The Cable

Hillary Clinton did not actually accuse Anne-Marie Slaughter of ‘whining’

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not actually say or imply that Anne-Marie Slaughter was "whining" when she wrote in her Atlantic magazine cover story "Women still can't have it all."

Several well-circulated reports Thursday said that Clinton was disparaging Slaughter, who served as her director of policy planning for over two years, in an interview published Thursday by Marie Claire.

"I can't stand whining," Clinton said. "I can't stand the kind of paralysis that some people fall into because they're not happy with the choices they've made. You live in a time when there are endless choices. ... Money certainly helps, and having that kind of financial privilege goes a long way, but you don't even have to have money for it. But you have to work on yourself. ... Do something!"

Slaughter, on Twitter, responded that Clinton was not referring to her in that quote.

"Hillary Clinton, for whom I have the greatest admiration and loyalty, was not talking about me when she mentioned whining. #anything4astory," she tweeted.

Slaughter was correct. The interviewer Ayalet Waldman was asking Clinton about her opinion of Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye when Clinton began talking about whining. The State Department released that select portion of the interview transcript to reporters Thursday evening. Here's the exchange: 

AYELET WALDMAN:  My daughter was reading Catcher in the Rye, and I said, "Oh, don't you love that book?"  And she said, "What is his problem?  He's unhappy?  He should go volunteer."

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Good for her.  I like your daughter without even meeting her.  I mean, I think there's so much to that, because I mean, God, I can't stand whining.  I can't stand the kind of paralysis that some people fall into because they are not happy with choices they made.  You live in a time when there are endless choices, and you don't have to have money for them.  Money certainly helps.  I mean, having that kind of financial privilege goes a long way, but you don't even have to have money for it.  But you have to - even, like, work on yourself, learn to play a sport, do something.   

AYELET WALDMAN:  I'm going to tell Sophie that you agree with her.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications Philippe Reines issued a statement accompanying the transcript accusing Marie Claire of intentionally attributing the "whining" quotes to Slaughter out of context.

"With all due respect to J.D. Salinger, it's clear as day from the transcript that the only person being called a whiner is his fictional character Holden Caulfield. It's outlandish and misleading for Marie Clare to imply anything else from sympathizing with reporter's daughter Sophie," Reines said.

Lea Goldman, a spokesperson for Hearst, which owns Marie Claire, sent a statement to reporters Thursday evening stating that the "whining" quotes were not in fact a reference to Slaughter.

"We want to make it clear that Secretary Clinton's specific comments about ‘whining' were not in reference to Anne-Marie Slaughter but, as noted in the story, part of a larger conversation about women in the workplace and striking a work-life balance. We value Secretary Clinton's thoughts and opinions, and look forward to hearing even more from her on the matter," she said.

Goldman's statement didn't mention that earlier in the day a press release had been sent to reporters advertising the Marie Claire Clinton interview article, inside which the first bullet point clearly portrayed the "whining" comments as being about Slaughter.

Clinton was not exactly laudatory about Slaughter in the part of the interview that was directly about Slaughter and her Atlantic cover story, however.

"When I asked Clinton about Slaughter's claim that ‘juggling high-level governmental work with the needs of two teenage boys was not possible,' Clinton's disapproval was palpable," Waldman wrote. "She reminded me that she has spent her career advocating on behalf of women, that she is committed to the idea that ‘it's important for our workplaces ... to be more flexible and creative in enabling women to continue to do high-stress jobs while caring for not only children, but [also] aging parents.' But, she said, Slaughter's problems were her own. ‘Some women are not comfortable working at the pace and intensity you have to work at in these jobs ... Other women don't break a sweat. They have four or five, six kids. They're highly organized, they have very supportive networks.'"

In response, Slaughter tweeted, "[T]hat is certainly not true of me! Pace and intensity are no problem; it's about flexibility."


The Cable

State Department granted New York terror plotter a student visa

Last December, the State Department issued a student visa to the Bangladeshi man arrested this week for trying to blow up the Federal Reserve building with what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb, the State Department confirmed today.

Twenty-one-year-old Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, who was arrested Wednesday as part of an FBI sting operation, was reportedly in contact with al Qaeda before he entered the United States in January to attend Southeast Missouri State University, where he was studying cyber security. But the State Department's system to check visa applicants didn't find any reason to deny him entry, and the department issued his visa.

"The suspect did have a student visa to attend a legitimate academic program in the United States, for which he was qualified," State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said today. "Visa decisions are made in accordance with applicable law and department regulations. Each case is looked at on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all of the information contained in U.S. government databases and in consultation with other government agencies."

The State Department has its own database for vetting visa applications, called the Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS), which keeps a list of those foreigners who should not be granted a visa. There are 39 million records in that system but Nafis wasn't one of them, Nuland said.

The State Department's visa vetting program last came into question after the failed terror plot in December 2009 by "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. In that case, the plotter's father had warned the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria that his son was dangerous. In this case, the plotter's father has said he can't believe his son was an aspiring terrorist.

After Nafis entered the United States, the responsibility of monitoring his visa compliance was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security, a State Department official said.

"Students are tracked in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security," the official said.

In fiscal year 2011, the State Department issued 476,000 type "F" student visas worldwide, 1,136 of them for Bangladeshis.

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