Assassinations, Facebook and the 2012 Ticket

In an interview that will air on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the recent Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States. She said that the plot was hatched at very high levels: “We think that this was conceived and directed from Tehran.” Washington knows for certain that the Quds Force, part of the Revolutionary Guard, was involved. And President Obama called Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to discuss the thwarted plan. A statement released by the White House said the pair “agreed that this plot represents a flagrant violation of fundamental international norms, ethics, and law.”

Clinton is also taking a stand against House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s bill that would alter Washington’s funding of the United Nations. She wrote a letter to Congress that explained, “Withholding U.S. contributions and shifting to voluntary funding erode the concrete dividends of our leadership and undermine ongoing reform efforts at the United Nations.” She said that she would recommend President Obama veto the bill should it make it to his desk.

And despite the rumors, don’t expect Clinton to appear on the presidential ticket in 2012. About stepping in as VP, Clinton commented, “I do not think it's even in the realm of possibility, and in large measure because I think Vice President Biden has done an amazingly good job.” She said it’s not a serious consideration and no one in the administration has floated the idea.

The U.S. embassy in Damascus, headed by ambassador Robert Ford, has taken to Facebook to go after the Syrian regime. Lately, Syrian state media has been somewhat happy to see the Occupy Wall Street movement growing as well as the government's reaction to it. The embassy wrote on its Facebook page that yes, some protesters had been arrested in the United States, “but they won't be tortured, and no family will receive the body of a protester bearing torture marks.” Demonstrators are free to say what they want about the U.S. government “without being arrested or shot.”

New chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, who would be in his current post until late 2015 if he stays around for two terms, said today that Washington’s “national objectives in the current conflicts” won’t be achieved during his tenure. So the fight continues in Iraq and Afghanistan. And to make sure funding is still around for that kind of thing, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is spending his time once again trying to convince Congress not to cut his budget too deeply. Along with Dempsey, Panetta will appear before the House Armed Services Committee tomorrow to be grilled about budget cuts.