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By CNN's Wolf Blitzer
(CNN) – President Obama took a very important step today when he ordered the U.S. intelligence community for the first time to routinely prepare national intelligence estimates “on the risk of mass atrocities and genocide.”
It’s a significant development. The intelligence community is always charged with preparing estimates on global national security issues: How close is Iran to building a nuclear bomb? Where are the most serious al Qaeda threats? What’s going on in North Korea? How secure is Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal? How vulnerable is the U.S. to cyberwarfare attack?
But now, in addition to the traditional threats, the president wants the nation’s spies and intelligence analysts to assess threats involving crimes against humanity. “Going forward,” he said, “we’ll strengthen our tools across the board and we’ll create new ones. …We’re going to institutionalize the focus on this issue.”
Speaking at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the president said the phrase “never again” represents a “challenge to us all to pause and to look within.”
“For the Holocaust may have reached its barbaric climax at Treblinka and Auschwitz and Belzec, but it started in the hearts of ordinary men and women,” he said. “And we have seen it again - madness that can sweep through peoples, sweep through nations, embed itself: the killings in Cambodia, the killings in Rwanda, the killings in Bosnia, the killings in Darfur.”
Obama wants to know about emerging threats of mass atrocities and genocide before they occur so that the U.S. and the rest of the civilized world can try to prevent them. If done seriously and correctly, world leaders will no longer be able to say they didn’t know what was going on.
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