President Obama announced today that he would posthumously award a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a Polish Catholic who came forward in 1942 with one of the first eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust. In his remarks at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the President also explained what his administration is doing to help prevent such horrific events in the future:
We’re making sure that the United States government has the structures, the mechanisms to better prevent and respond to mass atrocities. So I created the first-ever White House position dedicated to this task. It’s why I created a new Atrocities Prevention Board, to bring together senior officials from across our government to focus on this critical mission. This is not an afterthought. This is not a sideline in our foreign policy. The board will convene for the first time today, at the White House.
Going forward, we’ll strengthen our tools across the board, and we'll create new ones. The intelligence community will prepare, for example, the first-ever National Intelligence Estimate on the risk of mass atrocities and genocide. We're going to institutionalize the focus on this issue. Across government, "alert channels" will ensure that information about unfolding crises—and dissenting opinions—quickly reach[es] decision-makers, including me.
Our Treasury Department will work to more quickly deploy its financial tools to block the flow of money to abusive regimes. Our military will take additional steps to incorporate the prevention of atrocities into its doctrine and its planning. And the State Department will increase its ability to surge our diplomats and experts in a crisis. USAID will invite people and high-tech companies to help create new technologies to quickly expose violations of human rights. And we’ll work with other nations so the burden is better shared—because this is a global responsibility.
For more on what the Obama administration is doing to prevent atrocities and genocide around the world, check out the President’s full remarks from the Holocaust Memorial Museum.