Darfur genocide had no legal consequences for U.S.

… according to 2004 State Department Memo – this article contrasts Darfur memo with 1994 finding that application of term to Rwanda would force U.S. to actually do something

Published on The National Security Archives /NSA Electronic Briefing Book No. 356, by Archive Fellow Rebecca Hamilton 202/994-7000, August 17, 2011.

Washington, DC, August 17, 2011 – A secret June 25, 2004 Department of State memo entitled “Genocide and Darfur”, written by William Taft IV (4 pdf-pages), the legal advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell, stated that “a determination that genocide has occurred in Darfur would have no immediate legal–as opposed to moral, political or policy–consequences for the United States.” 

Writing for The Atlantic, National Security Archive Fellow Rebecca Hamilton argues that the memo’s determination that calling the conflict in Darfur genocide would yield no “legal consequences” influenced Secretary of State Colin Powell’s “judgment call” to become the first member of any US administration to apply the label genocide to an ongoing conflict.

The June 25, 2004 memo stands in stark contrast to a secret May 1994 State Department discussion paper on Rwanda (4 pdf-pages) – also declassified in response to a National Security Archive request – which warned that a finding of genocide in Rwanda might obligate the Clinton administration “to actually ‘do something.’” The briefing paper helps explain why, with clear evidence to the contrary, U.S. officials refused to label the massacres of over 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda as genocide.

In her book, Fighting for Darfur, Hamilton interviewed Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Craner, who crafted the State Department’s investigation into whether genocide was occurring in Darfur. He recounted that the Department of State was heavily influenced by massacres in Rwanda a decade earlier. He remembers Powell instructing him, “There is not going to be another Rwanda” … (full text).

Link: The August 1991 Coup in Moscow, 20 Years Later, on NSA, August 19, 2011: Washington D.C., August 19, 2011 -The hardline coup d’etat 20 years ago today in Moscow surprised its plotters with unexpected resistance from Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, from Russian democratic opposition forces, and from the international community including the Bush administration, according to documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University /NSA.org …

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