Dr. Boozman's Check-up

An uprising in the Central African Republic (CAR) has put a wrinkle in the search for elusive war criminal Joseph Kony. The rebels who seized power in the CAR last month have not been recognized by the African Union (AU) and have exhibited hostility toward foreign troops, so Uganda, the AU and the U.S. special forces helping with intelligence and logistical support have halted their search for Kony.

Kony and his rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have caused untold pain to children and families in Central Africa over the past 25 years. It is currently believed that the weakened group is hiding in jungles straddling the borders of CAR, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The LRA is responsible for a litany of human rights violations including abduction, rape, torture and murder all committed under direct orders from Kony, a demented messianic guerilla leader who uses abducted child soldiers to carry out his heinous crimes.

In light of the news that Ugandan and AU troops have suspended their search, human intelligence becomes all the more important in the effort to capture Kony. This is why I am pleased to see the State Department announce a bounty for Kony and two of his top lieutenants. The bounty on Kony increases the chances locals would be willing to provide information that will help lead to his arrest.

The ability to offer a bounty didn’t exist until then-Senator, now Secretary of State John Kerry and a bipartisan group of our Senate colleagues passed a measure to expand the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program making it applicable to anyone who offers information that leads to the arrest or conviction of Joseph Kony. I was the lead Republican sponsor of this effort.

Prior to our successful effort to expand the program, it only applied to information leading to the arrest and conviction of criminals wanted for terrorism, narcotics trafficking and anyone indicted in the three international criminal tribunals—Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda. Our expansion of the program will provide incentives for offering information for individuals wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide; giving us one more instrument to help track this elusive war criminal down.

The key to capturing Kony is not superior firepower. Nor is it more troops. What we have seen time and time again in these manhunts is human intelligence wins out. Somewhere, someone knows his whereabouts and will come forward with information that will lead to his capture. Today’s announcement should help and I welcome it.