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Archive for November, 2010

**Keatsian post alert**

Not that there are no serious stories to follow this weekend, in fact the air is thick with storm clouds that involve our Mme. Secretary one way or another, and certainly if and as events are confirmed, posts will appear on this blog. Meanwhile, the day after Black Friday seems to cry out for lighter fare.

Diane reminded me this morning that I once referred to Hillary Clinton’s “kissy-mouth.” This is a position her lips take when she is producing any of the back vowels (Ɔ O Ʊ U), the bilabial consonants (b p m), and the glide (w). Most speakers of Standard American English do not articulate these phonemes with quite the care Hillary Clinton is wont to take – especially when she is speaking to audiences that are not native speakers of English or to whom she wants to make her message eminently clear.

Aside from enhancing the comprehensibility of her message, the visual effect of this oral idiosyncrasy, the formation of the “kissy-mouth,” (a very handy mouth to be able to make if one is attempting to speak French with any modicum of comprehensibilty) is also disarmingly attractive.   Mme. Secretary does not use French, but she has mastered the kissy-mouth and would probably sound quite good in French.

From a purely Keatsian point of view, the kissy-mouth makes for pretty pictures to satisfy the guilty pleasures of Hillary-watchers no matter whether their names have a D, R, or I behind them.   To a deeper extent, it is seductive and might actually be hypnotic!

My suggestion for the coming weeks:   Mme. Secretary should meet face-to-face, no phone calls, with the Republicans who are showing soft on START.   I have faith that the kissy-mouth can help get those 67 votes. (It’s worth a try.  Smart power.  Those Senators have been missing their eye-candy ever since she left for DOS.)

This post is dedicated to Robyn and Diane.

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The State Department, via spokesman P.J. Crowley,  promised updates over the weekend as stories were expected to develop. No updates have been forthcoming from State, but foreign ministries (presumably not in national turkey comas) have provided some insights into the kind of Thanksgiving weekend our lovely and hard-working Mme. Secretary is having.

South Korea says joint military drill to send message
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Thursday a joint military exercise with the United States due later this month will send a clear message to North Korea.

Over telephone talks with Secretary (of State) Hillary Clinton, we agreed that through the drill, we will be able to …send a clear message to the North in relation to the recent situation,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

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South Korean, US and Japanese foreign ministers to meet

The Japanese and US top diplomats agreed Thursday to set up a meeting with their South Korean counterpart to coordinate their policies towards North Korea, news reports said. Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed to arrange the meeting for December in Washington, Japan’s Kyodo News reported. During their 15-minute phone conversation, Maehara and Clinton confirmed the need to enhance their cooperation in the wake of North Korea’s attack on a South Korean island Tuesday, and its uranium enrichment programme, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

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China holds talks with Clinton on N.Korea: foreign ministry

BEIJING (AFP) – Beijing held phone talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday on the tense situation following North Korea’s deadly bombardment of a South Korean island, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

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Italic

Under the surface there is an unrelated story that was probably the one Crowley was expecting to break over the weekend when he spoke to the press on Wednesday. My opinion is that these leaks are dangerous, violate national and international security, and should be stopped. Assange should be in prison for doing this. These are not old, expired communications. They are recent, sensitive, and protected. His actions are criminal. Your freedom of speech ends where it endangers the safety of others. Wikileaks is dangerous.

US rushes to contain new WikiLeaks damage

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States raced Friday to contain the fallout from the looming release of millions of sensitive diplomatic cables by the WikiLeaks, warning governments around the world of embarrassing disclosures.

US diplomats headed to foreign ministries in hopes of staving off anger if the whistleblower website puts out the leaked cables, which are internal messages that lack the niceties that diplomats generally voice in public.

The documents, the third tranche since WikiLeaks published 77,000 classified US files on the Afghan conflict in July, could affect some of the most sensitive US relationships including with Russia, Israel and Turkey.

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So it appears that Mme. Secretary’s holiday weekend is not free of work or concerns. She is spending portions of it on the phone, but we hope that she is making the calls from the comfort of home and otherwise enjoying some downtime with her family.

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Dear Madame Secretary,

I wish you a warm, peaceful, restful, and Happy Thanksgiving with your loving family.  We are lucky to have you at the helm of State, and that is something for which I am thankful every day of the year.  Your hard work is much appreciated.  That you go about your business with such humility and good cheer sets a wonderful example for all Americans as well as for people the world over.

Your admirers are equally grateful to your family for so generously sharing you with us and with the world.   Your mother has given us an American treasure.

I say this every year, and I shall once again:  I am grateful that I have the chance to be on earth at the same time as you are.   The accident of birth can separate us by centuries from people in history that we might have wanted to know.  That I have the chance to watch you making history in real time is a privilege.  Thank you for all you do and have a wonderful holiday.

Best,

Still4Hill

 

Readers might like to have a glimpse into some of Mme. Secretary’s activities for the next few days.  This comes, not from some social calendar, though.  It is from P.J. Crowley’s press briefing today.

 

 

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
November 24, 2010

MR. CROWLEY: First of all, happy Wednesday and, one day early, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Just to kind of set expectations, under current thinking, we will not brief on Friday. We will, through the next four days, keep you updated through various forums, including Twitter. We would expect the Secretary to have a series of calls in the coming days with her counterparts, expect, for the most part, with counterparts discussing the situation in North Korea. I think Mark flagged for you yesterday that we have calls pending with her counterparts from Japan and Korea. I wouldn’t rule out other discussions as well.

We’re mindful that Friday is the anniversary of the attack in Mumbai. I would expect that we’ll have a statement to put out. Maybe we’ll try to put that out sometime tomorrow so that it can be reported for Friday in India. But – not that there’s anything coming up this weekend, but we will be available to you during the weekend as we anticipate an emerging story, shall we say.

 

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Public Schedule for November 24, 2010

Washington, DC
November 24, 2010

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Secretary Clinton has no public appointments.

Good for her! I hope this really means that she has managed to go home and get some rest and recreation. Happy Thanksgiving, Mme. Secretary. I am thankful that we have you!

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Literally only one and falls under the rubric of “something is better than nothing.”   I could not find any more.  This was at the White House photo stream.  It was the meeting this afternoon of the National Security team.  We can only see the back of her head, but I am looking forward to seeing, at some point in the future, better shots of this jacket.  It is a royal blue tweed (she had on a green tweed in Lisbon last weekend).  Looks like she is going for some interesting tweeds in jewel colors.  I like!

 

Here is a cropped version.

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Public Schedule November 23, 2010

Washington, DC
November 23, 2010

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

12:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Secretary of Defense Bob Gates and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

4:45 p.m. Secretary Clinton attends a meeting at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

MTP, posted with vodpod

Interview With David Gregory of NBC Meet the Press

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Lisbon, Portugal
November 21, 2010

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, welcome back to the program.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, David.

QUESTION: I want to talk about this showdown between the President and Senate Republicans over the START Treaty. The President, in his comments to reporters, made it very clear he thinks politics is being played here, saying to reporters, “Nobody’s going to score any political points to 2012.”

Is that the President’s belief here about what’s standing in the way? And in your view, is this really a litmus test of whether there can be bipartisanship in Washington after the election?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the President believes strongly, and I agree with him, that this treaty is in the national security interests of the United States. And it’s not only Americans who believe that. I’m very impressed by the number of leaders at the NATO-Lisbon summit who voluntarily told their own press or American press – they were chasing down reporters to say this is so much in the interests of Europe and others.

So the President sees this very clearly, but I don’t think he considers this a political issue. It’s a question of whether we have the time and whether we can make the case, in the limited time that the lame duck provides, to satisfy the concerns of two-thirds of the Senate. I think we can. I think that everyone has operated in good faith. We have looked hard at this. When it came out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it came out with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, 14-4.

I think that the questions are being – that are being asked by Republicans deserve thoughtful answers, and everyone in the Administration stands ready, from Bob Gates to Jim Clapper, the head of – the Director of National Intelligence, because we all see it in the same way. And we’re in the tradition of both Republican and Democratic presidents, going back to Ronald Reagan, who famously said, “Trust, but verify.”

We have no verification without a treaty about what’s going on in Russia’s nuclear program. So I think whether you’re already convinced or can be convinced, I think we want to get our inspectors back on the ground, and the only way to do that is by ratifying this treaty.

QUESTION: Is there an issue, though, of America prestige? The President was dealt a setback on fair trade when he was in Seoul. There was a feeling when it comes to whether it’s trade or economic policy, that America can’t always get what it wants. Is this going to potentially be a problem with the President not being able to get what he wants on the world stage because of Republicans?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, I think that the President didn’t agree to a trade deal in Seoul because he didn’t feel like it was enough in America’s interests. That’s what a president is supposed to do. Obviously, he’s still working to get one finalized that is. And in respect to START, which concerns not just trade but life or death, because we’re talking about thousands of nuclear warheads that are still pointed at the United States.

The President believes that it does go beyond politics. You can argue about a trade deal, but what the tradition has been in the Senate going back to the 1980s with President Reagan, is that once people have had a chance to carefully consider these arms control treaties, they have been passed overwhelmingly. We’ve seen it with the Reagan and the Bush Administrations, the Clinton Administration. Now, of course, we are in the Obama Administration. And in this one area, this goes beyond politics. This should be nonpartisan, not just bipartisan.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, let me get to a few other areas, including the war in Afghanistan. Listening to the President, listening and following the events that have happened at the NATO summit, I wonder whether the Washington clock for the war has change, that Americans should expect that by next July there’s a token number of U.S. forces that are withdrawn, and that really the war doesn’t end for America until 2014.

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, David, I think that we’ve been very clear about this, that the transition to Afghan security lead begins next year in 2011. It is conditions-based. So where it can happen, at what pace it can happen, how many troops can be substituted for, that is what General Petraeus and the military leaders are going to be working on to recommend to the President and the leaders of other countries.

QUESTION: Well, let me get it on a key point, that is it possible then, even in 2014 when you envision and you hope that a transition is complete, might the United States have a long-term presence there, say, in the form of permanent air bases to maintain a presence in the country?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re intent upon reaching the goal of transition to Afghan security in 2014. But both the United States and NATO ISAF partners have said that, of course, we’d be willing to continue to help train and equip the Afghan military, what we do with countries around the world. There could be other missions that other countries would take on in terms of civilian aid and supporting the government. So the security lead, the fight, if you will, does transition to the Afghans. Support for that fight will continue to be provided by not just the United States but others.

QUESTION: What about permanent bases?

SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s been no decision whatsoever about any of that.

QUESTION: But is that possible? Is that something that the U.S. is considering?

SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s no consideration. It’s just not on the table at this point.

QUESTION: Let me ask you about – as Secretary of State, you don’t have to deal with airport security, but so many Americans do, especially coming up in this Thanksgiving week.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.

QUESTION: There’s obviously a security threat out there, a terror threat, which is why you have this advanced technology and why you have these rather invasive pat-downs that we’re seeing throughout airports around the country. Is this excessive, or is this the right response to the kind of threat environment that Americans face?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the people responsible for our security, such as Secretary Napolitano, obviously believe that this is necessary, and I’m not going to comment or certainly second-guess their considered opinions. At the same time, I think everyone, including our security experts, are looking for ways to diminish the impact on the traveling public. I mean, obviously, the vast, vast majority of people getting on these planes are law-abiding citizens who are just trying to get from one place to another. But let’s not kid ourselves: The terrorists are adaptable; they start doing whatever they can to try to cause harm; and when you have people who are willing to die in order to kill Americans and others, you’ve got folks putting explosives in their underwear. Who would have thought that?

So striking the right balance is what this is about, and I am absolutely confident that our security experts are going to keep trying to get it better and less intrusive and more precise. But at the same time, we want people to travel safely.

QUESTION: And to follow up on terrorism, the Ahmed Ghailani case that was concluded this week with a conviction has raised new questions about whether it’s wise to put these terror suspects in civilian courts. As Secretary of State, why is it important to the rest of the world that these hardened terror suspects go in U.S. civilian courts to be tried?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s important, first and foremost, to Americans, which is my highest priority. What is best for the United States and for our own citizens? The civilian courts, known as Article III courts under the Constitution, have a good track record of convicting terrorists. And in fact, if you look at the comparison between terrorists who are now serving time in our maximum security prisons compared to what military commissions have been able to do, there’s no comparison. We get convictions, we send people away in our civilian courts at a much more regularized and predictable way than yet we’ve been able to figure out how in the military commissions.

Secondly, I think there’s a misconception in our own country about what’s admissible in terms of evidence in a civilian court versus a military commission. They don’t have the same rules, but the rules are close enough in terms of what can or can’t be admitted into evidence. So there’s a very strong argument that what the judge in the Ghailani case said could not be admitted would not have been admissible in a military commission.

QUESTION: Well, right. And that is a very narrow issue. But the real issue is there’s a lot of uncertainty in the criminal justice system, as you well know as a lawyer, in a civilian case. But my question is: Are we committed with these terror suspects that if they are acquitted in civilian courts they should be released?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, no, and don’t forget we’re not going —

QUESTION: Well, then why hold up the American system as the right route if you’re not going to release them? That’s what the American system says you have to do.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But, David, first of all, our system is the best system in the world. We all know that. It is good enough and strong enough to either convict and sentence the guilty, or even execute where appropriate, and where you can’t convince an American jury, which is certainly obsessed with terrorism, maybe there’s a question about the strength of the case.

And I think what we are trying to do is get the best result consistent with our laws and constitution. And under our laws, military commissions are legal for certain cases, but it should be the primary decision to use our civilian courts whenever and wherever possible. So I think that this has become a kind of strange argument. On the one hand, people say we want to convict these people. The civilian courts have a better record of actually convicting and imprisoning than we do yet have in the military commission. But we also don’t want to have security problems or publicity problems for particularly dangerous leading terrorists, so we should look at the military commission. So I think that this is a difficult issue, but I really hope that everyone can look at it carefully and consider all of the facts concerning this.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, before I let you go, I have to ask you this just as a political observer. What do you make of what happened on election day? And all this talk about Sarah Palin – when I interviewed you a while back, you said you’d be willing to sit down and have coffee with her. She may be someone who is in a position to try to equal what you accomplished in the political arena. What advice might you give her and what do you make of what’s happened politically?

SECRETARY CLINTON: You know, David, the best thing about being of Secretary of State is representing the United States around the world, but the second best thing is I’m out of politics. So with all due respect, I am not going to comment on the political scene right now other than to say that I’m focused on making the case to 67-plus senators in the Senate to pass the START treaty because that, to me, is the most important task facing the Senate and it goes way beyond politics.

QUESTION: And here I thought I’d lulled you into a moment of candor. (Laughter.) Secretary Clinton, thank you very much, as always.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, David.

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