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Secretary Clinton News Round-Up

June 24, 2009

capt.photo_1243880890259-4-0While Secretary Clinton has been recuperating from elbow surgery, she has hardly been sitting around at home doing nothing. In fact, she has been busy pushing her diplomatic agenda forward.

-Today, the State Dept. announced Secretary Clinton would host a bilateral with His Excellency Rashid Meredov, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan:

Secretary Clinton and FM from Turkmenistan

Secretary Clinton and FM from Turkmenistan

-In addition, Secretary Clinton issued a statement regarding the guilty verdict in the case involving the murder of two USAID employees in 2008 in Khartoum, Sudan and I wrote about her statement in an earlier post today, which can be found, here.

-In other news, Secretary Clinton dis-invited Iranian diplomats from attending 4th of July festivities at American diplomatic posts abroad:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton three weeks ago authorized U.S. diplomatic missions to invite Iranians to the July 4th observances, which typically include outdoor hot dog roasts and American music, as a goodwill gesture.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday no Iranians have responded to the invitations thus far, and that in any event they are no longer valid.

Earlier at a news briefing here, State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said the embassy events celebrate American values such as freedom and independence, precisely what Iranians have taken to the streets to demand. As such, Kelly said, an official Iranian presence would be inappropriate.

Laura Rozen over at ‘The Cable’ had more specifics about Secretary Clinton’s directive to US diplomats abroad and in fact, she posted part of an email from a State Dept. spokesman with excepts from Clinton’s cable to the diplomats:

Since so many of you have asked us what the WH was referencing in this afternoon’s briefing, here is part of the ‘ALDAC’ cable that went out today from Secretary Clinton to posts worldwide directing them to rescind all invitations that have been extended to Iranian diplomats for July 4th events:

“Unfortunately, circumstances have changed, and participation by Iranian diplomats would not be appropriate in light of the unjust actions that the President and I have condemned. For invitations which have been extended, posts should make clear that Iranian participation is no longer appropriate in the current circumstances. For invitations which have not been extended, no further action is needed.”

-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, ALDAC, 6/24/09

-Laura Rozen also broke the news that long-time Clinton friend, adviser and confidant, Sydney Blumenthal, would be joining Secretary Clinton at the State Department:

Longtime journalist and former Clinton White House advisor Sidney Blumenthal will become a special advisor without portfolio to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, The Cable has learned. Blumenthal refused to comment. But sources say he is filling out the paperwork and disentangling himself from other obligations as he moves to become a special advisor to the secretary whose presidential campaign he helped advise. The position would not require Senate confirmation.

Clinton, who is recovering from surgery to repair a broken elbow, has been building her team at the State Department, while establishing her credentials as a team player supporting and amplifying her former presidential rival’s foreign-policy vision. Sources close to her say she will prove indispensable to Obama, a point several Obama aides also made to Politico’s Ben Smith in a piece noting the relatively background role she has played in these early months. The planned addition of Blumenthal, a longtime confidant of the Clinton family and a fierce defender of Bill Clinton’s presidential legacy, could indicate she plans to raise her profile. (Blumenthal is probably Clinton’s best speechwriter, a friend notes.)

In the excerpt above, Rozen references the Politico article penned by Ben Smith, ‘Hillary Clinton Toils In The Shadows’, which should be retitled, “Unverifiable Bullshit A Self-Serving Anonymous Source Made Up To Undermine Hillary Clinton” because the article is filled with speculation and makes the preposterous claim that Secretary Clinton’s power is diminishing, largely as a result of her use of special envoys to help promote the State Department/administration’s foreign policy agenda.

Such a claim is pretty suspect given the fact that a) it is way too early to conclude that the special envoys have squandered huge amounts of power unto themselves at the expense of Secretary Clinton; b) thus far, the special envoys have received very little media coverage at all; c) she is admired and respected in almost every corner of the world, making people much more receptive to the United State’s foreign policy message, and d) she’s a diplomatic/political rock star with an approval rating through the roof and which is much higher than President Obama’s approval rating- that doesn’t exactly equal diminished power. Smith also harps on the issue of Secretary Clinton’s use of special envoys, here. I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that the article connects dots which aren’t there to reach a conclusion unsupported by facts.

On a much happier note, Hillary Clinton seems to be doing well as she recuperates from elbow surgery, but for those of us who follow every one of the Secretary’s daily diplomatic adventures, the lack of news coverage over the past two weeks has been a bit like caffeine withdrawal after stopping coffee cold-turkey. So, in honor of that, I’ll leave you with a few pictures from her travels, conferences and meetings over the past four or so months:

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US-ROMANIA-CLINTON-DIACONESCU

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Barnard Commencement Clinton

Clinton US Romania

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EGYPT Obama

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