Ryan Lizza | Bill Clinton’s wife remains silent on Keystone and the N.S.A.

As Secretary of State, Clinton was in charge of the process that will eventually lead to a decision about whether the Administration allows TransCanada to build its pipeline, which would transport crude oil from northern Alberta down to American refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. It has become a defining issue for U.S. environmentalists, and was one of the most politically charged and significant issues that Clinton faced during her time at State—and yet her memoir, “Hard Choices,” contains not a single mention of Keystone. When the Senate this week debated a bill to force Obama to build the pipeline—rallied by Mary Landrieu, the Democratic senator from Louisiana, who faces a runoff election in December—Clinton still had nothing to say.

To be sure, the sensitive review process for Keystone is ongoing, and Clinton might feel that, by discussing her personal views, she would be prejudicing the outcome. Then again, if she has strong feelings one way or the other, shouldn’t she use her influence to affect the final decision?

N.S.A. reform is mentioned in “Hard Choices,” but only cursorily, in a summary of the public reaction to Edward Snowden’s leaks. “Scrutiny focused on the bulk collection of telephone records, not the content of the conversations or the identities of callers but a database of phone numbers, and the time and duration of calls, that could be examined if there was a reasonable suspicion that a particular number was associated with terrorism,” she writes, with clinical detachment, in assessing the fallout. “President Obama has since called on Congress to implement a number of reforms so the government will no longer keep such data.”

What does Clinton think of those reforms? She doesn’t say. She offers the usual platitudes about balancing security and liberty but gives no indication of whether she believes that the program under which the N.S.A. collects Americans’ phone records should be continued as is, modified, or scrapped. When the Senate killed the main N.S.A.-reform bill this week, Clinton remained silent.


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