Tour of U.S. Passport Agency and Meet and Greet with Employees

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Passport Agency
Honolulu, Hawaii
January 12, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress) I am delighted to have a chance to say thank you to every one of you. I just saw passports being printed, which I had never seen before in any of my prior incarnations, and it’s a special pleasure for me to see the work that the Passport Agency staff does firsthand.

I also want to recognize and thank Sandy Callahan, the deputy director, for her work. It is important that you know that even though you’re far away, your work is instrumental in what the State Department does every single day. On top of the nearly 60,000 passports that you issued, you helped a lot of people who were trying to get to American Samoa to assist in the emergency cleanup efforts from the devastating earthquake and tsunami. And it is imperative that you know how grateful both President Obama and I are. Of course, he has a special affection for Hawaii.

I also want to thank the pol-ads who are here. It is really important that we do more to combine our civilian and military sorts of people. Our smart power people and the pol-ads provide a lot of support to the military. I just had a great meeting earlier today at Pacific Command and we have so much in common. We’re trying to leverage our respective abilities. As I was just saying to the USAID director, we’re trying to elevate diplomacy, development, and defense so that they are really the three pillars of equal standing in what we do and in advancing our interest and protecting our values.

In the past two years, we’ve added FSO pol-ads at Marine Forces Pacific, U.S. Army Pacific. We have a contractor at Air Force Pacific. We now have a pol-ad in every command on the island so that each commander has an FSO to advise on the best approaches to our military’s decisions. We even have a pol-ad to the aircraft carrier fleet based at Yokosuka and that poor person has to sail around the Pacific.

Really, I really can’t tell anybody I came here to thank you because the rest of the State Department and everybody who’s working hard in those subzero temperatures back east will say, “How do I get there? How do we transfer? What is the process?”

It is really important for me as the Secretary of State to also recognize our security forces inside the Department. The Diplomatic Security people, the regional security officers do a great job around the world. I’ve seen them in action firsthand.

But I guess at the end of the day, for me it’s about service, whether it’s service in doing the work necessary to decide whether to issue a passport or service providing security or service working with our military or service on behalf of development. And that’s why I’m so proud to have the privilege of being the Secretary of State and working with the State Department and USAID.

So let me stop here and see if anybody has any questions or comments or ideas, and then I think we’re going to take a group picture maybe. Is that right? Good. So anybody want to say anything, ask anything?

PARTICIPANT: I should recognize, Madame Secretary, that Ambassador Ray Burghardt has joined us, the chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, thank you, Ray. We’ve got some interesting days ahead, don’t we? Anybody want to ask (inaudible)? I see a lot of cameras. (Laughter.) A lot of flashes.

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PRN: 2010/T18-4