This is hot stuff: Some of my regular readers may remember back in March when I discussed and linked to a November speech by Theresa Whelan, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for African affairs in the context of a discussion of whether the US had any advance knowledge of the Equatorial Guinea coup plot. The October 4th International edition of Newsweek, just up on the web, is reporting that British security consultant named Gregory Wales went up to Whelan after the speech and set up a February meeting in which he tipped her off about the coming coup attempt.
The International Peace Operations Association has a lot more clout at the Pentagon than the name might suggest. Calling itself an "association of military-service provider companies," it's the closest thing in Washington to a lobbying group for soldiers of fortune. At the outfit's annual dinner last November, the guest speaker was Theresa Whelan, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for African affairs, from the policy directorate headed by Douglas Feith, the controversial under secretary of Defense. Whelan's topic: the U.S. government's increasing use of private military contractors, especially in Africa.
That evening and its aftermath are raising awkward new questions about a botched coup attempt this year in sub-Saharan Africa's third largest oil producer. . . .
The Pentagon insists it had no advance knowledge of any plot against Obiang. Nevertheless, the audience at Whelan's speech included a British security consultant named Gregory Wales—now one of six defendants in a lawsuit filed by Obiang's attorneys in London against the alleged plotters. Wales gave Whelan his card after the speech, and later called to request a face-to-face chat. The meeting came in mid- to late February, according to a Defense official, who says, "Mr. Wales mentioned in passing, as part of a larger unrelated discussion of African issues, that there might be some trouble brewing in Equatorial Guinea. Specifically, he had heard from some business associates of his that wealthy citizens of the country were planning to flee in case of a crisis." The official adds that Wales's mention of Equatorial Guinea was "such a general remark about one troubled country in a troubled region, there was no reason to follow up on it, and Ms. Whelan did not."
This is one of the few journalistic attempt to trace the US roots of the coup attempt. I wonder what will come of it.