July 16th, 2009
06:55 PM ET
5 years ago

Clinton again rips into vetting process

 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday tore into the Obama administration's 'vetting' process
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday tore into the Obama administration's 'vetting' process

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Behind the scenes they're tearing out their hair.

Nominees for top positions in the Obama administration say they are put on seemingly endless hold for months during the "vetting" process, forced to provide minute details of their financial, personal and professional lives going back years. Many have to hire lawyers and accountants – paid for with their own money – to compile the information. Some nominees have simply given up in frustration.

Now, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it's affecting U.S. diplomatic relations.

"It's hard to explain in my position to our foreign counterparts that we don't have positions filled that would be the natural interlocutors or their counterparts in other countries," she said Thursday.

It's the third time this week the secretary has lambasted the process. Monday, she called it "frustrating beyond words," telling staff at the U.S. Agency for International Development who still don't have a new administrator, the process is a "nightmare."

Wednesday, in a major foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton was at it again: "I mean, we are trying to get our political leaders in place to work with our very dedicated Foreign Service and Civil Service employees, but we're still not there yet. And I had no idea when I was in the Senate asking a million questions of every nominee – how really shortsighted that was."

Thursday, at a press availability, the Secretary told CNN, "Most (foreign) governments, after they are elected, are up and going in a relatively short period of time. We are now six months into our new administration and it's not only here but across the government where they don't have critical positions filled. I think it's pretty obvious that the process has gotten much more complicated, cumbersome and lengthy and that is something that I hear from everyone. And it is a matter that we're going to have to address."

Clinton added that it's not just the Obama administration and it's not happening just at the State Department or USAID. The situation has been getting worse with every administration. But some political observers say President Obama's new ethics rules make it even more challenging to get through the process.

In spite of the frustration, at the USAID town hall Clinton managed to find some ironic humor in the predicament: "… here's one of the questions you get asked: first of all, you have to remember everywhere you've lived since you were 18. And, beyond a certain age you can't even remember when you were 18!"


Filed under: Extra • Hillary Clinton • Obama administration
soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Oh please!

    Somehow with all your drama and funny money you got through. However, if it's that frustrating for you then do like Palin – Quit!

    July 16, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  2. Wolves 4 Palin Charlotte, NC

    Get'm Hillary. Kick their butts.

    July 16, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  3. Elam

    She would have been a great President. Instead we got the empty suit orator.

    July 16, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  4. Susan (Michigan)

    The problem is that so many people in government have so much to hide (on all sides!) that Obama HAD to make the process complicated. It is a shame it's taking so long.

    July 16, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  5. Ohio Dem

    Good for her... Hillary in 2012!!!

    July 16, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  6. bimmer

    Bill was right.

    Obama Presidency is the media creation. The biggest fairy tale.

    July 16, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  7. nan

    I love Hillary. I love the job Hillary is doing as SoS. But this is like the 3rd article I've seen on this subject. Why not just take it up with Obama and move on? There are too many important issues that need to be covered to keep going over and over the same story.

    July 16, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  8. Get real

    Thank you Hillary for letting us know what is really going on behind the scenes. There is too much "secrecy" going on in this "transparent" administration. I think there are some folks who are finally waking up.....

    July 16, 2009 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  9. Michael in Ventura,CA

    Right you are Hillary! It needs to end!

    July 16, 2009 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  10. Alan

    Well, let's see – So far about 75% of the dems nominated have failed the "vetting" process. If Barry would select good honest citizens, then this would not be a problem.

    July 16, 2009 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  11. jean (Plantation, FL)

    One can only imagine what would happen if Obama nominates someone who was living in Afganistan under the Taliban and failed to investigate it. Republicans and all the right wing conservatiists would go ballistic after him claiming that he is associating himself with terrorists. While they are beating that drum, they will also mention that Obama and his administration members are communist leftists, they hate jews and are unamerican. They will throw everything they can find along their path.

    I know it is frustrating not to have enough employees to do the jobs that need to be done. However we need to understand that Obama has a much finer line to walk than Hillary. Just be patient.

    July 16, 2009 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  12. Delysia56

    I guess the alternative is to hire unethical, unqualified people for the positions. At least they'll be filled more quickly, right? Wrong! Remember Katrina? If you want the job bad enough you go through the process; frustration or not. If you don't want to go through the frustrations involved in the process, don't apply for the position. It's really quite simple.

    July 16, 2009 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  13. 60's survivor

    I hear you Hillary. at least you are keeping a sense of humor. :-)

    July 16, 2009 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
1 2 3