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6.18.2014

Hilary Clinton, Fresh Air Interview

On June 12th Terry Gross interviewed Hilary Clinton on Fresh Air. In response to a question about how the world might look different had there been no war in Iraq, Clinton states (emphasis added, obviously);

...along came 9/11 - you know, a historically terrible event in the minds of all of us and particularly for me as a senator from New York - with a lot of human costs and economic costs and also a shock to how we saw ourselves and what the world was throwing at us at the time. And again, the response to 9/11 - appropriately going after those who attacked us in Al-Qaida who were based in the Afghan-Pakistan border areas - had the full support. NATO passed a strong resolution, you know, that basically invoked what's called Article Five because an attack on one is an attack on all. The world was with us.


I find it bizarre that Hilary would use the same phrase to describe the 9-11 attackers as she uses to describe those who supported our response to the attacks. It's an all-inclusive phrase, 'the world', and reads as if to say everyone is our ally as well as our enemy. Why would she be so sloppy in her speech as to describe the attackers and the allies with the same phrase? This choice is phrasing makes her statement so vague and non-sensical that it may as well be white noise; and yet 9-11 is her basis for foreign policy decisions!


I thought that these quotes on Edward Snowden from Clinton's interview and Gross' interview with Glenn Greenwald from a few weeks earlier made an interesting juxtaposition;


CLINTON: There were other ways that Mr. Snowden could have expressed his concerns, by reaching out to some of the senators or other members of Congress or journalists in order to convey his questions about the implementation of the laws surrounding the collection of information concerning Americans' calls and emails. I think everyone would have applauded that because it would have added to the debate that was already started.

GREENWALD: But, you know, I think the broader and more important point there is that it's hard to overstate just how impotent and neutered the congressional oversight process has become, the idea that if you're a whistle-blower within the U.S. government and you discover serious abuses, and you take them to the Congress and anything is going to be done, at this point is really fiction.
And I think the key event to understand is that there are two Democratic senators. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. both of whom are on the Senate Intelligence Committee. who have been running around the United States for three or four years saying the very extremist and alarmist claims about how the powers claimed by the Obama administration under the Patriot Act for surveillance are stunning, that if the American people learned about them, they would be shocked, that it goes far beyone what the law allows. And yet they didn't do what Edward Snowden did, which is tell the American public what it is that was being done. They were so constrained, even these powerful senators, that they couldn't do anything because the law silenced them. And Edward Snowden knew that and knew that the only way to get this information out was to come and work with journalists.


Another excerpt from Clinton's interview; 



GROSS: In your book, "Hard Choices," you write that your vote to authorize military action in Iraq was, quote, "a mistake." You say, I got it wrong, plain and simple. You hadn't publicly used the word "mistake" before. Why didn't you use that word during the 2008 campaign, and did something change between then and now in how you saw the war or how you saw your vote authorizing the use of force?
CLINTON: I made the best decision that I could at the time. And as we went through the years and I saw the way that the president and his team used my vote and the other votes to authorize action, I became increasingly distressed.
I did not believe that it was in the best interest of our country, and it was not something that I, any longer, wanted to be associated with. Yet at the same time, I was very clear that I felt a responsibility for having voted the way that I did, which led to sending hundreds of thousands of our young men and women into Iraq. And I didn't feel comfortable saying anything that could be interpreted as somehow turning my back on them.
And I wanted to make clear in this book - especially in the context of my thinking about what I would recommend to President Obama concerning additional troops in Afghanistan - that I did get it wrong in Iraq, and it was a mistake. And in many ways, that mistake, as costly as it was, it gave me a much clearer view and certainly increased my skepticism and my humility about these difficult decisions that President Obama had to make when he took office.

A more concise version of Clinton's answer;
"I supported the war with my vote, and continued to until it was fought and won. At this point, I felt comfortable stating that the war was a mistake." 

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