President Obama vowed to refer to the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire as a genocide while campaigning in 2008. Since then, he hasn't done so once and won't break from tradition on Friday with a statement marking the 100th anniversary of the 1915 start of the genocide, Politico reports. While Turkey is furious with Pope Francis for describing the event as "the first genocide of the 20th century," Obama is treading more carefully with his ally Turkey by urging "a full, frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts that we believe is in the interest of all parties," according to a White House statement. In so doing, Obama has peeved Armenian-American leaders, who were told of his decision yesterday.
"This is a betrayal of the truth, a betrayal of trust, a disgraceful national surrender to a foreign gag order being imposed by the government of Turkey," the Armenian National Committee of America's executive director says. Obama's fellow Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, adds, "How long must the victims and their families wait before our nation has the courage to confront Turkey with the truth about the murderous past of the Ottoman Empire? If not this president, who spoke so eloquently and passionately about recognition in the past, whom? If not after 100 years, when?" CNN reports National Security Adviser Susan Rice spoke with Turkey's foreign minister yesterday about taking "concrete steps to improve relations with Armenia and to facilitate an open and frank dialogue in Turkey about the atrocities of 1915," the White House said.