Tune In: "Inside the State Department" Premiers Tonight on the National Geographic Channel at 9:00pm EST
Inside the State Department premieres Monday, November 8, 2010, at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST on the National Geographic Channel (NGC). The special provides a behind-the-scenes perspective on the mission of the U.S. Department of State, its leader Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and a staff of 60,000+ professionals engaged in operations spanning the globe, including hot spots like Pakistan and Afghanistan. National Geographic cameras capture the moments behind closed doors with world leaders and top officials as Secretary Clinton and other key U.S. diplomats juggle pressing global issues facing the United States, pressuring and persuading allies and adversaries alike.
In a world of conflict, the United States faces challenges like never before. Confronting these challenges head-on are the dedicated and hardworking 60,000+ U.S. State Department employees in over 190 countries with an annual budget of more than $16 billion. International diplomacy knows no rest, so they are in constant motion. The State Department’s role on the world stage has never been more important and the stakes have never been higher. Its leader is arguably the most famous woman in the world, with a traveling staff providing 24/7 support. Now, the National Geographic Channel goes Inside the State Department to open a window into the efforts of the men and women representing critical U.S. interests abroad.
“This job is both a great privilege and an extraordinary challenge. We live on the balance beam of war and peace, of terrorism and stability, of poverty and prosperity,” Secretary Clinton tells National Geographic Channel in a one-hour interview for this documentary.
A top-notch State Department team works with Secretary Clinton to ensure the success of her trips to some of the most embattled regions on earth. We embark on a 20,000+ mile journey with the secretary as she makes stops around the globe, meeting with citizens and leaders face-to-face, including in New York City, Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, Jerusalem, Morocco, Egypt and Afghanistan.
“I am fortunate that at the State Department — with these more than 60,000 people — there’s a wealth of talent,” Secretary Clinton tells National Geographic Channel. “There are so many people who have the cultural understanding, the language skills, who know the history, and who are ready at a moment’s notice to drop anything in order to serve.”
We begin on U.S. soil in New York as Secretary Clinton and her team prepare for the U.N. General Assembly meeting. Our cameras follow the intense efforts of Diplomatic Security as agents transform two floors of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel into a secure facility and test-drive her route looking for potential choke points and ambush sites. Back in the hotel - temporary headquarters for the State Department staff - we take you inside as Clinton’s team prepares her for meetings with foreign leaders.
Next, we board the secretary’s military plane - nicknamed SAM for Special Air Mission - for a high-priority international journey. The first stop is Pakistan, where Clinton spends three days speaking directly to Pakistanis and holding formal meetings with the country’s leading officials. We follow along as Clinton visits an Islamic holy site, and then appears on an unscripted talk show with a live Pakistani audience. Watch as Clinton fields tough questions from Pakistani journalists in a candid exchange intended to help break barriers and move public opinion.
Next on the itinerary, Secretary Clinton visits Abu Dhabi for peace discussions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Clinton meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to persuade him to resume direct peace negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Secretary Clinton meets during the next stop in Jerusalem. Secretary Clinton ends her trip with an unexpected stop in Cairo, Egypt, where she visits President Hosni Mubarak, a key player in Middle East peace.
“I believe strongly that the United States has to play the leading role in the world today on behalf of peace, prosperity and progress,” Secretary Clinton tells National Geographic. “It’s not easy and there’s no magic formula for it, but I have seen the benefits of our engagement and our investments in other countries.”
We hear insight from members of the press corps who travel with Secretary Clinton on each trip. The New York Times’ Mark Landler comments, “Secretary Clinton, for starters, is not just a celebrity, but she’s a sort of mega-celebrity. She’s arguably the most famous woman in the world and it puts her on a different level when she meets with foreign leaders because they remember her when she was first lady and they recognize her as a political powerhouse in her own right.”
Back in Washington, D.C., we tour the “gift vault,” where items presented to foreign dignitaries on behalf of the president and secretary of state are stored, and meet one State Department staffer who handles the gifts. Containing some of the most intriguing and unique presents, the gift vault’s contents range from unique jewelry designed for princesses to sports memorabilia including personally autographed Shaquille O’Neal basketball shoes and Derek Jeter baseball bats.
Just days after returning to the U.S., Clinton’s staff prepares for their next trip abroad, including a stop in Kabul, Afghanistan, for the inauguration of President Hamid Karzai. With tens of thousands of active troops in Afghanistan, the U.S. needs a reliable strategic partner in Kabul. Spending only one night in Kabul, Secretary Clinton speaks directly with President Karzai about stability in Afghanistan, and how the government can deliver services and build confidence and loyalty among the citizens of Afghanistan.
“It is astounding to witness the brutal 16- to 20-hour days worked by Secretary Clinton and her team,” said Steve Hoggard, executive producer, who filmed Clinton on her trips abroad. “They only get a few hours of sleep and are constantly working at a rapid pace traveling from one destination to the next. I have truly been in awe of what they do to represent our county across the globe.”
Following Afghanistan, Secretary Clinton and her team prepare to depart again into a world of increasing complexity. Feverishly planning the next round of international travel and crucial diplomatic meetings, who knows what next week will bring?
Inside the State Department is produced by Hoggard Films for the National Geographic Channel (NGC). For Hoggard Films, director and executive producer is Steven Hoggard and producer is Daphna Rubin. For NGC, executive producer and executive vice president of content is Steve Burns.
Please visit www.natgeotv.com/state for more information.