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Drones, Aerial Surveillance and Privacy

The American Civil Liberties Union offers an analysis of the Obama Administration’s use of Drones in the United States. It’s enlightening in view of FBI Director Robert Mueller’s admission that drones are, indeed, used in the U.S. See “FBI uses drones for surveillance in U.S.”

For the ACLU’s recommendations, see Protecting Privacy From Aerial Surveillance: Recommendations for Government Use of Drone Aircraft.

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Hillary Clinton’s Confirmation Hearing Set for January 13, 2009

On January 13, 2009, Hillary Rodham Clinton, President-Elect Barack Obama’s choice for U.S. Secretary of State, is scheduled to undergo a  confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, headed by Senator John F. Kerry. See “Obama, Clinton Plan to Retrieve Ex-Envoys, Keep Bush Official.”

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Obama’s Answer To a Question About Gaza

On January 6, 2009, President-Elect Barack Obama finally made a public statement on Israel’s war on Gaza. It came at the end of a news conference on his economic stimulus plan at his Washington, DC-transition office.

“Obviously, I am deeply concerned about the conflict that's taking place there,” he said. “I'm being fully briefed and monitored - monitoring the situation on a day-to-day basis. The loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern for me.”

Below in its entirety is what he said on Gaza:

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. You're being put under a lot of pressure internationally to get more involved in the situation in Gaza. I understand you think there should only be one president at a time, but what do you have to say to the Israelis and the Palestinians who are fighting and dying in Gaza?

OBAMA: As I've said before, when it comes to foreign policy, I think the need to adhere to one president at a time is particularly important. In domestic policy, Democrats, Republicans, we can have arguments back and forth about what tax policies are going to be. When it comes to international affairs, other countries are looking to see who speaks for America. Right now, President George Bush, as president of the United States, speaks on behalf of the U.S. government and the American people when it comes to international affairs.

Obviously, I am deeply concerned about the conflict that's taking place there. I'm being fully briefed and monitored - monitoring the situation on a day-to-day basis. The loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern for me.

And after January 20th, I am going to have plenty to say about the issue. And I am not backing away at all from what I said during the campaign, that I - starting at the beginning of our administration, we are going to engage effectively and consistently in trying to resolve the conflicts that exist in the Middle East.

That's something that I'm committed to. I think it's not only right for the people in that region; most importantly, it's right for the national security of the American people and the stability that is so important to this country. So on January 20th, you will be hearing directly from me and my opinions on this issue. Until then, my job is to monitor the situation and put together the best possible national security team so that we hit the ground running once we are responsible for national security issues.

Mr. Obama has been widely criticized for his silence. See “Mr. Obama’s Deafening Silence on Gaza.”

Source: The New York

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Under Obama, Will Negotiating Become Main Foreign Policy Approach?

“Negotiating with America's adversaries is a tricky business, and with President-elect Barack Obama on the way in, most observers of US foreign policy are confident that negotiating is about to become the predominant foreign policy approach - for better or worse. They are mistaken, however, if they think this approach will be a drastic change,” according to David H. Young, in a December 16, 2008, post at Just Wars.  See “Obama, Bush find common ground on foreign policy,”

I think he’s trying to say that Mr. Obama is not much different from President George W. Bush when it comes the United States’ national interest.

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On Meet The Press, Obama Offers Views On Several International Issues

CHICAGO, USA --During a December 7, 2008, appearance on Meet The Press, which was taped on December 6, 2008, in Chicago,  U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama discussed the state of U.S. and global economies, culture, U.S. political affairs and international affairs. The interview was conducted  by former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, whose stint as an interim moderator on Meet The Press ended with the Obama interview.  NBC' Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory takes over as permanent host on December 14, 2008. He succeeds Tim Russert, who died on June 13, 2008.

Below The Diplomatic Times Review highlights the foreign affairs section of the Meet The Press transcript of Mr. Brokaw's interview with Mr. Obama.


MR. BROKAW:  I want to move now to international affairs, the war on terror. Obviously, we have all been stunned by what happened in India at Mumbai.  It is still playing out in that part of the world.  You have said that the United States reserves the right to go after terrorists in Pakistan if you have targets of opportunity.  Does India now also have that right of hot pursuit?

PRES.-ELECT OBAMA:  Well, I'm not going to comment on that.  What, what I'm going to restate is a basic principle.image   Number one, if a country is attacked, it has the right to defend itself.  I think that's universally acknowledged. The second thing is that we need a strategic partnership with all the parties in the region--Pakistan and India and the Afghan government--to stamp out the kind of militant, violent, terrorist extremists that have set up base camps and that are operating in ways that threaten the security of everybody in the international community.  And, as I've said before, we can't continue to look at Afghanistan in isolation.  We have to see it as a part of a regional problem that includes Pakistan, includes India, includes Kashmir, includes Iran.  And part of the kind of foreign policy I want to shape is one in which we have tough, direct diplomacy combined with more effective military operations, focused on what is the number one threat against U.S. interests and U.S. lives.  And that's al-Qaeda and, and, and their various affiliates, and we are going to go after them fiercely in the years to come.


MR. BROKAW:  President Zardari of Pakistan has said that he expects you to re-examine the American policy of using unmanned missiles for attacks on terrorist camps in Pakistan; and there have been civilian casualties in those attacks as well.  Are you re-examining that policy?

PRES.-ELECT OBAMA:  Well, I--what I want to do is to create the kind of effective, strategic partnership with Pakistan that allows us, in concert, to assure that terrorists are not setting up safe havens in some of these border regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  So far President Zardari has sent the right signals.  He's indicated that he recognizes this is not just a threat to the United States, but it is a threat to Pakistan as well.  There was a bombing in Pakistan just yesterday that killed scores of people, and so you're seeing greater and greater terrorist activity inside of Pakistan.  I think this democratically-elected government understands that threat, and I hope that in the coming months that we're going to be able to establish the kind of close, effective, working relationship that makes both countries safer.

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Mr. Obama's African-American Appointees

Keith Boykin, editor of The Daily Voice, takes a look at U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama's African-American appointed to serve in his administration. The CNBC contributor and a Black Entertainment Television [BET] political commentator describes them in a November 26, 2008, post headlined "Obama's black appointments." More such appointments are expected.

Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Boykin is a graduate of Harvard law School. He is also a former White House aide to President Bill Clinton," according to Wikipedia.

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