(CNN) – A sixth batch of confidential memos, notes and other papers from the Clinton White House were released Friday by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.
Collectively, the documents open a window into the Clinton years and cover a variety of topics, including the office of former first lady Hillary Clinton, who's now considered the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 if she decides to run.
Friday's release of 1,128 pages span a range of other issues, including the genocide in Rwanda, judicial confirmations, Osama bin Laden, and Haiti.
Here are some highlights:
Downplaying Rwanda? In what appears to be handwritten notes from Bill Clinton on a June 7, 1994 document, the then-President de-emphasized the certainty of genocide in Rwanda.
The document was prepared by Susan Rice, then Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping, and mentioned “reports that genocide has occurred in Rwanda…” Clinton appears to have changed the language to suggest less certainty that genocide had occurred.
The edited language reads: “reports that acts of genocide may have occurred in Rwanda…”
U.S. officials did not publicly call the violence in Rwanda a genocide until three days after Clinton’s edits were made. On June 10, 1994, Secretary State Warren Christopher reluctantly called the killings in Rwanda a genocide saying, “'If there's any particular magic in calling it genocide, I've no hesitancy in saying that.”
Clinton later called U.S. inaction in Rwanda one of his biggest regrets, suggesting a small U.S. presence could have saved 300,000 lives.
Susan Rice herself has faced criticism over her handling of the public use of the word “genocide” to describe the killings in Rwanda. According to human rights activist and now President Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Rice herself politicized the decision to use the term at a meeting asking, “If we use the word 'genocide' and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?"
How big of a threat is Osama bin Laden? Bill Clinton privately questioned the Central Intelligence Agency’s assessment of bin Laden in a note to National Security Director Sandy Berger, following an article he read about the Al Qaeda leader.
On April 13, 1994, the New York Times reported, “In their war against Mr. bin Laden, American officials portray him as the world's most dangerous terrorist. But reporters for The New York Times and the PBS program, ‘Frontline,’ working in cooperation, have found him to be less a commander of terrorists than an inspiration for them.”
The next day, Clinton asked Berger, “If this article is right, the CIA overstated its case to me – what are the facts?”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s ‘failure to make eye contact’: In a July 14, 1993 memo from Ron Klain to adviser David Gergen, Klain highlights what he thinks are potential “pitfalls” and “dangers” in Ginsburg’s preparation for her Senate confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court.
Among other things, Klain wrote the following: “When shown videotapes of confirmation hearing answers by Judges (David) Souter and (Robert) Bork to similar questions, Judge Ginsburg's reaction has been that Judge Souter ‘demeaned’ himself in giving ‘political’ answers, while Judge Bork was ‘unjustly crucified’ for his ‘candid’ responses.”
Klain also wrote that Ginsburg’s “hostility to the (confirmation) process – to the (Senate Judiciary) Committee's ‘victimizing’ of Judge Bork (on the one hand) and Anita Hill and Lani Guinier (on the other) – is evident. She believes (and may publicly state) that the current process should be replaced by the one used for Chief Justice Burger: a one-hour hearing with no substantive questioning.”
Klain also wrote that Ginsburg “has trouble addressing larger issues and speaking to core values.” In addition, he argued that “Ginsburg's technique” in delivering testimony, “her failure to make eye contact, her halting speech, her ‘laconic’ nature … is not helpful.”
He concludes his memo with the following warning: “You should be cautious in dealing with (Ginsburg)… Ginsburg views the White House's interest and her interests as being at odds with each other: she sees us as having a stake in presenting her as a moderate and in getting along well with the Senate; she sees her interests as ‘being herself,’ preserving her ‘dignity,’ and promoting her ‘independence.’”
Sotomayor faces criticism early on:
The Sonia Sotomayor of 2009? A history-making Supreme Court nominee who sailed through the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 68-31.
The Sonia Sotomayor of 1998? A U.S. Court of Appeals nominee that a concerned White House report said had posed "more problems than any of the other Hispanic judges sitting on the federal bench."
Any future nomination to the Supreme Court, the report concluded, "may prompt a vicious attack from Senate Republicans."
Sotomayor's nomination by Clinton to the Second Circuit initially flew through the Judiciary Committee, with a vote of 16-2. But opposition grew as she (along with another nominee) sat in limbo for 18 months.
And so we come to the 1998 report, written the year she was confirmed.
No author name is attached to the assessment, which offers both praise and political caution. For example, it credits Sotomayor as having a strong professional career and unmatched educational credentials.
But it also bluntly cautions that Republicans saw the future Supreme Court justice as a "judicial activist" and that several "controversial issues" and concerns surrounded her nomination.
When asked about her decision to hear (and not dismiss) a discrimination case from a gay prisoner, the report concludes, "Unfortunately, Sotomayor's explanation that she is required by law to accept a plaintiff's claims as true... was expressed in somewhat condescending terms at her hearing."
Sotomayor's 1993 words criticizing mandatory minimum sentences and one sentence in particular as an "abomination” meant she was being targeted as "soft on crime.” The report also points to statements she made sympathizing with defendants as "victims of economic circumstances."
The report notes that her decisions never reduced sentences, but said that fact has often been "overshadowed" by her bench statements.
"The issues have, to date, plagued Sotomayor's nomination," the assessment concludes.
The author ended with some potentially back-handed compliments and a sharp prediction, writing, "Her fierce independence, and her no-nonsense style are admirable, but her nomination to the Supreme Court may prompt a vicious attack by Senate Republicans."
Sotomayor may have taken lessons from the assessment. In 2009, facing sharp scrutiny for her "wise Latina" remark, the future justice quickly disavowed the comment as a failed rhetorical flourish and began a charm offensive with both sides of the aisle.
Snarkiest draft of a presidential speech ever? Among the documents dumped by the library are a series of innocuous drafts of speeches given by Bill Clinton. There’s one draft that takes snark to a whole new level.
An alternative draft for Clinton’s commencement speech at the Air Force Academy, which he delivered May 31, 1995, included a paragraph ripping into Congress for moving too slowly on an anti-terrorism bill.
“The speaker of the House indicated a desire to go slow on the terrorism package,” the paragraph, referred to as version B in the memo, reads. “I hope the terrorists are going slow today. I hope they’re not planning another attack right now because we don’t have the 1,000 new law enforcement personnel my plan calls for on the case to stop them. I hope they’re not building more bombs at this very moment in the belief that they won’t be caught because the technology my plan calls for is not yet law of the land.”
The speaker of the House referred to in the speech was CNN “Crossfire” co-host Newt Gingrich.
Of course this suggested passage never made it past the draft stage. It is crossed-out with a hand-written note in the margins that reads “this is crazy!” It’s not clear who wrote the note. The draft appears in the Anthony Blinken section of the documents released by the library.
The Bush dog joke you never heard: In a draft speech prepared for Bill Clinton’s appearance at the 1997 Alfalfa Club dinner, a speechwriter’s joke went too far for someone in the White House.
“Socks has been a [sic] exemplary first pet; I don’t want to disparage Millie but some have described her as – well it starts with ‘B’ and rhymes with ‘witch’,” read the joke.
However, it was crossed out of the draft and it appears Clinton never used the quip in his speech.
Socks was the Clintons’ cat while they lived in the White House. Millie was George H.W. and Barbara Bush’s dog. The Clintons later acquired a dog named Buddy.
Deliberations on Haiti: Anthony Lake, who served as Clinton’s national security adviser in 1994, detailed in a couple of memos how the president could authorize the use of force in Haiti without a vote in Congress.
Example of a “pro” of taking that approach:
“Can be done without conceding any legal obligation to report to Congress in advance of military operations.”
And a “con”:
“Some Members of Congress will argue (as Mitchell did to you) that the language in the DOD Appropriations Act was not intended to give us a green light to act unilaterally; others will argue that submitting the report is a cheap attempt to avoid Congress' real interest, a vote.”
Dealing with Putin: With the White House currently struggling in its relations with Russian President Putin, it's interesting to look at discussions about handling Putin 14 years ago after the Kursk submarine disaster, in which 118 sailors died.
In a memo on August 23, 2000, National Security Council press aide Philip Crowley said they needed "succinct answers" to questions President Clinton might get after a departure statement that morning. One topic listed was "Are you concerned about the way in which President Putin and the Russian government handled last week's submarine tragedy?" A possible question asked whether "the deceptions and insinuations that this might be the result of a collision with a U.S submarine appears to be yet another indication that Russia is reverting back to a Cold War psychology?"
National Security Council senior director for Russian affairs Mark Medish suggested in a response memo, "I and all Americans were deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life aboard the Kursk. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Russian people and with the families of the brave sailors who perished."
NSC senior director for foreign policy speechwriting Tomasz Malinowski responded: "Do we really have to avoid answering that? Can't we say that in bad old days, this kind of thing happened all the time, and no one ever knew about it. Whatever you think about the way this tragedy was handled, the fact is, everything is out in the open and the government is being held accountable. A sign of how far Russia still has to go - yes - but also a sign of how far it has come".
Medisch wrote in a follow-up: "I have a different view - that using every event in a foreign country's life to lecture about democracy is unnecessary. Isn't it enough that the Russians are saying it themselves?
CNN’s Sean Kennedy, Alan Silverleib, Lisa Desjardins, Elizabeth Hartfield, Ashley Killough, Rachel Streitfeld, Erin McPike, Steve Brusk, Emily Rust, and Dan Merica contributed to this report.