Merchant of Death
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Blood from Stones

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Johnson-Sirleaf Offers Little Assurance on Taylor
Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf addressed a joint session of Congress today, but offered only oblique assurances that she will seek the extradition of former strongman Charles Taylor, who not only wreaked incalculable damage on West Africa but also aided and abetted al Qaeda and Hezbollah.

In a followup interview on CNN, she declined to say she would ask Nigeria to extradite Taylor from his luxurious exile to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, but also did not rule it out. She simply said that discussions were ongoing and that U.S. aid was not conditioned on Taylor's extradition.

The key passage of her speech said that "While we seek national unity and reconciliation, we must not sacrifice justice. I respect the life-saving role that our West African neighbors, particularly Nigeria, played at no small cost to them in accepting to host Mr. Charles Taylor. Liberians are deeply grateful. But I say here, as I have said before, Liberia has little option but to see that justice is done in accordance with the requirements of the United Nations and the broad international community."

What does that mean? It is not clear. Johnson-Sirleaf clearly has her hands full with the nation's multiple, seemingly-insurmountable problems. Nothing in her country works, from hospitals to electricity to schools.

But key Congressional leaders are not willing to let the Taylor issue slide, particularly while Johnson-Sirleaf enjoys strong international support and the presence of thousands of UN peacekeepers who can help maintain stability if Taylor can still whip up trouble. She cannot count on Congress not imposing some conditionality on her desperately-needed aid much longer.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-California, is again taking the lead on pressing the Taylor issue.

"Taylor remains a threat to the region and an affront to justice. Many have been waiting for President Johnson-Sirleaf to call President Obasanjo on his commitment. We're still waiting," Royce said. Let's hope the wait is not too long.
Liberia Formally Requests Taylor's Extradition
The Last Dance For Taylor?
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