At a town hall meeting at USAID this morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton complained of a "nightmare" White House vetting process that prevented her from being able to announce the prospective USAID administrator, as she had hoped.
"The question that I think many of us have is: When will we be getting political leadership in our agency?" an apparent USAID employee asked Clinton. "And I think we'd also like to hear from you why it's taking so long."
"Let me say, it's not for lack of trying," Clinton responded, according to the transcript. "We have worked very hard with the White House on looking for a candidate who, number one, wants the job and, number two - I mean, it's been offered. But most significantly, the process, the clearance and vetting process, is a nightmare. And it takes far longer than any of us would want to see. It is frustrating beyond words. I've pushed very hard last week when I knew I was coming here to get permission from the White House to be able to tell you that help is on the way an someone will be nominated shortly, and I was unable - you know, it just was - the message came back, 'We're not ready.'"
As previously reported, global health care pioneer Dr. Paul Farmer, a co-founder of the NGO Partners in Health, is expected to be named USAID administrator, and is currently undergoing the long vetting process, according to an administration official who spoke to The Cable last week.
After meeting with Clinton to discuss the prospective job in late May, Farmer was asked to fill out a stack of initial forms for the vet, that included listing all of the foreigners he has come into contact with in the past several years; the endeavor would take Farmer, who spends much of his time working abroad in places including Haiti, Rwanda and Peru, most of Obama's first term, a colleague relayed at the time. An official with Partners in Health told The Cable last week that as far as he knew, Farmer was a candidate for the USAID job.
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.