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Susan Rice And Scott Gration, Sitting In A Tree?

At today's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Sudan, questions came up about an open disagreement between General Scott Gration, Obama's Darfur envoy, and Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, over whether Sudan is currently committing genocide.

About six weeks ago, Gration told a news pool that "what we see [in Sudan] is the remnants of genocide." Gration's statement contradicted a speech that Susan Rice had recently given, and she was "furious." The State Department rushed to contain the damage--Khartoum's spokesman crowed that Gration agrees there was no genocide--and Rice's office continued to reject Gration's assessment. Still, Gration held firm, repeating his statement on television.

The issue itself is largely semantic--the killing in Darfur has slowed, but the situation is still dire. Nevertheless, at today's hearings, a committee member asked Gration how he defines genocide. Visibly irritated, Gration responded, "Well, the president has referred to the genocide that is taking place in Darfur--you can read that how you need to read it." Then, when asked if he had at least spoken to Rice about the disagreement, Gration ventured into strange territory: "This is a definitional issue and," he said, "I will tell you in public that Susan Rice is one of my dear friends. She is one of the few women in the world that I say, ‘I love you' to. We have a comprehensive and integrated approach to insure that all elements will be taken care of."

I guess that settles it.

P.S.: This is from my notes from the event--I'll check it against the transcript when one comes out. I'll also have more substantive coverage of the hearings up soon.

P.P.S: Eli Lake of The Washington Times (and TNR) has more on the Rice-Gration flap.

--Barron YoungSmith