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Archive for the ‘state department’ Category

Perhaps Trump was confused and thought Yanukovich was still president of Ukraine. This is straight out of his playbook.


George Kent, a senior State Department official, arrives for his impeachment inquiry deposition on Oct. 15.
George Kent, a senior State Department official, arrives for his impeachment inquiry deposition on Oct. 15. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

He just can’t get over Hillary Clinton.

Before giving U.S. military aid to Ukraine, President Trump wanted “nothing less” than for the European country to announce an investigation targeting Clinton in addition to one targeting Joe Biden and his son, according to a senior State Department official.

George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs, made the bombshell revelation during his closed-door deposition on Oct. 15, testifying he was told that Trump used Clinton’s name as “shorthand” for the investigation he wanted President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch into a debunked right-wing conspiracy theory claiming anti-Trump Ukrainians interfered in the 2016 election.

Kent’s deposition, a transcript of which was released Thursday, marks the first time Clinton’s name has come up in the context of Trump’s desired Ukrainian investigation of the 2016 U.S. election. The mention suggests Trump wanted the probe to target the former Democratic presidential candidate one way or another.

Kent said Gordon Sondland, Trump’s handpicked ambassador to the European Union, had conveyed the Clinton message to him and other diplomats after speaking to the president on Sept. 7.

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Just in case there are any questions about why this happened, it was at her request.

Clinton’s security clearance withdrawn at her request

The State Department has revoked former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s security clearance after she requested that it be withdrawn, according to a letter released Friday by a top GOP senator.

The State Department—in a letter dated Sept. 21 but publicly released Friday— told Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, that the security clearance was revoked on August 30 after Clinton requested that it be withdrawn.
“We would like to provide you with an update on the status of former Secretary Clinton’s security clearance and the ongoing administrative review pertaining to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other current and former department officials,” Charles Faulkner, the acting assistant secretary of legislative affairs, wrote to Grassley.
The State Department added in the letter to Grassley that five of Clinton’s aides had also had their security clearance revoked.
Four of the names are redacted but one aide listed in the email is Cheryl Mills, who worked as Clinton’s chief of staff.
Those of us who have been here awhile can probably guess a few of those redacted names.

Edited to add:

  1. It is not unusual for officials to maintain clearances when they leave office;
  2. Hillary and her researchers were working on Hard Choices after she retired, so no, she is not working on a new book at the moment;
  3. Here is the request.


Here is the background.


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Having studied Russian at Moscow State University and having been a Ford Foundation Fellow in Soviet Studies, Condoleeza Rice was George W. Bush’s Russia expert. No one, Republican or Democrat, questioned her qualifications in that realm.

It is, therefore, stunning that she has chosen to side with Vladimir Putin against her successor at the State Department, Hillary Clinton.

dailycaller.com

Rice Blames Hillary For Russian Election Meddling

Benny JohnsonReporter At Large

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put some of the blame for Russian election on Hillary Clinton in a wide-ranging MSNBC interview on Thursady

Rice, who has considerable experience with Vladimir Putin, did not hold back on her assessment of the motivations behind Russian election meddling.

She said that then-Secretary of State Clinton criticizing Putin for Russia’s 2012 elections encouraged the foreign leader to seek revenge. Rice said that Putin is an “eye for an eye” kind of person and that he was out to hurt Clinton in order to prove that America could also have flawed elections.

“With Vladimir Putin, this was an eye for an eye. He’s an eye for an eye kind of person, and Hillary Clinton criticized his election. Now he wants to show that he can sow chaos in ours.”

 

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Condi is wrong on several counts.

1. Hillary commented (no she did not “meddle” – that is something different but back to that later) on the 2010 Russian parliamentary elections not Putin’s 2012 presidential election.

In her memoir of her State Department years, Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton portrays Putin’s worldview as “shaped by his admiration of the powerful czars of Russian history” and his view of geopolitics as a zero-sum game. Following the December 2010 parliamentary elections in Russia, widespread reports of fraud brought tens of thousands of protestors out into the frigid Russian streets. Hillary recalls stating, “The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted…. That means they deserve fair, free, transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them.” She goes on to describe Putin blaming her for “setting the tone” for the widespread demonstrations that followed the elections. Nothing in Hillary’s memoir nor elsewhere  provides any account of Hillary speaking out against Putin’s 2012 reelection or any protests, for that matter.

2.  Hillary Clinton was not “meddling” when she made her comments. This is meddling. As secretary of state, Hillary was well within her “paygrade” to make a comment regarding elections and unrest in another country.

3. Victim-blaming is always a cheap shot and always wrong! It is especially disturbing coming from a former secretary of state about her successor. I have this quote in the right sidebar here. It bears repetition. “What I have always found is that when it comes to foreign policy, it is important to remember that politics stops at the water’s edge.” -HRC 11-04-10. Had Condi remained at the State Department in December 2010, she, too, would have been expected to comment on the elections and protests in Russia – especially given her academic background. Would her remarks have been so different?

The cyber attacks against independent election observers that Hillary describes in Chapter 11 of Hard Choices foreshadow some of what we saw happen here in 2016. Some. But not all. Not the worst. We also deserve fair, free, transparent elections and commentary about a foreign country from a candidate never justifies elements from that country interfering in our elections in any way.

Reuters Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with President-elect Barack Obama’s Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton at the State Department.

 

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From the article:

 


Rex Tillerson is pictured. | AP Photo
The move — believed to be ordered by a top aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — reflects the Trump administration’s rightward turn from the Obama administration on family planning issues. | Hussein Malla/AP Photo

State Department officials have been ordered to pare back passages in a soon-to-be-released annual report on global human rights that traditionally discuss women’s reproductive rights and discrimination, according to five former and current department officials.

The directive calls for stripping passages that describe societal views on family planning, including how much access women have to contraceptives and abortion.

A broader section that chronicles racial, ethnic and sexual discrimination has also been ordered pared down, the current and former officials said.

The move, believed to have been ordered by a top aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, reflects the Trump administration’s rightward turn from the Obama administration on family planning issues. It also appears to highlight the stated desire of Tillerson and President Donald Trump to make human rights a lower priority in U.S. foreign policy.

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China accused of building ‘island fortresses’ as Philippine newspaper obtains aerial images

An aerial picture of Chinese construction activities in the South China Sea

 

The surveillance pictures were mostly taken between June and December last year. Photograph: Inquirer.net/Philippine Daily Inquirer

Beijing has been accused of building “island fortresses” in the South China Sea after a newspaper in the Philippines obtained aerial photographs offering what experts called the most detailed glimpse yet of China’s militarisation of the waterway.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer said the surveillance photographs – passed to its reporters by an unnamed source – were mostly taken between June and December last year and showed Chinese construction activities across the disputed Spratly archipelago between the Philippines and Vietnam.

Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the region.

Images from the Philippine Daily Inquirer showing Mischief Reef  Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea

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From 2011.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
South China Sea, posted with vodpod

The South China Sea

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 22, 2011

We commend this week’s announcement that ASEAN and China have agreed on implementing guidelines to facilitate confidence building measures and joint projects in the South China Sea. This is an important first step toward achieving a Code of Conduct and reflects the progress that can be made through dialogue and multilateral diplomacy. We look forward to further progress.

The United States is encouraged by this recent agreement because as a Pacific nation and resident power we have a national interest in freedom of navigation, open access to Asia’s maritime domain, the maintenance of peace and stability, and respect for international law in the South China Sea.

We oppose the threat or use of force by any claimant in the South China Sea to advance its claims or interfere with legitimate economic activity. We share these interests not only with ASEAN members and ASEAN Regional Forum participants, but with other maritime nations and the broader international community.

The United States supports a collaborative diplomatic process by all claimants for resolving the various disputes in the South China Sea. We also support the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. But we do not take a position on the competing territorial claims over land features in the South China Sea. We believe all parties should pursue their territorial claims and accompanying rights to maritime space in accordance with international law, including as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.

The United States is concerned that recent incidents in the South China Sea threaten the peace and stability on which the remarkable progress of the Asia-Pacific region has been built. These incidents endanger the safety of life at sea, escalate tensions, undermine freedom of navigation, and pose risks to lawful unimpeded commerce and economic development.

In keeping with the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration, each of the parties should comply with their commitments to respect freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, to resolve their disputes through peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force. They should exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from taking action to inhabit presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features, and to handle their differences in a constructive manner.

The United States encourages all parties to accelerate efforts to reach a full Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

We also call on all parties to clarify their claims in the South China Sea in terms consistent with customary international law, including as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention. Consistent with international law, claims to maritime space in the South China Sea should be derived solely from legitimate claims to land features

Bolded emphasis is mine.  We never signed onto L.O.S.T. and therefore have no seat at the table. Hillary had also warned about that. See the right sidebar.

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In the aftermath of the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, Hillary Clinton was the first official from a foreign country to travel to Haiti and offer assistance. Four days after her trip, she announced the arrival of the USNS Comfort.

… we saw the arrival of the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship with more than 600 medical personnel, that adds important capacity to our relief efforts. Already, patients are being taken on board via helicopter, and treated. The Comfort adds to what is one of the largest international rescue and relief efforts in history. Food, water, medical supplies, and other essential aid continue to flow into the country.

Today, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, Hillary tweeted that the Navy and specifically USNS Comfort should be sent in to assist residents of Puerto Rico.

This is a no-brainer and should have been done days ago. It is deplorable that the president is busy leading “lock her up” chants, disinviting Stephen Curry to the White House, and ranting about sports figures genuflecting instead of standing for the national anthem but has no time to address the misery of American citizens on a devastated island.


Edited to add this.

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For the first OAS General Assembly of his tenure at the State Department, Rex Tillerson is sending a surrogate.

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan delivers remarks at the 47th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cancun, Mexico, on June 20, 2017.

Today, Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan led the U.S. delegation at the 47th Regular Session of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly in Cancun, Mexico.

In his remarks to 33 heads of delegation from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, Deputy Secretary Sullivan outlined U.S. goals for engagement in the Americas for mutual security and shared prosperity, the principles and values we share with fellow OAS member states, and our support for collective OAS action when these principles and values are threatened, such as in Venezuela.

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It is not the first time that Tillerson has taken a back seat, and we can wager it will not be the last. Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of state, often emphasized the importance of face-to-face meetings. It is no secret that the Trump administration plans to pare down the state department and de-emphasize diplomacy in general, but this kind of abdication of presence comes as a shock nevertheless.

Multinational summits and assemblies are prime ground for networking among peers. For Tillerson to turn his back on 33 counterparts from our backyard smacks of lunkheaded isolationism on our part as a nation and betrays a dangerous consolidation of power and authority at the top.

Foreign ministers and secretaries of state knew, when they met with Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, that major concerns voiced to them would be passed on to the president. Depriving these officials of the opportunity to meet with Tillerson eliminates an important conduit.

Hillary Clinton’s first appearance at an OAS GA coincided with a push on that body’s part to readmit Cuba which Hillary opposed without strict conditions on human rights reform. She also, everywhere she went, made a point of meeting not only with officials but also with civic leaders and organizations.

You can read about some of her Latin American diplomacy here.

venezuela-hugo-chavez-hillary-clinton-barack-obama-summit

US Secretary of State Clinton shakes hands with Mexican Foreign Secretary Espinosa after a news conference at the foreign ministry in Mexico City

MEXICO-US-CLINTON

elsalvadorflag

This was “smart power,” as Hillary dubbed it. At summits and assemblies, the presence of the top official is key. Seems now we are reverting to a counter-productive foreign policy.  All power is consolidated in the man at the top and excludes his official top diplomat. This is the Trump Doctrine: Stupid Power.

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