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. IndyVoter

    Join the club. Anyone who has ever had a job requiring a security clearance has had to put up with this, with waits, until recently, of up to a year before hearing anything. This is not new.

    July 16, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  2. Willy Brown

    I agree with you for once Hillary. You got to run in 2012.

    July 16, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  3. Andy from CA

    Storm clouds are a brewing. Hill's time in an Obama administration is numbered. 2012 should be most interesting.

    July 16, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  4. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    Hillary should have been President, absolutely no question about it...

    If she runs again in 4 or 8 years she has my vote!

    July 16, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  5. Hillary is toast.....

    she's been replaced by Biden who was sent to Iraq while Hillary was left to deal with that powerhouse of world politics-the ex President of Honduras......

    I suggest Hillary resign from this losing administration that is failing on unemployment, home foreclosures, and the economy in general...

    It is alos failing in foreign affairs as Obama has no credibilty with Iraq, N. Korea, China, the Taliban or Al Qaeda....

    Hillary.....Obama is ONE and DONE so get ready for 2012....

    July 16, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  6. marzxyz

    Hillary in 2012!

    July 16, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  7. Gator

    She's a has been who won't go away and is trying her best to stay in the spotlight.Nobody is taking her seriously. Another inept choice by obama.

    July 16, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  8. m smith

    If they don't make vetting tough the repos will find someone to complaine about they have already.

    July 16, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    more interested in what Clinton has to say than what she is obviously is not saying. She needs to have more input!

    July 16, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  10. lou

    Hillary is running for something again. Unfortunately there are no openings and it seems she is failing at her job, so the only thing to do is whine and blame someone else.

    I'm no fan of NObama, but at least he has one thing right – albeit unpopular with the NAACP – it is up to US to get US out of these messes we're in. The time for the blame game is OVER. The American Ship of State is sinking, but the same rats are running the show.

    Will we EVER learn?

    July 16, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  11. joe m

    there is a reason for why this process is designed to be 'frustrating', to insure that those who eventually occupy seats of power and influence are free from influence themselves. or is the secretary of state suggesting that the vetting process be changed or suspended for members of this new administration? if she feels this way she needs to register a complaint with her boss... the president.

    July 16, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  12. correction

    then i would have to ask what do we do about it...obama blasters? Because if the process was simple, then who would get the blame for the failures? Now, the it is hard to get a position and it should be. I had to interview for over 2 hours by 4 different people for a senior training position and then later come back and do it again. What a nightmare? What I don't think she should be doing is allowing everyone to know about other than to offer better solutions to help fix the problem instead of broadcasting it. I love Hillary but what do she recommend?

    July 16, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  13. Voter

    Just another example of what happens when you a babe in the woods in the White House instead of a seasoned strategist like Hillary Clinton.

    The other example of the day is that Democrats led by Himself didn't seem to know and now don't seem to care that their health plan will cost two or three times what they claim.

    THEY don't pay for health care – so who cares, right?

    And this country was so dumb to reject the health care plan Hillary tried to get for us 17 YEARS AGO!

    America whined then because it was too "secret."

    Do YOU know what's in Mr Obama's so called "plan" today – other than that the cost is outrageous and crippling!?

    No doubt he'll just brush this off as he does so many things.

    And America will probably sit back for it.

    July 16, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  14. European-American

    Have they changed the vetting process from what they had?
    Surely this same vetting process didn't give them all the tax cheats they had in the beginning.

    July 16, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  15. Meka

    "Hilary, at her best!"

    July 16, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  16. Keith in Austin

    Vetting is taking so long because Obama's selections are highly suspect. I wish the vetting process went a little deeper on Geitner.

    July 16, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  17. Emily

    Well maybe instead of sounding bitter she should take some notes. Obama's rules may seem excessive to her, but this tight control won Obama the presidency. Hillary's best judgment landed her...working for Obama.

    July 16, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  18. Obama only creates TAXES

    Thats because most of Obama's pics are eithert tax cheats or racist against whites

    July 16, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  19. tess

    yup – hillary is looking at o'bamas falling poll numbers and is making her move to start undercutting him just like everybody knew she would at the first opportunity!! as long as he was indestructible she was his loyal servant, let him begin to slip and get out of her way – the knives are out and will get sharper – just love watching dems eat each other up!

    July 16, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  20. S Callahan

    Irony...by the time the accountants and lawyers are paid for they have already used a few years salary....so much for being 'civil servant'.

    I understand the necessity of it today ...power corrupts power...and it's best to not have anyone with too much hunger for power at this point (though relaity is...that is what politics has become...)

    July 16, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  21. lynn in NM

    Yeah, nobody should have to disclose anything. RIght, Hillary? Be as dishonest as you can be without getting caught. It worked for you and Bill for a while.

    July 16, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  22. The Truth

    The amateur community organizer made his bed by not vetting all the tax cheats that he appointed previously. Now he has to sleep in it.

    July 16, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  23. Dan, TX

    But if the Obama administration hires someone with a blemish, the media will go crazy over the administrations inability to "simply" vet someone.

    This is why America is losing its edge on the rest of the world, we concentrate on the mistakes, but brush off the successes. Not being successful is now OK. But being embarassed is unforgiveable.

    July 16, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  24. gl, Pittsburgh

    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.

    After all this it still is not enough for the Republicans they have their own process after President Obama vetting. Look what the deal this week to Sonia SotoMayor.

    July 16, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  25. PAJohn

    She's mad because it's harder for her to hand out jobs to her crooked friends.

    July 16, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
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