Posts Tagged ‘White House’

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.


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.


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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When I saw that schedule this morning I was pretty sure we would not get a glimpse of our girl today, but fortunately White House media was obliging and shared these pics from the cabinet meeting.  Always so pretty,  she has that sweet, sort of worn-out look on her face.  Hope she gets a nice restful weekend for once.

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