Thursday, January 24, 2013
A question for John Kerry?
Here’s a question members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee might ask John Kerry during today’s confirmation hearing: Does he believe the men and women who serve our country are safer or more vulnerable to attack because of the record of the woman he’ll succeed as secretary of state — Hillary Clinton?
We ask this question for two reasons. First, senators didn’t pry much from Secretary Clinton yesterday about one of the signal events of her tenure: the first sitting US ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979.
To the contrary, when pressed about the conflicting explanations for the attack in Benghazi that took the lives of four Americans, Clinton snapped, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
The other reason we’d like to see Kerry pressed on this issue is that he’s been involved in negotiations over another American — Alan Gross, who has been rotting in a Cuban prison since his arrest in 2009 for trying to help Cuban Jews get on the Internet. Gross was in Cuba on behalf of the US Agency for International Development.
Kerry became involved in the case, secretly meeting Cuba’s foreign minister in 2010 in a failed bid to have Gross set free. Published reports say that Kerry’s idea of getting Gross out was to promise to scale back America’s pro-democracy efforts on the Communist island
Gross is not the only one who could use a more aggressive State Department. Dr. Shakeel Afridi, the CIA asset who helped pin down Osama bin Laden in 2011, may not be a US official. But he helped make possible one of the most important operations of the Obama administration: nailing bin Laden. For his efforts, the doctor is now in a Pakistani jail, where he has been tortured.
America sends our officials out into a dangerous world. That world is watching how we respond when someone acting on behalf of the United States is arrested, tortured or attacked.
This is not an administration whose officials have been forthcoming about these responses. So Kerry’s confirmation hearing is likely the only real chance we’ll have to learn what signals our next secretary of state believes his predecessor has been sending about America’s resolve.