The Cable

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Clinton’s head speechwriter departing

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s director of speechwriting, Lissa Muscatine, will be leaving the State Department, she tells The Cable in an interview. Muscatine, who runs the shop of scribes who put words in Clinton’s mouth every day, is stepping down to pursue her own writing, teaching and speaking opportunities, she said. After having worked ...

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's director of speechwriting, Lissa Muscatine, will be leaving the State Department, she tells The Cable in an interview.

Muscatine, who runs the shop of scribes who put words in Clinton's mouth every day, is stepping down to pursue her own writing, teaching and speaking opportunities, she said. After having worked for both Clintons off and on dating back to 1993, and following a whirlwind 18 months in this stint alone, she has certainly earned some downtime.

She first joined up with the Clintons as a presidential speechwriter in 1993, eventually becoming chief speechwriter and then communications director for First Lady Clinton. Muscatine collaborated with Clinton for her memoir, worked on her campaign, and then after only a few months off, was called back into service to write Clinton's confirmation remarks when she was nominated to be secretary of state.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s director of speechwriting, Lissa Muscatine, will be leaving the State Department, she tells The Cable in an interview.

Muscatine, who runs the shop of scribes who put words in Clinton’s mouth every day, is stepping down to pursue her own writing, teaching and speaking opportunities, she said. After having worked for both Clintons off and on dating back to 1993, and following a whirlwind 18 months in this stint alone, she has certainly earned some downtime.

She first joined up with the Clintons as a presidential speechwriter in 1993, eventually becoming chief speechwriter and then communications director for First Lady Clinton. Muscatine collaborated with Clinton for her memoir, worked on her campaign, and then after only a few months off, was called back into service to write Clinton’s confirmation remarks when she was nominated to be secretary of state.

Since coming back to work for Clinton full time, Muscatine has been managing four full-time speechwriters and two part-timers who also write for other officials. Her shop is located inside the Policy Planning Staff but maintains its own independence within that structure. This is the model that Bill Woodward, speechwriter for former Secretary Madeleine Albright, initiated when he took speechwriting out of the public affairs bureau.

Muscatine said she was most proud of a group of speeches she and her team put together focusing on the importance of human rights and human dignity. Some of these include major addresses Clinton has given on development, human rights, Internet freedom, civil society, and food security, among others.

"We’ve tried to always to keep an eye on the human element and not get bogged down in the theoretical. That’s a signature of the secretary," she said, stressing an emphasis on "things that really matter to human existence and how we see them through the lens of U.S. foreign policy."

As for her successor, that person will be named very soon, she said.

"I’ve had a great time and it’s been wonderful and Secretary Clinton has been extremely kind."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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