July 17th, 2009
02:01 PM ET
13 years ago

Clinton again rips into vetting process

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/29/art.hrc0629.gi.jpg caption=" 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. Cnn please post my comments! 1 love!

    The Republican grand obstrusctionist party need to look in the mirror! Maybe if they had done what the Obama admin seems to be doing with its vetting process they would have never ended up with Palin! What a liability!

    July 17, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. Jeremy, PA

    She should quit the position and run for president in 2012!!

    July 17, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Independent Josh

    May be she is trying to push Obama to hire her lobbysts. Lobbysts that have ties to foreigners. It is a gamble. She is the most mysterious woman I ever witnessed.

    Most surprisingly she has a lot of surrogates in the media. Especially in CNN. These people in the media are enabling her to do whatever she wants at the expense of the Obama administration or the country. I remember CNN being called Clinton news network.

    July 17, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. Allen

    I can't decide whether to make a joke about her blue dress (yeah, I know it's gotta be a pants-suit) or 'Heil Hillary'. Hillary is a goon trying to hire some other goons who can't or won't go through the vetting process. Hopefully she'll get herself canned (a.k.a. 'asked to turn in her resignation) so that President Obama can put someone a bit more appropriate up there.

    July 17, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. Frustrated

    Is there no one already at those agencies that could be promoted to fill the jobs? If there is no one already working there that can fill those positions then I can see going outside to fill them. The problem is that these positions are revolving doors for political appointees and not professional diplomats already doing their service to our country.

    The "process" isn't the problem here, the system is the problem. The country would be best served if only the cabinet level positions were filled by appointment and all other government agencies promoted from within. Why can't we have completely professional agencies with personnel who are devoted to their agency and country and not whoever is the current officeholder.

    July 17, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. WilliamTFrederick Blogger

    Important news folks: The article is about the vetting process, not another liberal vs dem vs independent vs anarchist blamestorming argument.

    If you have a problem, find a solution. Be a part of positive solution-making. Don't spend time destroying – try building (or rebuilding).

    Vetting is important. If you feel that the process is broken, inefficient, or even just slow, then get involved and help the process – or spend time with your governmental representation.

    Offering criticism without proposing solutions (read: REAL solutions, not sarcastic sideswipes and unfounded inflammatory generalizations) does not do anything good for anyone.

    July 17, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. Bruce

    I fully agree with Hillary for speaking out. Obama asked her to be his top foreign diplomat by heading up the Dept. of State then he and his staff essentially ties the hands of her department by not sufficiently staffing it in a reasonable period of time.

    Obama may be President, but I fully believe Hillary easily has the hearts of more Americans than he will ever enjoy. It may come down to Hillary leaving the administration and if she does BO will suffer an enormous hit.

    July 17, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. Minnesotan

    There is no problem here. I don't understand what some of you people are reading into this, or why CNN is making a huge fuss over this. Yes, the system for this kind of thing has gotten ridiculous in order to keep administrations from being embarassed by the opposing party. And Yes, Clinton is rightly frustrated. But it has nothing to do with her and Obama and whether they get along or are even effective. The process is broken and Clinton is frustrated by it. But its evolved into this simply because of the way Administrations get attacked by opportunistic opposition parties and the media.

    July 17, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. Ms. Piggy

    Did you all really think the country's mess would be fixed overnight? If so, get your head examined immediately!
    Our counrty didn't get into this mess in 24 hours. It took eight years of Bush! Therefore, it will take more than one day or six months to get us out of this mess. Go Obama!

    July 17, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. Philip

    This "IMPORTANT VETTING PROCESS" takes three and a half years to complete for a candidate!! Sorry, you cannot get the job, it's all over!!

    July 17, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. Shame on you !!!!

    One question Hillary ...why can't you discuss this with President Obama.....Shame on You this is the 2nd time this week (whining to the Media ) The Rethugs don't need any help bashing Obama
    We don't need another Palin ....your words SHAME ON YOU !!!

    July 17, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. Mike in MN

    Obama is flat out not capable of running his admistration and he is leading America in a direction the American people do not want to go.

    July 17, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. C George

    It is easy for Hilary Clinton to be critical. She is not in charge and not the one taking the heat for everything that needs to be "fixed." I suppose she thinks that if she were President all of the positions would be filled by now. Is she using her husband as an example or is she still assuming that because she spent 8 years as a First Lady she is an expert. Everyone knows what grief comes when a nominee's skeltons are not closely exhamined. President O'Bama does not need the grief. With all do respect Madame Secretary, don't YOU have other things more pressing to be concerned about? President O'Bama, remember, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

    July 17, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. jeff

    Boy you guys are hooked on the words "slam" & "blast" It is so hibitually used hyperboli by you folks its meaning has been diluted.

    July 17, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Common Sense

    Hillary must have forgotten who she is married to, you know : Mr. I cant go after Bin Laden because I am not having sex on company time with that woman.....

    July 17, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    Don't want to hear it GOPers. The historically rampant corruption of both parties contributed to the vetting process becoming what it now is out of necessity. Besides, you know as well as we do that you'd be whining about the vetting process not being sufficient if it wasn't what it is. You love the fact that an extensive and excessive vetting process provides the media and yourselves with little tidbits on which to latch your lamprey-like hypercritical mouths.

    July 17, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  17. Rusty

    She fell for the saying Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. She gave up the Sen. seat and if the president runs in 2012 she would have a hard time runnning against him. The president can keep her sidelined for as long as he wants. If she quits she is out of the loop. It's a shame she is a smart lady.

    July 17, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  18. Independent

    I'm starting to get really tired of her.

    She needs to get over it and work as a team. Putting her cronies in, especially ones that bad-mouthed Obama during the election process is only putting her own self-interests in front of the interests of the country.

    July 17, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. NH Mom

    Ohh I just love Sec. Clinton. I'm ready to vote for you for President. When you run again Sec Clinton, I'll be there to support you!

    July 17, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. GOP = Party of Tolerance

    As always, Hillary is dead-on accurate and with the courage to speak the truth. I wish everyone fought as hard as Hillary to make America better. Regardless of your political biases you have to admit Hillary is unlike any other leader in our generation.

    July 17, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Ellen Rudolph

    Many who respond (and it is their first amendment right to do so)ar spouting trash when they themselves have no idea of all the red tape involved in goivernmental processing. So folks l(ike Ragsdale of Arizona, The guy from Canada who spells citizen as "citisen" ) only puttiung their ignorance on display.

    For what its worth, the Administration is trying to fix an economy which went from a surplus to a deficit in 8years, and people who complain that Obama has not fixed th economy are squandering their opportunity to leave other with at least a benefit of a doubt as it relatesto their intelligence.

    July 17, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. DJR

    Obama wants to reign not appoint. It's an indication of leadership prowess. As our country sucks eggs and lives on the street the pres is jet setting around like a ????.... A King. Democratic General Colin Powell said it two weeks ago to much on the plate. This from a academy man who's biggest job was to learn how to give orders and disperse power. Hillary is right, but so many Democrats are non government backsliders that appointing them anything but rally rooters poses a problem. Obama and the Hill better start looking at the GOP for appointments.

    July 17, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. Liberty Queen

    Hillary is right...get going Barack!

    July 17, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
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