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Bill & Chelsea are back from a great BH&CCF trip to Africa, just in time for Bill’s big news from POTUS:

President Obama Names Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients

2013 Marks 50th Anniversary of President Kennedy’s Establishment of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama named sixteen recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The awards will be presented at the White House later this year.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Executive Order signed by President John F. Kennedy establishing the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as well as the first ceremony bestowing the honor on an inaugural class of 31 recipients.  Since that time, more than 500 exceptional individuals from all corners of society have been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

President Obama said, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours. This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation’s gratitude.”

The following individuals will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

Ernie Banks

Known to many as “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks is one of the greatest baseball players of all time.  During his 19 seasons with the Chicago Cubs, he played in 11 All-Star Games, hit over 500 home runs, and became the first National League player to win Most Valuable Player honors in back-to-back years.  He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility.

Ben Bradlee

Ben Bradlee is one of the most respected newsmen of his generation.  During his tenure as executive editor of The Washington Post, Mr. Bradlee oversaw coverage of the Watergate scandal, successfully challenged the Federal Government over the right to publish the Pentagon Papers, and guided the newspaper through some of its most challenging moments.  He also served in the Navy during World War II.

Bill Clinton

President Clinton was the 42nd President of the United States.  Before taking office, he served as Governor and Attorney General of the State of Arkansas.  Following his second term, President Clinton established the Clinton Foundation to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote health and wellness, and protect the environment.  He also formed the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund with President George W. Bush in 2010.

Daniel Inouye (posthumous)

Daniel Inouye was a lifelong public servant.  As a young man, he fought in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, for which he received the Medal of Honor.  He was later elected to the Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Senate.  Senator Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, representing the people of Hawaii from the moment they joined the Union.

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman is a pioneering scholar of psychology.  After escaping Nazi occupation in World War II, Dr. Kahneman immigrated to Israel, where he served in the Israel Defense Forces and trained as a psychologist.  Alongside Amos Tversky, he applied cognitive psychology to economic analysis, laying the foundation for a new field of research and earning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He is currently a professor at Princeton University.

Richard Lugar

Richard Lugar represented Indiana in the United States Senate for more than 30 years.  An internationally respected statesman, he is best known for his bipartisan leadership and decades-long commitment to reducing the threat of nuclear weapons.  Prior to serving in Congress, Senator Lugar was a Rhodes Scholar and Mayor of Indianapolis from 1968 to 1975.  He currently serves as President of the Lugar Center.

Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn is a country music legend. Raised in rural Kentucky, she emerged as one of the first successful female country music vocalists in the early 1960s, courageously breaking barriers in an industry long dominated by men.  Ms. Lynn’s numerous accolades include the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Mario Molina

Mario Molina is a visionary chemist and environmental scientist.  Born in Mexico, Dr. Molina came to America to pursue his graduate degree.  He later earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering how chlorofluorocarbons deplete the ozone layer.  Dr. Molina is a professor at the University of California, San Diego; Director of the Mario Molina Center for Energy and Environment; and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Sally Ride (posthumous)

Sally Ride was the first American female astronaut to travel to space.  As a role model to generations of young women, she advocated passionately for science education, stood up for racial and gender equality in the classroom, and taught students from every background that there are no limits to what they can accomplish.  Dr. Ride also served in several administrations as an advisor on space exploration.

Bayard Rustin (posthumous)

Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all.  An advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad.  As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.

Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval is a celebrated jazz trumpeter, pianist, and composer.  Born outside Havana, he became a protégé of jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie and gained international acclaim as a dynamic performer.  He defected to the United States in 1990 and later became an American citizen.  He has been awarded nine Grammy Awards and is widely considered one of the greatest living jazz artists.

Dean Smith

Dean Smith was head coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team from 1961 to 1997.  In those 36 years, he earned 2 national championships, was named National Coach of the Year multiple times, and retired as the winningest men’s college basketball coach in history.  Ninety-six percent of his players graduated from college.  Mr. Smith has also remained a dedicated civil rights advocate throughout his career.

Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem is a renowned writer and activist for women’s equality.  She was a leader in the women’s liberation movement, co-founded Ms. magazine, and helped launch a wide variety of groups and publications dedicated to advancing civil rights.  Ms. Steinem has received dozens of awards over the course of her career, and remains an active voice for women’s rights.

Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian

C.T. Vivian is a distinguished minister, author, and organizer.  A leader in the Civil Rights Movement and friend to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he participated in Freedom Rides and sit-ins across our country.  Dr. Vivian also helped found numerous civil rights organizations, including Vision, the National Anti-Klan Network, and the Center for Democratic Renewal.  In 2012, he returned to serve as interim President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Patricia Wald

Patricia Wald is one of the most respected appellate judges of her generation.  After graduating as 1 of only 11 women in her Yale University Law School class, she became the first woman appointed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and served as Chief Judge from 1986-1991.  She later served on the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.  Ms. Wald currently serves on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is one of the world’s most successful broadcast journalists.  She is best known for creating The Oprah Winfrey Show, which became the highest rated talk show in America for 25 years. Ms. Winfrey has long been active in philanthropic causes and expanding opportunities for young women.  She has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2002 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2010.

CONGRATULATIONS, MR. PRESIDENT!

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The D.C. stories of the day were the start up of Mid-East peace talks and the return to the White House of former resident and many hope future President, Hillary Rodham Clinton,  looking very business-like and every bit as  lovely as always.

The former Secretary of State arrived around 1 p.m.  The private luncheon was closed to the press, and no one knows what they discussed, but Kristen Welker of MSNBC reported that they ate outdoors.

07-29-13-Y-01 07-29-13-Z-01 07-29-13-Z-0207-29-13-H-01

WH: Obama-Clinton lunch more personal than political

by David Jackson, USA TODAY

The most interesting lunch in the political world took place Monday at the White House, and officials said the chat between President Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton was more personal that professional.

“It’s largely friendship that’s on the agenda today,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

Obama invited the former rival-turned-secretary-of-State to a private lunch at the dining room just off the Oval Office, Earnest said.

Given their respective backgrounds, it wouldn’t be surprising if Obama and Clinton also talked about the Middle East or other foreign policy issues during lunch, Earnest said.

And the 2016 presidential election? Who knows?

Earnest declined to provide details, save for the lunch itself: grilled chicken, pasta jambalaya and salad.

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There is a video here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Think he misses her at the State Department much?

Obama to host Hillary Clinton at White House lunch

By Philip Rucker, Published: July 28

President Obama will host Hillary Rodham Clinton, his one-time campaign foe who later served as his secretary of state, at lunch Monday at the White House.

Obama_Clinton_60_Minutes-00bba_image_1024w

FILE – In this Jan. 25, 2013 file image taken from video and provided by CBS, President Obama, center, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speak with ”60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft, left. (AP Photo/CBS, File)

Obama and Clinton will meet for a lunch in the president’s private dining room, the White House announced Sunday. Their meeting will be closed to the press.

Clinton stepped down on as secretary of state on Feb. 1, after serving for four years as the nation’s top diplomat. In the weeks following her departure from the State Department, Obama hosted Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, at a private dinner at the White House.

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Statement by President and Secretary Clinton on the passing of Helen Thomas

Jul 20, 2013 | President Clinton and Secretary Clinton | New York, NY  | Statement

Hillary and I were saddened to hear of Helen Thomas’ passing today. Helen was a pioneering journalist who, while adding more than her share of cracks to the glass ceiling, never failed to bring intensity and tenacity to her White House beat. Throughout her career she covered the issues and events that shaped the course of our world with perseverance and a tough-minded dedication. Her work was extraordinary because of her intelligence, her lively spirit and great sense of humor, and most importantly her commitment to the role of a strong press in a healthy democracy.

 

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After a cursory trek through the White House website I could not find where anyone official had stated any of this.  It is a story is making its way across the webs nonetheless.  When this dinner occurred is not specified and neither is the venue, although it seems impossible that these particular figures could have gone anywhere public without being noticed, so it was probably in the White House.  No specific topics are mentioned, yet Chris Matthews, who thinks he knows everything, spewed a litany of topics a little while ago as if he had been a fly on the wall.

Obama Has Dinner With Bill, Hillary Clinton

03/08/13 04:26 PM ET EST AP

Obama Clintons Dinner

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON — The White House says President Barack Obama held a private dinner recently with former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says the trio enjoyed the conversation but isn’t releasing details.

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Check your local listings.  Set your DVRs.

01-27-13-abc

Obama, Hillary Clinton Doing First-Ever Joint Interview For ’60 Minutes’

President Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will speak to “60 Minutes” together in their first-ever joint interview, the White House announced Friday.

Communications director Dan Pfeiffer said that the interview will air Sunday. “60 Minutes” noted that it will be Obama’s first interview with anyone besides Michelle Obama.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Monday night, suddenly and without warning,  Hurricane Hillary hit every shore of the United States from a location in Peru.

On CNN to Elise Labott:

QUESTION: You say you don’t want to play the blame game, but certainly there’s a blame game going on in Washington. In fact, during the presidential debate, Vice President Biden said, “We didn’t know.” White House officials calling around saying, “Hey, this is a State Department function.” Are they throwing you under the bus?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, of course not. Look, I take responsibility. I’m in charge of the State Department, 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The President and the Vice President certainly wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.

That this came the night before a presidential debate some thought significant.  Others considered it high time someone in the administration stepped up with a definitive statement of responsibility.   The probability that this issue would arise in the debate the next evening loomed, and many expected Mitt Romney to be the one to inject it.  That is not, however,  the way the debate rolled out.  It was a question from the audience that brought up the topic, and in his response,  Romney focused not on the secretary of state or responsibility,  but rather on the president, the White House, and their remarks on the cause.

Hmmmmmm … some of us thought Romney might take this opportunity to grandstand – make a “buck will stop with me” sort of statement.   He did not.  Instead he remained locked on  the confusion that emanated from the White House for weeks following the Benghazi attack.

Just when it appeared that Hurricane Hillary was not going to hit Long Island, the moderator chimed  in.

CROWLEY: Because we’re – we’re closing in, I want to still get
a lot of people in. I want to ask you something, Mr. President, and
then have the governor just quickly.

Your secretary of state, as I’m sure you know, has said that she
takes full responsibility for the attack on the diplomatic mission in
Benghazi. Does the buck stop with your secretary of state as far as what went on here?

Aha!   Now that was along the lines of what we expected from Romney.   It provided Obama the opportunity for this response.

OBAMA: Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I’m the president and I’m always responsible, and that’s why nobody’s more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.

The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.

And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive.  That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.

Wait a minute. What was that?  Someone was playing politics?  Where did that come from?  Who said anyone was playing politics?  Romney did not.   In fact he did not take this bait .  He never mentioned the secretary of state at all!  Oh wait!  Someone had … earlier in the day.  It came from the Obama camp.

By Justin Sink – 10/16/12 05:00 PM ET

Obama campaign traveling press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that Hillary Clinton’s statement Monday night that she was taking responsibility for the attack on the American diplomatic mission in Libya was “absolutely not” a political move to shield the president.

“President Obama takes responsibility for the safety and security of all diplomats serving overseas,” Psaki told Fox News. “Secretary Clinton, of course, has a great amount of responsibility as Secretary of State and she was doing interviews yesterday as she often does on the first day of a foreign trip and said, ‘Look, we do own, the State Department does own decisions around funding for diplomats.’ ”

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So for weeks no one in the administration accepts responsibility for whatever security lapses might have failed to sustain two stations in Benghazi and their occupants (arguably perhaps nothing and no force could have held off that attack).  The Secretary of State steps up to the plate and says it is her department, they are her people and her structures, and she is responsible for them.  The administration’s reaction, rather than taking a positive and supportive stand,  is negative – a denial.  She is not playing politics. First from Psaki, then from Obama, and a little while ago Ohio State Senator Nina Turner.

There is something  disingenuous in the denial.  First Psaki, then Obama:

“President Obama takes responsibility for the safety and security of all diplomats serving overseas,” Psaki told Fox News.

“Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she
works for me. I’m the president and I’m always responsible….”

Arguments about what precipitated the attack aside,  if  Obama accepts responsibility, why did he not say so until after Secretary Clinton did so?  In fact, why did he send a spokesperson out to say it before we heard it from him in the debate last night?

There is a ring of familiarity to this.

  • 2008 primary debates:  Hillary got the hard questions first, and Obama’s frequent refrain was “Senator Clinton is right about that.”
  • 2009: HRC holds a town hall meeting at the State Department (February, I think).  Someone asks if she would consider extending benefits to domestic partners of employees.  She promises to look into it.  In June, she comes back to the LGBT association at the department and announces that they studied the possibility, found it doable, and were going ahead and extending the bennies.  Months later Obama does the same at the White House.
  • Earlier this year Joe Biden said he has no problem with gay marriage.  First everyone freaks.  There’s old Joe again shooting his mouth off.  Second some wonder how  Joe can be so definitive on this issue while Obama claims to be evolving.  Days later, Obama finally evolves.

This is a pattern.  Yes, we knew about this well before Obama was nominated in 2008.  At the time, many of us thought this indicated a lack of imagination and absence of  real plans.  Today, it indicates something even more serious,  a Commander-in-Chief who not only leads from behind, but leads only on second thought.  And he is out there right now asking for your vote.  As Uppity Woman has been reminding us lately, you coulda had a V-8.

We continue to accord Mme. Secretary a standing ovation for her courage, maturity, and professionalism in stepping up on this.  Someone had to,  and,  as you said, Mme. Secretary,  it is your department.  Until you said it, apparently the president forgot the hierarchy.

FTR Mr. Obama: You do not write her paycheck.  The American people do.  She works for us, not for you.  Very interesting phraseology in contrast to what she said about State Department staff.

Look, I take responsibility. I’m in charge of the State Department, 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts.

She knows for whom she and they work.

The transcript of the debate is available here.

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As the House Committee Oversight and Government Reform hearing  (there is a link to the C-SPAN video of the proceedings at that post) was getting underway on Wednesday October 10, references were made to a background briefing the evening before.  The transcript of that briefing is now available at the State Department website and provides the most complete account to date of events on the ground in Benghazi on the night of September 11 and the morning of September 12.

All over the internet, MSM and bloggers are referring to this text as well as statements by Secretary Clinton and other State Department officials as evidence that the Department of State never laid blame for the attack in Benghazi on the notorious Youtube defaming Islam which was the message put forth in Vice President Biden’s remarks during Thurday’s debate with Paul Ryan (a segment during which neither candidate appeared appropriately informed much less “presidential” in a heartbeat-away kind of way) as well as in U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s remarks on the Sunday morning talk circuit the weekend following the attack.  At Friday’s press availability with Italy’s foreign minister,  Secretary Clinton chose her words very carefully in response to a question from CNN’s Jill Dougherty.

To this day – to this day, we do not have a complete picture. We do not have all the answers. No one in this Administration has ever claimed otherwise. Every one of us has made clear that we are providing the best information we have at that time. And that information continues to be updated. It also continues to be put into context and more deeply understood through the process we are engaged in. Ambassador Rice had the same information from the intelligence community as every other senior official did.

She did not say that the information Ambassador Rice had was that the attack stemmed from a demonstration of any kind in Benghazi.  In the background briefing we see:

OPERATOR: The next question is from the line of Brad Klapper with AP. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, yes. You described several incidents you had with groups of men, armed men. What in all of these events that you’ve described led officials to believe for the first several days that this was prompted by protests against the video?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: That is a question that you would have to ask others. That was not our conclusion. I’m not saying that we had a conclusion, but we outlined what happened. The Ambassador walked guests out around 8:30 or so, there was no one on the street at approximately 9:40, then there was the noise and then we saw on the cameras the – a large number of armed men assaulting the compound.

The hearing itself was purportedly held to determine the nature and extent of  security in Benghazi the night of the attack. What we learned was that there was an interagency detail in Tripoli into August and that although the tour had been extended previously, it was withdrawn and replaced with a State Department detail in Tripoli.  Part of that detail accompanied Ambassador Stevens to Benghazi.

OPERATOR: The next question comes from the line of David Lerman with Bloomberg News. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. Did the Ambassador – before the attack, did the Ambassador request that security be increased in Benghazi? And if so, did anything ever come of it?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL NUMBER TWO: The – when the Ambassador traveled to Benghazi, he traveled with two additional security agents over and above the complement of three who were assigned to post. So there were five agents with him there rather than the two who are normally assigned there – the three who are normally assigned. So they were up two.

There remain voices demanding to know, as Paul Ryan asked during Thursday’s debate, why Ambassador Stevens was not given a Marine Guard.  At Friday’s press briefing, Victoria Nuland remained remarkably composed and patient as she addressed that issue for the Nth time to a question from the aforementioned Jill Dougherty of CNN.

QUESTION: There is something on the – that came up in the debate last night. It’s more a kind of how do things work question. Congressman Ryan said that Marines should have been sent – Marines exist, guard the Embassy in Paris, and they should have been guarding the Ambassador when he went to Benghazi. Is that correct? I mean, could they have sent Marines? Is that the normal course?

MS. NULAND: Let me just stop everybody here and remind you that we don’t do politics at this podium. We don’t litigate the campaign on one side or the other.

QUESTION: No, I’m not saying it’s politics. I’m saying: How does it work?

MS. NULAND: If you’re asking me a factual question —

QUESTION: Exactly. How does it work? Where– what do Marines protect? Would they in any case have protected that mission in Benghazi?

MS. NULAND: We’ve talked about the role of Marines from this podium several times. We talked about it in the days following the attack. I would refer you back to what we said at the time, which is that – and I can get you the precise numbers – but we have Marine security guards in about 60, 65 percent of our missions around the world. They are primarily assigned to protect classified information, classified equipment, in those posts that are classified. So – and I would also remind you of what Eric Nordstrom said when he testified on the Hill, which was that in his professional opinion, another foot of wall or another four, five, six – I can’t remember the number that he used – of American security personnel wouldn’t have been able to turn back or handle the assaults at the level of ferocity and lethality that we saw that night.

In the background briefing linked here, the reason why Marine Embassy Security would never have been in Benghazi for any reason was made eminently clear.

OPERATOR: The next question is from the line of Margaret Brennan, CBS News. Please, go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing this. The timeline here begins around 8:30 p.m., but we had heard in response to some reports where reporters had found paperwork documents on the grounds of the compound that secure materials, that confidential paperwork had actually been secured earlier in the day, therefore there wasn’t any compromised material found at the compound. When did that occur? At 8:30 at night? When were those documents secured or shredded or burned or whatever?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Because of the – this was a post and not a – and we – this post held no classified documents. They had computer communications with Washington, but the material would arrive on the screen and you would read it on the screen, and then that was it. There was no classified paper, so there was no paper to burn.

Assuredly the debate will continue to rage.  A few  things are clear:

1. There is never-before-seen daylight making its appearance between the Obama White House and the Clinton State Department.  Under-the-bus stories abound.  (I am putting my money on Hillary Clinton.)

2.  Hillary Clinton intends to get to the bottom of this and will probably make no definitive statements until all investigations are complete  nor should she absent all possible information.  (I hope this extends to appearing before the Oversight Committee as well.)

3. When faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary some people will never cease to believe that a Marine guard, which, had one been assigned,  would have remained in Tripoli,  would have made a difference.

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Today was probably the most difficult day of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.  She always takes it hard when diplomatic and developmental personnel are hurt or killed in service, but the events in Benghazi yesterday were particularly savage, as she described them in her remarks this morning, and it was clear that she took the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens very hard.  Following her statement this morning at the State Department, she went to the White House where President Obama delivered this message.

Remarks by the President on the Deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya

Rose Garden

10:43 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Every day, all across the world, American diplomats and civilians work tirelessly to advance the interests and values of our nation.  Often, they are away from their families.  Sometimes, they brave great danger.

Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  Among those killed was our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, as well as Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith.  We are still notifying the families of the others who were killed.  And today, the American people stand united in holding the families of the four Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.  We’re working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats.  I’ve also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world.  And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.

Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.

Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.  Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.  Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens’s body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.

It’s especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save.  At the height of the Libyan revolution, Chris led our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  With characteristic skill, courage, and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries, and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya.  When the Qaddafi regime came to an end, Chris was there to serve as our ambassador to the new Libya, and he worked tirelessly to support this young democracy, and I think both Secretary Clinton and I relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there.  He was a role model to all who worked with him and to the young diplomats who aspire to walk in his footsteps.

Along with his colleagues, Chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war. Today, the loss of these four Americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on.  I have no doubt that their legacy will live on through the work that they did far from our shores and in the hearts of those who love them back home.

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi. 

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers.  These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity.  They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.

We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory, and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.

Thank you.  May God bless the memory of those we lost and may God bless the United States of America.

END 

After these remarks, the President accompanied the Secretary to the State Department where he signed a guest book and offered condolences  to grieving State Department staff.  Here are some photos from the State Department and the White House.

At the State Department making remarks this morning.

In the Rose Garden.

Signing the guest book at the State Department.

Offering condolences to State Department staff.

Everyone here knows that I am no fan of Obama’s, but today he did the right thing for his Secretary of  State,  her staff, and the country in much the same way as George W. Bush did when he went to Ground Zero after 9/11.

I have seen and fought about as much Islamophobia as I can stomach today.  Dear friends and colleagues of mine are Muslim.  One proudly just took her oath of citizenship recently and is so proud to be American.  Those who claim that their freedom of speech is being trampled should remember that Muslim American troops are defending that freedom and that Muslim Americans serve patriotically in embassies all over the world – some, clearly, in very dangerous places.  We are a secular nation where all religions are to be respected. These photos from Benghazi are worth a thousand words.

15 Photos Of Libyans Apologizing To Americans

A peaceful demonstration from Benghazi, the Libyan city where a U.S. ambassador was killed in a consulate attack Tuesday. “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans.”

Finally, using the events in Benghazi and Cairo politically is shameful.  Political opponents need not disagree about everything.  I just heard former Ambassador Nicholas Burns say that this is a time for a political time-out.  This is a time for us to come together and be respectful of those we have lost.   It is not a time to criticize much less to attack and lie.  We all need to take a breath, reflect and offer our condolences to those who have lost loved ones as Secretary Clinton and President Obama did today.

To those who have suffered losses, I am so sorry.  My sympathy is with you.

To those who continue, on Secretary Clinton’s hardest day at State, to spread lies and attack our government,  have you no decency?

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More than a year ago I began posting, on these pages, roundups of media stories proposing that Hillary Clinton challenge Barack Obama in a 2012 primary.  Based on Bobby Kennedy, one of a few past politicians with whom she shares a variety of values and issues, having declared his own candidacy on St. Patrick’s Day, some of us figured that she could still get into the race that late.  Ironically, that was the day I posted the last in the series Media Reads on a Hillary Run.   The central reason why that was the last was the shift of attention from 2012 to 2016.

Suggestions that she run in 2016 have come from the media as well as other politicos.  I refuse to place her name in the same sentence or context with 2016 because I believe that meme is a ploy to get Hillary Clinton Democrats to support Barack Obama.  The tricky-dickyness of such a prediction alone is a put off.  The probability that having succeeded to get the Hillsters on the bandwagon,  the Dem Party,  in two years,  would begin touting some new “star,” is strong enough to evoke a good deal of  skepticism.  Therefore,  until it became clearly too late for her to enter primaries,  this blog stayed with the 2012 version which is where it remains.  Until the last second of the last minute of the last hour I retain hope that somehow she will top that ballot.  I just sent her another $20.12.

I refer to the top of the ballot with emphasis because  meme 2016’s little brother,   “the great Joe/Hillary switcharoo” has followed its older sibling like  a tail on a puppy dog.  The suggestion comes largely from Republican quarters with Sarah Palin, John McCain, and most recently his daughter Meghan suggesting that this would be a great move for the Obama campaign.  That alone should make Democrats suspicious.

There was a hysterical flurry of excited speculation yesterday in Hillary Facebook groups and even in the office where I work based on her schedule showing a meeting at the White House with the president and perhaps also the VP.  “OMG!  What’s happening?”  “I’m on pins-and-needles!” (Some of what I heard.)

So let us return to earth as Hillary had over the weekend after racking up thousands of additional air miles.  She had been away nearly two entire weeks pushing our “alternative to China” agenda all over Africa and capping off the trip with a conference in Turkey on the escalating situation in Syria.  Barack and Joe, on the other hand, were off campaigning when she returned.  Yesterday was the first day  that all three were in D.C. since she returned from that marathon farewell tour of Africa.  She had been to the White House every day briefing officials on her trip.  Yesterday was the first day she had the chance to brief the two top guys.  With the Israeli ambassador talking an attack on Iran,  common sense  indicated that this was not a meeting about a campaign ticket.

Many refused, however, to listen to reason and protocol.   She always meets with the  president after her trips.  There was nothing awkward at all to be derived from her meeting with Joe Biden (as one news source worded it).  When she is in D.C. she has breakfast with him every Tuesday at his house.  It was a lot of  wrong-headed chatter over a dead duck.  Here is why.

According to Ed Klein, who may well have reliable sources in the Clinton camp,  the position of Veep was offered before Hillary Clinton ever left for Africa.  She turned it down.  The Clinton sources might also enjoy feeding Ed a lie or two just for fun.  He, on the other hand can never guess which piece of the pie is tainted, so he is obliged to report all he is given.  I doubt strongly the part about Bill Clinton favoring this.  He knows that quicksand makes a lousy launching surface.

So, the Veep meme is dead, and,  unless you are Hillary Clinton herself (you have my number and email addy, Hilary), in which case I will be the first to jump on board, leave all 2016 speculation at the door here.

Author Ed Klein on CNBC: Hillary Clinton Dismissed VP Possibility Two Weeks Ago

Amateur author Ed Klein tells Larry Kudlow that a conversation about Sec. of State Hillary Clinton replacing Joe Biden took place at the White House with Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Klein says the WH was putting out “feelers” see if Hillary would be interested. But in the end, Hillary declined.

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