A Confirmation Grilling – – But Was Not Hot

Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent live-blogged the confirmation hearing of Ambassador Hill today. See below for a quick read since it will probably take a day or so for the SFRC to post the opening statements online or check out the statements here (boy! I have not seen them post a testimony this fast!). I’m looking for the transcript but don’t know how soon that will be available.

I thought the hearing went quite well – Hill was upfront, candid and I think persuasive. All those media interviews, especially during the Six Party Talks must have been pretty good practice for the confirmation grilling. The senators asked some good questions and no one appeared to be scoring points for politics. Senator Lugar plus a couple others put in questions based on the issues brought up by Senator Brownback, and a couple newspaper items — all were answered and explained well, I thought.

Something I did not know – he has a son in Iraq; not in the Army but with DIA. He talked about looking into staffing, on whether the embassy is right-sized, and if we have the right footprint in the country.

On the PRTs in Iraq where we currently have 26, he said it will go down to 16, then to 10, then to 6. At some point after this, Senator Dodd gave a shout out to our civilian employees working in Iraq.

Senator Isakson asked how Hill sees his role in replacing Ambassador Crocker. Ambassador Hill gave the same answer from their private conversation, “I just don’t want to screw it up.”

Another senator – had a question about private contractors. In his response, Hill talked about DS and perimeter security. A follow-up question on whether this was Green Zone or embassy perimeter. This gave Hill a chance to talk about his experience as ambassador to Macedonia when protesters breached U.S. Embassy security in 1999 over NATO airstrikes in Yugoslavia, and they had no Marines. Here is a related account from that time in Macedonia that I have not read before: One Riot, One Ambassador.

Read the rest of it from Spencer Ackerman’s posts:

Chris Hill’s Iraq Showdown

By 3/25/09 9:06 AM

Chris Hill Confirmation Hearing: Highlights From Hill’s Opening Statement
3/25/09 10:15 AM

Chris Hill Confirmation Hearing: The Six-Party North Korea Talks And Iraq
3/25/09 10:16 AM

Chris Hill Confirmation Hearing: Hill Takes Up Brownback’s North Korea Criticism
3/25/09 10:27 AM

Chris Hill Confirmation Hearing: ‘I Just Don’t Want To Screw It Up’
3/25/09 10:55 AM

Chris Hill Confirmation Hearing: Wicker vs. Hill on North Korea
3/25/09 11:26 AM

Chris Hill Confirmation Hearing: Will the United States Get Out of Iraq Entirely by 2011?
3/25/09 11:33 AM

Chris Hill Confirmation Hearing: Hill Hearing Wraps Up
3/25/09 11:44 AM

Ambassador Hill said this once: “Your best diplomacy should start at home,” he said. “As a professional diplomat, if I can’t deal with that, then what am I doing talking to foreigners?”

I think he’s going to Baghdad, it’s a matter of when; let’s see what happens next week.

Update: 3/26
Spencer Ackerman: This Is the Hill Sam Brownback Wants to Die On