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Interview With Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday

Interview

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Intercontinental Hotel
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
October 23, 2011

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, the U.S. commander in Iraq, General Lloyd Austin, wanted upwards of 15,000 troops in Iraq next year. The White House talked about three to five thousand. So why is President Obama pulling all our troops out?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Chris, I think we should put this into the appropriate historical context. First of all, President Obama said that combat troops would leave Iraq by the end of this year, but before he ever said that, the Bush Administration also committed to withdrawing all troops by the end of this year. So you have a bipartisan commitment to withdraw combat troops, and that was viewed as appropriate, given the development of the Iraqi security forces.

But we always made clear we were open to discussions with the Iraqis if they wanted some kind of continuing presence, and what we’ve agreed to is a support-and-training mission similar to what we have in countries from Jordan to Colombia, and we will be working with the Iraqis. We will also have a very robust diplomatic presence, and we will fulfill what are the requests that the Iraqis have made to us.

QUESTION: But it was the general order of business, why was your State Department negotiating with the Maliki government until a few weeks ago to keep thousands of troops there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: This was an ongoing discussion. It started several years ago, it kept going, and at the end of the day, as in many discussions and negotiations, an agreement was reached that met the needs of both sides. The President has fulfilled the commitment he made to the American people. We have also, under the President’s leadership, fulfilled the commitment requested by the Iraqis. Iraq is a sovereign, independent nation with whom we have very good relations, and we expect to have a continuing strong security relationship for many years to come.

QUESTION: A wide range of foreign policy experts though say that Iraq is not yet ready to have the possibility of sectarian violence or interference from Iran. Former Governor Mitt Romney said this after the announcement of the pullout: “President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won though the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women.” Secretary, how do you respond to that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, we are all very moved by and grateful for the sacrifices of our men and women, those who lost their lives, those who were grievously injured. They will never be forgotten, and what they did should be honored in our country’s history forever.

The point of our involvement in Iraq, stated over and over again by people on both sides of the aisle, was to create the opportunity for the Iraqis to have their own future without the oppression of a dictator like Saddam Hussein. Now you can’t, on the one hand, say you’re all for democracy and sovereignty and independence, where people get to make their own choices, and on the other hand say that when a choice is made that is foreseen by our own government, going back to the Bush Administration and validated by the Obama Administration and the current government in Iraq, that that somehow is not appropriate. Because that is what we were there for – to give the Iraqi people the chance to make their own decisions.

So we have a security presence with a support-and-training mission in Iraq. We have bases in the region with other countries. That’s what you do when you’re dealing with independent, sovereign nations that have a will and a decision of their own.

QUESTION: Secretary, let’s turn if we can to Libya. The UN and human rights groups are calling for an investigation, saying that if, as it appears from the videotape, that Qadhafi was executed, it was a war crime. And you’re also coming under fire for what you said:

(Clip played)

SECRETARY CLINTON: We came, we saw, he died.

QUESTION: Question. Do you regret what you said, Secretary?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No.

QUESTION: And if I may, do you regret what you said, and do you feel Qadhafi was wronged or that he got what was coming to him?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let’s have an investigation. I fully support the United Nations investigation, and I fully support the Transitional National Council’s own call for an independent investigation. I support it on the merits because it’s important to find the facts, and I support it as part of what will be a challenging transition process.

The Transitional National Council today is going to declare the liberation of Libya. They are then going to announce a new government. They need to make it clear that it will be a government to unify the country, to seek reconciliation, to make everyone who supported the former regime – as long as they don’t have blood on their hands – feel safe and included in a new Libya. And so from my perspective, I think such an investigation would be very important to establish accountability, rule of law, and pave the way for the inclusive democratic future that the Libyans tell me they want.

QUESTION: Secretary, do you regret what you said?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to comment on that. We didn’t even know what was happening at that time because it was an unconfirmed report.

QUESTION: I have to also ask you about the man who was convicted for Pan Am 103, Megrahi. You talk about the rule of law. Would you like to see him returned to a Scottish prison?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely. I never thought he should have been released in the first place. And I have raised with the highest leadership of the Transitional National Council, and I will raise again, as soon as they have a government, the United States’ very strong feelings that this man should be returned to prison. That is the only appropriate outcome of what was, in my view, a miscarriage of justice when he was released.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, we have a couple of minutes left, and I’d like to do a lightening round: quick questions, quick answers. You were just in Pakistan, and while you were there, you confirmed the fact that U.S. officials met with the Haqqani Terror Network in August. Do we want to kill them, or do we want to talk with them?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Actually, we’re pursuing both, Chris. We have a policy of fight, talk, and build. We had a meeting at the request of the Pakistanis to gauge whether there was any basis for further talking. Certainly, the attack on our Embassy, the truck bomb attack on one of our border outposts in Afghanistan, gave a strong answer to the contrary. But you don’t make peace with your friends; we know that from long experience.

So what we’re trying to do is gauge who among these groups would be sincere and serious about pursuing an Afghan-led peace process, and it’s very absolutely understood that in order for any process to have a chance to succeed, the United States and Pakistan have to work with Afghanistan. So we responded to a Pakistani request. We’re testing out a lot of different approaches. But we’re going to keep fighting the guys who are fighting and killing Afghans, Americans, and others.

QUESTION: Finally, the President has deployed a hundred special forces to central Africa to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has killed and displaced so many over the last couple of decades. The question I have is: Why intervene in Uganda and Libya, but not in Syria? What’s the foreign policy principle at work there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say, Chris, that what we’ve seen from President Obama over the last two and a half years, and I think remarkably, with the events of the last six months, is that his kind of smart leadership in a complex world is paying off. He was the one who brought bin Ladin finally down. He was the one who put together a coalition that eventually removed Qadhafi. So I think it’s important that in this very complex, dangerous world, we have somebody in the White House who understands that America has to lead. Our leadership is essential. But we have to look at every situation and make the right decision.

So the two that you mentioned – one, we are not fighting in Uganda. We are sending support, advising intelligence resources to try to rid Africa of this scourge of the Lord’s Resistance Army. It was welcomed by the Ugandans and others. In Syria, we are strongly supporting the change from Asad and also an opposition that only engages in peaceful demonstrations. And you do not have from that opposition, as you had in Libya, a call for any kind of outside intervention.

So I think that what the President has demonstrated in quite uncertain and challenging times is the kind of leadership that not only America, but the world is looking for.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, we’re going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you so much for talking with us, and safe travels.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Chris. Good to talk to you from Uzbekistan.

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Link to Video

(Sorry.  The video could not be embedded.  All I can offer is the link.)

 

Interview With Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday

Interview

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 30, 2011

QUESTION: Joining us now from the State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Secretary, President Obama on Friday called on Mubarak to recognize the rights of the Egyptian people. Are you satisfied with the steps that Mubarak has taken so far?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I don’t think anyone is satisfied, least of all the Egyptian the people, who have legitimate grievances and are seeking greater political freedom, a real path to democracy, and economic opportunity. And for 30 years, the United States, through Republican and Democratic administrations, has been urging the Mubarak government to take certain steps. In fact, we’ve been urging that a vice president be appointed for decades, and that finally has happened.

But there’s a long way to go, Chris, and our hope is that we do not see violence; we see a dialogue opening that reflects the full diversity of Egyptian civil society, that has the concrete steps for democratic and economic reform that President Mubarak himself said that he was going to pursue, and that we see the respect for human rights for Egyptian people and the kind of progress that will lead to a much more open, political, and economic set of opportunities for the Egyptian people.

QUESTION: Secretary, all of your answer has been couched in terms of President Mubarak. Does that mean that the Obama Administration still backs Mubarak as the legitimate president of Egypt?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have been very clear that we want to see a transition to democracy, and we want to see the kind of steps taken that will bring that about. We also want to see an orderly transition. Right now, from everything we know, the army has taken up positions. They are responding very positively thus far to the peaceful protests. But at the same time, we have a lot of reports of looting and criminal activity that is not going to be particularly helpful to what we want to see happen, and that has to be dealt with.

So there are many, many steps along the journey that has been started by the Egyptian people themselves, and we wish to support that.

QUESTION: Secretary, you talk about an orderly transition. How concerned are you that if Mubarak were to be suddenly thrown from power that Islamic radicals could fill the void?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Chris, we want to see an orderly transition so that no one fills a void, that there not be a void – that there be a well thought out plan that will bring about a democratic, participatory government. And I also believe strongly that this is in Egypt’s long-term interests, it’s in the interests of the partnership that the United States has with Egypt. So that is what we are attempting to promote and support, because clearly, what we don’t want is chaos. I don’t think the Egyptian people want that. They want their grievances to be addressed. We also don’t want to see some takeover that would lead not to democracy, but to oppression and the end of the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

So this is an intensely complex situation. It does not lend itself to quick yes-or-no, easy answers, but instead, I think the path that President Obama has charted, that we are pursuing, that calls for no violence, that supports the aspirations and human rights of the Egyptian people, that stands behind concrete steps toward democratic and economic reform is the right path for all of us to be on.

QUESTION: Secretary, on Tuesday, after the protests had already started in Cairo, you said this:

SECRETARY CLINTON: Our assessment is that the Egyptian Government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.

QUESTION: A number of protestors in the streets said based on that remark and other actions that the U.S. was acting on the side of the regime, not of the protestors. Was that statement by you a mistake?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Chris, we recognize the volatility of the situation, and we are trying to do exactly what I have just said – to promote orderly transition and change that will respond to the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people, which is what the protests are all about. I don’t think anyone wants to see instability, chaos, increasing violence. That is not in anyone’s interest.

So what President Obama and I have been doing is sending a very clear message about where the United States stands. We want to see an orderly transition to a democratic government, to economic reforms – exactly what the protestors are seeking. At the same time, we want to recognize Egypt has been our partner. They’ve been our partner in a peace process that has kept the region from war for over 30 years, which has saved a lot of lives – Egyptian lives, Israeli lives, other lives.

We want to continue to make it absolutely a American priority that – what we’ve been saying for 30 years – is that real stability rests in democracy, participation, economic opportunity. How we get from where we are to where we know the Egyptian people want to be and deserve to be is what this is about now. So we are urging the Mubarak government, which is still in power; we are urging the military, which is a very respected institution in Egypt, to do what is necessary to facilitate that kind of orderly transition.

QUESTION: And briefly, Secretary, should Americans currently in Egypt leave the country?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are following the conditions for American citizens extremely closely. This is one of my highest responsibilities, Chris. And we have authorized voluntary departure, which means that we will assist American citizens to leave Egypt. We have warned that there should not be any nonessential travel to Egypt. Thankfully, right now, there are no reports of Americans killed or injured. Again, I thank the Egyptian army for the support and security that they have provided. But we are watching it closely and we are assisting Americans who wish to leave.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, we want to thank you so much for talking with us today.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.

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My quick take: It was clear that Chris Wallace was not a veteran of interviewing Hillary Clinton since he wasted air time on that 2012 question. Everyone else knows better than to use that question. I expected this to be a tougher interview, but his inexperience with this formidable figure was obvious.

Disclaimer:  The transcript was released by DOS, not by Fox News.

Unfortunately, I cannot embed the video, but you can see the video here.

Interview With Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday

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

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Chris. Good to talk to you.

QUESTION: NATO has now agreed to a goal of 2014 for turning over security responsibility to the Afghans. Does that mean that the U.S. will have combat troops there for the next four years and possibly beyond?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Chris, I think what happened today was a real vote of confidence in the strategy that is being pursued by the NATO ISAF coalition. We are following the lead of President Karzai and the Afghans, who have set 2014 as the year during which security will be transitioned to the Afghans. There was discussion today and an agreement by the NATO and ISAF partners that there will be a continuing effort to train and equip and support the Afghans. But the point of the declaration by the NATO ISAF partners is that the transition to lead Afghan security will occur during 2014.

QUESTION: But that means U.S. combat troops will be there for four more years and, as I understand it, possibly beyond.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know quite what you mean by that because, for example, if you are going to continue in a supportive role, whether it’s American troops or one of our other contributing nations, you’re not there for the primary duty of security or combat, you’re there to support the Afghans. But does that mean you’re going to defend yourself? Does that mean you’ll come to the aid of one of your Afghan colleagues in trouble? Of course. But that is not the primary goal. The goal is to transition the security to an Afghan lead.

And what we heard at the ISAF meeting was the contributions from contributing nations to increase the number of trainers and mentors so that we could accelerate the training of the Afghan security forces. So all around, this was a great vote of confidence in President Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan.

QUESTION: You met with Afghan President Karzai the other day. Last week, he said that the U.S. must reduce its military operations, especially its night raids, which are the very tactics that seem to be working. I know you met with him, as I say, a couple of days ago. Did you get him onboard the new aggressive U.S. battle plan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Chris, I think I just want to somewhat take issue with your characterization – a new aggressive American battle plan. I think what you will hear from General Petraeus, President Obama, President Karzai, and all of us is that we now have all of the components of the strategy that President Obama directed a year ago. And we believe it’s working, and not only do we in the American Government believe it’s working; what was particularly reassuring is that the expressions of support that came from the NATO ISAF partner countries also recognized that we are making progress on the ground.

Now, when you are engaged in both trying to kill and capture the enemy and get support from the local population, you have to be always asking yourself, “Is what I’m doing keeping that balance?” General Petraeus understands that probably better than anyone. In my conversation with President Karzai, in the meeting that I just came from that President Obama had with President Karzai, we were very clear in saying we have to continue to do what is working, but we cannot do it to the extent that it turns people against the very strategy that’s working.

QUESTION: And did President —

SECRETARY CLINTON: This is a constant evaluation, and I think it shows the level of real dialogue that’s going on between us.

QUESTION: And did President Karzai agree to that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely. He is expressing legitimate concerns that come to him from the Afghan people. I mean, if you have a night raid and you take out a Taliban leader, he’s all for that. If you have a night raid and four or five other people who have nothing to do with the Taliban are collateral damage, that’s a problem. Everybody understands that. So what we’re trying to do, and I think we are succeeding through a lot of hard work by our military and civilian leadership on the ground, is to constantly try to get that balance right.

QUESTION: The Obama Administration is pushing for a vote this year on the New START Treaty agreement with the Russians, but the lead Republican John Kyl says that there’s not enough time in this session, this lame duck session before the end of the year. And the fact is you only have one of the nine Republican votes you need. Aren’t you taking a big chance pushing for a vote this year and running the risk of suffering a major, embarrassing defeat on the world stage?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Chris, I have a great deal of respect for all of my colleagues, Democratic and Republican, in the Senate. And I think that everyone is trying to figure out how to do the right thing on this important treaty. I would just make three quick points.

One, this is in the national security interest of the United States. There’s no doubt about it. In fact, what I was heartened by and even a little surprised by at the NATO meeting was the number of people, like Chancellor Merkel of Germany, like foreign ministers and prime ministers and presidents from the Baltic countries, from Central and Eastern Europe, like the editorial that was written by the foreign minister of Poland – people who are on the ground in Europe, nearby Russia, many of whom were part of the former Soviet Union, who are saying: Please ratify this treaty now, United States Senate.

Now, why are they saying that? Not because they have a dog in the hunt between Republicans and Democrats in our country. It’s because they know that this would be an important treaty for the continuing cooperation between Russia and the United States.

Secondly, we do not have any inspectors verifying what Russia is doing with their nuclear stockpile or anything else that is going on in their sites. We’ve lost that capacity. If you talk to any of our intelligence experts, like General Jim Clapper, the new director of the National Intelligence Agency, they will tell you we cannot go much longer without that capacity restored.

And finally, this is in the tradition of not just bipartisan but nonpartisan action on behalf of arms control treaties, going back to President Reagan, who famously said, “Trust, but verify.” Well, right now, we have no verification. So what we are arguing is that we’ll find the time in the lame duck. I understand the legitimate concern that there might not be enough time to debate, to make sure that everybody is well-informed. But as Senator Lugar, who is one of the leading experts in the world on the dangers posed by nuclear weapons, on the necessity of having more insight into what Russia is doing, he said we cannot wait. I agree with him.

And so we’re continuing to work with all of our Democratic and Republican senators to try to get to a point where we can hold that vote this year.

QUESTION: We got a verdict this week in the big – let me start again. We got a verdict this week in the first big civilian file of a terror detainee who had been held in a CIA secret prison and then transferred to Guantanamo, Ahmed Ghailani, who was convicted on one count but acquitted on 284 other counts, all the other counts. This was supposed to be the easiest trial to conduct.

So I guess the question is, do you have any choice now expect to hold all of these terror detainees at Gitmo and either give them military trials or just hold them indefinitely?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Chris, I think that the verdict needs to be put into a larger context. The sentence for what he was convicted of is 20 years to life. Now, that is a significant sentence.

Secondly, some of the challenges in the courtroom would be the very same challenges before a military commission about whether or not certain evidence could be used.

Thirdly, we do believe that what are called Article III trials, in other words, in our civilian courts, are appropriate for the vast majority of detainees. There are some for whom it is not appropriate. You will get no argument from this Administration on that point.

But when you look at the success record in civilian courts of convicting, sentencing, detaining in maximum security prisons by the civilian courts, it surpasses what yet has been accomplished in the military commissions. So I’m well aware, as a former senator from New York on 9/11, how important it is to get this right. I want to see these guys behind prison or executed, whatever is appropriate in the individual cases.

Now, we are moving to try to do that in the way that maximizes the outcome that is in the best interest of the security of the American people. So I don’t think you can, as a rule, say oh, no more civilian trials or no more military commissions. President Obama’s theory of this is that most should be in Article III courts, some should be confined to military commissions. But as things stand right now, we have actually gotten more convictions, and more people, more terrorists, are serving time in prison right now, because of Article III courts than military commissions.

QUESTION: Secretary, one final question. You made some news recently in Australia when you ruled out running again for office in 2012 and 2016. (Laughter.) Why?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, I love what I’m doing. I can’t tell you what it’s like, Chris, to every day get to represent the United States. And it’s why I feel so strongly about every issue from START to Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Are you categorically saying that you are done with political office, elective office?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have said it over and over again and I’m happy to say it on your show as well: I am committed to doing what I can to advance the security, the interests, and the values of the United States of America. I believe that what I’m doing right now is in furtherance of that, and I’m very proud and grateful to be doing it.

QUESTION: So you’re done with elective office?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I am. I am very happy doing what I’m doing, and I am not in any way interested in or pursuing anything in elective office.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, we want to thank you so much. Thank you for talking with us, and safe travels home.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thanks a lot, Chris. Good to talk to you.

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