New York Times Article Showing Rice's Support For Rwanda's Kagame Helped Doom Potential Nomination
Most damaging from The New York Times article: revelation that Kagame had been Susan Rice's client when she worked at a consulting firm.
Two African Dictators Presented Problems For Rice
Most talking heads focus on the role that GOP leaders' professed outrage over the handling of the Benghazi attack played in derailing Susan Rice's prospective nomination for Secretary of State.
A New York Times December 9 article, "U.N. Ambassador Questioned on U.S. Role in Congo Violence" by Helene Cooper, played a bigger role.
It's true that Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham had launched scathing attacks against Rice, claiming that she had misled the public on national TV shows by maintaining that the attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, Libya, had been inspired by the video mocking the prophet Muhammad, when in fact it was a planned terrorist attack.
And, after a recent meeting between Rice and prominent Republican senators, the lawmakers said they were even more dissatisfied with Rice's explanation of her remarks following the Benghazi attack. She had maintained that she used talking points provided by the intelligence community.
Still, Rice had the full support of President Obama and Democratic lawmakers. It's unlikely that the Republicans would have been able to prevent her confirmation as Secretary of State.
It wasn't as if Rice had been responsible for security at the Benghazi Mission and was derelict. And if the Republicans wanted a scapegoat from the State Department, why not Secretary Hillary Clinton?
Another question that came up was Rice's and her husband's investment in the Keystone XL pipeline; as Secretary of State, she would be involved in the decision whether to approve the pipeline from Canada, creating a possible conflict of interest. This would not have been an insurmountable obstacle since Rice presumably would have recused herself or divested her holdings.
What Rice would not have been able to overcome if pressed is her support for Rwanda's dictator Gen. Paul Kagame, especially given the humanitarian catastrophe created in Congo by M23 the terrorist army that invaded from Rwanda in what amounts to a war of aggression from a neighboring country.
(Charles Taylor, Liberia's former president, who played an even minor but critical role
in Sierra Leone's bloody conflict is now serving a 50 year term after
conviction by an International Tribunal)
A United Nations report found that both Rwanda and Uagnda, under Gen. Yoweri Museveni, trained, armed and even supported M23 with their regular army troops. The UN said M23's chain of command led to Rwanda's defense minister James Kabehere.
Nominal leaders on the ground, including Bosco Ntaganda, indicted and wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Sultani Makenga, also reported to Uganda's police chief and the presidential advisor on the military.
Separately, Human Rights Watch issued a report about M23's "widespread war crimes" in Congo, including executions, rapes, and recruiting of child soldiers. Rwanda's and Uganda's support of various militias in Congo through the years has led to the deaths of as many as five million Congolese, according to human rights groups.
Several media outlets, including The Black Star News, deplored this relationship over the years. But the timing of The Times article could not have been worse for Susan Rice: coming when she is being vilified by Republican leaders while being considered for the State Department's top job.
As Helene Cooper reported, when France's and the United Kingdom's representatives to the United Nations proposed publicly disclosing that the UN report had found strong evidence showing Rwanda's support for M23, Susan Rice objected. She succeeded in having any direct reference to Rwanda omitted from the report. And this was not the first time that Rice had backed Gen. Kagame either, Cooper reported.
The most damaging part of Cooper's article was the revelation that Rwanda under Kagame had been Susan Rice's client when she worked at a consulting firm. This raised the question whether her alleged covering up for Kagame, in her capacity as U.S. ambassador to the UN, had been related to their earlier business connections.
The oil pipeline story in itself may not have developed into a major issue. But combined with Rice's strong support for Gen. Kagame, even with overwhelming evidence about his role in the continuing genocide in Congo, The New York Times' article effectively killed chances of Rice's confirmation.
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