Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Katie Couric, Hillary Clinton Interview Transcript (10-6-09)

Complete transcript. Excerpt below:

Katie Couric: Secretary Clinton, let me ask you about the decision that President Obama facing. He has a critical decision to make about the road ahead in Afghanistan. How important is this in terms of not only the immediate ramifications, but for U.S. policy long term, U.S. foreign policy.

Hillary Clinton: Katie, that's, I think, one of the best ways to pose this. Because, you're right, the President is going through a very deliberative process, as he said he would. Back in Spring, when we took the policy that we inherited and-- tried to stabilize. He changed commanders. He-- agreed to add more troops. But he said, "We want to get through the Afghan election, and then we will take stock of where we are." Which is what we're doing. And I think it's an important process-- for him to be able to make the ultimate decision. But you can't look at it-- as a standalone-- assessment. It has to be put into the regional context and the historical context. There isn't any doubt, in my mind, that-- this region of the world, what is often referred to as the Afghanistan/Pakistan region, but of course, it's embedded in a region that includes Iran, a number of countries-- to the north. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, of course, India. Is one of the most critical areas for our long term security.

Clinton: Many people view what is happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan as having ramicat-- ramifications-- far beyond-- what this initial decision might-- suggest. And I think the President is right to say, let's look at how we got to where we are historically. What we can do to-- help stabilize Afghanistan. Accomplish our core goal of-- disrupting, dismantling-- and defeating Al Qaeda. Take-- a very close look at what we need to do to deal with the Taliban, which is-- indigenous phenomenon, as well as associated with Al Qaeda. And work with a Pakistanis who are now in a fight against those who threaten them.

Clinton: While at the same time realizing that there's a lot of other moving parts to this. And the United States, to some extent, has to acknowledge, being among the creators of the problem we are now dealing with. It seemed like a great idea, back in the '80s to-- embolden-- and train and equip-- Taliban, mujahidin, jihadists against the Soviet Union, which had invaded Afghanistan. And with our help, and with the Pakistani support-- this group-- including, at that time, Bin Laden, defeated the Soviet Union. Drove them out of Afghanistan, eventually. Saw the fall of the government that they had installed. And the rest we know. They eventually took over. But when we accomplished our primary mission of seeing the Soviet Union thrown out of Afghanistan, we withdrew. And we left the problems of a well-equipped, fundamentalist, ideological and religious group that had been battle hardened to the Afghans and the Pakistanis.

So, I think it's understandable that people are saying, sort of, "Well, what's your real commitment? What are you trying to accomplish? Do you understand the historical context and the regional geostrategic context?" So, I think it's important to pose it as you do. Let's look at it in the broader question. It's not about do we put more troops in or not? Do we do this on economic development or not? You have to look at it in that broader context.

Couric: Well, what are the long term ramifications for U.S. foreign policy?

Clinton: I think several. First of all-- Al Qaeda is degraded, to some extent, but it is still alive and well. We just saw that with the arrest last week of-- the terrorist plot where-- Zazi had been trained in a camp run by Al Qaeda, in Pakistan. Pakistan has now realized that their-- stability and some would argue survivability, but certainly stability-- in maintaining control over their territory, means they've got to take the fight to the Taliban. Some of whom are allied with Al Qaeda. We know that the Taliban is-- regrouping and showing momentum in Afghanistan. And what their ultimate goals are may not be clear, but certainly if they were able to control great swaths of Afghanistan or even eventually take Afghanistan back over, there is every reason to believe they would once again provide the support and the haven that jihadist terrorists are seeking-- and that Al Qaeda once had.

Clinton: We know Pakistan has nuclear weapons, which is-- a further complicating factor-- in this-- challenge. We know that-- Iran is on the border of those two countries, with interests of their own. So, we are trying to analyze what is in the best interest of the United States? That is our primary obligation. How do we prevent or disrupt attacks on us? How do we prevent attacks on our interests and our allies? How do we prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for future attacks and other staging-of-- jihadist activities? And how do we work with the Pakistanis to support and stabilize their government. It's a big order

Armed Violence Kills 2,000 a day Worldwide


More than 2,000 people around the world are dying from armed violence each day, on average, advocacy groups said on Tuesday, urging nations to launch negotiations on a treaty to regulate the arms trade.

A report by the 12 groups was issued as a U.N. General Assembly committee began considering a draft resolution that would set a timetable for negotiations with the aim of concluding a treaty in 2012.

The report, written for the groups by British-based Oxfam, said that since most governments agreed in 2006 on the need to regulate the global arms trade, an estimated 2.1 million people had died as a direct or indirect result of armed violence.

That worked out at more than 2,000 per day, or more than one every minute -- most of them civilians.

Of the deaths, more than 700,000 resulted from armed conflicts, including those in Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the report said. The figures also include people killed in non-political violence involving firearms.
But the violence continues unabated and ignored, especially in Africa:
The Obama administration has injected itself into the crisis in Guinea, taking the unusual step of sending a senior diplomat to protest the mass killings and rapes here last week.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called for “appropriate actions” against a military government that she said “cannot remain in power.”

“It was criminality of the greatest degree, and those who committed such acts should not be given any reason to expect that they will escape justice,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters in Washington. She said that the nation’s leader, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, and his government “must turn back to the people the right to choose their own leaders.”

2nd Suspicious Envelope sent to Seattle Newspaper

Seattle Times:

For the second day in a row, a hazardous materials team has gone to The Seattle Times after a suspicious envelope was found.

Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Dana Vander Houwen says a newspaper employee was briefly isolated Tuesday afternoon, but the envelope wasn't opened and was turned over to the FBI.

On Monday, a similar envelope containing an unidentified powder and a threatening letter was found at the newspaper, also causing the hazardous materials team to respond. Vander Houwen says the material in that envelope was determined not to be hazardous.
The Seattle Fire Department's HAZMAT team responded to The Seattle Times offices about 12:30 p.m. today after the newspaper reported another suspicious envelope containing an unidentified substance found in the mail.

The Times on its web site quotes Dana Vander Houwen, fire-department spokeswoman, as saying one employee has been isolated for possible exposure to contaminants. The man was alone in the mailroom when he found the envelope, but didn't open it. The letter was simply addressed to The Seattle Times.

Firefighters in hazmat suits were headed into the newspaper’s mailroom to assess whether the envelope posed any risk.

On Monday, a similar envelope with white powder and a threatening letter was found at the Times offices. Firefighters shut down the main entrance to the newspaper for two hours and evacuated the mailroom.

Flu Widespread in Most of U.S.

LA Times:

Influenza is widespread in most of the United States, with the incidence continuing to increase in some states and to decline very slightly in others, the director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. The infections are "overwhelmingly" pandemic H1N1 influenza, commonly known as swine flu.

The flu season generally lasts well into May, so many months of uncertainties lie ahead, said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, speaking at a morning news conference.

Shipments of intranasal swine flu vaccines to providers have begun, and vaccinations began Monday in several states, with a priority for healthcare providers and young children. About 2.4 million doses of the intranasal vaccine FluMist are now available, and states have already ordered 2.2 million doses, Frieden said. Next week, an injectable vaccine will also become available.
Vaccination against the H1N1 swine flu is off to a slow start in the United States, but states have ordered more than 2 million doses of mostly nasal spray for the first patients, a top health official said on Tuesday.

Every state has ordered a share of the pandemic vaccine, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a news briefing.

Obama’s Speech on Al Qaeda: Transcript (10-6-09)

Read the complete transcript. Excerpt below:

Today, it's my honor to visit you in your house. I was just told this is called the "bat cave," is that correct? (Laughter.) Mike, thank you for your many years of public service and your outstanding leadership at the National Counterterrorism Center.

It is great to be with all of you. It is great to be here at the hub -- at the headquarters of our efforts to defend America from those who threaten our country and so many others. Our intelligence community is comprised of 16 organizations. We have countless federal and state and local and international partners. And this is where it has to all come together.

So I'm pleased to see Denny Blair and those of you from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. We have folks here from the FBI and the CIA. We have folks from across the federal government -- intelligence, law enforcement, homeland security and so many others. My understanding is we've even got some of New York's finest -- some NYPD folks who are here.

Standing together and serving together, it's clear for all to see -- that you are one team -- that you are more integrated and more collaborative and more effective than ever before. And you're focused on one defining mission, and that is to protect the United States of America and thwarting terrorist attacks around the world.

Now, I just received an extraordinary briefing from some of your colleagues. I have to tell you, I was surprised to see how young everybody is around here. It is a sign of my age that everybody is starting to look young. But the capacity and the dedication that's on display was remarkable. And, look, all of you have some of the most important work that is done in this country -- you're doing it. These big screens I understand are not just to watch SportsCenter. (Laughter.)

But I wanted to come here today and take a few minutes just to deliver a simple message -- and I delivered it inside, and that is the message of thanks -- to say thank you from me, who use your product each and every day to make some very tough decisions, and to thank you on behalf of the American people, who may not even know that you're here but are relying on you each and every day to make sure that their kids get home safely and that when they commute to work it's going to be okay. To think about the profound impact that all of you are having on the day-to-day life of this nation I think is extraordinary. Your professionalism is essential to protecting this country.

Now, we recently observed the eighth anniversary of that terrible day when terrorists brought so much death and destruction to our shores. And once more we remembered all the lives that were lost. And once more we redoubled our resolve against the extremists who continue to plot against the United States and our allies.

So we need you more than ever. Our troops and our intelligence officers in the field, our diplomats overseas, our law enforcement here at home, they all depend on you -- your analysis, your insights, your ability to work together, across divisions and disciplines, turning information into intelligence and sharing it quickly, in real time, with those who need it.

As I said before, I am one of those consumers of your work product here at NCTC. Every morning I look to you for the latest intelligence. In fact, I think so highly of NCTC that I picked the guy who put NCTC together -- John Brennan -- as my chief adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security. And by the way, John Brennan is here and doing an outstanding job each and every day. He's also, by the way, I think, responsible for getting this spiffy building up and running.

Goldman Sachs gets $3 Million Earmark

From Politico:

A mining company owned by Goldman Sachs and two private equity funds is in line to get a $3 million earmark for work at a rare earth elements mine in Mountain Pass, Calif. — raising questions as to why Congress would take on some of the risk for a bailed-out investment giant that’s already making a profit.

Molycorp Minerals’s open-pit mine is one of the world’s richest sources of elements that are used in the production of powerful magnets for precision-guided missiles and smart bombs, handheld communication devices, wind turbines and hybrid cars.

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) inserted the earmark for the mine into the House Defense appropriations bill, and backers say it’s a legitimate national security concern. The military needs rare earth elements, and China — which is rich in them — has threatened to cut off exports.

But some government watchdogs question whether taxpayers should be asked to prop up a project that is already funded by wealthy investors who expect to make a profit.

“It’s probably good business, and we probably don’t need to subsidize it,” said Ryan Alexander, president of the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Moreover, Alexander said, if getting the elements from the mine is really a national security issue, then the funding request would have come through the Department of Defense — and not through a lawmaker’s earmark.

“If this is critical to national security, and the private equity firms that own Molycorp can’t find another $3 million to meet the needs of the Mountain Pass mine, there still is no excuse for this being an earmark,” Alexander said. “DOD can request programmatic funding so those funds are weighed against other security priorities rather than being singled out by one member of the House Appropriations Committee.”

Lewis, the top Republican appropriator in the House, insists that both the project and the government backing are necessary.

“The United States has some of the most extensive deposits of these minerals in the world, but the cost of production has made it difficult to attract private investment,” said Lewis’s spokesman, Jim Specht. “The $3 million from the Department of Defense will jump-start this investment, as well as provide a clear signal that domestic production of rare earth metals is a national security priority.”
Despite Obama promise, it's business as usual in Washington:
Sen. Thad Cochran's most recent reelection campaign collected more than $10,000 from University of Southern Mississippi professors and staff members, including three who work at the school's center for research on polymers. To a defense spending bill slated to be on the Senate floor Tuesday, the Mississippi Republican has added $10.8 million in military grants earmarked for the school's polymer research.

Cochran, the ranking Republican on the Appropriations subcommittee on defense, also added $12 million in earmarked spending for Raytheon Corp., whose officials have contributed $10,000 to his campaign since 2007. He earmarked nearly $6 million in military funding for Circadence Corp., whose officers -- including a former Cochran campaign aide -- contributed $10,000 in the same period.

In total, the spending bill for 2010 includes $132 million for Cochran's campaign donors, helping to make him the sponsor of more earmarked military spending than any other senator this year, according to an analysis by the nonprofit group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Cochran says his proposals are based only on "national security interests," not campaign cash. But in providing money for projects that the Defense Department says it did not request and does not want, he has joined a host of other senators on both sides of the aisle. The proposed $636 billion Senate bill includes $2.65 billion in earmarks.