first group in.”
These ground forces include CIA paramilitary officers who are based out of Galkayo, in Somalia’s semiautonomous region of Puntland, Special Operations forces, and Marine units operating out of Camp Lemonier in Djibouti.
It’s also looking more like that AC-130 strike was directed against some random anti-Ethiopian fighters rather than “an al-Qaeda cell” as per the initial claim. I’m not sure I grasp why the administration prefers to mislead about this stuff. I don’t approve of a policy of having the United States directly insert itself into Ethiopia’s issues with the Islamic Courts Union, but this hasn’t seemed to me to be an incredibly popular position. I would think Bush would be bragging about his involvement in Ethiopia’s swift conquest of Somalia. Perhaps the administration just lies on principle?