By Hadijah Uzeiye Namyalo
About a month after Gen. Dwight Eisenhower became the President of the US in 1953, he appointed the pipe-smoking Allen Welsh Dulles as director of the Central Intelligence Agency alias CIA.
The appointment came during heightened tensions between the US and the Soviet Union – Cold War. Arising from those tensions were allegations by Wisconsin Republican senator Joseph McCarthy that Soviet spies had infiltrated the CIA.
Incensed by McCarthy’s claims, the CIA director, Dulles, instructed his agents to break into McCarthy’s senate office and feed him with this information to discredit him ( McCarthy) to stop his investigation of the alleged communist infiltration of the CIA. Such incidents, among others, generated credibility queries about the CIA under the leadership of Dulles.
Thus, the US Senate security sub-committee conducted a thorough but unpublished investigation of the CIA. The Senate obtained hair-raising evidence that some CIA officials willfully told lies under oath (perjury) during the committee hearings.
The CIA director Dulles himself appeared in the executive session before the senate subcommittee and bluntly stated that he had instructed his subordinates to deliberately lie in their sworn testimony before the committee. Members of Congress were shocked to hear that CIA leaders lied to them, yet it was the same Congress that had appropriated the CIA’s then $1bn annual budget for covert operations.
When John Kennedy became president, he couldn’t stomach more of the lies by senior CIA leaders, especially Dulles. Therefore, Kennedy forced Dulles to resign after the embarrassing Bay of Pigs incident in Cuba. Sixty-two years later, since Dulles’s resignation, some of the CIA agents stationed in Kampala were filled with falsehoods, which ended up consumed even by the agency’s head, William Burns. Those falsehoods describe the Commissioner General of the Prison Service, Dr Canon Johnson Byabashaija, as a person involved in torturing prisoners held within the Uganda Prison Service.
Based on the same falsehoods, the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned Dr Can Byabashaija last week, meaning he is barred from entering the US. If he has any assets there, it is frozen.
Accusing Byabashaija of torturing prisoners is analogous to alleging that President Joe Biden conspired with Osama Bin Laden in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.
Byabashaija is a leading advocate of Prisoners’ rights. He has greatly improved the welfare and general treatment of prisoners in Uganda. Before becoming commissioner General of prisons, the Prison conditions were deplorable.
Indeed, the 1996 Kampala declaration on Prison conditions in Africa, signed by 40 African governments, highlighted that prisons were overcrowded, breeding grounds for HIV/AIDS and TB and that prisoners depended on family and charities to provide basics, such as food.
But under Byabashaija’s celebrated leadership, prisoners are fed well, to the extent that a prisoner eats three meals a day – 7:00 am, 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm. Each prisoner eats 680g daily, almost the most significant quantity on the African continent.
He has made sure that there are no more incidents of starvation in Uganda prisons. Byabashaija should be commended for kicking starvation from Uganda prisons, aware that in January this year, a 51-year-old American, Larry Price, died of malnutrition and acute dehydration at the Sebastian County jail in Arkansas, United States.
Byabashaija has achieved food security for prisoners by expanding and establishing new Prison farms like Orom Tikao. He is now overseeing the construction of a 4,000 metric tonneau grain silo in Gulu and Ruima, western Uganda.
The same Byabashaija, whom the CIA is labelling a violator of prisoners’ rights, is being hunted by terrorists because of his central role in apprehending their colleagues suspected of planning to bomb US facilities in Uganda, like they attacked the American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya on August 7, 1998.
It is, therefore, a pity that the US has decided to reward Byabashaija that way.
The writer, Hadijah Uzeiye Namyalo is a senior presidential adviser, political affairs, and Manager of the Office of the National Chairman-NRM/National Coordinator Bazzukulu.