The Cable

World leaders converge on Washington for Holbrooke memorial

On Friday, hundreds of friends and colleagues of the recently departed Richard Holbrooke will convene to honor his career and his legacy at the Kennedy Center in Washington for an event that, just as Holbrooke was, promises to be larger than life.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will both speak at the memorial, and former President Bill Clinton will also attend. In total, there will be three sitting heads of state in the room, 20 foreign ministers, 125 heads of diplomatic missions, and other friends of Holbrooke hailing from academia, the media, and his private life.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will come to Washington for the event and will have a bilateral meeting with Secretary Clinton as well. The meeting is meant to show solidarity between the U.S. government and Zardari, a Pakistani government official explained. Zardari has faced continued political and legal challenges and most recently the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, a close ally, but continues to hold on to power.

Also in town for the event is Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who will not meet with Clinton but will give a speech on Thursday morning at the American Enterprise Institute. We've been told that Borjana Kristo, chairman of the rotating presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, will also attend. Among the foreign ministers attending is Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.

Staffan de Mistura, the top U.N. official in Afghanistan, will also be attending the memorial, a State Department official told The Cable. Holbrooke will additionally be honored by the planned attendance of a large chunk of the international network of Special Representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAPs). Holbrooke was instrumental in building this network of officials who would meet periodically to coordinate international activity regarding Afghanistan.

SRAPs are coming to Washington for Friday's event from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Turkey, the UAE, and the United Kingdom, the State Department official said.

With all these diplomatic celebrities in one place at one time, the day is quickly evolving into a conference of sorts, with embassies around Washington scrambling to figure out which visiting leaders will be available for impromptu bilateral meetings, pull aside chats, and the like.

Holbrooke, the consummate networker, would be proud.

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The Cable

State Department: Tucson shooter not equivalent to Muslim extremists

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voluntarily raised the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) on a trip to the Arab world, comparing alleged shooter Jared Lee Loughner to Muslim extremists. The State Department clarified that she was not saying Loughner should be treated as a terrorist.

"We have extremists in my country. A wonderful, incredibly brave young woman Congress member, Congresswoman Gifford[s], was just shot by an extremist in our country," Clinton said during a "Townterview" (half town hall, half interview) with students in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The student had asked Clinton why many in the United States target the entire Arab world when assigning blame for the 9/11 attacks. In response, Clinton drew a comparison between Arab terrorists that perpetrate violence and Loughner.

"The extremists and their voices, the crazy voices that sometimes get on the TV, that's not who we are, that's not who you are, and what we have to do is get through that and make it clear that that doesn't represent either American or Arab ideas or opinions," Clinton said.

But Clinton wasn't advocating that the U.S. government treat Loughner in the same manner as it would treat a non-American Muslim extremist, which might include detention without trial, aggressive interrogations, or even extrajudicial killing.

"She was making remarks in the context of the environment she was in, talking about the parallels," said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.  "I don't think she was talking about some kind of equivalency in terms of how we treat them. We have a legal due process here in terms of the Arizona incident."

According to U.S. law, "the term ‘terrorism' means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents."

Some Americans, such as Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, have reportedly been stripped of their rights and put on U.S. government "kill lists" due to their alleged participation in terrorist activities.

Other Americans, such as Fort Hood shooter Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, have not been treated as terrorists. Hasan reportedly tried to make contact with al Qaeda and had ties to Awlaki dating back to the cleric's time living in Falls Church, VA.  

Loughner himself addressed, albeit in a murky fashion, whether he can be classified as a terrorist in one of his many Youtube videos.

"[A] terrorist is a person who terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon," Loughner wrote. "If you call me a terrorist then the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem. You call me a terrorist. Thus, the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem."

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