Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

We are bloody but unbowed. Yesterday, after massive efforts of letter writing, phone calling, emailing, and petition signing, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education by an historic tie-breaking vote by VP and Senate President Mike Pence.

Not long afterward, the effort to confirm Jeff Sessions, noted bigot, as Attorney General ran into an effort by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to read a letter penned in 1986 by Coretta Scott King in opposition to Sessions being appointed a federal district judge in Alabama.

We see how this is going.

Here are the Twitter hashtags.

“Silencing Elizabeth Warren”




Here is the exchange on the Senate floor.

The swamp gases in DC are toxic.

Stay battle-ready. This is just the beginning.

Thank you, Liz!

Here is the letter.

My Senator, Cory Booker.

From Hillary Clinton:

Happy Black History Month!

Cross-posted at The Department of Homegirl Security.

Read Full Post »

According to the Special Review of the Accountability Review Board Process (ISP-I-13-44A), the Permanent Coordinating Committee (PCC)  is the body within the State Department that must convene ASAP after a serious security incident at a U.S. mission abroad and determine whether or not to recommend that the secretary of state convene an Accountability Board Review (ARB).

P 7  ¶ 1 Permanent Coordinating Committee
“The Committee will, as quickly as possible after an incident occurs, review the available facts and recommend to the Secretary to convene or not convene a Board. (Due to the 1999 revision of the law requiring the Secretary to convene a Board not later than 60 days after the occurrence of an incident, except that such period may be extended for one additional 60-day the Committee will meet within 30 days of the incident, if enough information is available.) In addition, the Committee will meet yearly to review the ARB process, existing policies and procedures, and ensure that any necessary changes are effected.” – 12 Foreign
Affairs Manual 032.1

On October 7, 2012 Hillary Clinton announced that not only had the recommendation been made but also that the ARB had been formed and would commence meeting that very week – well within the timeline stated in the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM). Many of you will remember that the Tea Party was already stridently calling for this review, however it is clear from the FAM directive that this process went a good deal more quickly than was required.

P 16  ¶ 8  Secretary’s Report to Congress
“Report to Congress: the Secretary will, no later than 90 days after the receipt of a
Board’s program recommendations, submit a report to the Congress on each such
recommendation and the action taken or intended to be taken with respect to that
recommendation.” – 12 Foreign Affairs Manual 036.3a.

The delivery of the completed report along with a cover letter dated December 18, 2012 delineating in detail many steps Hillary had already taken to address weaknesses in security at U.S. missions worldwide also came in well before the deadlines outlined in the FAM.  The cover letter is a brilliant analysis and well worth the read.  If you happen to find yourself in a discussion on the  subject of Benghazi, the events surrounding this attack, and State Department responses to it, you will find valuable points therein.  The letter and reports were addressed and delivered to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

P 19 ¶ 1  “All of us—from senior Department leadership setting strategic priorities to supervisors evaluating the needs of individual posts to congressional committees appropriating funds and providing oversight—have a responsibility to provide the men and women who serve this country with the best possible security and support. Most of all, it is my responsibility as Secretary of State.” – Secretary Hillary Clinton

One wonders how many times Hillary Clinton needs, orally and in writing, to take responsibility for Benghazi for the Tea Party to stop accusing her of dodging that responsibility.  Breaking news the night before a presidential debate,  on October 17, 2012 was that while traveling in Peru Hillary had stated in an interview that the responsibility was hers.  Her signature is, in perpetuity,  on that letter where she assumed responsibility.    Must she wander the streets with a bell like a town crier declaring, “The buck stops with me?”

P 25 ¶ 1 Regional Bureau Shared Responsibility
ARB Recommendation 3: “As the President’s personal representative, the Chief of Mission bears ‘direct and full responsibility for the security of [his or her] mission and all the personnel for whom [he or she is] responsible,’ and thus for risk management in the country to which he or she is accredited. In Washington, each regional Assistant Secretary has a corresponding responsibility to support the Chief of Mission in executing this duty. Regional bureaus should have augmented support within the bureau on security matters, to include a senior DS officer to
report to the regional Assistant Secretary.”

Not to blame the victim,  but security at Tripoli and Benghazi was a shared responsibility and some of that responsibility fell on Ambassador Stevens.  Of all the players in this tragedy, he, from all indications, was most familiar with the culture of the country and the population in Benghazi in particular.   In his absence, Gregory Hicks shared that responsibility at Embassy Tripoli of which he had been left in charge.

Fortunately, Embassy Tripoli was not subject to an attack, however, the reckless irresponsibility of Hicks’s decision to send the remaining two security officers from Tripoli to Benghazi is undeniable.

By Jeremy Herb 07/31/13 12:59 PM ET

Col. George Bristol, who commanded an Africa-based task force at the time of the terrorist attack, told the House Armed Services Committee that he gave Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson, who led the site security team in Tripoli, initial freedom of action to respond to the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi.

Bristol corroborated testimony Gibson provided the committee last month that no “stand down” order was given — contradicting accusations made by critics of the Obama administration’s response to the attack — according to a description of Wednesday’s classified, members-only briefing of the Armed Services Oversight and Investigations subcommittee.

Gibson had testified last month that he was told not to send his team to Benghazi because they needed to remain in Tripoli to defend the U.S. Embassy there in case of additional attacks.

Among the Benghazi recommendations is this one regarding funding.

P ¶ 5 29 Funding
ARB Recommendation 10: “Recalling the recommendations of the Nairobi/Dar es Salaam Accountability Review Boards, the State Department must work with Congress to restore the Capital Security Cost Sharing Program at its full capacity as originally envisioned, adjusted for inflation, of approximately $2.2 billion in fiscal year 2015, including an up to 10-year program addressing that need, prioritized for construction of new facilities in high-risk and high-threat areas. It should also work with Congress to expand utilization of Overseas Contingency Operations funding to respond to emerging security threats and vulnerabilities and operational requirements in high-risk and high-threat posts like Benghazi and Tripoli.”

We do well to remember who stripped the DS funds two years in a row.  There is plenty of responsibility to go around including upon those who clog Hillary Clinton’s Twitterfeed with cries of “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!”  ignoring the role played by tight-fisted Tea Party House members who swear they will recall Hillary Clinton.    If they do, we are certain that she will cooperate and be, as always, eminently well-prepared.

P 31 ¶ 2  Personnel Recommendations
No ARB has ever found “reasonable cause to believe” that a Federal employee or contractor has “breached a duty of that individual” as defined by the Act.

We have yet to hear any mea culpas emanating from Capitol Hill.

Read Full Post »

FY 2012 Budget Request


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Statement before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Washington, DC
March 10, 2011

Vodpod videos no longer available.

FY2012 Budget, posted with vodpod

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. I want to congratulate the Chairman upon assuming this important post at such a critical moment in world history, not just American history. And I want to recognize and thank not only the Ranking Member, Congresswoman Lowey, but my congresswoman – so I’m delighted to be here – and Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Dicks and all the members of the subcommittee.

I want to say a few words about these remarkable changes occurring across the Middle East. Yes, it’s exciting and it also presents very significant challenges to America’s position, to our security, and to our long-term interests. Next week, I will travel to Cairo and Tunis to speak directly with the Egyptian and Tunisian people. I will be meeting with their transitional leaders, and I intend to convey strong support of the Obama Administration and the American people that we wish to be a partner in the important work that lies ahead, as they embark on a transition to a genuine democracy.

We know how difficult that will be. This is the kind of challenge that we have seen in other parts of the world. Some countries, such as most of those in the former Soviet Union and Eastern and Central Europe, navigated those challenges successfully; others have not. We have an enormous stake in ensuring that Egypt and Tunisia provide models for the kind of democracy that we want to see.

Now, in Libya, at the same time, a dictator is denying his people that same path forward. And we are standing with the Libyan people as they brave bombs and bullets to demand that Qadhafi must go now, without further violence or delay. Our diplomats are hard at work with our allies and partners – including in the United Nations, NATO, the African Union, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council – to isolate, sanction, and pressure Qadhafi to stop the violence against his own people and to send a message to those around Qadhafi who continue to enable this horrific attack on his own people, that they, too, will be held accountable if they commit crimes against the Libyan people. We remain engaged with the Libya Sanctions Committee at the United Nations to consider tougher measures as the situation develops. And we are reaching out to the opposition inside and outside of Libya. I will be meeting with some of those figures, both here in the United States and when I travel next week to discuss what more the United States and others can do.

Now, the United States, through the State Department and USAID, are already providing food, shelter, water, medical supplies, and evacuation assistance to those who are fleeing the violence. We have dispatched expert humanitarian teams to assess the needs on the borders, and we stand ready to expand those efforts. The military has positioned assets to support these critical humanitarian missions, and the United States military – I’m very proud to say – has airlifted home hundreds of Egyptian migrants – it may be in the thousands by now – who fled from Libya into Tunisia. This was a direct request from the Egyptian Government through the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. We are considering all of our options.

In the years ahead, we know that Libya could become a stable, peaceful society on the way to a democracy or it could fall into chaos and violence. The stakes are so high, not only, although primarily, for the Libyan people, but for the rest of the world. And this is an unfolding example of how we are using the combined assets of diplomacy, development, and defense to protect our interests and advance our values.

This integrated approach is not just how we respond to crises. It is the most effective – and cost-effective – way to sustain and advance our security. And it is only possible with a budget that supports all the tools in our national security arsenal.

Now, I want to join my voice to those of the Chairwoman, who has made it very clear that the American people have a right to be justifiably concerned about our national debt. I am, too. But I know that we have so many tough decisions that we’re facing right now, that the American people also want us to be smart about the decisions we make and the investments that we are making in the future. Just two years ago, I asked that we renew our investment in development and diplomacy, and we are seeing tangible results.

In Iraq, almost 100,000 of our troops have come home and civilians are poised to keep the peace. In Afghanistan, integrated military and civilian surges have helped set the stage for our diplomatic surge to support Afghan-led reconciliation that can end the conflict and put al-Qaida on the run. We have imposed, with your very strong support, the strongest sanctions yet to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions. We have reengaged as a leader in the Pacific and in our own hemisphere. We have signed trade deals to promote American jobs and nuclear weapons treaties to protect our people. We worked with Northern and Southern Sudanese to achieve a peaceful referendum and prevent a return to civil war. And we are working to open societies and to create economies that will have political support to have irreversible democratic transitions. Now, the progress is significant, but the work is formidable that lies ahead.

The FY 2012 budget is a budget that will allow us to continue pressing forward. We think it is a lean budget for lean times. I launched the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review to help us maximize the impact of every dollar. We scrubbed this budget and we made painful but responsible cuts. We cut economic assistance to Central and Eastern Europe, to the Caucasus, to Central Asia. We cut development assistance to over 20 countries by more than half.

This year, for the first time, our request is divided into two parts: Our core budget request is $47 billion for the State Department and USAID. That supports programs and partnerships in every country but North Korea, and it is essentially flat from 2010 levels.

The second part of our request funds the extraordinary, temporary portion of our war effort the same way the Pentagon’s request is funded: in a separate Overseas Contingency Operations account known as OCO. Instead of covering war expenses through supplemental appropriations, we are now taking a more transparent approach that fully reflects the integrated civilian-military efforts. Our share of the President’s $126 billion request for exceptional wartime costs is $8.7 billion. So all told, we have a $47 billion operational account and an $8.7 billion Overseas Contingency Operations account.

Now, the 150 account, as a whole that was referred to by Mr. Lewis, is $59.5 billion. Well, that is both Treasury, MCC, and all the other foreign aid accounts that I know that you’re also paying attention to.

But let me just quickly walk you through this, because on this issue of our $8.7 billion Overseas Contingency Operations, we have the strongest support from Secretary Gates, from Admiral Mullen. And next week – I was speaking with General Petraeus last night. He will be here on the Hill strongly supporting the civilian effort that goes hand-in-hand with what he is doing so heroically in Afghanistan. So we are funding vital civilian missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq with this $8.7 billion.

We do have al-Qaida under pressure as never before. The military surge and our civilian surge – because when I became Secretary of State, we had 300 civilians in Afghanistan, and most of them were on six-month rotations. We were not doing our part to be a good partner to our military colleagues. We now have nearly 1,200 civilians, and they are there day in and day out, and they are in some of the roughest terrain you can find anywhere. Our military commanders literally tell me every week that we cannot succeed without a strong civilian partner for our military efforts.

Equally important is our assistance to Pakistan. As the Chairwoman said, we are trying to deepen our relationship. There are many challenges confronting us, but we know what happens when we walk away from Pakistan. We did it before, and the results, unfortunately, were quite dire for us.

And after so much sacrifice in Iraq, we have a chance now to help the Iraqi people build a stable, democratic country in the heart of the Middle East. Now, while we are hoping what happens in Egypt, Tunisia will be positive, we already have elections twice held in Iraq. We have a government. It took a while to get set up, not as long as I would add that it’s taken the Belgians to have a government, but it finally got set up. And now we have to be there with support.

This budget also saves us money if you look at it. Because the military’s total OCO request – and I know that Congressman Dicks is well acquainted with this – worldwide will drop $45 billion from 2010. Our cost on the civilian side will increase by less than 4 billion. Now, we think that’s a good return on the investment of blood and treasure that this country has already made.

Secondly, even as our civilians bring today’s wars to a close, we are working as hard as we can to prevent tomorrow’s. We devote 4 billion in this budget to sustaining a strong U.S. presence in volatile places. In Yemen, the headquarters of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, we are working to provide security, development and humanitarian assistance. We are focused on the same goals in Somalia, the home of al-Shabaab. We are helping the Northern and Southern Sudanese chart a peaceful future. We’re helping Haiti rebuild. And we propose a new Global Security Contingency Fund that would pool resources for the first time with the Defense Department to have that expertise and cooperation to respond quickly to challenges.

We also strengthen our allies and partners. We’re training Mexican police to take on the violent cartels and secure our southern border. We provide nearly 3.1 billion for Israel. We support Jordan and the Palestinians. We help Egypt and Tunisia. We’re providing security assistance to over 130 nations. And I would just say that we have gotten our money’s worth. The support we’ve given to the Egyptian military over 30 years made it possible for us to have an open line of communication between our military leadership and the Egyptian military leadership. And having trained a generation of Egyptian officers, we saw them refusing to fire on their own people under tremendous pressure.

Third, we are making investments in human security, focusing on hunger, disease, climate change, humanitarian emergencies. Our largest investment is in global health programs, including those launched by President George W. Bush. These programs not only stable societies devastated by HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and other illnesses, they save the lives of mothers and children and halt the spread of deadly disease toward our own country. Global food prices are approaching an all-time high. Three years ago, this led to protests and riots. We have worked now very closely with our agricultural experts to come up with proposals that will actually over time move people from being food recipients to food producers. And we do believe that strengthening countries against droughts, floods, and other weather disasters, promoting clean energy, and preserving tropical forests helps us with our own security and our own challenges here at home.

Fourth, we are committed to making our foreign policy a force for domestic economic renewal. We work very hard on this to bring jobs back to the United States, to create more economic growth here at home. To give you one example, the eight open skies agreements we have signed over the last two years will open dozens of new markets to American carriers overseas. The Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, Madam Chairman, will support – which already supports 300,000 jobs, will see billions of dollars in new business. And I know that Chairwoman Granger calls that the economic engine of north Texas.

Fifth and finally, this budget funds the people and platforms that make possible everything I’ve described. We have diplomatic relations with 190 countries. Having served in the Senate for eight years, I know what it’s like to get a phone call when an American citizen somewhere is in trouble in one of those 190 countries. And I know what it’s like to be told as Secretary of State that somebody’s in trouble in a country where we don’t have adequate diplomatic relations. We have political officers defusing crises, development officers expanding opportunity, and economic officers working to make deals for American business. Several of you have asked the Department about the safety of your constituents in the Middle East. Well, this budget helps fund the consular officers who evacuated over 2,600 Americans from Egypt and Libya, nearly 17,000 from Haiti after the earthquake. They issued 14 million passports. They are the first line of defense against would-be terrorists seeking visas to enter our country.

Now, I know that 2011 is a tough time. And I sent Chairman Rogers a letter. I’ve spoken to Speaker Boehner. It will be very difficult for us as we are now planning our civilian efforts in an ongoing way in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to absorb a 16 percent cut that passed the House last month. We’ve got to do our part with the military. And I know that what is often the case is we talk about non-defense discretionary. And of course, that leaves out State and USAID. It includes the Department of Homeland Security. It includes Veterans and includes Defense. But here we are; I’ve got diplomats and development experts in Helmand Province, I’ve got them going in with the Marines into Kandahar, I’ve got them trying to figure out how we’re going to have a strong, robust presence in Iraq to stand against Iran and to support that Iraqi Government. We cannot plan what we are expected to do if we can’t get the budget for ’11 that we have premised the planning on.

Now, finally, I know how tough these decisions are. I was here in the ‘90s, not in this capacity, and I saw the difficult decisions we made then which put us on a path to having balanced budgets, surpluses, and frankly, being on the road to actually balancing our budget; 9/11 happened, a lot of other things happened in the following years. We are trying to get ourselves back on a strong fiscal footing. Unfortunately, the world hasn’t stopped while we do that. And so as I look at the challenges for global leadership from the United States, I know we are tempted to try to step back from these obligations. But every time we’ve done that, it’s come back and hit us right square between the eyes. We left Afghanistan after we pushed the Soviet Union out, and now we’re paying a terrible price for that.

Generations of Americans have grown up successful and safe because we’ve stepped up. We think that in the world today we have more than we can say grace over, but we are positioned to try to deal with it. And we cannot do it unless we remember that our national security depends not just on defense, but on diplomacy and development working together unlike anything we’ve ever done historically today, to really deliver on America’s security, our interests, and our values. Thank you.


Read Full Post »

Candice is a Hillary Clinton Democrat.

Read Full Post »

Last night, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took her rightful cabinet seat center front as President Obama delivered his address to a rare joint session of Congress on health insurance reform. She was a standout, beautiful in her red pantsuit busily greeting friends from both houses and both sides of the aisle.

To dispel a few myths we have seen circulating (that I may have to take up at The Department of Homegirl Security if people do not stop it):

1. Hillary would NEVER be sour grapes over someone succeeding in accomplishing this reform which has been her life’s work. Hillary is all about getting it done, not about who manages to do it. As she herself has said, she gave.

2. Hillary looks pretty happy, cheerful, and relaxed in her relationship with President Obama. So everybody stop saying she is going to quit and run for Governor of New York. How ridiculous! In most of these pictures there is no daylight between them. Why would she ever leave this position after less than a year? Remember, Hillary is not a quitter. Perhaps you are thinking of someone else.

I think these pictures are cute.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: