home | about | documents | news | postings | FOIA | research | internships | search | donate | mailing list

The U.S. and the Genocide in Rwanda 1994

Information, Intelligence and the U.S. Response

by William Ferroggiaro

March 24, 2004


Who Produced the Information?

I. Diplomacy
II. Intelligence Agencies
III. Defense and Military
Who Used the Information?
More on the Rwanda Genocide
The US and the Genocide in Rwanda 1994
Evidence of Inaction

The U.S. and the Genocide in Rwanda 1994
The Assassination of the Presidents and the Beginning of the "Apocalypse"



Ten years ago this week, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Prudence Bushnell visited Rwanda and Burundi. Her visit-one of many visits by State Department and Defense Department officials in the preceding year-served dual purposes: to pressure Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, his government and opposition groups to form a transitional government and to gather information for policymakers back home. Such diplomatic activity was emblematic of the resources and attention committed to Rwanda despite its relative unimportance to U.S. interests.

In their hour-long meeting, Bushnell told Habyarimana that "Rwanda was in an historic transition, one which historians would record as being glorious, or ignominious and tragic." She observed that U.S. support of UN peacekeeping in Rwanda was in jeopardy and that "Rwanda was losing funding" from the U.S. "with each day of delay". Both Bushnell and her colleague, Central Africa office director Arlene Render, registered their "deep concern over the mounting violence in Rwanda", as well as "the distribution of arms and arms caches". While the president had earlier dismissed the power-sharing agreement to his followers (Note 1), he told his U.S. visitors that he "supported the Arusha Accord and would continue to do so" but was "greatly disquieted" by the "current political atmosphere". The next day, the officials met with rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front leaders who "blamed the President for the impasse". Document 1 Kigali 01316, 25 Mar 94

Bushnell and Render's immediate efforts were in vain. Two weeks later, upon returning from a regional summit, the plane carrying Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down as it approached Kigali, effectively kicking off a genocide. From April to July 1994, Hutu extremists in the Rwandan government, military and militias killed more than 500,000 Rwandan Tutsi and moderate Hutu in an attempt to preserve a chauvinistic, one-party state and prevent the establishment of the transition government called for in the 1993 Arusha Accords. However, Bushnell's visit served to educate her and U.S. officials about the situation in Rwanda, such that she understood and so informed Secretary of State Warren Christopher that the assassination of the two presidents would lead to "widespread violence…in either or both countries". (Note 2)

As horrific as the killing was in Rwanda, the U.S. did not see its interests affected enough to launch unilateral intervention. President Clinton himself best articulated his Administration's calculus during D-Day commemorations in France on June 7 saying of U.S. humanitarian relief efforts on Rwanda "I think that is about all we can do at this time when we have troops in Korea, troops in Europe, the possibility of new commitments in Bosnia if we can achieve a peace agreement, and also when we are working very hard to try to put the U.N. agreement in Haiti back on track, which was broken." (Note 3) While some countries argued early for action, few actually ever brought any means to bear-the "lack of resources and political commitment" was "a failure by the United Nations system as a whole" as the Independent Inquiry on the UN noted. (Note 4) The U.S. did not encourage a UN response because it saw two potential outcomes: the authorization of a new UN force and a new mandate without the means to implement either; and worse, the very real possibility of the U.S. having to bail out a failed UN mission. For the recently-burned Clinton Administration, this looked like Somalia redux.

Nevertheless, throughout the crisis, considerable U.S. resources-diplomatic, intelligence and military-and sizable bureaucracies of the U.S. government-were trained on Rwanda. This system collected and analyzed information and sent it up to decision-makers so that all options could be properly considered and 'on the table'. Officials, particularly at the middle levels, sometimes met twice daily, drafting demarches, preparing press statements, meeting or speaking with foreign counterparts and other interlocutors, and briefing higher-ups. Indeed, the story of Rwanda for the U.S. is that officials knew so much, but still decided against taking action or leading other nations to prevent or stop the genocide. Despite Rwanda's low ranking in importance to U.S. interests, Clinton Administration officials had tremendous capacity to be informed--and were informed--about the slaughter there; as noted author Samantha Power writes "any failure to fully appreciate the genocide stemmed from political, moral, and imaginative weaknesses, not informational ones." (Note 5)

This report examines the information and intelligence resources available to and relied upon by policymakers during the Rwanda crisis. It also highlights the structure and personalities of U.S. decision-making during that late spring of 1994 when hundreds of thousands were killed as the U.S. and other nations stood by.

Who Produced the Information?

I. Diplomacy

Foreign Service Officers are a key source of what policymakers know about the world. In a sense, each diplomat abroad serves as a collector of information reporting back to the embassy, to the relevant offices, bureau, agency or top levels of the State Department. This information is then shared further within the government. During the Rwanda crisis, except for the rapid closure of the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, the system of regional and global information collection reported dutifully in real-time back to policymakers.

The Role of the Embassy
Embassies, depending on the importance of the mission, are comprised of officers from the Department of State and other U.S. Departments and agencies with essentially two-fold responsibility: representing U.S. interests abroad and reporting back to Washington on events in the 'host country'.

Given the minor U.S. stake in Rwanda, U.S. Embassy Kigali in 1993-1994 was a small mission, lacking a separate political officer, its own CIA representative or its own defense attaché. However, due to Rwanda's sizable humanitarian needs, it did have a US Agency for International Development (USAID) representative. Consequently, two people-U.S. Ambassador David Rawson and Deputy Chief of Mission Joyce Leader-were the primary 'eyes and ears' for policymakers on Rwanda. When U.S. officials locked the Embassy and evacuated from Rwanda on April 10th as ordered by Department of State officials, Washington policymakers lost both this ground-level view and the capacity to influence events in Rwanda.

In the course of its work, the Embassy reported on political events and personalities, focusing, as governments do, on official actors. While Ambassador Rawson's primary interlocutors were Rwandan government officials, he also devoted significant time to Rwanda's fledgling political parties in order to effect the transition government called for in the 1993 Arusha Accords. In the following telegram, Ambassador Rawson forwards his analysis to Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs George Moose, just five days before the genocide's start. He informs Moose, who's meeting with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni in nearby Kampala, that while "the sides are inching towards each other", "our major fear is that the relative calm which has characterized Kigali the last couple of weeks will not hold". Document 2 Kigali 01458, 1 Apr 94

Embassies also transmit information back to Washington as part of 'reporting requirements' on topics agreed with the State Department or other bureaucratic information 'consumers'. In the following February 1994 cable, Embassy Kigali comments on the impending disarmament, integration and demobilization of government and rebel forces as required under the Arusha Accords, warning that the military could respond in three ways: it "adjusts to and accepts its new role"; there is "a mutiny among lower-level officers"; or "a coup either by those in support of the president" or by those "frustrated with the political impasse (which they blame on the president)." Document 3 Kigali 00750, 17 Feb 94

U.S. Embassies in the Region
Among its other responsibilities, the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, Uganda monitored and served as a contact point with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel organization of Rwandan exiles who'd fled to Uganda beginning with the violent independence period of 1959-1962. The RPF invaded Rwanda in 1990, but was repelled only to try again in 1993, largely in response to politically-inspired massacres of Tutsi inside Rwanda. With the onset of the genocide in April 1994, the RPF launched into Rwanda; by mid-July, it had forced the genocidal regime out of Rwanda. On October 4, 1993, a day before the UN Security Council authorized a UN mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), RPF representatives met with U.S. Ambassador Johnnie Carson to criticize Rwandan President Habyarimana's "attempt to dilute the responsibilities of cabinet positions given to the RPF and opposition parties as a part of the Arusha agreement". As recorded in this October 6 telegram, they also noted the delay in the arrival of a neutral international force and inquired as to whether the U.S. would contribute troops. Presaging the international response eight months later, Ambassador Carson replied that delays were due to "concerns about the precise mission of the force and budget pressures", noting that "the UN and its member states just have other preoccupations these days." Document 4 Kampala 07873, 6 Oct 93

As Tanzania hosted and mediated the contentious negotiations for power-sharing in Rwanda, culminating in the Arusha Accords, U.S. Embassy Dar es Salaam reporting complemented the reporting from Kigali and Kampala. Even during the crisis, with tens of thousands of Rwandans pouring over the border, the Tanzanian government attempted to restart negotiations between the RPF and the interim government of Rwanda. In his May 18 cable to the State Department, U.S. Ambassador Peter De Vos characterized the Tanzanians' latest effort to bring together the two sides-and Rwandan military, political and religious leaders, regional presidents, and UN, OAU and other observers-as "more than just summoning the RPF and GOR to sign a piece of paper" with "a far greater chance of success" than previous attempts. Document 5 Dar es Salaam 03106, 18 May 94

In October 1993, Burundian Tutsi military officers attempted a coup, killing the first popularly-elected Hutu president and sparking weeks of violence and thousands of deaths. Rwandan leaders and public alike paid close attention to events in Burundi, not least because of the thousands of refugees that each country's violence had pitched onto the other's poor soil. U.S. Embassy Bujumbura's reporting yielded particular insight for Rwanda-watchers. The following telegram reports on Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Bushnell's late March 1994 meeting in Bujumbura with new Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira just weeks before he and Rwandan President Habyarimana are killed. Presciently, Ntaryamira told Bushnell "the logic of war has overtaken the desire for peace" in Burundi. Document 6 Bujumbura 01026, 26 Mar 94

Zaire, the key central African country and a Cold War partner of the U.S., factored into the Rwanda situation as well. Rwandan President Habyarimana and Zairean president Mobutu maintained close relations-U.S. officials believed that Mobutu helped scuttle agreements between the Rwandan government and the rebel RPF and had facilitated arms shipments to the genocidal forces. This April 15 telegram from U.S. Embassy Kinshasa reports "muted" reaction in Kinshasa to the events in Rwanda, but also Mobutu's fantastic claims that the presidents' plane crash "was part of a larger plot to destabilize the region". Document 7 Kinshasa 02123, 15 Apr 94

U.S. Embassies in Paris, Brussels, and Ottawa
U.S. embassies in France, Belgium and Canada provided another important source of information for U.S. policymakers. As former colonial powers in Rwanda and the region, Belgium and France both had their interests in Rwanda. Mindful of these interests, U.S. officials nevertheless made use of information and analysis gained from these longstanding ties. After April 10, information shared by French, Belgian and Canadian sources was especially useful to U.S. officials: although the U.S. Embassy and almost all American citizens had evacuated out of Rwanda, the other Western embassies (France, Belgium, Canada, Germany and the Papal Nuncio) remained open for a period and continued to report back to their capitals.

While a longstanding ally of the U.S., France was also Rwanda's patron, it trained Rwanda's military, and French President Francois Mitterand and President Habyarimana had maintained close ties. Consequently, French views on Rwanda figured significantly to U.S. policymakers, beginning with the U.S.'s initial involvement as facilitator of June 1992 peace talks between the Rwandan government and the RPF. This partially censored May 11 telegram provides U.S. Embassy Paris' perspective on France's role in the crisis, noting "French objectives in Rwanda are, in fact, close to ours", particularly the call for a ceasefire. "In the absence of a media campaign or parliamentary prodding", the Embassy argues, "there is little pressure on the GOF to act". Document 8 Paris 13062, 11 May 94 That dynamic would change shortly, and France would launch its controversial Operation Turquoise intervention into Rwanda on June 22.

U.S. Embassy Brussels reported on the Belgium government's response in Rwanda, particularly the acute Belgian reaction to the April 8th killing of 10 of its soldiers serving in the UNAMIR force. This May 13th telegram reports on a trilateral meeting of senior U.S., French and Belgian officials that day in which U.S. Africa secretary George Moose urged that "cross border operations, protection of border enclaves…must be implemented" to protect civilians and to "increase the chances of a durable ceasefire." During the meeting, both Moose and Belgian foreign ministry secretary Lode Willems specifically identified enclaves of endangered people for their counterparts. Document 9 Brussels 05369, 13 May 94

Prior to the May 17 UN vote to authorize an increased UNAMIR force, Canada indicated it would contribute further to the mission-having already provided UNAMIR commander Gen. Dallaire, his small Canadian contingent, and the only aircraft flying in and out of Kigali. This May 13 U.S. Embassy Ottawa cable reports on Canada's role, including Prime Minister Jean Chretien's offer "to commit additional troops" to a potential UN reinforcement of UNAMIR. The Embassy also reports on Canada's recent initiative for a special session of the UN Human Rights Commission and notes that "The crisis in Rwanda continues to receive front-page press coverage and high-level political attention in Canada." Document 10 Ottawa 02546, 13 May 94

U.S. Mission to the United Nations (USUN) in New York
Given their unique vantage point and the locus of the international response at the UN, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York played a crucial role in U.S. policy, both as information source and policy implementer, and was significantly more engaged on Rwanda than other parts of the U.S. government. USUN gathered information from the Rwandan government, which the General Assembly had elected to the Security Council for the 1994-95 term; from RPF representatives; from the UN Secretariat, including Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, his advisors and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), headed by then-Under Secretary General Kofi Annan; from representatives of France, Belgium, Canada and other states with interests in Rwanda; and from New York-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private voluntary organizations (PVOs) with associates active in Rwanda.

For example, in preparation for April 20th 'informal' Security Council discussions on Rwanda, USUN political officers drew on information from the UN Secretariat about the Secretary General's upcoming report on Rwanda and the status of UNAMIR forces. According to an April 20th briefing memo, they also heard from a Nigerian representative who, referring to the UN response on Bosnia, declared that "Nigeria could not understand how the West could contemplate reinforcing UNPROFOR and withdrawing UNAMIR at the same time." Document 11 USUN Memo, 20 Apr 94 This April 28th memo provides background for U.S. ambassador Madeleine Albright in her meeting with RPF representative Claude Dusaidi. Written just one week after the U.S. voted to cut UN forces in Rwanda, USUN officials acknowledge "the vast majority of the civilians who have been slaughtered in Rwanda are Tutsis" and acknowledge the RPF has "not been responsible for the atrocities." Document 12 USUN memo, 28 Apr 94 Ambassador Albright also met with UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali on the issue. On May 4, Boutros-Ghali told Ambassador Albright "forces for Rwanda would be available" if the U.S. could make a "substantial contribution" to a special peacekeeping fund for Rwanda; Albright deferred to await instructions from Washington. That same day, the Secretary General's military advisor Gen. Baril "requested planning information relating to potential U.S. assistance for a UN operation in Rwanda" according to a USUN cable to Washington. Document 13 USUN 01898, 5 May 94 USUN officials ensured that such cables were distributed to offices concerned with Africa and peacekeeping at the State Department, National Security Council, Joint Staff and Department of Defense.

U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva
In that Geneva is the headquarters of numerous governmental and non-governmental humanitarian agencies, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva also yielded information up to Washington policymakers. For example, in Geneva U.S. officials had regular access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the lone humanitarian agency to remain in Rwanda throughout the genocide. Geneva hosted the special session on May 24-25 of the UN Human Rights Commission, at which the U.S. delegation acknowledged that "acts of genocide" had occurred in Rwanda. Geneva was also the headquarters of the recently-established UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, whose first representative visited Rwanda in early May. This April 30 telegram reports on a meeting of a working group established to address Rwanda's humanitarian crisis, noting "up to half a million people" could flee to Tanzania. Document 14 Geneva 04082, 30 Apr 94

The Role of the Department of State
The Department of State is charged with developing, directing and executing the foreign policy of the United States. Due to these responsibilities, State had more information and more experts at hand than any other government entity. Consequently, Department officials played important roles in the U.S. response on Rwanda. First, the State Department is the hub to which overseas diplomatic missions report. Second, it maintains country desks (e.g., Rwanda and Burundi) and regional (e.g., Africa) and functional (e.g., Human Rights, Intelligence and Research, or Politico-Military Affairs) bureaus that were engaged on Rwanda. Third, it hosts visitors from other countries. Fourth, Department officials travel abroad to meet counterparts, take part in negotiations and attend conferences, among other activities. Finally, in Washington, D.C., itself, these officials interact with their Departmental and agency counterparts, Congressional representatives and staff, foreign embassy officials, and representatives from Washington-based political groups, lobbies, non-governmental organizations and news media. In short, during the Rwanda crisis the State Department absorbed information and intelligence inputs from all manner of official and non-official sources.

The Secretary, the Deputy Secretary and the Under Secretaries
Top officials of the Department received policy advice and regular updates on the situation in Rwanda from a variety of sources, including mid-level officials, the intelligence agencies, and counterparts in other governments and at the UN. For example, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs sent "Updates on Rwanda" through Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Peter Tarnoff to Secretary of State Warren Christopher or his stand-in each day. This April 28 update memo reports "killing of civilians continues", indicates no peace talks have occurred and, contrary to characterizations of chaos in Rwanda, notes that accredited personnel of humanitarian relief organization are free to move in Kigali. Document 15 Bushnell Memo to Acting Secretary, 28 Apr 94 Another method was by telephone. A memo and talking points from Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Douglas Bennet to Secretary Christopher for his April 13th call to Secretary General Boutros-Ghali indicates U.S. pressure for a firm UN approach on Bosnia, but also pressure for UNAMIR's withdrawal, which "is not just a Belgian idea", and recommending that its "mandate should be terminated". Document 16 Bennet Memo to Secretary, 13 Apr 94 Within the Department, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott held morning meetings of Assistant Secretaries to provide updates of information and assist coordination of policy at which Rwanda was discussed. (Note 6)

On April 21, the day of the UN vote to cut UNAMIR forces, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs George Moose and acting Assistant Secretary for International Organizations Affairs George Ward sent a memo to Talbott informing him that while they have "sent instructions to USUN" recommending the withdrawal of UNAMIR, the force is protecting "12,000 refugees in Kigali. We should not advocate (and we could not get agreement in the Security Council for) abandoning these people". Document 17 Moose/Ward Memo to Deputy Secretary, ca. 21 Apr 94 Senior officials also regularly provided reports and updates to keep higher-ups informed of their activities. This May 16 "Daily Activity Report" from Deputy Secretary Talbott to Secretary Christopher on Rwanda and other crises reports that U.S. officials are "pushing back hard" against the UN on the issues of resources and a new mandate for UNAMIR. Document 18 Talbott Memo to Secretary, 16 May 94 Finally, principal State officials, particularly Christopher and Tarnoff, met and spoke regularly with their foreign counterparts; Christopher, for example, spoke with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe "almost every day" in mid-April, although primarily on Bosnia (Note 7), and he and Juppe discussed Rwanda during their May 11th meeting in Washington. (Note 8)

Functional offices and bureaus
Given the nature and scale of violence before and during the genocide, the human rights bureau and the refugee office played active roles in U.S. policy on Rwanda; further, the Politico-Military bureau served as the liaison with the Defense Department and military when President Clinton ordered humanitarian relief operations in late July. Often out-maneuvered in policy battles, the Human Rights bureau nevertheless served an important 'witness' role for policymakers. On May 9, upon his return from a trip to east and central Africa, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs John Shattuck sent a memo to the Acting Secretary through State Department Counselor Tim Wirth, in which he reported that "Rwanda is a human rights catastrophe of the greatest magnitude"; recommended an "expansion and new mission for UNAMIR" and the initiation of an "international human rights inquiry into the responsibility for the massacres"; and argued, contrary to the current policy, "while a ceasefire…is of critical importance, it is still unlikely to end all the killings." Document 19 Shattuck Memo to Acting Secretary, 9 May 94

Intelligence and Research
The Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) is the intelligence arm of the Department of State. Its chief responsibility is to analyze intelligence for use in policymaking by the Department of State, but it also contributes to intelligence community-wide analyses. Intelligence analysts responded to taskings by policymakers and briefed State Department and inter-agency meetings during the crisis, sometimes verbally given the press of events. (Note 9) INR's pre-eminent product is the Secretary's Morning Summary (SMS), a highly-classified, newsletter format report produced six days of the week featuring the top intelligence 'stories' each morning for the Secretary, his assistant secretaries and other senior Executive Branch officials, such as National Security Advisor Anthony Lake (Note 10).The Rwanda crisis, and its impact on Burundi and the region, were regular features of the SMS beginning April 7th, the morning after the shoot down of the presidents' plane, with a report that "the military intended to take power temporarily", that there was "sporadic gunfire in the capital", and that the potential existed for "an upsurge of violence in Burundi." Document 20 SMS, 7 Apr 94 By the next day, however, INR analysts commented on Rwanda's "downward spiral", reporting in detail despite the fluid situation, that the "The high command appears predominant and focused on suppressing the PG (presidential guard) and rogue soldiers". Document 21 SMS, 8 Apr 94 On April 12, INR analysts discussing the status of UNAMIR warned that "a sudden pullout could lead to a bloodbath involving the civilians UNAMIR is protecting." Document 22 SMS, 12 Apr 94 Nevertheless, three days later, State Department officials instructed Ambassador Albright to press for withdrawal of the UNAMIR force. (Note 11) By April 26th, INR analysts foresaw in Rwanda "genocide and partition", reporting ICRC estimates that "at least 100,000 Rwandans have been killed", but "the toll could be 500,000", and concluding "the butchery shows no sign of ending." Document 23 SMS, 26 Apr 94

Regions, DASs and Desk Officers
A 'desk officer' monitors all events and information related to a country. Depending on its importance to U.S. interests, that country may have more than officer assigned to it-or an officer may be assigned to cover more than one country: in 1994, Kevin Aiston covered both Rwanda and Burundi. Above the desk officer is the office director for a particular region, in the Rwanda case, the Director of the Office of Central African Affairs, who reports to a Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS). DAS for African Affairs Prudence Bushnell headed the State Department's internal Rwanda working group set up on April 7th to coordinate the evacuation of American citizens from Rwanda and to monitor the closure of the U.S. embassy there; she also was the chief interlocutor with Rwandan government and military officials (Note 12), calling on them in vain to stop the killing of civilians. (Note 13) In this June 7 memo, Arlene Render, the Director of the Office of Central African Affairs, forwards recommendations through Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Ed Brynn to Assistant Secretary Moose that Moose approve a demarche to OAU Secretary General Salim Salim requesting a separate meeting on Rwanda at the upcoming OAU summit. Moose approves the demarche, but decides to "wait to see what comes of Salim's efforts" before considering his own meeting with the interim government. Document 24 Render Memo to Moose, 7 Jun 94

U.S. official travel
In the year prior to the genocide, numerous U.S. officials and foreign leaders visited Rwanda, including officials of the U.S. Departments of State and Defense and the Belgian foreign minister and defense minister. The most senior U.S. visitor was Douglas Bennet, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, who met with Rwanda's President and Prime Minister to discuss Rwanda's role on the UN Security Council and the political deadlock in the transition to power-sharing in Rwanda. In their February 1st meeting, Habyarimana acknowledged "a basic lack of confidence amongst political leaders and lack of political will to press forward on the peace process." Bennet told Habyarimana "the Arusha agreement" and the UN Security Council's "subsequent peacekeeping resolutions" were "important historic milestones. The opportunities which they afforded for peace should not be allowed to waste away." Document 25 Kigali 00551, 7 Feb 94

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
USAID maintains representatives in many Embassies worldwide and has lead responsibility for development assistance programs and disaster relief, which were fixtures of U.S. policy toward Rwanda before, during and after the 1994 crisis. Indeed, a USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) went to assess the scene in Rwanda in early June as the killing continued and provided the first ground reports by U.S. officials since Embassy Kigali closed on April 10. USAID Administrator Brian Atwood played a prominent role in the humanitarian response on Rwanda, participating in some meetings of the National Security Council and traveling to the region in late May to encourage action. Atwood met UNAMIR Commander Dallaire in Nairobi on May 31st; loathe to leave his troops, Dallaire nevertheless saw the opportunity to engage a senior U.S. official. Saying "there was no substitute for U.S. logistical capacity or dominance in the Security Council", Dallaire "urged that the USG provide equipment or at least airlift capacity", according to this report of their meeting, since "without U.S. equipment, UNAMIR can do virtually nothing." Dallaire provided Atwood information useful for Washington policymakers, including the battle status, aims and areas of support for both RPF and government forces; the status of displaced persons; potential factionalism within the government; UNAMIR's freedom of movement; and his assessment that "genuine peace talks" would occur only if moderate Hutu civilians and military came forward. Dallaire "rejected the idea of 'safe havens'", which the U.S. favored, as impractical and argued that UNAMIR's current authority was sufficient to protect civilians. Dallaire pointedly did not ask Atwood for U.S. troops, but noted "North Americans have always been welcomed by both sides in Rwanda." He argued that "taking action now can help stabilize the situation and prevent even further loss of life." Upon return to Washington, Atwood reported Dallaire's information and his request to top Department of State and White House officials. Document 26 Nairobi 09554, 31 May 94

Visits of foreign officials
Visits by foreign officials are often useful opportunities to gain information on a country or a particular issue, to pressure these officials on bilateral and multilateral issues of concern to the U.S., and to foster relations more generally. In early October 1993, on the heels of the UN Security Council's authorization of UNAMIR, President Habyarimana visited Washington, D.C. and, despite the political firestorm in Washington over the recent debacle in Somalia, was able to obtain meetings with senior U.S. officials, including Secretary Christopher, Under Secretary of Defense Wisner, Acting USAID Administrator Jim Michel and Assistant Secretary Moose. In their meeting, Secretary Christopher "congratulated Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana for reaching a peace accord", remarking the president "had shown great courage in making peace with the rebels". He conveyed "our government's satisfaction with the recent UN Security Council vote" on UNAMIR, which he hoped would help "ensure implementation of the Accords." In reply to Habyarimana's request for U.S. economic assistance, Christopher said "we want to continue helping Rwanda" but noted "the financial constraints" the U.S. faced. Document 27 State 313040, 14 Oct 93 Neither official addressed Habyarimana's stated reservations about the Accords nor that a transition deadline had passed unmet. The next month extremists began calculated attacks to challenge the newly-arrived UN peacekeeping force and undermine the transition agreement.

Foreign diplomatic corps and other representatives
During the crisis, U.S. officials engaged Washington-based foreign diplomats, particularly those of France and Belgium, to share information and to coordinate policies. Additionally, since the Clinton Administration did not break off relations with the genocidal government until mid-July, Rwandan government representatives continued their business in Washington. On April 26, Department of State officials met with Rwandan ambassador Aloys Uwimana, who when challenged to stop the massacres, claimed "the population is spontaneously killing". As this telegram reports, Ambassador David Rawson, with the benefit of both personal observation and intelligence information, responded "that the population is being ordered to kill by high-level officials in Rwanda". Document 28 State 111394, 27 Apr 94 RPF representatives in Washington, New York and Brussels constantly sought to inform the world of events inside Rwanda; this April 30 communiqué issued in New York at the time of the April 29-30 UN Security Council debate on Rwanda calls the atrocities "genocide", notes that "more than a half million people (500,000) may have died", and identifies the perpetrators as "the Presidential Guard", "members of the regular National Army", the "Gendarmarie", and "armed civilians and militia under the control of the late President's party". Document 29 RPF communiqué, 30 Apr 94

Non-governmental organizations/private voluntary organizations
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private voluntary organizations (PVOs) of all persuasions maintain representatives in Washington or send emissaries to pressure or advise policymakers. As most official entities had abandoned Rwanda, these organizations were a vital source of information-but their impact on U.S. policy was limited. The International Committee of the Red Cross, however, remained in Rwanda; its head of operations, Jean de Courten, met with State Department Under Secretary for Global Affairs Tim Wirth on May 17, expressing "serious concerns" over Rwanda and comparing the "mass killings" to "the genocide in Cambodia". According to a report of the meeting, he urged that "UN peacekeepers protect civilian populations and not be used to protect relief convoys", as "ICRC has not been prevented from delivering relief". Document 30 State 137577, 24 May 94 Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges, a Rwanda expert, published three articles in The Washington Post (Note 14) in April alone to raise the alarm and alert policymakers. She and Rwandan human rights activist Monique Mujawamariya met with numerous U.S. officials in the third week of April, including National Security Adviser Anthony Lake, Ambassador Madeleine Albright, and Assistant Secretary for human rights John Shattuck. In a May 4th meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary Bushnell, they urged an "expanded UN force" and other initiatives and argued that the Hutu militias' "minimally trained youth would not resist in the face of UN forces." Document 31 State 120800, 6 May 94

II. Intelligence Agencies

As with other crises, U.S. policymakers demanded information from the Intelligence Community (Note 15) concerning Rwanda-and U.S. intelligence responded. Initially, U.S. intelligence relied on reports of U.S. and other Western embassies in Rwanda and information from Western capitals; reports by officers stationed in or visiting the region; reports of U.S. defense attachés in Rwanda, the region, Brussels, Paris and other capitals; reports by NGOs and PVOs; reports by the media, primarily European news and wire services; and eventually, U.S. satellite coverage and U.S. signals intelligence. Intelligence officers collected, analyzed and reported this information up to superiors and to policymakers-from the moment of the deaths of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents onward as the crisis exploded. (Note 16)

Central Intelligence Agency
While Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) James Woolsey did not have a close working relationship with President Clinton (Note 17), as a statutory advisor to the National Security Council and a member of the Principals Committee he provided intelligence assessments and judgments for top decision-makers, as did Deputy DCI Adm. William Studeman. CIA officials briefed Clinton and National Security Advisor Lake every morning, responded to taskings by Lake and others, and provided briefings and assessments daily for inter-agency meetings on the Rwanda crisis. CIA's analysis, chiefly produced by its Directorate of Intelligence, may include reporting from its 'stations' overseas, or reports by its officers from visits to countries where no station exists; reports from overseas human 'assets' recruited by CIA officers; reporting from its 'intelligence liaison' relationships with allied intelligence services, in the Rwanda case, those of France and Belgium; reporting from other U.S. government Departments and agencies; and monitoring of radio broadcasts through the Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Any or all of these sources are used in CIA's foremost intelligence products relied upon by policymakers during the Rwanda crisis: the President's Daily Brief and the National Intelligence Daily.

CIA's President's Daily Brief (PDB) is, as the title suggests, intended for the President, although during the Clinton Administration it was read regularly by National Security Advisor Lake, Secretary Christopher, Secretary Perry, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili. (Note 18) As the PDB contains information and often the identity of the information's source, it is "the most restricted and sensitive current intelligence publication." (Note 19) While CIA has previously released PDBs on issues such as the Six Day War and the Vietnam War (Note 20), the CIA refuses to release PDBs from the Rwanda crisis whether or not the information was "accepted, rejected, or otherwise incorporated by senior leadership." Document 32 CIA letter, 14 Aug 01 However, given that the topics in the PDB correspond considerably with the National Intelligence Daily (Note 21), it is very likely that Rwanda was a regular item in President Clinton's daily intelligence briefing.

CIA's National Intelligence Daily (NID) is a highly-classified, newspaper-format intelligence periodical delivered to several hundred policymakers six days of the week. (Note 22) As with the Secretary's Morning Summary, Rwanda appeared in the NID with a report on the deaths of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and remained a regular feature of the NID throughout the crisis. In that April 7th report, CIA analysts predicted "the civil war may resume" in Rwanda and that the military "will probably try to take power" in Burundi. Document 33 NID, 7 Apr 94 By April 23rd, in discussing whether the RPF would negotiate with Rwandan military or party leaders, the NID matter-of-factly notes for policymakers that the rebels might do so "in an effort to stop the genocide, which relief workers say is spreading south". Document 34 NID, 23 Apr 94 Other issues of the NID, however, while not disputing the characterization of genocide, also refer more generally to "killing" or focus on the fighting between the RPF and government forces. For example, CIA's April 26 NID item on Rwanda, entitled "Humanitarian Disaster Unfolding", reports "Red Cross estimates that 100,000 to 500,000 people, mostly Tutsi, have been killed in the ethnic bloodletting" and that "eyewitness accounts from areas where nearly all Tutsi residents were killed support the higher estimate." Document 35 NID, 26 Apr 94

The CIA's National Intelligence Council comprises national intelligence officers (NIOs) covering regional, functional and transnational issues and reports to the DCI. The NIO for Africa, for example, briefed senior and mid-level officials throughout the crisis. (Note 23) The Council's chief products are National Intelligence Estimates (NIE), which are predictive of events. An NIE's production is guided by the relevant Officer, but the finished NIE reflects the aggregated views of all members of the Intelligence Community. In the following NIE issued in October 1993, the National Intelligence Officer for Warning argued that "Africa will continue to generate humanitarian emergencies on an unparalleled scale." Describing the situation in Liberia and Rwanda, he predicted "chances of renewed conflict in both countries remain high." Document 36 NIE, Oct 93

Defense Intelligence Agency
DIA provides intelligence functions for the civilian Pentagon and the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as supporting unified commands such as the U.S. European Command. Like CIA, it assembles information from many sources, but it also receives unique information input from the network of U.S. defense attaché's serving abroad. U.S. officials like to know who they're dealing with in a crisis; defense attachés meet military and political figures in the course of their work. This April 26th biographic report identifies Col. Leonidas Rusatira as the "de facto Minister of Defense", "a close confidant of President Habyarimana" and "a member of the ruling MRND Central Committee". Document 37 IIR, 26 Apr 94 As the crisis continued, reports came in from the region. This May 18th DIA intelligence report provides the views of Burundian military chiefs of staff, who were likely in contact with the RPF, that "should massacres by Rwandan government forces continue in the areas they occupy, the RPF would be obliged to continue the offensive until they control the entire country." Document 38 IIR, 18 May 94

National Security Agency
NSA, a Defense agency, is responsible for the interception, processing and analysis of communications and electronic transmissions abroad. During the several months of the Rwanda crisis, it intercepted communications transmissions emanating from the country and region, in particular monitoring the extremist 'hate radio' that incited the genocide. This type of information provided real-time perspectives to policymakers. To date, however, NSA has refused to release records on the Rwanda crisis. Document 39 NSA letter, 23 Dec 03

Central Imagery Office, National Reconnaissance Office, and National Imagery and Mapping Agency
During the Rwanda crisis, senior officials ordered satellite coverage of Rwanda beginning in the second half of April (Note 24); analysis from these images was passed on to relevant agencies of the government for use by policymakers. At the time, the Central Imagery Office implemented the tasking orders from officials and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) operated the satellites. Nevertheless, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) (Note 25), the agency created in 1996 to consolidate imagery functions, "can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence" of imagery analysis on the genocide in Rwanda. Document 40 NIMA letter, 5 Aug 03

III. Defense and Military

The Pentagon
Like the State Department, the Pentagon has civilian officials covering regional and functional policy areas who serve the Secretary of Defense and senior defense policymakers. In the course of their duties, these officials traveled to the region before the genocide, took part in senior and mid-level inter-agency meetings as the crisis ensued, wrote policy recommendations for senior officials, and advised the UN on peacekeeping options in Rwanda, among other activities. For example, on April 7, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Requirements Edward Warner and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East/Africa Jim Woods, the Pentagon's senior official on Africa, briefed Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Frank Wisner and Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Walt Slocombe on their meeting that afternoon with Secretary of Defense William Perry and provided an update on the situation in Rwanda. Wisner, the civilian Pentagon's third-ranking official, argued that "any U.S. planning for action in Rwanda should be closely coordinated with the Belgians and French" according to a summary of the meeting. Document 41 Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Brief on Rwanda, ca. 7 Apr 94 A day later, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict sent a memo through Wisner for Secretary Perry and Deputy Secretary of Defense John Deutch reporting "a glimmer of hope that this crisis is waning", but confirming continued "gunfire between the RPF forces (300-600) and the 500-man Presidential Guard (Hutu-extremists who probably shot down the President's plane)". Document 42 Assistant Secretary of Defense/SOLIC Memo to Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Defense, 8 Apr 94

Intra-agency task force
The Department of Defense 'stood up' an internal task force only on May 13, when the genocide had long been underway, as there was significant demand for inter-agency clearance, analyses of options, and reporting to senior officials, including the Secretary of Defense. Consequently, Secretary Perry established the Rwanda Task Force and Principal Deputy Under Secretary Slocombe named the Pentagon's Africa region director Vince Kern to chair the Task Force. One Task Force initiative was a weekly report to Secretary of Defense Perry; its weekly update for May 16th reports "massacres of civilians continue in government-held areas." It also notes "UN flights have been able to land in Kigali"-although Pentagon and Joint Staff officials had been arguing to U.S. and UN officials that the airport was not secure. Advising that "the expanded UN force" just approved by the Security Council will require "significant logistics support from a Western nation", the report notes "the USG so far does not plan to take the lead, but expects to be asked." Document 43 SecDef Weekly Update--Rwanda, ca. 17 May 94

Joint Chiefs of Staff and Joint Staff
The Joint Staff, comprised of eight directorates, provides information, analysis, planning and options for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their role as military advisors to the President, Secretary of Defense and National Security Council. Joint Staff directors and officers interact with U.S. government counterparts at all levels as well as those in foreign governments. For example, then Lt. Gen. Wesley Clark, who took up his post as Joint Staff director for strategy on April 5th, a day before the presidents' assassination, recalls that almost immediately "we checked with others on the Joint Staff, called the Belgian and French attachés in Washington, checked with the operations center at the U.S. European Command...Staff officers began preparing papers, the calls began to flow back and forth to the Department of State and National Security Council staff." (Note 26) The JCS and Joint Staff provided important analysis and advice in the debate over UN forces for Rwanda, particularly concerning the UN force concept and potential U.S. obligations to that force. As this Department of Defense memorandum for the record indicates, an inter-agency team of State Department, USAID, Defense Department and Joint Staff representatives met in New York with top UN peacekeeping officials on May 16 shortly before the Security Council's vote to authorize an enhanced UNAMIR force. The UN officials "did not support the U.S. proposed option", but rather "sought our approval for their option of humanitarian operations emanating from within the country out towards the border areas (inside-out)", although they admitted it was "riskier". Under questioning by the U.S. delegation, however, the UN officials acknowledged the planned number of troops was "what they could get" from contributing countries "not necessarily what was needed", a key concern of U.S. officials. Document 44 Meeting with the UN on Proposed Resolution for Rwanda, ca. 16 May 94

U.S. European Command
U.S. European Command (EUCOM), a unified command (comprised of components of each military service), has responsibility for Europe and almost all of Africa. While it relies considerably on DIA for information and analysis, it has its own intelligence arm, has its own Africa officers and analysts, and has direct relationships with African militaries, a primary source of information on a country's politics and force's capabilities. Upon President Clinton's July 22 order, EUCOM supplied the forces that established and undertook the U.S. humanitarian operations in Uganda, Zaire and eventually Rwanda. But it had previously sent two reconnaissance teams to the region to obtain first-hand information for planning by civilian and military policymakers. This EUCOM July 22 'execute order' "creates and tasks" a EUCOM joint task force for "humanitarian relief operations in Zaire". The commander directs subordinate officers to "expect mission requirements to continuously evolve", but "the intent of this operation is to provide support" to other militaries and relief agencies not to "establish a U.S. unilateral humanitarian relief operation". It notes "while the military threat to our forces is low, commanders must be prepared for the chaos resulting from the massive influx of refugees". Document 45 EUCOM Message, 23 Jul 94

Who Used the Information?

The President and Vice President
As the top elected official in the country and as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, President Bill Clinton had access to any item of information created by U.S. diplomatic, defense or intelligence organizations and could also order the production of any report, analysis or memo by these same Departments and agencies. Vice President Al Gore, who had a close working relationship with the President and whose long experience in foreign affairs and defense issues was much relied upon, could also review or call for production of any conceivable information. For example, both received and reviewed the President's Daily Brief produced by the CIA. In addition, Cabinet officials and others reported up to the President and Vice President. For example, Secretary Christopher's June 17 memorandum for the President reports on the French intervention proposal "to protect threatened civilians" and Christopher's offer of "U.S. support for the French initiative" to the French foreign minister, including "airlift of 50 APCs" and diplomatic support of "a resolution in the UNSC". Document 46 Christopher Memo for the President, 17 Jun 94 Besides official communications, the President had access to all varieties of information. This April 21 letter from Rwandan human rights activist Monique Mujawamariya, whom the President had welcomed to the White House in December 1993, implored President Clinton to act against the "campaign" of "genocide against the Tutsis", reminding him that the U.S. "has a moral and legal treaty obligation to 'suppress and prevent' genocide." Document 47 Mujawamariya Letter to the President, 21 Apr 94 While Congressional leaders did not press the Administration on Rwanda, the House subcommittee on Africa and several individual members wrote to President Clinton, including U.S. senators Paul Simon and James Jeffords on May 13th, who criticized the lack of "leadership" on the crisis and noted "swift and sound decision-making is needed." The senators urged U.S. efforts to enact sanctions, an arms embargo, and an "increase" in UNAMIR forces and a change in their mandate, as "an end to the slaughter is not possible without this action." Document 48 Simon/Jeffords Letter to the President, 13 May 94

The National Security Council
During the Clinton Administration, foreign policy was highly centralized at the White House, with the National Security Council (NSC) and its various committees and directorates not only coordinating policy, but directing it. The NSC-by law comprised of the President, Vice President, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense as members and the Director of Central Intelligence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as advisors-was "the principal forum for consideration of national security policy". President Clinton also added as members Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, U.S. ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright, National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Robert Rubin and Chief of Staff "Mack" McLarty as members. (Note 27) As the National Security Advisor, Lake served as the channel through which intelligence, foreign affairs and defense matters flowed to the President, as Clinton did not have regular standing meetings for these secretaries. This July 20 memo to Lake from Deputy Secretary of Defense John Deutch reports on a meeting the previous day between top Defense, Joint Staff and State Department officials on potential Defense efforts and activities for "ameliorating the horrendous conditions in Rwanda." While this memo comes after the RPF had effectively ended the genocide by capturing the country and after they'd formed a new government, Deutch nevertheless makes clear to Lake the parameters of Department of Defense involvement: "we will be playing a supportive role to the UN and the French, nothing more." Document 49 Deutch Memo for the National Security Advisor, 20 Jul 94

Serving the NSC are directorates to coordinate the work of the agencies and monitor U.S. policy, which vary in size and influence depending on the issue (in early 1994, nine officials were assigned to Europe and the former Soviet Union, two to Africa). NSC Staff Director Nancy Soderberg monitored the work of the directorates and handled issues upon which she had particular expertise. During the Rwanda crisis, the Senior Director for African Affairs was Donald Steinberg, a career Foreign Service Officer with experience in South Africa, in trade issues, on Capitol Hill, and most recently with the press operation. His deputy, serving as Director for African Affairs, was MacArthur "Mac" Deshazer. The Directorate for Global Issues and Multilateral Affairs handled peacekeeping, among other issues; it was headed by Senior Director Richard Clarke, an experienced bureaucratic insider who had previously served the Bush Administration in the critical position of Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs. His deputy active on Rwanda during the crisis was Director Susan Rice, who would go on to serve the second Clinton Administration as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

The Principals Committee
President Clinton established by directive the Principals Committee "a forum available for Cabinet-level officials to meet to discuss and resolve issues not requiring the President's participation." (Note 28) During the Rwanda crisis, the Principals were Secretary of State Warren Christopher; Secretary of Defense William Perry; U.S. ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright; National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, its Chair, who called its meetings; Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey; and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili, although other Department or agency heads, such as USAID Administrator Brian Atwood, attended upon invitation. (Note 29) These officials met to discuss options on Rwanda; it is also likely they discussed Rwanda informally-in hallway discussions or by secure telephone-as well. (Note 30)

The Deputies Committee
The President also directed the establishment of the Deputies Committee "as the senior sub-Cabinet interagency forum" on national security policy to "vet" issues and options for the full NSC and Principals Committee, to monitor "policy implementation", and to lead "day-to-day crisis management". (Note 31) During the Rwanda crisis, Deputies Committee members were deputy National Security Advisor Sandy Berger as Chair; Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Frank Wisner; Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Peter Tarnoff; Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Adm. William Studeman; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. William Owens, USN; the Vice President's national security advisor Leon Fuerth; and others, including by invitation. (Note 32) In this April 28th memo, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Bushnell briefed Under Secretary of State Tarnoff for his participation in the April 29 Deputies meeting, emphasizing that State should "share information" it has gained and should push to secure assistance for Rwanda "after the current crisis passes." Nevertheless, she advised Tarnoff, "killing of civilians apparently continues." Document 50 Bushnell Memo to Tarnoff, 28 Apr 94 Given their responsibilities, the Deputies met frequently, upon direction by Mr. Berger. The Administration's new peacekeeping policy also required Deputies Committee review and approval of the U.S. position in the UN Security Council whenever there was consideration of a new peacekeeping operation or revision of an existing one. Consequently, because the UN assistance mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) figured prominently in the crisis, this high-level group met many times on Rwanda.

Interagency Working Groups
Below the Deputies level were the NSC's Interagency Working Groups, established and monitored by the Deputies. These groups were both permanent and ad hoc, monitored issues and developed policy options for higher-ups and, depending on the issue, were headed by officials at the Assistant Secretary level. (Note 33) For example, the Peacekeeping Core Group (PCG), headed by NSC official Richard Clarke, led the controversial government-wide peacekeeping policy review known as Presidential Decision Directive 25, which set high thresholds for U.S. involvement in peacekeeping operations. While the PCG covered all peacekeeping issues, it was perhaps the most active and influential inter-agency grouping on Rwanda. Nevertheless, these officials felt the intense pressure of working within constrained policy parameters and therefore sought the Deputies' "direction to the IWG on the degree of activism that they wish to encourage on further international steps aimed at addressing the slaughter and assisting refugees" as indicated in Clarke's National Security Council discussion paper sent to representatives of the Deputies Committee. Document 51 Clarke Fax/Discussion Paper, 28 Apr 94

Inter-agency task force
Beginning in April and continuing throughout the crisis, an inter-agency task force met to coordinate policy and activities during the crisis. As its name suggests, this group, with more fluid membership, included officials from the NSC, State Department, USAID, defense agencies, and intelligence organizations, and was regularly chaired by NSC officials, including Richard Clarke, or Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Prudence Bushnell. Concerned solely with Rwanda, it was the most active policy grouping on Rwanda, meeting at least daily, receiving intelligence briefings and discussing practical actions and initiatives. This memorandum of the inter-agency group's May 12th meeting, which was called to develop a policy position for Deputies Committee approval concerning an expanded UNAMIR, demonstrates the bureaucratic input process at the mid-level-and also the serious policy differences between the NSC, State Department and the Joint Staff. As the Department of Defense representative noted, "we were unable to get anyone to say they would use the word Chapter VII" for the "mission statement"-the key Pentagon contention, challenged by none other than Gen. Dallaire, that Rwanda would require robust peace enforcement operations (Chapter VII of the UN Charter) as opposed to peacekeeping (Chapter VI). Document 52 Rwanda IWG, ca. 12 May 94


In analyzing the sources and scope of information and intelligence, it also important to consider the ground-level reporting provided by journalists in Rwanda and in the region. Analysts in Washington often looked first to the newswires before getting confirmation of events from diplomatic, intelligence or military sources. Indeed, beginning April 8th, the massacres in Rwanda were reported on the front pages of major newspapers and on radio and television broadcasts almost daily, including the major papers read by U.S. officials and policy elites. (Note 34) In Rwanda, UNAMIR Force Commander Dallaire understood the power of the news media; despite his other responsibilities, he devoted considerable effort and resources so that a few journalists could get the story to the outside world, reasoning that a "reporter with a line to the West was worth a battalion on the ground." (Note 35) Information reported publicly from Rwanda not only informed policymakers in their decision-making, but led to pressure for intervention at least in France. As the following U.S. Embassy Paris telegram indicates, "the most consistent and readily identifiable element in the GOF decision to intervene was the cumulative effect of French journalists reporting". "Televised images of the slaughter", in particular, had important "effect on GOF Africanists". Document 53 Paris 17431, 24 Jun 94

Departments, agencies and military organizations of the U.S. government provided necessary information up to policymakers for their discussions and decisions during the Rwanda crisis. Although stated policy was that Rwanda did not affect traditional vital or national interests before or even during the genocide, considerable resources were nevertheless available and employed to ensure that policymakers had real-time information for any decision they would make. In sum, the routine-let alone crisis-performance of diplomats, intelligence officers and systems, and military and defense personnel yielded enough information for policy recommendations and decisions. That the Clinton Administration decided against intervention at any level was not for lack of knowledge of what was happening in Rwanda.


I would like to thank the Archive's Tom Blanton, Bill Burr, and Jeff Richelson for their comments on drafts of this report.

1. Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda (New York: Human Rights Watch/FIDH, 1999), pp. 96-97.

2. U.S. Department of State, Bureau of African Affairs, Memorandum from Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Prudence Bushnell to The Secretary through Under Secretary for Political Affairs Peter Tarnoff, "Death of Rwandan and Burundian Presidents in Plane Crash Outside Kigali", April 6, 1994, at https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB53/rw040694.pdf

3. "Interview With the French Media in Paris, June 7, 1994", Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, William J. Clinton III 1994, Book I-January 1 to July 31, 1994 (Washington DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1995), pp. 1056-1057.

4. Report of the Independent Inquiry Into the Actions of the United Nations During the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, 15 December 1999, accessed December 17, 1999 at http://www.un.org/News/dh/latest/rwanda.htm

5. Samantha Power, "Bystanders to Genocide: Why the United States Let the Rwandan Tragedy Happen", The Atlantic Monthly, September 2001, p. 104.

6. John Shattuck, Freedom on Fire: Human Rights Wars & America's Response (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), p. 45.

7. Federal News Service, "Hearing of the Commerce, Justice and State Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Subject: Fiscal Year 1995 International Affairs Budget, Chaired by: Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (D-SC), Witness: Warren Christopher, Secretary of State, 253 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, April 21, 1994"

8. Federal News Service, "Remarks by Alain Juppe, French Foreign Minister, At Media Breakfast, Residence of the French Ambassador, Washington, DC", May 12, 1994

9. Private interview with intelligence official, October 7, 2002.

10. Walter Pincus, "PDB, the Only News Not Fit for Anyone Else to Read", The Washington Post, August 27, 1994, p. A7.

11. See US Department of State, cable number 94 State 099440, to US Mission to the United Nations, New York, "Talking Points for UNAMIR Withdrawal", April 15, 1994, at https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB53/rw041594.pdf

12. "The Crisis in Rwanda", Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Africa of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, 103rd Congress, 2nd Session, May 4, 1994 (Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1995).

13. See US Department of State, cable number 94 State 113672, to US Embassy Bujumbura and US Embassy Dar es Salaam, "DAS Bushnell Tells Col. Bagosora to Stop the Killings", April 29, 1994, at https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB53/rw042994.pdf

14. See "Take Care of My Children", The Washington Post, April 8, 1994, p. A21; Alison Des Forges, "The Method in Rwanda's Madness; Politics, Not Tribalism, Is the Root of the Bloodletting", The Washington Post, April 17, 1994, p. C2; and Alison Des Forges, "A Life Saved", The Washington Post, April 19, 1994, A15.

15. The 'Intelligence Community' is coordinated by the Director of Central Intelligence. Its members are the intelligence components of 15 Federal Departments and agencies. See http://www.intelligence.gov/1-members.shtml.

16. Private interviews with senior Administration official, January 16, 2002 and January 28, 2004; senior intelligence official, March 28, 2003; senior intelligence official, January 17, 2003; intelligence official, October 7, 2002.

17. Nina J. Easton, "The Hawk: James Woolsey Wants Iraq's Saddam Hussein Brought to Justice", The Washington Post, December 27, 2001, p. C1.

18. Pincus, "PDB", p. A7.

19. Jeffrey T. Richelson, The U.S. Intelligence Community, 4th ed., (Boulder: Westview Press, 1999), p. 316.

20. See Thomas S. Blanton, "The President's Daily Brief: National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 116", published March 22, 2004 at https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB116/index.htm

21. Private interview with senior Administration official, January 28, 2004.

22. Richelson, p. 317. The NID has been succeeded by the Senior Executive Intelligence Brief.

23. Private interview with senior intelligence official, March 28, 2003.

24. Private interview with senior Administration official, January 28, 2004.

25. NIMA has been succeeded by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

26. General Wesley K. Clark, U.S. Army (Retired), Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat (New York: Public Affairs, 2001), pp. 30-31.

27. The White House, "PDD 2: Organization of the National Security Council", January 20, 1993, Presidential Directives on National Security From Truman to Clinton, ed. Jeffrey T. Richelson, (Alexandria, VA: Chadwyck-Healey, Inc, 1994), no. 02130, p. 1.

28. Ibid., p. 2.

29. Ibid.

30. Private interview with senior Administration official, January 28, 2004; private interview with senior White House official, March 10, 2004.

31. "PDD 2: Organization of the National Security Council", pp. 2-3.

32. Ibid.

33. Ibid., pp. 3-4.

34. See the discussion of media coverage in Samantha Power, "A Problem From Hell": America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Basic Books, 2002), pp. 355-357.

35. LGen. Romeo J. Dallaire, Shake Hands With the Devil: the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda (Toronto: Random House Canada, 2003), pp. 332-333. Quote taken from Power, "A Problem from Hell", p. 355.

home | about | documents | news | postings | FOIA | research | internships | search | donate | mailing list

Contents of this website Copyright 1995-2017 National Security Archive. All rights reserved.
Terms and conditions for use of materials found on this website.