Friday, 18 February 2011

Clearing the mist at Foggy Bottom

In a speech this week at George Washington University in Foggy Bottom, Washington, the World Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined her plan for internet freedom and the US government's commitment to tackling oppressive regimes.

At the beginning of her speech, Mrs Clinton stated the following:

"Perhaps today in my remarks we can begin a much more vigorous debate that will respond to the needs that we have been watching in real time on our television sets."

She then turned to those real time needs:

"A few minutes after midnight, on January 28th, the internet went dark across Egypt. During the previous four days, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians had marched to demand a new government. And the world on TVs, laptops, cellphones and smartphones, had followed every single step. Pictures and videos from Egypt flooded the web. On Facebook and Twitter journalists posted on-the-spot reports, protesters coordinated their next moves, and citizens of all stripes, shared their hopes and fears about this pivotal moment in the history of their country. Millions worldwide answered in real time: you are not alone and we are with you. Then the government pulled the plug. Cellphone service was cut off, TV satellite signals were jammed, and internet access was blocked for nearly the entire population."

At this point a noise was heard. A man shouted out: "So this is America?" Mrs Clinton, her eyes moving this way and that, raised her voice, forced her mouth into a defiant aperture of positivity, and, in the attempt to disguise her obvious discomfort, continued:

"The government did not want the people to communicate with each other. And it did not want the press to communicate with the public."

The voice was silenced. The World Secretary of State could once more relax:

"It certainly did not want the world to watch."

You can watch the ejection of the protester here:

You can watch a full video of Mrs Clinton's speech here:

You can read an article on the protester here.