Archive for the ‘United Kingdom’ Category

Hillary Clinton Statement on Brexit Vote

Hillary Clinton released the following statement after the people of Great Britain voted to leave the European Union:

“We respect the choice the people of the United Kingdom have made.  Our first task has to be to make sure that the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working families here in America.  We also have to make clear America’s steadfast commitment to the special relationship with Britain and the transatlantic alliance with Europe.  This time of uncertainty only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House to protect Americans’ pocketbooks and livelihoods, to support our friends and allies, to stand up to our adversaries, and to defend our interests.  It also underscores the need for us to pull together to solve our challenges as a country, not tear each other down.”




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On September 18, 2014, Scotland voted in an independence referendum to remain in the United Kingdom.  Tonight, the UK is tallying votes in a referendum held today on whether to remain in the European Union.  Should they leave, the effects on the economy promise to be bumpy. 401Ks and 403Bs, where many of us have our retirement funds tied up, are likely to be affected, not in a good way.

Donald Trump (who did not initially know what the Brexit was and probably thought it was a breakfast sandwich) has said “Why do they need them?”  He thinks a leave vote would be fine. He, himself, is leaving – (don’t get excited, only temporarily) – for Scotland tonight, not that he is an especially welcome guest.

You may have seen this documentary: You’ve Been Trumped.  If you have not, you should find a way to see it.  It explains brilliantly why the people of Scotland are not especially happy to see Trump.

You've Been Trumped Poster

Scotland is not alone in their disdain for Trump

A previously announced stop in Ireland has apparently been cancelled.   Protests had been planned.



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Our Hillary donned academic regalia once again today to take part in an historic ceremony.

Clinton joins historic procession

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has taken part in a historic procession before she receives an honorary degree from one of the UK’s oldest universities.

Mrs Clinton will be giving the graduation address later at a ceremony to mark the 600th anniversary of the founding of St Andrews University.

It is the politician’s first foreign visit since her term as secretary of state ended in February.

She arrived in the picturesque Fife coastal town yesterday and will be conferred with a doctor of laws degree in recognition of her achievements as a politician and diplomat.

Mrs Clinton will receive the doctorate from the veteran Liberal Democrat politician and chancellor of St Andrews, Sir Menzies Campbell.

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Interestingly the university was founded By Avignon Antipope Benedict XIII.

University of St Andrews

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The University of St Andrews (informally St Andrews University or St Andrews) is a research university in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. It is the oldest university in Scotland and the third oldest in the English-speaking world, next to Oxford University and Cambridge University. It was founded between 1410 and 1413 when a Papal Bull was issued by the Avignon Antipope Benedict XIII to a school of higher learning formed by a small group of Augustinian clergy. St Andrews is one of the four ancient universities of Scotland. In post-nominals the university’s name is abbreviated as St And (from the Latin Sancti Andreae).

University of St Andrews coat of arms.svg

University of St Andrews shield

Latin: Universitas Sancti Andreae apud ScotosMottoΑΙΕΝ ΑΡΙΣΤΕΥΕΙΝ

The University of St Andrews’ 600th Anniversary Honorary Graduation Ceremony is a celebration of intellectual achievement, recognising some of the brightest minds of the 21st Century.

She looked so young and pretty that she could have been mistaken for an undergrad!

Congratulations, Mme. Secretary! It is such a pleasure to see you so honored!

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And from Hillary herself….

., look familiar? Not Hogwarts but beautiful St Andrews! Thanks to grad student Claire for the grand tour

Group_Photo_WM Jane_Hillary_WM

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As always, on her final swing through the Balkans as Secretary of State, Mme. Secretary held meet-and-greets at the American embassies before departing each country. Here are her remarks to staffs and families.

Meeting with Embassy Zagreb Staff and Their Families


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten
Esplanade Hotel
Zagreb, Croatia
November 1, 2012

AMBASSADOR MERTEN: Good morning, everybody. I have the great pleasure to introduce someone who needs no introduction, as you all know.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR MERTEN: We are, Madam, Secretary, on behalf of my colleagues here at the Embassy and also for our operation host, we’re delighted to welcome you to Zagreb. We and the Embassy team had a great time preparing for your visit, and I think – I know our Croatian hosts were very delighted to welcome you here. It means a lot to all of us.

Without any further ado, our Secretary of State, Ms. Hillary Clinton.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Ken. (Applause.) Well, it is wonderful to be here in Zagreb and to have a chance to visit with all of you. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for actually four years, so I’m glad I’m finally here. And it’s also a great pleasure to be here with Ambassador Merten. Before joining you in Croatia, Ken was our Ambassador in Haiti. Before that, he helped fly me around the world by providing all kinds of logistical and other support. He has been a great leader because he was our Ambassador during the earthquake in Haiti and all of the work we did afterwards to try to rebuild Haiti. And I also know he’s had a smooth transition thanks to Hoyt Yee. Is Hoyt here? Hoyt, thank you. Thank you for your leadership as chargé. We really appreciated it.

Yesterday when I met with the President and the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, we spoke about how much progress Croatia has made on the path to European integration. We look forward to final EU membership next year. And we are delighted at our relationship, which has never been closer. You’re doing so much to promote educational opportunities for bright young Croatians to study overseas. You’re working with Croatian leaders to help strengthen rule of law to fight corruption. You’re working with Croatia on behalf of change in the rest of the region so that other nations can follow the Croatian model.

I also very much appreciate the annual Ron Brown Forum that the Embassy hosts. Ron was a dear friend of my husband’s and mine, and as you know, he was on a mission to bring economic empowerment and opportunity to the Balkans, and he died along with 34 others, Americans and Croatians, in that 1996 plane crash. But his memory and legacy live on with the forum and we greatly appreciate the work that you are doing.

I also brought with me wandering around back there the highest-ranking Croatian American in the Obama Administration, Ambassador Croatia Marshall – I feel that’s her name – (laughter) – Ambassador Capricia Penavic Marshall, right there in the blue, who has been a great friend and associate. But I’d like all the Croatian staff to raise their hand now. Will everyone, all of our Croatian staff – well, no, no, Capricia, you’re actually – (applause) – you’re on the American staff side. But let’s give a big round of applause to our Croatian staff. (Applause.) We’ve had strong relations for 20 years. Have any of you been with us for 20 years? Any of our Croatian team been with – ah, these two young women who – I think we started them and there’s another one; we started when you were 10. (Laughter.)

But I have to say, as you have learned, ambassadors come and go, certainly secretaries come and go, but what remains are our locally employed staff who truly are the brain trust, the memory bank, of every single post. So this is a full team effort. I want to thank all of our American team, civilian and military, Foreign Service and Civil, State and USAID and every other agency. I also want to thank the families. I know that these young people are getting a little anxious to get a picture and I’m going to hurry up because I want to do that for them. But then I want to shake as many hands as possible in order to express personally my gratitude to you. We’re very, very grateful. We see this as a consequential, important relationship going forward. And we want to see Croatia really anchor further progress in the region.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

Meeting with Staff and Families of Embassy Tirana


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Sheraton Hotel
Tirana, Albania
November 1, 2012

Thank you. Thank you very, very much. It is absolutely wonderful to be here and have a chance to see each and every one of you in person to thank you for everything you are doing on behalf of this incredibly important and valuable relationship between the United States and Albania. And thank you, Ambassador, for your leadership here in Tirana and thanks also to your wife and your daughter, and let me also express appreciation to DCM Henry Jardine.

Thank you all for the work you put into my visit here, because I’ve been wanting to come – I told the President and the Prime Minister that I usually go to places we have some kind of problem with. We don’t have any problems with Albania, and so I – (applause) – really had to advocate hard and say, “We must go to Albania.” And the Ambassador is right – it’s a very busy and active time back home in the United States, but I am thrilled to have this chance to be here. It’s much too short a visit. It’s kind of like the appetizer, so I have to come back for the full banquet sometime in the future.

But I think you know how much the United States values our partnership and our friendship, not only with the Government of Albania but with the people of Albania, and it is something that I hold particularly dear. We share important military ties, we strongly supported Albania’s membership in NATO, we are now strongly supporting Albania’s membership in the European Union. What you’re doing, every one of you, is to help us deepen and broaden that, to strengthen democracy, to promote and protect human rights, and to create more economic opportunity.

As I just said in the parliament, the elections next year will be very important for the advancement of democracy in Albania. And I know that elections have posed some challenges in the past, but the role that this Embassy and each of you, American and Albanian alike, can play in monitoring polling places, helping to tally votes, making it clear to our friends here that having a good, free, fair, credible election that meets international standards will skyrocket Albania forward on the path to EU accession.

And just as important as the friendship and partnership we have is what you’re doing to promote social issues and civic engagement. I love the program called Albanians Coming Together Now, because this is a program the Embassy launched to bring together business, civil society, and concerned citizens to help strengthen the ties between the people and their government. And I also want to thank those of you who helped to make Tirana’s recent LGBT conference such a success. We stand for human rights. We stand for relationships between people. And we believe that that serves as the core and foundation of a strong, lasting relationship.

I’m also pleased to be here on the first day of the month that marks the centennial of Albania’s independence. I hear you are preparing a special surprise for the gala concert. I wish I could be here to see what it is, but Ambassador, let me know as soon as you can. And I also want to thank especially our Albanian colleagues. Will all of our Albanian colleagues who work here at the Embassy raise your hand, please, so we can give you a round of applause? (Applause.) I am so grateful to you. Many of you have been with us for years, decades, and as I say everywhere around the world, ambassadors come and go and secretaries come and go, but our locally employed staff provide the continuity, the memory bank, for every single post. And that’s especially true here.

Will those of you have been with the Embassy since we opened our doors in 1991, will you raise your hands? Who’s been here since 1991? We hired you right out of grade school. You have a – (laughter) – so 1991. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

I know that we have our State Department and USAID and our military and civilian agencies represented here. We also have some Peace Corps volunteers, I’m told. Do we have some Peace Corps volunteers here today? Thank you back there. Thank you for what you’re doing. (Applause.)

And I was delighted to walk into a group of beautiful children who are part of our Foreign Service families and our Embassy family here. I bet a few of them might have gone trick or treating on the ridge last night and are probably still suffering from sugar overload. (Laughter.) But when I see that, when I walk into a room like this, it reminds me of why we do the work we do. And that was really my message in the parliament. We all have in a democracy an obligation to try to leave the country that we serve better off for the next generation. And really looking at the faces of those children reminded me of why I do the work I do, and why all of you do what you do, and make such a contribution to a better future for Albania, a better future for our relationship.

I know that my coming, even for a short visit, adds a lot of work to what you do every single day, and I understand the Marine Corps Ball is tomorrow, so I hope you get to relax a little bit. But I want you to know that even though we are far away, we follow closely what you’re doing at this post. We care deeply about this relationship. We want to see Albania become a model not just for the region, but the world. We think it can. We think that the role that Albania can play, is playing, can really shape the history of Europe. The religious tolerance, the role women are playing, the vibrant democracy and economic activity since your freedom from Soviet oppression – all of that is such a strong foundation to build on.

But now the next steps have to be taken, starting with good elections that reflect the will of the people. But then that’s not enough. Whoever gets elected – and we don’t take sides in anybody’s election – we are just on the side of free and fair elections that reflect the will of the people – and once people are elected, holding them to a high standard to produce results for the Albanian people, that’s especially important for young people.

Young people the world over are wondering what kind of future they’re going to have. There is no reason , after everything Albania has gone through – with your independence a hundred years ago, all of the challenges and suffering the parents, grandparents, great grandparents, endured – there is no reason that the future for young people in Albania should not be as bright as it could be anywhere in the world.

And so I am here to express full confidence and optimism in what is possible and to pledge that the United States, through a very active Embassy, will continue to provide support as you grow your democracy and make a real difference first for you, and now next for the rest of the world. Thank you all. (Applause.)

Meeting with Embassy Pristina Staff and their Families


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Swiss Diamond Hotel
Pristina, Kosovo
October 31, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Ambassador. Thank you all so much. Well, I have to say it is wonderful being back here in Pristina and having a chance to see all of you and thank each and every one of you for the work that you are doing. I was here in 2010, and I already have had good reports from the Ambassador about all of the progress that we’re seeing here and that we’re helping to facilitate.

I want to thank you, Ambassador, for your leadership. This is the third time Ambassasdor Jacobson has been an ambassador, and your ears should have been burning in the car ride from the airport as she spoke glowingly about the team here and the work you’re doing, and how significant it is. So her introduction just now was by no means only for public consumption. She is extremely proud, and we are proud of her. And we’re delighted to have her husband David, a British diplomat, lending a hand in this very exciting post.

I also want to thank DCM. Kelly, where – there you are Kelly. Thank you for your hard work. And I think that the exciting aspect of being here at this time is because we can see the progress that is taking place, and we can also work to facilitate the dialogue taking place between Kosovo and Serbia. I will be speaking about that with the leaders that I will be seeing later today.

I also want to recognize someone else. And that is Tristan DeWitt. Where’s Tristan? There you are, Tristan. Tristan and I both have the same birthday. (Laughter.) And Tristan was the first young person to arrive at post since Embassy Pristina opened to family members, so he represents all of the children and the family members who are here now as part of this important community.

I want to also recognize how significant the economic growth has been, and I know that you’re working to promote that, just like you are working to help empower women to be part of the economic and political future of this very young country. I know that many of you had the opportunity to work with Ambassador Larry Rossin, who was our first representative in Kosovo, and he will be certainly missed.

Now today is Halloween, I’m told, so I don’t know what it is planned, but I hope that all of the children here have a happy Halloween. And I especially want to thank our locally employed staff. Will all of our locally employed staff raise your hands, all of our Kosovo colleagues? Thank you so very much. (Applause.) Ambassadors come and go, as do Secretaries, but locally employed staff are the nerve center and the memory bank for every mission, and that’s especially true here as well.

Now as we move forward, I want to emphasize how important it is to have the interagency, whole of government approach, because that’s what we’re standing for in the State Department, that is, as the Ambassador said, the QDDR’s call that diplomacy development work together, our colleagues, military and civilian alike, are part of this great effort to help support this new young country, and to a better future. I’m very proud of what you’re doing. I know the significance of it. And I thank each and every one of you for your contributions.

Now I want to shake some hands and thank you personally. And I’ll start down there and have a chance to do that, but Ambassador, again thank you for your kind words, and thank you for your leadership. (Applause.)

Meeting With Staff and Families of Embassy Belgrade


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Hyatt Regency Hotel
Belgrade, Serbia
October 30, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a great pleasure to be back here in Belgrade. Some of you I know were here when I was able to visit two years ago for a longer visit, but I’m delighted that I was able to come this time to thank each and every one of you for the work that you are doing on behalf of this vital relationship.

And this was a special unified visit, because Cathy Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union, and I started in Bosnia-Herzegovina, came here, will end the night in Pristina, where we’ll meet tomorrow with the leadership of Kosovo to emphasize a single message – that the future of these three countries is in Europe and in the Euro-Atlantic alliance, and that the United States strongly supports their aspirations.

I want to thank Ambassador Kirby and his wife Sara; I want to thank DCM Lee Litzenberger, and the entire Belgrade team for everything you did to prepare for this short visit, but I know that the work goes on day in and day out on so many fronts.

We’ve been clear that before setting a date for accession talks with the EU, Serbia does need to make progress on normalizing its relations with Kosovo. We recognize that Serbia cannot and will not formally recognize Kosovo, but there are lots of steps that the two countries must take together. And I thank you for sending that message on a regular basis.

We’ve also seen the bilateral relationship deepen and broaden. For example, two years ago when I was here, I committed to encouraging American businesses to invest in Serbia, and many of you in this room are making that happen. In fact, we have an economic team winner here today. American auto parts suppliers are key partners in the Fiat factory. Two American companies have opened call centers in Serbia, creating more than 400 jobs. There are a lot of win-win investments.

And I want especially to congratulate the chief of your economic section, Doug Apostol. When I was here two years ago and I spoke with the Prime Minister about a disagreement over risk insurance that was holding up a multimillion-dollar hotel project, Doug and his team got to work, and he was instrumental in helping to get that dispute resolved. That project is now going forward, bringing a number of new good jobs to Serbia. So for these and other efforts, later this year, Doug will receive the Department’s highest award for international economic work. It’s a rare honor and richly deserved. Congratulations, Doug. (Applause.)

Let me also commend each of you who worked so hard in the passage of Serbia’s new property restitution law, making sure it would cover victims of the Holocaust, many of whom are now American citizens. I thank all of you who stood up for the rights of Serbian Americans and helped the government bring this difficult issue to a successful conclusion.

In fact, I cannot imagine that we could be making the progress we are without our dedicated local staff. And I would like all of our Serbian staff members to please raise your hands so that we can recognize and thank each and every one of you. (Applause.) Because one thing I know for sure is that ambassadors, DCMs, secretaries come and go, but our local staff remain. You serve as our institutional memory bank, and we know how important you are.

I also want to thank all the family members who are here. I had a great opportunity to take a picture with some of the children, and they really did show great patience, because our meeting and press conference went a little long, but I was so happy to see them and have a chance to thank them and all of you who support those who serve.

I understand our local staff and FSOs have put together a basketball team, and soon you’re headed to Sarajevo for a tournament with other posts from around the Balkans. Now as Secretary, obviously I can’t take sides in such a competition – (laughter) – but I do want to just note that this is a great way of creating more public diplomacy and outreach as well as some healthy competition.

Now I know that there have been some difficult and risky moments in your service here in Serbia. We saw this when the Embassy was attacked four years ago. But this mission never skipped a beat. You kept doing what needed to be done. And I am very committed to your safety, and when you finally move in to your new Embassy compound, I’m confident it will give you a very safe place to work, as well as a more comfortable one. You will actually even, many of you, have offices with real windows once again. (Laughter.)

I want to thank all of you who serve the United States here in Serbia – civilian and military, U.S. Government across the board, every department and agency, in particular the State Department and USAID. And I’m very grateful to you, because I think this is a consequential relationship. We want to see the people of Serbia have an opportunity to participate fully in Europe and eventually in the Euro-Atlantic alliance. We want to see the people, particularly the young people of Serbia, have a chance to fulfill their own potential and aspirations. And the United States is very firm in our support of that kind of future for Serbia. We can’t do it from Washington; it has to be, done day in and day out, right here in Belgrade and across the country. And in order to do that, we look to each and every one of you.

So thank you for your service. I’ll start down there and shake a few hands and have a chance to thank you personally. Thank you all. (Applause.)

Secretary Clinton Addresses the Staff and Families of Embassy Sarajevo
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, with U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Patrick Moon, meets with the staff and families of Embassy Sarajevo, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October 30, 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

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Remarks at the Luncheon in Honor of UK Prime Minister David Cameron


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
March 14, 2012

Thank you all very much. Please be seated. Welcome to the State Department. We are thrilled and so pleased to host this luncheon for our very special guests, Prime Minister and Mrs. Cameron. It is wonderful to see all of you celebrating spring with us and knowing that our relationship, it’s always spring. It’s always being renewed, it is always durable, it is a cornerstone of both of our nations’ foreign policies, and it has such a great resonance between our two peoples.Now I want to recognize our chef today. A native of Birmingham, England – not Alabama – (laughter) – who made herself a home in New York City as the executive chef of a couple of very hip restaurants. One, The Spotted Pig, the other The Breslin. So it’s really a delight to have April Bloomfield with us. She was just talking with the Prime Minister – (applause) – it was a very timely introduction because when the Prime Minister and President Obama exchanged gifts, President Obama gave the Prime Minister a barbeque. I mean a real, down-home American barbeque with a smoking compartment and everything else. So April stands ready to help, Prime Minister.

We joke about the special relationship, but that’s because we’re so comfortable with it. It means such a great deal to us. It is not just because of a wide range of shared interests, but our deeply rooted history and the unbreakable friendship between our countries. Now, of course the President did remind the Prime Minister at the White House ceremony this morning that we are at the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. (Laughter.)

And I was pleased to tell my counterpart and friend, the Foreign Secretary, and also the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that it was my predecessor in one of my other lives, Dolly Madison, who actually saved the extraordinary portraits of George and Martha Washington. Having received word from her husband, who was truly been a commander-in-chief in the field, that unfortunately the British truly were coming. And – (laughter) – so she rushed from the White House, taking some treasures with her, leaving behind the meal that she had prepared for her husband and his officers. And the British officers ate the meal before they burned the White House. So – (laughter) – we are looking forward, but nevertheless, there are certain memories that are also of significance.

And how wonderful it is, here we are today and working together in so many important parts of the world: helping to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan; helping to promote successful transitions and democratic reforms in the Arab world. We worked alongside each other to end a dictator’s rule in Libya. We are now focused on helping the people of Syria realize a better future for themselves. We are grateful for the leadership that the Prime Minister and his government have shown on so many issues – just recently, I was in London for a conference on Somalia that they sponsored. No matter what the issue, we are standing together.

So I know, Prime Minister and Samantha, that this is just a small measure of hospitality to try to demonstrate our commitment and appreciation for this relationship. We were so well treated when the President and I and our teams were on a state visit last year sponsored by the government, of course, her Majesty’s Government and the O2 customer service number. So, we did the best we could with the weather. We think we pulled that off quite well. But it is now my great pleasure to welcome a dear friend, a great American, and a superb vice president, Joe Biden. (Applause.)

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My apologies! This is going out late! It was issued in time, but I almost missed the date. Happy Birthday, your Majesty!

On the Occasion of the Official Birthday of Queen Elizabeth II

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 10, 2011

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to Queen Elizabeth II and our friends in the United Kingdom as you mark Her Majesty’s Official Birthday this June 11. This occasion provides an opportunity to acknowledge and honor the Queen’s dedicated leadership and to celebrate — as President Obama did on his recent State Visit — her extraordinary service to her nation and to the world.

The United States is committed to the enduring relationship between our two countries and we value the contributions by Her Majesty in strengthening it. Our unique alliance is founded on our common history and thrives today through our shared ideals of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. United by NATO, the world’s largest foreign direct investment relationship and a long history of kinship, our two nations work in concert promoting peace and prosperity throughout the world.

On this special day, I send warm congratulations to Queen Elizabeth II and the people of the United Kingdom. The United States is committed to fostering and strengthening the bonds of friendship between our nations and peoples for years to come.

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I have yet to find pictures from the state dinner, but from what was posted in the comments thread at today’s schedule, a couple of Youtubes and the picture I included here, it is eminently clear that Mme. Secretary was as enchanting at the dinner as any princess who ever lived. Meanwhile, I have these few photos to share of HRC being her usual exquisitely photogenic self. Enjoy!

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There are many images available from today’s NATO Summit in Lisbon. I have used several in previous posts. This is a series that I find interesting and decided to share. The principals, as if they needed to be identified, are British PM David Cameron, U.S. President Barack Obama, and, of course, the star of the show, Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State upon whom AP has today bestowed a cabinet! (But that is another story – see caption).

It looks, at first blush, like Mme. Secretary has gotten herself into yet another diplomatic entanglement here!

From another camera angle, however, we see that this is not the case.

Things begin in a jovial fashion.

And then the business of nations commences. It looks a lot like mid-term exams.

I particularly like this one in the exam context. Cameron looks like he is wondering what the question means. Hillary is writing enough to fill two blue books at least, and Obama is trying to see her answer! “What’s she writing? Does she actually know all that?”

Well, to quote Chris Matthews at the end of her confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “I’ve never seen somebody know so much!” Yes, she does know!

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Today was one of those whirlwind, two country days.  After an evidently busy day in Islamabad,  Hillary Clinton hopped on her big, blue plane and literally hopped off onto a tarmac in Afghanistan to be greeted by Ambassador Eikenberry and General Petraeus.

Also there to greet her was President Karzai with whom she met at the presidential palace.   Those of us who watch her closely are not surprised by the bounding energy, the sparkling smile, or the multitasking implied by P.J. Crowley’s remark last week that she would also be seeing UK Foreign Minister William Hague in Kabul.

With UK Prime Minister David Cameron due in DC, the menu on that plate is the release of convicted murderer Abdelbaset Al Megrahi last year and the possible role of BP in negotiating that release.  Al Megrahi was convicted in Scotland of 270 counts of murder for the bombing, over Lockerbie Scotland,  of Pan Am flight 103.  If BP was involved, Americans, who have reason not to feel soft and fuzzy toward BP, would like to know.

It was for that reason that Secretary Clinton spoke by phone with Hague last week, and it was for that reason that three former colleagues in the Senate Menendez, Lautenberg (NJ) and Schumer (NY) as well as her successor Kirsten Gillibrand wrote to the SOS asking her to look further into this and request that the UK do this as well.  Certainly, with the PM in DC, this issue would be brought up.

So today, among her many other tasks and activities, she released her response to the Senators, all of whom are close to her.

Response to U.S. Senators on the Release of Abdelbasset al-Megrahi

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 19, 2010

The following is the text of the response from Secretary Clinton to Senators Schumer, Gillibrand, Lautenberg and Menendez regarding the release of Abdelbasset al-Megrahi.

Thank you for your letters of July 12 and 13 regarding the release in August 2009 of convicted PanAm 103 bomber Abdelbasset al-Megrahi.

I and other senior U.S. officials strongly and consistently expressed to Scottish authorities and the then-British government our longstanding position that al-Megrahi should serve out the entirety of his sentence in Scotland for his role in the bombing of PanAm 103. We strongly opposed his release last year, regardless of life expectancy or any other factor, and continue to maintain that position today.

We are aware of media reports suggesting a link between BP’s commercial interests in Libya and al-Megrahi’s deeply regrettable release from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds last year. As you are likely aware, BP’s position favoring a Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) between the United Kingdom and Libya is a matter of public record. The then-British government undertook to conclude the PTA in 2007-2008 as part of its broader reengagement with Libya. In 2009, the decision of whether to release al-Megrahi from prison fell exclusively to the Scottish government under local law, and specifically, to the Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill.

While Mr. MacAskill ultimately rejected the application for al-Megrahi’s transfer under the UK-Libya PTA, al-Megrahi also petitioned for release on compassionate grounds, as permitted under Scottish law. According to the Scottish government, Mr. MacAskill decided to release al-Megrahi on these grounds based on the medical prognosis of the Scottish Prison Service and a range of medical specialists (which Scottish officials have advised us did not include the doctor references in recent media reports).

Whatever the rationale, we do not believe the decision to release al-Megrahi and permit his return to Libya was in the interest of justice, and we continue to believe his freedom is not in the interest of justice. The new British government has expressed its view his release and return to Libya was “wrong” and “a mistake.” That al-Megrahi is living out his remaining days outside of Scottish custody is an affront to the victims’ families, the memories of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing, and to all of those who worked tirelessly to ensure justice was served. While any decision to review or reconsider the decision to release al-Megrahi remains a matter for the Scottish authorities, we have maintained and will continue to maintain in our exchanges with Scottish officials our unshakable conviction that al-Megrahi should not be a free man.

To that end, we are encouraging the Scottish and British authorities to review again the underlying facts and circumstances leading to the release of al-Megrahi and to consider any new information that has come to light since his release. I have also asked British Foreign Secretary Hague to review and address the issues raised in your letters and to respond directly to the Congress, which he has advised me he will do.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance on this or any other issue.

Readers here will remember that last August, when she left on a three-day vacation in Bermuda, she did so having exchanged a few shots across each other’s bows with then UK FM David Miliband.   Her gripe was Al Megrahi’s release, Miliband’s  was the release of the Uighurs from Gitmo to Bermuda.  She was already IN Bermuda when her statement was released. Bill golfed where the Uighurs now work as groundskeepers.  Hurricane Bill chased them off the island early.  She has not taken a vacation since.

There are people who think Hillary Clinton is Superwoman and can do anything.  We who watch her know that is not true.  By her own admission, she is neither a good driver nor a good cook.  Many are ear-witnesses to the reasons why she should not sing.  Neither is she any good at taking vacations or sitting still.  She can certainly pack a lot into a day and an agenda.  The President gave her a plane, and we cannot keep her tied down.  Even on the plane, she tears through paper and e-screens, and then hops off and it’s on to the next thing – with sparkling eyes!

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Well at the end of one of those weeks when the Secretary of State worked largely behind closed doors,   we have no public remarks or statements directly from Madame Secretary today.  She did begin today with a very early morning phone conversation with UK Foreign Minister William Hague.  In today’s press briefing,  P.J. Crowley highlighted the topics discussed. (I put Madame Secretary’s picture here instead of P.J.’s because she’s prettier.  I am sure P.J. would agree,)

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
July 16, 2010
…  this morning, the Secretary had a conversation with Foreign Secretary Hague. The primary purpose of the call was to compare notes prior to Prime Minister Cameron’s visit to Washington next week. But she also used the opportunity of the call to thank the United Kingdom for its support of the new U.S.-EU agreement regarding the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program. And the two agreed on the importance of continuing our efforts to prevent terrorists from using our financial systems to launch attacks.They also talked about the situation with respect to Mr. Megrahi. Both the Secretary and the foreign minister agreed that in our mutual views, the release of Mr. Megrahi last year was a mistake. The Secretary just signaled to the foreign secretary ongoing congressional interest in this matter. And I think we’ll have more conversations with the British Government on this as we – as Congress continues to focus on the issue.

QUESTION: Where is the foreign minister right now? I don’t think he’s in London. He’s traveling, I believe. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there if you don’t know. Did they talk about the Iroquois case at all?

MR. CROWLEY: They did not.

QUESTION: So basically, that’s a dead letter as far as you’re concerned?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, from our standpoint, we’ve done what we can do. And it would appear to us at this point that the UK has made their final determination.

QUESTION: Okay. And on the BP thing, have you been invited – has anyone from State been invited to the hearings that Senator Kerry is going to be holding and —

MR. CROWLEY: At this point, no.

QUESTION: Do you expect to have someone at the hearings?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, that’s up to the chairman to decide who he wants to attend them – Kerry.

QUESTION: And what would – when you say that more conversations with the British are likely on this subject, what – why would more conversations be necessary after —

MR. CROWLEY: Well, obviously, the Secretary’s mindful that she has a request by the – a handful of senators to look into this matter if we haven’t decided what steps we will take. But clearly, the information that would need to be revealed by any follow-up action is resident within the UK Government and the Scottish Government. So, in anything that we do, we would need their cooperation. So she mentioned the issue, mentioned its importance not only to the Congress, to our government, but most importantly, to the families of the 103 victims. And I think we will be – continue to work with them to see how we can answer the questions that have been raised in recent days.

QUESTION: Did she specifically ask for cooperation from the British Government?

MR. CROWLEY: At this point, we have not made a specific ask of the British Government. The purpose of the —

QUESTION: Well, in general?

MR. CROWLEY: Right, but this was to alert the foreign secretary of the importance of the issue, and in fact, obviously, I think that’s already recognized within the UK. BP has put out statements in the last couple of days. So has the new government in the UK. Again, in the conversation, they agreed that in our joint view, this was a mistake. But we’re still evaluating how we can best work through the requests that the senators have made of us.

QUESTION: Did they indicate that the British Government might be amenable to cooperating if such an investigation is launched? And did the Secretary say that this was likely to come up when the prime minister visits next week?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, the Secretary indicated that it might be appropriate for the British Government to communicate with Congress as well to make sure that they fully understand what transpired a year ago. That was something mentioned. Again, I’ll defer to the British Government to decide exactly what precise action they’ll take.

QUESTION: And how about the meeting next week? Is it likely – did she say that this might be on the agenda when the prime minister visits?

MR. CROWLEY: It was not that specific. I mean, the Secretary and the foreign secretary will also see each other in Kabul.

QUESTION: About how long was the call and how much of it was devoted to this —

MR. CROWLEY: It was 12 minutes. And the bulk of the call was devoted to specific issues related to the prime minister’s visit next week.

QUESTION: Which did not include the BP, so how much of a – what percentage of those 12 minutes were devoted to the BP issue?

MR. CROWLEY: (Laughter.) I can’t tell you. Seven minutes and 43 seconds. I can’t go —

QUESTION: Oh, so then most of it then.

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know. I don’t know. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: P.J., what exactly does Congress want the Secretary to do, to find out?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I don’t have the letter in front of me from the four senators. I think they want us to look into circumstances surrounding the decision by Scottish authorities a year ago. Obviously, there have been more than one correspondence. There are questions regarding the medical advice – who gave it, how was it considered, how did the Scottish authorities reach a judgment that on humanitarian grounds, based on an understanding that Mr. Megrahi had a relatively short time to live, that they would make this decision to release him on humanitarian grounds. That’s one area. And clearly, some questions have been raised about the fidelity of the medical information that entered into the Scottish authorities’ thinking.

On the other hand, there are questions about BP and its contacts with the UK Government in a kind of – in an earlier timeframe regarding the negotiation of a prisoner transfer agreement between the UK and Libya. And I think the UK has been clear that these two issues were worked on separate tracks.

So, we are – the purpose of her mentioning it today was simply to highlight for the foreign secretary this is a very important issue to the American people and it is going to be something that we will be addressing for a period of time. As we have pledged, we will respond to the four senators, and like I say, we’re working through how – what is the best way to provide the perspective to the Senate that they’ve requested.

QUESTION: Can we change the subject?


QUESTION: Can I just ask one more on that? Is there any attempt or is the State Department looking into any type of pressure that it could put on Libya to reverse Libya’s original decision? Or actually, I should say to reverse the return of Mr. Megrahi to Libya. Is there anything that the U.S. could do – some are asking?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, again, this – I mean, in terms of pressure, obviously, we continue to express our concern and to state categorically that every day that Mr. Megrahi spends as a free man in Libya is an affront to the families and victims of Pan Am 103. That is how we believe and that’s – I think that’s a firmly held belief by the American people.

From a legal standpoint, this – his sentence was – the case was carried out and the sentence applied under a special Scottish tribunal. We respect the fact that this was a decision that the Scottish authorities had the authority to make. We regret that decision. As to whether we have any legal recourse, these are the kinds of things we’re looking into. It’s unclear that we do.

Personally, I think this call was much more about that letter from the senators and BP’s alleged involvement in the release of Al Megrahi.  We know Secretary Clinton is a woman of her word.  We LOVE that about her!  If she says she will do something, she will.  On the other hand sometimes she says she will not do something and then later she changes her mind.  We love that, too.

If she told the senators she would look into this matter, that was probably the central reason for this phone call.  She was not happy with that release last year and made it very clear to then FM David Miliband. I think she wanted to warn Hague that this is a BIG ISSUE here where BP has already earned demerits. If the Prime Minister and a delegation are visiting DC next week, Americans are sure to expect this issue addressed. Any press availability during this visit will be vulnerable to this topic. I think Secretary Clinton wanted him to know he had better come armed for this. Anyway, that is my two cents.

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