Accuracy in Media

We?re not great fans of public TV, but the Public Broadcasting Service recently performed a tremendous public service, airing a program titled “Triumph of Evil,” on the role of the Clinton Administration and the U.N. in the 1994 Rwanda genocide. 800,000 people lost their lives. Clinton was exposed as fully knowledgeable about the genocide but deciding not to do anything about it, not even call it genocide.

Some of the most hilarious but tragic scenes are when a Clinton spokeswoman at the U.S. State Department mumbles over her words in a desperate attempt to avoid use of the word. She did eventually concede that “acts of genocide” had taken place but she couldn?t explain how many “acts of genocide” would make up a genocide. It was like a president debating the meaning of the word “is.”

The only thing Clinton did was go to Rwanda years after the genocide and apologize. He made the apology during a three and a half hour stopover on his Africa trip at the Rwandan airport. The engines of Air Force One never shut down. A former U.S. official explained to PBS that Clinton?s policy advisers thought at the time they would lose votes in the Congressional elections in 1994 if they were perceived to be doing nothing about a slaughter that they were drawing attention to. So they decided to do and say nothing. Even a proposal to help fish dead bodies out of Rwandan rivers after the genocide was stonewalled.

U.N. boss Kofi Annan, then U.N. director of peacekeeping, chose not to be interviewed by PBS; he let one of his deputies take the heat for him. But PBS nailed him anyway. As detailed in the program, three months before the genocide, a Canadian general was in charge of a couple thousand U.N. troops in Rwanda. He sent a fax to Kofi Annan?s office, saying he had received evidence from a Rwandan government informant that genocide was being planned, that lists of people were being compiled so they could be exterminated. The informant offered to help U.N. forces in raiding the government weapons stockpiles to be used in the genocide campaign. All that the informant wanted in return was protection for himself and his family.

But the general needed U.N. authorization to conduct such a raid and save lives. He asked for that approval. The answer came back in that fax from Annan?s office—now known as “the genocide fax” – with Annan?s name at the top of the page. It denied authorization for the mission and told him that he should turn the information provided by the confidential witness over to the Rwandan government which was planning the genocide! The result was that the information dried up and the genocide took place.

PBS exposed U.S. and U.N. complicity in a genocide that cost the lives of almost a million people. President Clinton and secretary-general Kofi Annan are both involved. You would think this would lead to calls in the press for official investigations and accountability. Well, you?d be wrong. And we?ll give you that story in our next broadcast.

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