JIM CREES: Tell me who your friends are, Pat

In a continuing attempt to keep readers better informed, I offer a column I’ll entitle “The Other Side of the Story ... The One You Probably Didn’t Know Anyway.”

This edition is dedicated to fans of the “700 Club.”

Just recently, former Liberian president Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment by a panel of judges sitting for the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Taylor was indicted, tried, found guilty and sentenced for assisting arming and supporting some of the most vicious and violent rebels in Sierra Leone. In return for his support, Taylor was paid off with “blood diamonds.”

The sentence imposed will most likely see Taylor die in prison. He is 64 years old.

During the trial it was revealed that Taylor shipped arms, ammunition and other supplies to rebels in Sierra Leone. It was also proved that he had full knowledge how the rebels were using his support.

Rebels in Sierra Leone regularly forced children to fight in roving bands, murdered children in front of their parents and killed mothers in front of their children.

The rebels also used rape as a weapon — forcing parents to watch as gangs raped their daughters to death.

Another widely used technique of terror in Sierra Leone was called “short sleeving” in which victims hands and arms were lopped off with machetes — often just for the heck of it. Thousands of civilians were so mutilated during an almost ten-year civil war that ended in 2002. Estimates are that during the violence some 50,000 were killed.

According to the Associated Press:

“The sentence came a month after Taylor became the first former head of state since World War II to be convicted by an international court. Judges found him guilty of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, torture and the use of child soldiers.”

So, that’s the story. Maybe you heard about it.

What’s the story I’ll bet you didn’t know?

Well, Taylor’s Best Friend Forever in these United States is conservative evangelist Pat Robertson.

Pat Robertson did everything he could to protect Taylor, even while the crimes were on-going and already well-revealed throughout the world.

Robertson knew about Taylor, and he still supported him.

In fact, Taylor often called Robertson “my man in Washington.”

What did Robertson get out of this “friendship”?

Liberian gold mining concessions.

Gold mining concessions to Robertson, (and others), insured that Taylor would have strong and influential lobbying teams working for him in Washington, Despite the fact that Taylor’s crimes against humanity were already becoming well known.

On the stand, Taylor even testified that Robertson had actually suggested he would take up Liberia’s “problems” with the highest of high officials in both the Clinton and Bush administrations

Taylor revealed that Robertson’s company, Freedom Gold Unlimited had “signed an agreement to exploit gold in southeastern Liberia ...”

Robertson, for his part, has claimed in the press that “this concession was granted by the Liberian government to promote economic activity ...”

Freedom Gold was a company based in the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach, Va. - but actually registered in the Cayman Islands. (Go figure!) Truth be known, Freedom Gold is now defunct.

But whatever the case, Robertson was no Shrinking Violet when it came to supporting his buddy back in the day.

While Taylor’s troops, and his rebel buddies in Sierra Leone, were pinning men, women, and children, (even babies), to tree stumps and hacking off their arms and legs, Rev. Pat was furious at the U.S. for “undermining a Christian Baptist president trying to bring down Muslim rebels.”

Robertson even said the war crimes indictment was “nonsense and should be quashed.”

It’s interesting ... a man so wholly and totally wrapped up in making sure everyone else is toeing the moral line, can so openly and obviously ignore the line himself.

Taylor’s crimes were already well know when he and Robertson signed an agreement entitled “Mineral Development Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and Freedom Gold Limited.”

Taylor was already walking on thin ice then.

Robertson knew it ... and ignored it in his drive for more personal wealth.

Problem is Robertson’s version of truth, justice and the American way is oddly skewed ...in his favor.

Seems an earlier evangelist spoke of preachers like Robertson.

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

“Ye shall know them by their fruits.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” - Matthew 7: 15-21

Tell me who your friends are, Pat, and I’ll tell you who you are.