March 4th, 2009
03:26 PM ET
5 years ago

Frist floated as possible special envoy for Darfur

A Republican congressman urged the Obama administration Wednesday to not delay in appointing a special envoy for Sudan and floated the name of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, pictured above, for the job.'
A Republican congressman urged the Obama administration Wednesday to not delay in appointing a special envoy for Sudan and floated the name of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, pictured above, for the job.'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A Republican congressman urged the Obama administration Wednesday to not delay in appointing a special envoy for Sudan and floated the name of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for the job.

The comments from Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf come on the same day that the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for a five-year campaign of violence in Darfur.

“The world knows what's happening in Sudan and Darfur and yet the Obama administration has failed to appoint a special envoy,” Wolf said on the House floor. “I have asked them to appoint a former senator, Bill Frist from Tennessee, who could start today.”

It’s not the first time Wolf has lobbied for Frist: the congressman wrote to the president in February asking for a special envoy to work on Darfur issues and recommended Frist for the position. The former Tennessee senator is a heart surgeon who has traveled to Sudan multiple times on medical missions. Wolf has also traveled to Sudan to survey the violence.

The White House has appointed high-level envoys for the Middle East as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan, but none yet to deal with the war-torn region of western Sudan. However, after meeting with administration officials in February, actor and activist George Clooney told reporters he had been assured that Obama would appoint an envoy for Sudan.

Wolf said action is needed now.

“Time is short,” he said. “The killing and the devastation goes on. The administration must act. This cannot wait.”

UPDATE: A White House spokesman tells CNN that no announcement is imminent regarding the envoy post.


Filed under: Bill Frist
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Jon in CA

    Oh Goodie... maybe we can send a $1 Billion there too!!!

    March 4, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. Sharon Northern Virginia

    Now that we have a new president everything must be done today. No one was telling Bush it must be done right now, today. President Obama is in charge of now. Please let him do his job, if you wanted things don't a certain way you should have run for president of these united states.

    March 4, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. sensi johnson

    President Obama made it clear during the primaries that Dafur would be high on his agenda. I am quite sure that he is making all the necessary moves that will see him appoint the right person for this job.I think it is clear that president Obama as an African, understands the needs of the continent and the urgency of the Sudanes situation. Thanks! but no thanks to Mr. Wolf for crying "WOLF" on a situation that is already high on the president's agenda.

    March 4, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. Nicole

    The killing is nothing new there – how come the old administration had no special envoy there? (or did they?)

    March 4, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. big papa

    chuck hope...

    ...So have George Clooney and Don Cheadle...

    ...and they actually CARE about the refugees...

    ...Frist was the Senate Majority leader and did NOTHING...

    ...with the power he had...

    March 4, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. Sue

    We should send a "special envoy" down to Mexico to put a serious hurtin' on the drug/sex trafficking cartels, before the Taliban move into Mexico and finds some friends.

    March 4, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  7. Jeff

    “The world knows what's happening in Sudan and Darfur and yet the Obama administration has failed to appoint a special envoy,” Wolf said on the House floor.

    The man has been in office just over one month. George W Bush (or was it Dick Cheney) was President for 8 years and did nothing.

    Darfur needs to be recognized and efforts need to be made to stop the genocide going on in the region, but for a Congressman to stand up and complain at this point is just more conservative finger pointing.

    March 4, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  8. Yamini Balachandran from AZ

    what about Pakistan ??? When are you stopping the billions of modhapukking dollars for anti terrorism efforts???

    It is WASTE of money and against our own interests!!!

    March 4, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. Freed_From_W

    “Time is short,” he said. “The killing and the devastation goes on. The administration must act. This cannot wait.”

    So... killing people in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan is totally fine – but south of there is where genocide becomes a crime?

    Would you care to show us that special map where longitude and latitude determine what a crime is?

    March 4, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Reg

    Geithner instead of Krugman, Dr. Dean instead of Daschle,
    Professor Ravi Batra instead of Summers whatever,
    Bill (killing cats) Frist to envoy in Darfur is like making
    dubya your speech writer.

    Obama will suffer as he did when Judd Gregg was introduced
    as a Cabinet Member that at one time he would do away with
    the same Post he would chair! Pathetic

    Frist is laughable he'd be great a Mr. Hyde!

    March 4, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  11. Dylan from Minneapolis

    Though I don't agree with Frist on almost any of his political policies, he is genuine in his efforts to help the situation in Darfur and also the AIDS epidemic that has plagued Africa for decades. The situation in Darfur is heartbreaking and there must be action soon!

    March 4, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. ggord

    when did this guy start carring for anyone but himself he,ll fiqure a way for his family and friends make some money out of this

    March 4, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Ms. Johnson, Pearland,Texas

    No to Frist.

    March 4, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. Dan, TX

    Sounds good to me. Frist would be good because when he says we need to spend $100 Billion to help Darfur, they won't be able to blame Democrats for it.

    March 4, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. Gary

    The only way that you are going to stop the killing in Sudan is to use the military. I'm okay with that but I don't think the country is...Are they ready for a sudan insurgency like we had in Iraq? Will any other country send troops to help out? Can we afford to help out financially? At one time I thought we should use the military to save lives in Sudan but then I saw how little patience we have in fighting and occupying Iraq and I guess I realized that we aren't ready to be the policemen of the world. The situation in Sudan is sad.

    March 4, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  16. FJ from Atlanta

    Finally a good idea from a republican.

    March 4, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  17. Leslie, TN

    Well yes Frist is ready to go, he doesn't have anything else to do.

    March 4, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. Jackie in Dallas

    Dragging their feet? Geez, guys, President Obama has been in office less than 60 days, is facing a national and world-wide economic meltdown, and has already managed to have more of his Cabinet and staff in place than either Clinton or Bush Jr. did in 90 days without those crises. While this is a critical situation that was left totally unaddressed by the previous administration, please let him catch his breath once in a while!

    I agree that Frist is a good appointment for Darfur and the Sudan. He's familiar with the results of the horrible situations there, and would make a good envoy. And "big papa", Frist DID do things for the Sudan and Darfur, but as a private citizen, not Senate Majority Leader. You may have a rather exaggerated view of just what that means, but it certainly does NOT include making foreign policy decisions. President Bush decided that that area was not on his critical list, and did nothing, which left Frist with his hands tied as a Senator. So he acted as a private citizen.

    It is interesting to note that those "liberal socialist Hollywood types" usually castigated by the far right have actually contributed substantially, both in time and money, for such causes as Darfur and Sudan, and the rebuilding of New Orleans. In doing so, they are certainly leading by example far better than other media types we could name...

    March 4, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  19. MLH

    I haven't heard of Bill Frist doing much to make public the terrible plight of the people in Darfur. As for this representative who finds such disgrace in the fact that President Obama has not yet provided an envoy, I guess I would ask who President Bush's envoy was. Surely that person could give us some information on the situation. After all, President Bush was in office for eight years and during that time must have found more time in which to appoint an envoy than President Obama has had in his less than two months.

    I hope someone is appointed and soon. The lack of action during the past eight years has not reflected well upon Americans as citizens of our country or of the world.

    March 4, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  20. arno

    I just watched "The Devil Came On Horseback" and it put me in a position where I truly feel that action needs to be taken in Sudan. I worry, however, about the possible fall-out of the US going in the way it usually does. Face it, Sudan is threatening the Hague with complete chaos in the region if al-Bashir were arrested, and our removal of Saddam Hussein has led to similar problems in Iraq. I am curious what we are prepared to do to stop the killing of innocent people this time.
    What would be the right course of action, and are we prepared to take it?

    March 4, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  21. arno

    Oh, more subject specific:
    Obama and Clinton are dragging their feet? Exactly how long have we known about thousands of people being murdered over there?

    March 4, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  22. Joyce Becker

    Frist didn't do much when he was leader of the Senate, wonder if he can do any good in Darfur. Somebody has to be appointed soon, perhaps a doctor who has been to that region before he can be effective.

    March 4, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  23. Bayousara

    Why is it that the world waits till the carnage has maimed, raped, and killed millions of people before they start an investigation.

    Raping babies......what kind of "men" would do this?

    March 4, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  24. simmy

    Isn't Frist a Republican? Leave him be. You don't need another flip-flopper. There are enough qualified Democrats. What about Dr. Gupta? Whatever happened to him? What about Dr. Ben Carson? What about anyone besides Frist?

    March 4, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  25. Luke Brown

    Wow. The Republicans did nothing about Darfur the entire time Frist was Majority Leader in the Senate. Now he wants to pull a George Mitchell? LOL

    March 4, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
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