Thursday, June 19, 2008

U.S. Ambassador Takes on Dictator

Grim reports of torched homes, gangs of ax-wielding thugs and sinister "re-education centers" have been popping up lately in the cities of Zimbabwe, suggesting that a government-orchestrated intimidation campaign against opposition voters may be shifting from the countryside into urban centers in the run-up to a historic election next week.

The world knows about this, in part, because of a blunt-talking Vietnam vet with Chicago roots named James McGee.

Early Wednesday, for example, McGee drove to a tense slum in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. At no trifling risk, he said he watched young backers of President Robert Mugabe round up about 500 men, women and children. The militants marched the terrified crowd down a road to a field, where they were forced to chant pro-Mugabe slogans. Laggards were brutally assaulted with clubs and tire irons.

McGee and his companions discreetly shot some video. But he is no journalist. Nor is he an aid worker. Nor a rights activist. He's the startlingly assertive U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe...
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