A curious email among the batch of Hillary Clinton’s correspondence released by the State Department late last night reveals the former secretary of State wanting to know the history of who has been assigned to speak at Washington’s biggest pro-Israel conference.
The White House traditionally sends at least one administration representative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee mega-conference, which draws nearly 15,000 attendees from around the world, turning the convention center in D.C. into its own small city for three days.
But the Obama administration has increasingly faced a critical AIPAC audience as it has tried to sell its outreach to Iran and relations with the Israeli government have grown more strained.
On July 9, 2009, Clinton received an email from Jake Sullivan, a deputy policy director on Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign who went on to serve as her deputy chief of staff at the State Department and then director of policy planning. Sullivan, now a visiting lecturer at Yale, also was a national security adviser to Vice President Biden until last year.
Sullivan “spent months secretly laying the groundwork” for the current Iran nuclear negotiations and is believed to be Clinton’s pick for national security advisor.
“With apologies for the delay in getting back to you on this, below are the key admin attendees at AIPAC conferences. For certain years in the 1990s, we’re still looking for the participant lists,” Sullivan wrote in the email, followed by this list:
- “2008: Rice spoke.
- 2007: Cheney spoke.
- 2006: Cheney spoke.
- 2005: Rice spoke.
- 2004: Bush spoke.
- 2002: Bush spoke.
- 2001: Powell spoke.
- 2000: Bush spoke.
- 1997: Gore and Albright spoke.
- 1996: President Clinton spoke.
- 1995: President Clinton spoke.”
Biden ended up speaking to AIPAC the next month, in which he defended the administration’s outreach to Iran. “We will pursue direct, principled democracy with Iran,” Biden told the conference, adding that the U.S. “will approach Iran initially in the spirit of mutual respect.”
Clinton ended up addressing AIPAC the next year, in 2010, where she spent more time addressing a two-state solution than Iran.
“We took this course with the understanding that the very effort of seeking engagement would strengthen our hand if Iran rejected our initiative. And over the last year, Iran’s leaders have been stripped of their usual excuses. The world has seen that it is Iran, not the United States, responsible for the impasse,” she told the conference then. “With its secret nuclear facilities, increasing violations of its obligations under the nonproliferation regime, and an unjustified expansion of its enrichment activities, more and more nations are finally expressing deep concerns about Iran’s intentions.”
Both Clinton and then-Sen. Obama stumped at AIPAC in 2008. President Obama addressed AIPAC in 2011 and while stumping for re-election in 2012. Biden was sent in 2013. Secretary of State John Kerry was sent in 2014, while National Security Advisor Susan Rice got the duty — and a chilly reception to the administration message — this year.