March 15 - George Clooney continues his fight to end crimes against humanity in South Sudan. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
(NATURAL SOUND - NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Actor and activist George Clooney took his star power to Capitol Hill on Wednesday (March 14) and urged lawmakers to act on the crisis in Sudan. Clooney, who recently visited the volatile region in Sudan, said violence between Sudanese soldiers and rebels aligned with South Sudan in border areas included repeated attacks on unarmed civilians who already face a serious humanitarian crisis. He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee it was a campaign of murder and fear and displacement and starvation. He called Sudan President Omar al-Bashir as well as two other Sudanese officials "war criminals." The three have already been indicted by the International Criminal Court as part of an investigation into atrocities in Darfur from August 2003 to March 2004. Clooney called for increased U.S. efforts to find and freeze offshore accounts of the indicted Sudanese officials. "Let's send a high level envoy to China to work together on this. Let's use the techniques we've learned from chasing terrorists and find and freeze the offshore bank accounts of these war criminals. Let's work with the international community to toughen the sanctions, make Khartoum a very lonely place," he said. Clooney showed senators a video from his trip that detailed the grim humanitarian conditions of a population fighting for survival while under attacks from bombs and missiles. At the hearing he was accompanied by Princeton Lyman, the top Obama administration official on Sudan, and John Prendergast, the co-founder of the advocacy group the Enough Project. The United States worked hard to set the groundwork for South Sudan's independence from Khartoum last year, which capped a 2005 peace deal that ended their long civil war. But the two sides remain locked in disputes over issues including the position of their border, control of the disputed Abyei territory, and what transit fees South Sudan pays its northern neighbor to export oil from Port Sudan. Tensions have been further exacerbated since South Sudan shut down all its oil fields in January in protest of Khartoum's seizure of crude it said was to make up for unpaid fees. Clooney acknowledged a "misery fatigue" for Americans amid the war in Afghanistan and crises in Syria, Somalia and elsewhere as he tries to raise awareness about the suffering in South Sudan. Clooney also plans to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday (March 15).