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Archive for August, 2009

With a dearth of Hillary news out there (and she is taking tomorrow off too – good for her!), I thought I would share this video sent to me by a friend. I spent ten years in Haiti, will always love that country and its people, and could not be more pleased with the way Bill and Hillary share that love for Haiti. I met Charlie Rangel down there when my faculté held a reception for him. I was not there when Bill and Hillary first visited, so I did not meet them. I was visiting my sister in Florida for the holidays at the time.

The entire speech that Hillary gives here is posted in the archive of this blog. I put it up the day she made this speech. Haitian soldiers (then French) came here to help us fight the American Revolution. Apparently Bill was the first POTUS to thank Haiti for the support.

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Farewell Senator Kennedy

Hillary at Ted’s Funeral.  I loved Bill’s hand on her whenever he could.  I also thought that nice, warm, long hug between Vicki and Hillary spoke volumes. Hillary looking up whenever she is in a place of worship – simply enchanting.  She is a woman of faith, and I love that about her.

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Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC

August 26, 2009

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Today I join all Americans in mourning the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, one of our nation’s finest statesmen and a dear friend. My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Kennedy’s wife Vicki, his children, grandchildren, and all the members of the extended Kennedy family.

For five decades, Senator Kennedy was at the heart of our greatest debates, serving on the front lines of democracy. With optimism and courage, he helped us meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of our times. He was a champion for women and families, for health care, education, civil rights and the environment. He inspired generation after generation of young Americans to enter public service, to stand up for justice and to fight for progress. And he was a legislator without peer, who understood both when to stand his ground and when to seek out the common ground on which compromise and progress is built.

When I was First Lady, we worked together to provide health insurance for America’s children. When I arrived in the Senate, he was a generous mentor and a thoughtful colleague. We worked together to raise the minimum wage, improve education, and champion the cause we shared so deeply: ensuring that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care. And as Secretary of State, I valued his counsel on how to make America a force for peace and progress around the world.

I will always treasure the memory of his friendship and the time we spent together, from the Massachusetts waters he loved so much, to the floor of the Senate that will feel empty without his booming voice and broad smile.

We have lost Ted, but his life’s work will shape our nation for years to come. His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans who are freer, healthier, and more prosperous because of his efforts. As he said, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.

PRN: 2009/855

HIllary is the most graceful person I have ever seen in my life.

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With Hillary on a brief vacation beginning last Wednesday in Bermuda, there has not been much to post here. These dry news times routinely generate memory photo albums on Hillary blogs, so here are a few cute ones. Here’s Hillary with her good friend British Foreign Minister David Miliband back in March at the NATO conference.

With HBO famously making a movie called “A Special Relationship” about the bilateral friendship between President Bill Clinton and then British PM, Tony Blair, the relationship between Hillary and Miliband appeared from the outset to reaffirm the special alliance between the U.S. and the U.K. despite a rather bumpy start when the Obama team decided to redecorate the White House by returning a bust of Winston Churchill to the Brits. Things got bumpier still when current PM, Gordon Brown, et famille visited the new First Family. But Hillary came through to save the day forming a firm and, by all indications cordial friendship with Miliband…cordial, that is until this happened:

David Miliband calls Hillary Clinton to voice anger over Guantánamo inmates’ transfer to Bermuda By Toby Harnden in Washington Published: 6:34PM BST 12 Jun 2009.

Ooohhhh, noes! Hillary! How could you! Actually, Hillary and David have met since then, and we have not seen frost on the friendship. We have to remember that this was not a decision made within the State Department and although Hillary was certainly consulted, the decision was not hers to make.

Now the choice of Bermuda as a vacation spot is interesting! The Clintons only had a few days there making a quick getaway in advance of Hurricane Bill (I know! You can’t make this stuff up!) closing the airport (and we haven’t heard a whisper since of where they might be). But Bill did play some golf on the course where the Uighurs are groundskeepers, and Hillary has a penchant for making statements just by her presence. Maybe they DIDN’T go there to celebrate the 30th anniversary of …um… the beginning of Chelsea (or maybe they DID!), but if there was a second good reason for Bermuda, I can see a reflection of Hillary’s decision to stay at the Taj Mahal in Mumbai in this choice. “It’s fine! You can still vacation here. See?” She probably promised David she would gladly make this gesture despite:

Release of Abdel Basset Mohamed al-Megrahi, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, Washington, DC, August 20, 2009

When that statement was released, she was already in Bermuda.

Over the weekend, and in total Hillary-blackout, the rage over Al-Megrahi grew legs:

FBI boss Robert Mueller rips Scots who released Lockerbie bomber: “Comfort to terrorists” by Christina Boyle, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER, Sunday, August 23rd 2009, 2:18 AM

So what is the take-away from all this? I think it’s like when Scott Beckett hits Derek Jeter so next inning Andy Pettitte hits Big Papi – no harm meant just a little payback…and a compulsory warning.

One thing, though: You appoint and confirm Secretaries of State and Foreign Ministers to maintain diplomatic relations. Before any further moves of this kind are considered, the administrations would do well to consult and heed the advice of their top diplomats who seem to have a special enough relationship to get us past this bumpy patch.

Meanwhile, Quadaffi, the guy who gave Al-Megrahi the hero’s welcome in Libya, is planning to pitch a tent here in New Jersey – not far from me! I told you, you can’t make this stuff up! Stay tuned.

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Goma

What I Saw in Goma

Op-Ed

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Op-Ed; people.com
Washington, DC
August 21, 2009

 


The following is an Op-Ed authored by Secretary Clinton that appeared on People.com following the Secretary’s trip to Africa. Read the article: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20299698,00.html
In 11 days of travel across Africa, I saw humanity at its worst – and at its best. In Goma last week, I saw both.

The Mugunga Internally Displaced Persons Camp sits in a land of volcanoes and great lakes on the edge of Goma, a provincial capital in the eastern Congo. The camp is now home to 18,000 people seeking refuge from a cycle of violent conflict that has left 5.4 million dead since 1998. Chased from their homes and villages by armed rebels and informal militias, these men, women and children walked for miles with little food or water until they reached this relatively safe haven.

Now they live in tents, one next to the other, row after row, some clinging to life, others hanging on to whatever glimmer of hope remains in a region plagued by years of brutality. Many of these people have been robbed of their homes, possessions, families and, worst of all, their dignity.

Women and girls in particular have been victimized on an unimaginable scale, as sexual and gender-based violence has become a tactic of war and has reached epidemic proportions. Some 1,100 rapes are reported each month, with an average of 36 women and girls raped every day.

I visited a hospital run by the organization Heal Africa and met a woman who told me that she was eight months’ pregnant when she was attacked. She was at home when a group of men broke in. They took her husband and two of their children and shot them in the front yard, before returning into the house to shoot her other two children. Then they beat and gang-raped her and left her for dead. But she wasn’t dead. She fought for life and her neighbors managed to get her to the hospital – 85 kilometers away.

I came to Goma to send a clear message: The United States condemns these attacks and all those who commit them and abet them. They are crimes against humanity.

These acts don’t just harm a single individual, or a single family, or village, or group. They shred the fabric that weaves us together as human beings. Such atrocities have no place in any society. This truly is humanity at its worst.

But there is reason to hope. We have seen survivors summon the courage to rebuild their lives and their communities. We have seen civic leaders and organizations come together to combat this appalling scourge. And we have seen health care workers sacrifice comfortable careers so they can treat the wounded.

In Goma, I met doctors and advocates who work every day to repair the broken bodies and spirits of women who have been raped, often by gangs, and often in such brutal fashion that they can no longer bear children, or walk or work. Caregivers like Lyn Lusi, who founded Heal Africa in Goma, and Dr. Denis Mukwege, who founded the Panzi hospital in Bukavu, represent humanity at its best.

The United States will stand with these brave people. This week I announced more than $17 million in new funding to prevent and respond to gender and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We will provide medical care, counseling, economic assistance and legal support. We will dedicate nearly $3 million to recruit and train police officers to protect women and girls and to investigate sexual violence. We will send technology experts to help women and front-line workers report abuse using photographs and video and share information on treatment and legal options. And we will deploy a team of civilian experts, medical personnel and military engineers to assess how we can further assist survivors of sexual violence.

While I was in the DRC, I had very frank discussions about sexual violence with President Kabila. I stressed that the perpetrators of these crimes, no matter who they are, must be prosecuted and punished. This is particularly important when they are in positions of authority, including members of the Congolese military, who have been allowed to commit these crimes with impunity.

Our commitment to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence did not begin with my visit to Goma, and it will not end with my departure.

We are redoubling our efforts to address the fundamental cause of this violence: the fighting that goes on and on in the eastern Congo. We will be taking additional steps at the United Nations and in concert with other nations to bring an end to this conflict.

There is an old Congolese proverb that says, “No matter how long the night, the day is sure to come.” The day must come when the women of the eastern Congo can walk freely again, to tend their fields, play with their children and collect firewood and water without fear. They live in a region of unrivaled natural beauty and rich resources. They are strong and resilient. They could, if given the opportunity, drive economic and social progress that would make their country both peaceful and prosperous.

Working together, we will banish sexual violence into the dark past, where it belongs, and help the Congolese people seize the opportunities of a new day.

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08.03.09.4

Commemoration of World Humanitarian Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 19, 2009

Today, the United States is honored to join the international community in commemorating the first World Humanitarian Day. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 to increase public awareness about humanitarian activities around the world, World Humanitarian Day is also an occasion to honor aid workers who labor every day on behalf of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. This day marks the sixth anniversary of the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad in which 22 people were killed, including Sergio Vieiro de Mello, the Secretary General’s Special Representative in Iraq.

Sadly, situations of dire need exist in every region of the world. The success of our collective response to humanitarian crises rests on the selfless commitment and dedication of professional humanitarian aid workers. Increasingly however, aid workers themselves are targets of attack – in 2008 alone a record 260 humanitarian aid workers were killed, kidnapped or seriously injured in violent attacks. We call upon all governments and parties in conflict to give their highest attention to the safety and security of humanitarian personnel. We are inspired by these workers’ personal dedication to humanitarian principles, especially in the face of grave danger. We honor their service, and we congratulate their successes.

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Remarks With Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
August 18, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon, and it’s a great pleasure for me to be able to welcome the foreign minister of Colombia to the State Department. I’ve had the opportunity of meeting with him before on several different occasions, but it is always an important time when we are able to discuss the many issues between us. Colombia is an important ally of the United States, and our partnership is based on mutual respect and mutual interest, and it’s a partnership that enhances the security and prosperity of both of our countries.
Today, the foreign minister and I had a very productive discussion about how we will strengthen and deepen that partnership. We discussed a wide range of common concerns. I asked that we have a chance to really explore our many different agenda items, and I thanked the foreign minister for Colombia’s leadership on both regional and global issues, including their contribution in Afghanistan, where Colombian troops will soon be helping the people of Afghanistan build a more peaceful and stable country. We’re very grateful for their service and sacrifice. We also greatly appreciate the role Colombian police are playing in Haiti and Colombia’s efforts to train security forces in the region, particularly in the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.
We discussed the ongoing situation in Honduras. The United States supports the peaceful restoration of democratic and constitutional order in Honduras, with President Zelaya’s return as president to finish his term. We continue to believe in the need for a negotiated solution and feel that President Arias’s plan was an excellent one for resolving this crisis. So once again, we call on the parties to avoid steps that increase division and polarization in Honduras and needlessly place people at risk.
The foreign minister and I also discussed the bilateral defense cooperation agreement that our governments hope to sign in the near future. This agreement ensures that appropriate protections are in place for our service members. It will allow us to continue working together to meet the challenges posed by narco-traffickers, terrorists, and other illegal armed groups in Colombia. These threats are real, and the United States is committed to supporting the Government of Colombia in its efforts to provide security for all of its citizens.
I want to be clear about what this agreement does and does not do. First, the agreement does not create U.S. bases in Colombia. It does provide the United States access to Colombian bases, but command and control, administration, and security will be Colombia’s responsibility, and any U.S. activity will have to be mutually agreed upon in advance. The United States does not have and does not seek bases inside Colombia.
Second, there will be no significant permanent increase in the U.S. military presence in Colombia. The congressionally mandated cap on the number of U.S. service members and contractors will remain and will be respected.
And third, this agreement does not pertain to other countries. This is about the bilateral cooperation between the United States and Colombia regarding security matters within Colombia.
Our hemisphere faces a number of pressing challenges, from the economic crisis to the climate crisis to public health concerns, such as H1N1 virus, to narcotics trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime. These all demand our attention and our collaboration. And so the United States and Colombia are committed to working together and to making it possible for us to deliver results for the people of our two countries.
So once again, I want to thank the foreign minister for his visit and invite him to say a few words.
FOREIGN MINISTER BERMUDEZ: (Via interpreter) I want to say good afternoon to everyone, and first of all I want to thank the Secretary of State for hosting me here today along with my delegation. I thank her, as always, for the generosity she shows when we come to visit and for the goodwill in our meetings.
The United States and Colombia enjoy a very close relationship, just as our personal relationship is a close one, and we hope and pray that this will continue in the future for the benefit of both our peoples. We have discussed a very broad, very far-reaching agenda, an agenda that includes all kinds of topics like clean energy, the fight against terrorism, the fight against narco-trafficking, technology. As you all know, Colombia has suffered greatly as a result of narco-trafficking and terrorism, two issues that unfortunately go hand in hand and to a certain degree have become synonymous. This is a very serious threat that we are all facing, and we in Colombia know this full well, unfortunately.
And also unfortunately, many times in different parts of the world, countries speak out against atrocities that are committed or they speak out against the assassination of people as a result of terrorism or narco-trafficking. Unfortunately, not all of them are willing to lend the same hand when it comes to cooperation. In the United States, we have found a partner who provides us with cooperation, who also provides us with very effective friendship and leadership in this area. It is important to be able to carry out efforts such as these everywhere. Drug trafficking is something that we will make sure is going to stop, and it is only when everyone is cooperating that we will be able to achieve this. Colombia wants this completely, and we know that the United States will help us towards this goal, because this is something that is going to be of benefit to all of us, both regionally as well as on our entire continent, and eventually for the entire globe.
Colombia does not just ask for cooperation; we also offer cooperation whenever we can. As I have said, we have suffered, and we have learned from the lessons as a result of this suffering. Therefore, we want to be able to help all those through global programs and anywhere where it is possible for us to provide our experience. We are doing this in Haiti, with Mexico, with Guatemala, with Panama. We are delighted that we will soon be signing agreements with the United States on this very topic, and we hope that we will be able to embrace such agreements regionally as well in the future.
Once Colombia is free of all these scourges that we are now suffering, everyone will benefit as a result. I thank you, Madame Secretary, for this meeting today, for your kind words, and I look forward to continuing to work on our very broad agenda.
MODERATOR: We’ll take a few questions. The first question is for Andrea Mitchell of NBC.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary, on another subject, what have you learned since your husband’s return from North Korea about the state of that regime, of Kim Jong-il, his health, the succession, and the possibility that this could, while a private mission, become a circuit breaker and open the door towards renewed negotiations?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andrea, the briefing that my husband and those who traveled with him have provided to us is extremely helpful because it gives us a window into what’s going on in North Korea. But our policy remains the same. Our policy is consistent. We continue to offer to the North Koreans the opportunity to have a dialogue within the Six-Party Talk framework with the United States that we think could offer many benefits to the people of North Korea. But the choice is up to the North Koreans. They know that we are committed to the goal of full and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
So we’re exploring with our Six-Party partners, as well as other international partners, what additional steps could be taken to begin the framework discussions once more. But it’s going to be up to the North Koreans to determine.
QUESTION: But what have we learned from that window? What window has been opened? You used the phrase “window.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, right. Well, that is up to us to determine whether there are some opportunities and some insights that can be used to try to create this positive atmosphere. But it’s truly up to the North Koreans.
MODERATOR: Next question, Sergio Gomez, from La Prensa.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary and also Mr. Bermudez, despite the explanations, the agreement has generated some turmoil in the region. Specifically, President Chavez insists that it’s an aggressive plan and has announced that he will purchase even more weapons from Russia, and also place around seven new bases in the Colombian border. Do you think this agreement is, like, starting an arms race in the region? Are you concerned about it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think I very clearly described what it is and what it isn’t. I certainly hope that anyone who is speaking out about the agreement will take the time to understand that this is built on years of agreements between the United States and Colombia. Plan Colombia is a commitment that the United States made going back three administrations, if I’m not mistaken, to assist Colombia in its courageous struggle against the narco-traffickers.
And I think what the foreign minister said is really important. We all should be cooperating with one another. We should all be supporting each other in the fight against terrorists and the fight against criminal carters and drug traffickers, because they are so disruptive and damaging to the fabric of society. The assassinations, the intimidation that goes on is not just a threat to the country in which it occurs, but it’s a threat to everyone.
So I believe that any fair reading of what it is we are discussing is about our continued commitment to assist Colombia. It has nothing to do with other countries, and I only hope that people will actually take the time to understand that.
FOREIGN MINISTER BERMUDEZ: (Via interpreter) I just wanted to point out that I want to reiterate that what Colombia needs is more effective mechanisms of cooperation. And this mechanism in particular with the United States is one that we have had for a very long time already. It is building on a number of mechanisms that we have been working on, and so the principles contained therein are very clear: the principle of sovereign equality of states, the principle of non-intervention, and the principle of the territorial integrity of states. These are very important tenets, and I think it would be extremely good to have more agreements not just with the United States, but with other states in the same vein.
MODERATOR: The next question, Kim Ghattas from BBC.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you very much. I have two questions, if I may briefly. The first one is about Lockerbie. I was wondering how concerned you were about the fact that the man who was convicted for killing more than 180 Americans over Lockerbie may be released, and how much pressure are you putting on the Scottish authorities to convince them to not release him?
And also briefly on Afghanistan, there’s an upsurge in violence ahead of the elections, and lots of reports of fraud and ballot-buying. And I was wondering where does that leave the legitimacy of the results of those elections? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well as to the first question, the United States has made its views known over a number of months and we continue to make the same point that we think it is inappropriate and very much against the wishes of the family members of the victims who suffered such grievous losses with the actions that led to the bombing of the airline. And we have made our views known to the Libyan Government as well.
I take this very personally because I knew a lot of the family members of those who were lost, because there was a large contingent from Syracuse University. So during the time that I had the great honor of representing New York, I knew a lot of these families. I talked with them about what a horror they experienced. And I just think it is absolutely wrong to release someone who has been imprisoned based on the evidence about his involvement in such a horrendous crime. We are still encouraging the Scottish authorities not to do so, and hope that they will not.
With respect to Afghanistan, we have made a number of statements over the last several days supporting the electoral process, speaking out against the uptick in violence. I think one way you can view the violence is an effort by the Taliban to intimidate people from actually voting, to try to create an atmosphere of violence and fear that will keep people away from the polls. And there are problems with this election, as there are with any election, but we still believe that it is the right of the people of Afghanistan to pick their own leaders. And we are encouraging them to come out and vote. And we’ve worked very hard over the last months to provide the security with the help of a lot of our ISAF partners and others who are present in Afghanistan. And we’re going to hope that the election goes well.
MODERATOR: Last question to Maria Luisa Rossel.
QUESTION: Thank you. Good afternoon, Madame Secretary, (inaudible) Bermudez.
Madame Secretary, the State Department has said in different occasions that Venezuela has not done enough to cooperate in the fight against drugs in the region. Some experts believe that that’s the reason why President Chavez has criticized so much and strongly the agreement that your countries are going to sign sooner. So I wonder if you agree with that opinion, and why other governments, like the Brazilian Government for example, has – also have some concerns about the agreement? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t want to speak for any other government. They can certainly express their own views. But I do want each person who speaks out about this agreement to understand what it is and to recognize what it is not. It is certainly a bilateral agreement with very clear recognition of territorial integrity and sovereignty and all of the other key principles that the foreign minister mentioned. So I hope that as more is learned, there is not just an awareness of the relationship that the United States and Colombia have had for many, many years and our continuing cooperation on what we view as not just a threat to the two of us, but a threat to the whole region.
But I would also ask that more countries actually help us, help us in this fight. Don’t just stand on the sidelines, and certainly don’t contribute to the problems by doing and saying things that undermine the efforts that our governments are taking to try to protect the entire region from the scourge of narco-traffickers.
So I think that people are free to say what they will, but the facts are very clear here. This is a continuation of a partnership that we believe and the Colombians believe have helped to make life better for the people of Colombia. That has nothing – there’s nothing more than that; that we want to make it possible, as it now is, for people to be free from intimidation and violence in Colombia, when not so long ago that was – you couldn’t say that. And I really applaud the Colombian Government, President Uribe’s leadership for what they have done against a really ruthless enemy.
Thank you all.
MODERATOR: Thank you.

 

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