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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-314655 US-Rwanda documents(L-only)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=3/31/04

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=U-S/RWANDA DOCUMENTS (L ONLY)

NUMBER=2-314655

BYLINE=ALEX BELIDA

DATELINE=PENTAGON

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: Newly-released, declassified documents show senior U-S government officials were well-informed about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda --- even though they failed to use the word publicly to justify not intervening to halt the bloodshed. More from V-O-A Correspondent Alex Belida at the Pentagon.

TEXT: Just two weeks after the start of the killings in Rwanda 10 years ago, senior Clinton administration policymakers were told by the Central Intelligence Agency that what was happening in the tiny Central African country was genocide.

The word appears in the C-I-A's April 23rd, 1994 National Intelligence Daily, a top secret intelligence summary delivered to senior U-S policymakers.

Three days later, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research provided more detail. It noted some Hutu extremists were speaking of a "final solution" to eliminate all Tutsis.

It went on to say, quoting now, "the butchery shows no sign of ending."

Despite this and other information flowing into Washington, the Clinton Administration waited until late May to publicly acknowledge that what it termed "acts of genocide" were taking place in Rwanda.

It took then Secretary of State Warren Christopher until early June 1994 to finally use the word "genocide."

Other declassified documents released by the independent National Security Archive of George Washington University show the administration deliberately sought to avoid using the word genocide. Officials feared, in the words of one declassified Pentagon paper, that it "could commit the U-S government to actually do something" under international law--- something the Clinton administration wanted to avoid.

Alison Des Forges is an authority on the 1994 Rwandan genocide with the organization, Human Rights Watch. She tells V-O-A the U-S position was inexcusable.

///DESFORGES ACTUALITY///

A genocide should demand an investment of resources, a level of concern beyond other crises in the world.

///END ACTUALITY///

The administration felt it was militarily overextended elsewhere in the world and that there were no compelling American interests in Rwanda. It also wanted to avoid any repetition of the bloody experiences of U-S peacekeeping troops in Somalia.

The Clinton administration later apologized to the Rwandan people for its failure to do more. In 1998, President Clinton travelled to Kigali and met survivors of the genocide. He said the international community did not act quickly to prevent the massacres. Mr. Clinton also said the international community must bear its share of responsibility for the tragedy. (Signed)

NEB/BEL/PT



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