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Revisiting Twitter-gate: Clinton Highlights State's Efforts to "Keep Technologies Up and Going"

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, July 15 2009

An interesting note jumps out from Hillary Clinton's big speech before the Council on Foreign Relations today. Clinton highlighted the fact that the State Department's important work on the the digital front has included "keep[ing] technologies up and going." That seems to me to be an obvious reference to the much-noted fact that a State Department Policy Planning staffer reached out to Twitter during the post-election uprising in Iran and asked them to keep their system running, instead of going ahead with scheduled downtime. Rather that shying away from outreach that could read as meddling in Iran's internal affairs, Clinton is embracing it. Her full remarks on the topic:

We...will reach out beyond governments, because we believe partnerships with people play a critical role in our 21st century statecraft. President Obama’s Cairo speech is a powerful example of communicating directly with people from the bottom up. And we are following up with a comprehensive agenda of educational exchanges, outreach, and entrepreneurial ventures. In every country I visit, I look for opportunities to bolster civil society and engage with citizens, whether at a town hall in Baghdad – a first in that country; or appearing on local popular television shows that reach a wide and young audience; or meeting with democracy activists, war widows, or students.

I have appointed special envoys to focus on a number of specific challenges, including the first Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues and an ambassador to build new public-private partnerships and to engage Diaspora communities in the United States to increase opportunities in their native lands. And we are working at the State Department to ensure that our government is using the most innovative technologies not only to speak and listen across borders, not only to keep technologies up and going, but to widen opportunities especially for those who are too often left on the margins. We’re taking these steps because reaching out directly to people will encourage them to embrace cooperation with us, making our partnerships with their governments and with them stronger and more durable.