2011/03/07

Bastille Day in Egypt: Amn Dawla and the coming floods

There's been very little that's hit any mainstream news sources, but the Twitter hashtag #AmnDawla follows an astounding story.

Amn Dawla (أمن الدولة) means "State Security". This is Egypt's equivalent of the Stasi - spying on, controlling, and torturing the citizens of Egypt under Mubarak. And - this is really important - don't forget that the US outsourced most of its torture to Egypt. The CIA kidnaps people off of the streets of cities like Milan, or takes them from battlefields, and then engages in "extraordinary rendition": delivers them to third parties like Egypt to be tortured.

One of the more persistent demands of protestors in this new Egyptian era is for Egypt's "state security" secret police to be disbanded and their members to be prosecuted for their crimes. Upon hearing that state security members were shredding and burning documents, thousands of citizens gathered outside the state security building (or buildings in multiple cities - the story is not clear to me) and once they had sufficient numbers, the army let them through. Inside, they found luxurious accommodations for the officials, torture devices, and files on individual citizens.

Here are some other items:

  • "State Security head thinks he is fucking batman. His business card has no contact info."
  • Information about Western companies like Gamma and Site-ID who sold software to State Security for hacking into Egyptians' email, Skype, and Facebook accounts.
  • Underground detention centers
  • Documents showing that the bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria on December 31, 2010 that killed 24 people, was part of a State Security conspiracy to stop Coptic Christians from protesting. (US Christians: you should know that your tax money is used to attack and kill Christians in Egypt, Palestine, and elsewhere.)
  • Fraud in Chamber of Commerce elections.
  • According to @LilianeKhalil, "Amid the docs liberated from SS hq in Nasr City over the weekend were sexually explicit video tapes of Egyptian public figures. There have also been sexually explicit videos recovered of rape of detainees."

For more, see WL Central on Amn Dawla and the Amn Dawla Leaks twitter feed.

Tainting Egypt's professionals

We can expect that much of the information held by State Security will get out into the open. Since they apparently kept tabs on almost all Egyptian professionals, this means that there will be lots of information - some of it quite private - about many members of Egypt's professional class. There will also be damaging information about members of the ruling classes of Egypt and its neighbours; for example, there appears to be a sex tape of a Kuwaiti princess. This will likely have further destabilizing effects all over the Middle East.

Exposing US and Western complicity

We are also likely to find out lots of juicy details about which Western companies profited from Mubarak's authoritarian regime, especially those who collaborated in spying on and suppressing the Egyptian people. There may also yet be details about people who were given or loaned to the Egyptian government by the US in order to be tortured. Such documents may give us the names of contacts in the US government (including the CIA) who are responsible for such heinous acts. If we are very lucky, Egypt may follow Italy's lead and prosecute US employees in absentia for these crimes.

The US response

As far as I know, the US has not responded to this specific incident, but its response to the waves of unrest in Africa and the Middle East is pretty clear: the US prefers "stability" to democracy. The Wall Street Journal tells us that the Obama administration will support the regime in Bahrain which shot its own people. Aside from Libya, never a US favourite, the US and Israel would prefer to see existing regimes limp on than to see their cozy relationships threatened. The Amn Dawla developments hint at more reasons for the US to prop up the status quo: their partners hold lots and lots of dirt about what the US has done with and for the dictatorships and kingdoms of the region. The exposure of these documents would only increase the effects of Cablegate in awakening and angering civilian populations both over there and in the US and other Western countries.