Classified papers show Clinton was aware of 'final solution' to eliminate Tutsis
President Bill Clinton's administration knew Rwanda was being engulfed by genocide in April 1994 but buried the information to justify its inaction, according to classified documents made available for the first time.
Senior officials privately used the word genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because the president had already decided not to intervene.
Intelligence reports obtained using the US Freedom of Information Act show the cabinet and almost certainly the president had been told of a planned "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis" before the slaughter reached its peak.
It took Hutu death squads three months from April 6 to murder an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus and at each stage accurate, detailed reports were reaching Washington's top policymakers.
The documents undermine claims by Mr Clinton and his senior officials that they did not fully appreciate the scale and speed of the killings.
"It's powerful proof that they knew," said Alison des Forges, a Human Rights Watch researcher and authority on the genocide.
The National Security Archive, an independent non-governmental research institute based in Washington DC, went to court to obtain the material.
It discovered that the CIA's national intelligence daily, a secret briefing circulated to Mr Clinton, the then vice-president, Al Gore, and hundreds of senior officials, included almost daily reports on Rwanda. One, dated April 23, said rebels would continue fighting to "stop the genocide, which ... is spreading south".
Three days later the state department's intelligence briefing for former secretary of state Warren Christopher and other officials noted "genocide and partition" and reported declarations of a "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis".
However, the administration did not publicly use the word genocide until May 25 and even then diluted its impact by saying "acts of genocide".