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)