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Kerry weighs ‘genocide’ label for Islamic State


Secretary of State John Kerry signaled today that he plans to decide soon whether to formally accuse the Islamic State of genocide amid what sources describe as an intense debate within the Obama administration about how such a declaration should be worded and what it might mean for U.S. strategy against the terrorist group.

“None of us have ever seen anything like it in our lifetimes,” Kerry said during a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday about beheadings and atrocities committed by the Islamic State.

But in response to questioning by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican who has been spearheading a resolution in Congress demanding the administration invoke an international treaty against genocide, Kerry was careful not to tip his hand on what has turned into a thorny internal legal debate with political and potentially military consequences.

Saying the department was reviewing “very carefully the legal standards and precedents” for a declaration of genocide against the Islamic State, Kerry added that he had received “initial recommendations” on the issue but had then asked for “further evaluations.”

In his first public comments on the issue, Kerry said he “will make a decision on this” as soon as he receives those evaluations. He didn’t elaborate on when that might occur.

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