Update [2005-7-21 17:19:2 by susanhu]: From MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews newsletter: “And on the Andrea thing…Did you hear about the fracas at the Sudan press conference with Condi Rice and the Sudanese President?? Andrea Mitchell was manhandled and escorted to the back of the room when she posed a tough question to the Sudanese President! We’ll show you the tape.” Now that, I can’t wait to see.
No, not by Alan.* Andrea Mitchell accompanied Secretary of State Condi Rice to Sudan. During a “photo op” with the president of Sudan, Mitchell asked a tough question. The longtime NBC reporter was grabbed by Sudanese security guards and “muscled” out of the room, reports MSNBC.
The Sudanese government apologized to [Rice] after security forces manhandled U.S. officials and reporters traveling with her, including NBC News Andrea Mitchell, during a photo opportunity at the residence of Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir on Thursday.
When Mitchell asked, “Why should the U.S. believe the Sudanese government will stop the killing when the government is still supporting the militia?” Sudanese security guards grabbed her and muscled her out of the room while State Department officials shouted at them to leave her alone. (MSNBC) Below, a Q&A:
“It makes me very angry to be sitting there with their president and have this happen,” Sect’y Rice said. “They have no right to push and shove.” (AP/Yahoo) Update [2005-7-21 17:56:56 by susanhu]: This AP story is very good, and I’m quoting it below the fold.
*Ms. Mitchell is married to Alan Greenspan, a jazz and Ayn Rand aficionado who also happens to be Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.
Update [2005-7-21 17:56:56 by susanhu]: From the AP/Yahoo article that is has a fascinating account of the troubles that Rice’s entourage encountered:
Twice, Sudanese guards’ hostility toward members of Rice’s entourage devolved into shouts and shoving.
As Rice’s motorcade arrived at the residence, armed guards slammed the gate shut before three vehicles could get in, including those carrying Rice’s interpreter and other aides who were supposed to attend her meeting with el-Bashir.
When the officials were finally allowed through the gate, some found themselves barred from entering the building for the meeting. As Rice senior adviser Jim Wilkinson tried to get in, guards repeatedly pushed and pulled him, and at one point he was shoved into a wall.
“Diplomacy 101 says you don’t rough your guests up,” Wilkinson said.
Ambassador Khidair Haroun Ahmed, head of the Sudanese mission in Washington, attempted to smooth over the situation on the spot. “Please accept our apologies,” he told the reporters and aides. “This is not our policy.”
But there was another scuffle moments later.
Reporters, whom guards reluctantly allowed into the meeting for a planned photo session, were harassed and elbowed, and guards repeatedly tried to rip a microphone away from a U.S. reporter. The reporters were told not to ask questions, over State Department objections.
When NBC diplomatic reporter Andrea Mitchell tried to ask el-Bashir about his involvement with alleged atrocities, guards grabbed her and muscled her toward the rear of the room. State Department officials shouted at the guards. “Get your hands off her!” Wilkinson demanded. But all the reporters and a camera crew were physically forced out as Rice and el-Bashir watched.
Later, describing Rice’s meeting with el-Bashir, Wilkinson said, “She was very direct about the skepticism of the international community about their ability to improve Darfur.”
Rice put it this way: “I said action, not words.”
U.S. officials said Sudanese officials repeatedly asked Rice to lift sanctions, and she gave them no promises.
But Rice later indicated she might consider requests to ease sanctions on railway and aircraft components.
“I think we have to look at the argument that this is an issue for humanitarian reasons,” Rice said in an interview with National Public Radio. “Obviously if there is a case on the humanitarian side we would be willing to look at it.”
The session at el-Bashir’s residence capped a morning of meetings before a visit to the western Darfur providence, where the United States blames his government for recruiting and equipping militiamen to massacre rural villagers and burn their homes. … Read all — It’s very good.
Continuation of MSNBC article:
Mitchell describes the scuffle and how it is symbolic of how the Sudanese government treats not only guests, but its own citizens in what has been described as a policy of genocide supported by the Sudanese government in the Darfur region.
Why do you think the Sudanese security reacted the way they did to your line of questioning this morning?
They reacted to the fact that anyone was there to ask a question because the Sudanese government does not believe in freedom of the press.
In fact, when American officials argued with them that we should be allowed to have this photo opportunity and ask questions because there is freedom of the press, the Sudanese government responded that there is no freedom of the press here. And that says it all.
Condoleezza Rice was outraged by the behavior. Rice said that it was unacceptable and outrageous behavior by the Sudanese security forces. She demanded an immediate apology from Sudan’s government. She got one from the foreign minister when her plane touched down at the next location, within the hour.
But the bottom line was that some of her own officials in the delegation were roughed up when they tried to get into the meeting — including her translator — who was kept out.
It is a symbol of the way this government not only treats foreign guests, but more importantly, their own citizens, who have been victims of what the U.S. calls genocide in the Darfur region.
There are estimates that up to 2 million people have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced.
The people we saw today in the Abu Shouk refugee camp have been given food, water and shelter from international relief organizations, including $700 million from the United States, over the last few years. But there is no hope of returning to their villages, because their villages have been destroyed.
I talked to a number of women who said that they fear violence. They are even afraid to talk about it. In this region rape is used as a military weapon. They leave the camp at night to go get well water and then they are attacked. They have no defenses.
What has happened over the years is that the Sudanese president, who Rice met today, has promised Colin Powell, Tony Blair, Koffi Annan, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, that the government will respond and do something to curb the violence.
But according to officials in the U.S. government and international relief workers, the only reason that the violence has abated somewhat in recent months is because there are no villages left to target. They have all been destroyed.
What does the scuffle this morning say overall about U.S.-Sudanese relations?
It says that it is going to take a while, if ever, for this country to restore its credibility with the U.S. government.
President Omar el-Bashir was asking Rice today to take Sudan off of the terror list, so that they can begin trade with the United States and other partners, and it wants to lift economic sanctions.
Rice said that the first test of whether or not they will get sanctions lifted is what they will do about the violence in Darfur. She is not willing to trust their promises. … (Read all: MSNBC)