Former Iowa legislator to US State Department

President Obama has nominated Stephen Rapp, former U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Iowa during the Clinton administration, to a post in the State Department. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Rapp will be "Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues" in the U.S. State Department.

A news release issued by the White House provided this biographical information about Rapp:

Stephen Rapp has served as Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone since January 2007, leading the prosecutions of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and other persons alleged to bear the greatest responsibility for the atrocities committed during the civil war in Sierra Leone.   From 2001 to 2007, Rapp served as Senior Trial Attorney and Chief of Prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, personally heading the trial team that achieved convictions of the principals of RTLM radio and Kangura newspaper-the first in history for leaders of the mass media for the crime of Incitement to Commit Genocide.  Previously, he was United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa from 1993 to 2001.    Prior to his tenure as U.S. Attorney, he had worked as an attorney in private practice and had served as Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency and as an elected member of the Iowa Legislature.  He received his JD degree from Drake University and his BA from Harvard College.

Rapp ran for congress twice, in 1974 and 1976, losing both times to former Iowa Congressman Chuck Grassley (who is now Iowa's senior U.S. Senator). In 1974, Rapp narrowly lost to Grassley by a 51 to 49 percent margin. In 1976, Rapp lost by a wider margin, 56 to 44 percent.  Rapp and Grassley were running to represent the "old" third district in Iowa — back when Iowa had six congressional districts and the third touched northeast Iowa. 

Here is the bio of Rapp which is posted on The Special Court for Sierra Leone website; it provides some details about the cases he worked as a U.S. Attorney as well as details about his recent work at the Special Court..

Stephen Rapp, who has been appointed as the Prosecutor by the Secretary General of the United Nations since January 2008, was Chief of Prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) since May 2005. In this position, Rapp, an American, has supervised the prosecution of military, government and political leaders allegedly responsible for the Rwandan genocide in trials at the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania.

At the ICTR, Rapp was the Senior Trial Attorney heading the prosecution of what has been called the “Media Trial,” the case against the principals of RTLM radio and the editor of the Kangura newspaper for allegedly inciting persecution and genocide. A major issue in the case is whether the “hate speech” that prepared the way for the genocide can be reached under the applicable law and whether it was protected “free expression.” After 238 days of testimony and the presentation of over 20,000 pages of documents, the trial was concluded in August 2003. In December 2003, the Trial Chamber found each of the defendants guilty of Genocide, Direct and Public Incitement to Commit Genocide, Conspiracy to Commit Genocide, Extermination as a Crime Against Humanity and Persecution as a Crime Against Humanity.

Prior to his service at the ICTR, Rapp was United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa. He was appointed to this position by President Bill Clinton in November 1993 and served until May 2001. During his tenure, his office filed the first cases in the nation under the Brady Handgun Control Act and the firearms provisions of Violence Against Women Act. Prior to service as U.S. Attorney he was in private practice of law in Waterloo, Iowa. He also served as a Staff Director and Counsel at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and as an elected member of the Iowa Legislature.

Rapp is a native of Cedar Falls, Iowa. Rapp received his B.A. degree with honors from Harvard University in government and international relations. He attended Columbia Law School and received his J.D. degree with honors from Drake University.

He is married to Donna (Dolly) Maier. They have two children, Alexander and Stephanie.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.