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Posted by John Norris on June 18, 2009

Apparently the noon press briefing at State was delayed considerably today as the powers that be tried to sort out what they were going to say about Darfur, and whether the situation still constitutes genocide. In remarks yesterday, Special Envoy Scott Gration suggested that we were seeing “remnants of genocide” in Darfur rather than ongoing genocide. Both President Obama and Ambassador Rice have recently characterized the situation as an ongoing genocide.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley very carefully tried to put the horse back in the barn, noting: "[T]here is no question that genocide has taken place in Darfur. We continue to classify the circumstances in Darfur as genocide."

I can only imagine how many lawyers and communications experts were consulted on those two lines of drafting.

Gration’s remarks from yesterday were also heard loudly in Khartoum. Ali Youssef, from the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, said, "There was no genocide at all. It is very good that this has been stated clearly."

At a time when the international community is looking to the administration for much needed leadership on Sudan, the waters are getting muddier.