It is done. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts received final approval from his colleagues to become secretary of state for the second Obama administration. His confirmation was met with applause on the Senate floor on Tuesday, after he was backed unanimously by the foreign relations committee. Kerry, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran and U.S. senator since 1985, was the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004. His nomination was put forward after the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, withdrew from consideration for the job in December. Kerry replaces Hillary Clinton, who is stepping down after four years in the job during the first Obama administration. (BBC)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before congress for the first time since the September 11 attacks in Benghazi. The attacks left four Americans dead and the State Department under scrutiny as many politicians cited “deficiencies and inadequacies” as the cause. Clinton conceded on some of the accusations, pledging to make sure the Department has the resources it needs to reduce the risks in the future.
At times, Clinton got emotional, remembering hugging the wives, husbands, and children of those killed in the attacks. She spoke tearfully of having “stood next to President Obama as the Marines [who] carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews.” There was a brief heated moment when Ambassador Susan Rice was brought up. She vehemently defended the ambassador’s remarks, attesting that she did not knowingly mislead the people. Before she steps down in the coming months, she said the department’s efficacy and operational capabilities will be improved. (CBS News)
The White House will announce a handful of new Cabinet nominees this week, and President Obama has handpicked Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) to replace Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State, White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser John Brennan to replace disgraced General Petraeus as CIA director, and former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) to replace Leon Panetta who is stepping down as Secretary of Defense.
It has not gone unnoticed that the nominees are all, indeed, white men, as NYU professor Paul Light, who studies political appointments, said, “It’s evident that he’s going to have a less diverse cabinet this term, possibly even less diverse than the George W. Bush cabinet."
Additionally, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, a Chinese-American, could be replaced by a white man, too, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Granted, Obama's first choice to replace Clinton was U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, a black woman, but she dropped out of the running, and it is still possible that the replacement for Lisa Jackson, the first black woman to serve as Environmental Protection Agency administrator, may be a woman, and that the now-vacant Commerce secretary slot will go to Xerox chief Ursula Burns, also a black woman. (Washington Post)
It's official. Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat and former presidential candidate, is President Barack Obama's pick to become the next secretary of state. Obama made the nomination Friday. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kerry will replace Hillary Clinton, who is stepping down from the post. "I think it is fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry," Obama said of Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "This makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead." Kerry's nomination comes after United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration for the job last week due to threats by a number of GOP senators to block her nomination if the president did indeed name her. While Kerry is expected to easily win approval, a move to the State Department could prove to be a threat to Democratic control of the Senate. Kerry's departure would leave his Senate seat in Massachusetts open, giving recently defeated Republican Sen. Scott Brown a chance to claim it. (CNN)
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Obama Expected to Choose John Kerry as Sec’y of State
Decision comes after embattled UN ambassador removes her name from consideration
President Barack Obama is leaning toward choosing Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, White House official and friends of the senator told The New York Times. The announcement, expected sometime this week, will likely be delayed because of the focus on the Connecticut school shooting. There is also reportedly some discomfort in Washington with the idea that Obama will have a national security team in which white men hold all tops posts. The U.S ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, last week took her name out of the running for the spot, citing opposition to her nomination from several prominent Republicans in the Senate. Kerry, the 69-year-old former Democratic presidential nominee, has wanted the post for some time and is said to have support for his confirmation on both sides of aisle in the Senate. (NY Times)
After 14 years of painstaking labor, North Korea finally has a rocket that can put a satellite in orbit. But that doesn't mean Pyongyang is close to having an intercontinental ballistic missile. Experts say North Korea is years from even having a shot at developing reliable missiles that could bombard the U.S. mainland and other distant targets. However, North Korea did gain attention and the outrage of world leaders Wednesday with its launch of a three-stage, long-range rocket.
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Susan Rice and How Washington Works
Dirty politics stalls, but won't end, ambassador's career
It’s been a busy week for me here in Washington. The week started off with an all-day session focused on protecting our democracy and the right to vote. The next day was spent focusing on the Michigan Right-To-Work legislation that was introduced, passed and signed into law in the blink of an eye. Next up was a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the school to prison pipeline, which robs our communities of so many young, promising people who may just need a little help. And yesterday, I spent the better part of my day visiting Senate offices along with some of the Black Women’s Roundtable, to discuss the treatment of Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice by Republicans. Shortly thereafter and much to the dismay of many, she withdrew her name from consideration for nomination. This was all in a week’s work. It’s this work that I hope will allow me to continue to build a solid foundation here in Washington that will help me far surpass my wildest ambition.
No political news outlet worth its salt will let Ambassador Susan Rice’s self-removal from consideration for the position of Secretary of State slide under the radar. Immediately after the 5 o’clock news yesterday, my father called me asking why she had “quit” as he put it. In his mind, she all but had the position. Like my father, many others thought that she would in fact be nominated. But if she had been nominated, there would certainly have been some people who would have done everything in their power to make sure she was not confirmed. Unfortunately for us all, they didn’t even wait until the nomination process began before starting the vetting process and putting her on trial, in some senses.
It’s an unfortunate situation. While many Republicans know that Ambassador Rice had nothing to do with what happened in Benghazi, Libya, that has not stopped them from pointing the finger in her direction for simply being a proxy during news shows after the attack to explain what happened. I won’t say that the intelligence she gave was accurate, because we all know at this point that what she said was erroneous. However, the burden of carrying Benghazi squarely on her back may have factored into her decision to step aside. The confusion over what really happened and why will be examined for days (and maybe longer in some circles), but at the end of the day, the fact that she can no longer be considered for the role is something that does not sit well with me.
Many people don’t realize how Washington works—the many politics at play and steps needed to get things done, the constant push and pull in many different directions, the need to focus on one thing and then quickly on another. The more I learn about how DC works, the more I admire Ambassador Rice, who is not much older than I am, but has accomplished so much. Her career path is incredible, and the imperfections, the lessons learned, are what make me more inspired. When I think about my own aspirations to lead and ascend to higher heights, I know that I am going to have some obstacles. I will make mistakes; I will fall down and hurt myself and maybe others. But more than anything, I will get back up. It’s what my parents have taught me since I was a little girl.
Ambassador Rice did what was asked of her by appearing on those TV shows to talk about Benghazi in the aftermath of the attack. She read and reread the intelligence briefs and she went on the shows saying what she thought she was supposed to. Because of it, she has been knocked around and suffered some bruising to her reputation. But I know without a doubt that this is not the end of Susan Rice’s career. Her star will continue to rise and I am glad to just be witness to it.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has taken herself out of the running for Secretary of State in the second Obama term, NBC News is reporting. On Thursday, Rice wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he no longer consider her as Hillary Clinton’s replacement. “I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly – to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities," Rice said in her letter. “That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country...Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.” (To read the full letter, click here.)
The White House released a statement on Thursday afternoon, indicating the president accepts Rice’s decision:
Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State. For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant. As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America’s interests... I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend. While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first. The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country.
Rice had been at the center of a controversy over her possible nomination to head the State Department. Republican senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina were her most vocal critics on Capitol Hill, over her statements following the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Both senators vowed to block her nomination in the Senate, if Obama ever put her forward.
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not necessarily reflect those of Loop 21.
While many Americans were cooking up the good stuff to share in the spirit of love and thanks last week, some were brewing a pot of sour grapes. They were stewing in their misery over President Barack Obama’s reelection, and decided to take out their anger on Dr. Susan Rice, ambassador to the United Nations and the president’s likely choice for the next secretary of state.
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves her post, the president will have to nominate someone to fill that position. The president has not made any announcement about who that will be, but rumor has it is that he will choose either Ambassador Susan Rice or Sen. John Kerry. But, despite the fact that the president hasn’t made an official announcement, Republican leaders have already started their posturing. When John McCain sat on “Fox and Friends” and made a declaration that he would do whatever he could to “block Susan Rice from being Secretary of State,” it was evocative of another statement made by Sen. Mitch McConnell, who said he’d do whatever it took to make President Obama a one-term president. We see how that ended.
That wasn’t the end of the story, however. When McCain continued to belittle and debase Rice as less than the intelligent, qualified person she is, it was shrouded in partisan politics. But what lies beneath the partisanship is the very essence of what has been at play since President Obama’s election in 2008, and that is racism. In addition, the attacks on women have been revived through this latest bout. Despite this, Ambassador Rice has tried to create some clarity and understanding about her position after the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, but the Republicans have still not been appeased. Reports in the media are that she seems to be too loyal to the administration and that Republican senators don’t feel she has been completely candid. But in reality, will they ever be at ease or feel they have enough answers? This is reminiscent of when there were questions about Operation Fast and Furious that resulted in a Contempt of Congress charge for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The underlying theme is that there are some people who are still not comfortable with the thought of blacks, or women, in positions of power. The result is the unrelenting attack on Ambassador Rice. This attack included a letter to the president from 97 members of the House of Representatives, none of whom vote on cabinet members. It is completely and utterly deplorable, and as a community we should not stand by and watch it happen. The Black Women’s Roundtable, which some National Action Network leaders are part of, has started a petition to ask Senate to respect Ambassador Rice as a sitting cabinet member and as an intelligent and qualified individual and leader in foreign policy. If you want to sign in support of Ambassador Rice and against the partisan, racist, and misogynistic attacks being levied at her, please sign by going here.
A new report shows that Susan Rice, the likely new secretary of state, holds millions of dollars in investments in Canadian oil companies and banks with stakes in the Keystone XL Pipeline. The report comes from "OnEarth," an environmental magazine published by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
As head of the State Department, Rice would determine the fate of the pipeline, which would link northern Canada's remote oil sands fields to Texas' Gulf Coast refineries.
"OnEarth" reveals that Rice has investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would benefit from the growth of the Canadian tar sands industry and the construction of the pipeline. In fact, nearly a third of Rice's personal net worth - estimated in 2009 to be between $23.5 million and $43.5 million - is invested in Canadian oil producers, pipeline operators, and other energy companies
Numerous environmental groups and political organizations have protested against the pipeline being opened.
"We have two main concerns: the risk of oil spills along the pipeline, which would traverse highly sensitive terrain," wrote the New York Times in an editorial "and the fact that the extraction of petroleum from the tar sands creates far more greenhouse emissions than conventional production does." There is also fear that a pipeline spill would pollute air and critical water supplies and harm birds and other wildlife.
Republicans, including former presidential nominee Mitt Romney have called for the pipeline to be opened immediately. However, even without expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline, the United States is poised to overtake Saudi Arabia and become the world's biggest oil producer before 2020. The US will be energy independent 10 years later, according to a forecast by the International Energy Agency.
United Nations ambassador Susan Rice’s outstretched hand to prominent GOP senators, who criticized her after the deadly attacks in Libya, has been slapped away. Rice’s meeting with Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire seemed to do little to stop their criticisms of her and the Obama administration’s public messaging after the September terrorist attacks on a U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Graham and Ayotte reaffirmed their pledges to block Rice’s likely nomination to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Bottom line, I’m more disturbed than I was before,” Graham said after his closed-door meeting with Rice, whom he had previously said he could not “trust.” McCain told Fox News he would be “very hard-pressed” to support Rice’s nomination. Should President Obama go ahead and nominate Rice, her contentious meeting with the Republicans signals an ugly confirmation battle ahead. (New York Times)
U.N. Amb. Susan Rice is meeting with her biggest Republican critics, Senators John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who bashed her dissemination of incomplete intelligence after the deadly terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Rice’s Tuesday meetings with McCain, arguably her most vocal critic, could be her final pitch for support in her likely nomination to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday morning, McCain told CNN he was open to hearing Rice’s explanation, after just weeks ago saying he would do everything in his power to block her nomination to head the State Department in the Senate. McCain said it was Rice who requested the meeting with him. (Associated Press)
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has softened his sharp critiques of President Barack Obama and United Nations Amb. Susan Rice, after spending more than a week pledging to block Rice's possible Secretary of State nomination. On Sunday, McCain told Fox News that he would no longer attempt to block Rice's nomination and is open to talks with Rice about her dissemination of incomplete intelligence on the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. View his remarks in the video above.
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) had sharp words for the group of GOP officials piling on United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, over her dissemination of incomplete intelligence in the U.S. consulate attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Fudge, the incoming chair of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 113th Congress, said women and minorities tend to be the target of Republican attacks when they lose to Democrats. Last week, President Barack Obama issued a strong rebuke of Republicans who were going after rice. See her remarks in the video player above.
What part of “go after me” don’t Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill understand? Mere days after President Barack Obama rebuffed GOP attacks on United Nations ambassador Susan Rice for the incomplete, declassified talking points that she disseminated in interviews, influential Senate Republicans on Sunday doubled down on their vow to give Rice a hard time. "She's going to have to come in and testify at some point, whether it's in a closed hearing or an open hearing," said Republican Saxby Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on the “Fox News Sunday” program. It’s entirely likely that GOP are drooling over the chance to grill Rice, who is reportedly being considered as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s replacement in Obama’s second term. Rice’s appearance would be analogous to former national security adviser Condoleezza Rice’s contemptuous confirmation hearings to head the State Department. (Reuters)
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not necessarily reflect those of Loop 21.
Two black women with the last name Rice walk into a bar… Okay, maybe that sounds like the beginnings of a really bad joke.
What’s not the least bit funny is the clear hypocrisy on the part of Republicans – still bitter and lying to themselves about the reasons President Barack Obama won reelection – in their criticism of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and her early and misleading intelligence on the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks at a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The aggressive critiques of Rice, which Obama rightly rapped in a White House press conference last week, are the polar opposite of the gentle handling afforded former Bush administration Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who disseminated flawed intelligence related to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and which led the U.S. into 12 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan and eventually cost more than 6,000 U.S. lives at last count.
Susan Rice and Condi Rice are without doubt distinguished African American women and honorable public servants. Both disseminated the flawed information authorized by their respective White House administrations. But it seems Republicans view these two women’s mistakes through different lenses -- one serves under a beloved and maligned Democratic president and the other served under a tolerated and disgraced Republican president. With Susan Rice seemingly poised to assume the other Rice's old job -- if Obama chooses to nominate her to replace the exiting Hillary Clinton -- Susan Rice will have joined the “I’m a black woman being used as a scapegoat by white men for doing my job” club.
GOP standard bearers like U.S. senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) say they found Susan Rice’s behavior unbecoming of a potential secretary of state. They’ve alleged Susan Rice knowingly disseminated incomplete information on the attacks so as to cover up what they say was the Obama administration’s inept response to security concerns at its foreign diplomatic mission in Libya. That reasoning reeks of hypocrisy, given their party’s record on intelligence failures in the Bush administration. On Thursday, McCain said Susan Rice was “not being very bright,” in spreading the anti-Islam video story to the American public. The day before, McCain questioned Susan Rice’s integrity and vowed to block her confirmation to head the State Department in the Senate, a nomination that has yet to even have been put forward. Graham said he would do the same because he “can’t trust her.”
In short, they’re calling the UN ambassador a liar. There’s a major distinction worth pointing out, particularly between Susan Rice and Condi Rice, whom McCain once praised as “a great American success story,” even as liberals openly questioned her integrity.
No further harm or death came of Susan Rice’s account that the Libya attack “began spontaneously … as a reaction to what had transpired … in Cairo, where there was a violent protest … outside of our embassy, sparked by this hateful video,” as she now infamously explained on CBS’s "Face the Nation." But it’s rather hard to say the same regarding Condi Rice. The former State Department head is on record saying Iraq and its now deceased president, Saddam Hussein, had no weapons of mass destruction and did not pose a threat to America and its interests. But she went back on that assessment not long after Republicans began beating the Middle East war drums, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are the costliest and deadliest conflicts in American history. After she was made to face anti-war Senate Democrats and defend the administration’s intelligence failures – read “lies” -- in her own confirmation hearing to Secretary of State in 2005, Condi Rice seemed to benefit from being in the right and ruling political party in the executive branch.
In a 2005 interview on CBS Morning News, McCain championed the former Bush national security advisor: “I thought that some of the remarks — and I’m not going to mention my [Democratic] colleagues’ names — some of the remarks aimed at her during the hearings challenged her integrity. We can disagree on policy and we disagree on a lot of things, but I think it is very clear that Condoleezza Rice is a person of integrity. And yes, I see this, as some lingering bitterness over a very tough campaign. I hope it dissipates soon.”
Caught that? “Bitterness over a very tough campaign” is precisely what’s staring President Obama and the Democrats in the face today, as they move forward on fiscal cliff budgetary negotiations. McCain and others’ hypocrisy on Susan Rice is staggering. But it’s evidence that there is no bipartisan kumbaya on the horizon in Obama’s second term.
In all fairness, Republicans are right to demand an investigation into whether State Department officials failed to adequately respond to reported requests for additional security for diplomats in Libya. But they seem to always trip on the one good leg they’ve got to stand on when, in ignorance of the past, Republicans open their mouths.
On NBC's Today Show, McCain tried to explain the difference in the treatment of the two Rices:
In his first news conference since re-election, President Barack Obama fired back at former presidential rival, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and his colleague Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) for their criticism of Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, over the incorrect information she gave to the public on the terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
"If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham want to go after somebody, they should go after me," Obama told reporters on Wednesday. "I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador? Who had nothing to do with Benghazi ... to besmirch her reputation? It's outrageous."
Obama warned that anyone attacking Rice, seemingly because she's being considered to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or "because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me."
McCain and Graham took to the airwaves Wednesday morning to say they "don't trust" Rice and would "do everything in [their] power" to block her confirmation, should Obama choose to nominate her. The president said no final decisions have been made on the nominations for his second term cabinet.
Should Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decide to step down to start running for president in 2016 focus her energy in a new direction, word on the street is President Barack Obama is leaning toward the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.
Bloomberg.com is reporting that six current or former White House officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity, said Rice remains close to the president and shares many of his views on foreign policy, making her a very likely successor.
Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and other officials said Obama will first need to pick someone to replace Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. He also may need to find successors to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.
Thinking about a Rice selection for Secretary of State gets one to thinking about other choices the newly reelected president could make. Perhaps Obama should select Roland G. Fryer, the wunderkind economist who is the youngest African American ever to be awarded tenure at Harvard and a 2011 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, for Geithner's Treasury Secretary position.