July 17th, 2009
02:01 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: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. Steve (the real one)

    So it seems all is not well in paradise! Maybe she was promised one thing and delivered another. Welcome Mrs. Clinton to the plight of the rest of us! Need proof?
    1. Promise: no lobbyists in administration, result: lobbyists in administration
    2. promise: 5 days to review bills before signing, results: no five day review
    I KNOW some with try to justify this! Try as hard as you can!

    July 17, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    So instead of being "critical" or having "concerns", the media describes her as "ripping" and "lambasting".

    Thanks big media for keeping the old conservative & new-left Clinton hate alive.

    Could it be that she is a smart, bold woman? What would you call a man who was doing the same thing?

    July 17, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. Not Surprised

    Is Hillcumbs trying to get removed as the Secretary so that she can run in 2012? Shut your trap already and do your job. B.O. is in control and not you Hillster?

    July 17, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. ebergstrom

    You go, Hillary! Perhaps potential candidates could just be announced and candidates and congress could let the press (always looking for some scandal to discuss instead of real news) could do the work for them? Why anyone would want to go through the ringer for a lower paid government job is beyond me. People think bureaucrats are not dedicated, but they must be horribly dedicated to put up with this – and most of what is dug up has nothing whatsoever to do with the position they may take.

    July 17, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. George-Windsor-Canada

    Dear Hillary.
    Please quit your job- became a Republican and you will be the next President of USA.
    Other option come to Canada and apply for Canadian citisen and be our Prime Minister.
    Thank you

    July 17, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  6. Economist

    The headline of this article is very misleading.

    July 17, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  7. Daryl

    Americans' "zero defect" expectations of their leaders are to blame. Were it not for the way we crucify nominees, both professionally & personally; dragging them through hell for the smallest of things, perhaps the Obama administration wouldn't need to try to find a Jesus Christ for these positions.

    July 17, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  8. Shucks

    With the republicans still so angry and dejected after the last election, attacking every appointee by this administration, and we all know how clean the records of the republicans are, you have to be as stringent as possible. The republicans are just waiting to find someone they can attack and use as a scapegoat to bash this administration as much as possible. They have nothing else at this time. The 2012 hopefuls, if that's what you can call them, Romney, Palin, Huckabee, are really not contenders at all in 2012. They ruined that themselves during their last campaign with their hate, racism, and divisive rhetoric, so much that Americans already know everything they need to know about them. None of them have a chance in a general election, and they know it. It has to be very frustrating right now to be a right wing conservative republican.

    July 17, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  9. Mike

    I'm sure the folks at the State Department who are responsible for running security clearances are pleased that their boss is publicly lambasting what they do for a living.

    July 17, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. ignorance is nothing to be proud of

    And this matters how? Is this a tabloid news network ?

    July 17, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Brian (Chattanooga, TN)

    This is a perfect example of why we should not allow the Federal Government to oversee any part of the Administration of our Health Care System...

    I cannot think of a single government administered program that is streamlined, efficifient, and cost effective....of course when you can print your own money out of thin air...maybe those things tend not to matter too much...

    July 17, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. Me in Big D

    Ooooooooooo – methinks the honeymoon is over!! Haha, she's getting what she deserved! She should not have taken that position which virtually makes it impossible for her to run in 2012. Obummer did to her exactly what he wanted to – keep your enemies close!

    July 17, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. howie

    She needs to understand that this s the "CHANGE" we veote for. Accept it and move on Hillary

    July 17, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Brian

    I am not a big Hillary fan, but let's be honest she is right. I can't imagine how difficult her job has been with out much help.

    July 17, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. Sharon Atkins

    Congress doesn't have time to confirm appointees – they're too busy pushing through massive spending legislation – some of these bills are over a 1000 pages ( they also don't appear to have time to read these etiher). Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

    July 17, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. yves anthony

    I have voted for president Obama, but I agree with secretary Hillary Clinton. This kind of process must have an impact on the achivement of the administration, which also mean a cold shoulder on the next election for the Obama administration.

    July 17, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. Surge

    Let the hate begin....now.

    July 17, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. Gary

    The vetting process would be easier if so many nominees we're found to have not paid their taxes....now they are afraid to pick people without a super duper background check.

    Frankly the economy is in shambles, Tim Gietner doesn't know what he is doing. He didn't even pay his own taxes yet they want to raise our taxes. They say they want employers to provide healthcare but then they want to tax it....we need new leadership now!

    July 17, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. Gary

    The vetting process would be easier if so many nominees we're found to have not paid their taxes....now they are afraid to pick people without a super duper background check.

    Frankly the economy is in shambles, Tim Gietner doesn't know what he is doing. He didn't even pay his own taxes yet they want to raise our taxes. They say they want employers to provide healthcare but then they want to tax it....we need new leadership now please!!!

    July 17, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  20. IMPORTANT

    that's because the president is a "nightmare"!

    July 17, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  21. Steve

    Go get'em Hillary.

    July 17, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. Bob in Pa

    Translation: I had to pay some more legal bills, please send more money.

    July 17, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  23. Bonnie O.

    I say hurrah that President Obama is bringing ethics back to the government! Maybe Hillary Clinton should take this up with the President and not the press.

    July 17, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  24. Cathy in AZ

    I agree with her!

    July 17, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  25. Darren

    So, Obama should rush and hopefully vet someone who has a mired past that will become a fruitful week for Wol Blitzer and, thus, the GOP?

    Though vetting knuckleheads was proven a problem over that last eight years?

    Grow up America.

    July 17, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
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