Samantha Power: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know

Obama Names Susan Rice To National Security Advisor Post (Getty Images)

Obama Names Susan Rice To National Security Advisor Post (Getty Images)

Barack Obama has nominated foreign policy confidant, Samantha Power to replace the controversial Susan Rice as the United States ambassador in the United Nations. The self-proclaimed “genocide chick” who won the Pulitzer Prize for her reporting in Bosnia has not been free of controversy in Washington. Outspoken to a fault – the new U.N ambassador will have to deal with lofty foreign policy issues including U.S involvement in Syria’s civil war.

Here is what you need to know about Power and her history in Washington:

1. She is An Irish American

Power was raised in Ireland until she was nine after which her parents emigrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1979. Speaking alongside the president on Wednesday following the announcement of her nomination, Powers said:

I remember very little about landing in Pittsburgh, except that I was sure I was at the largest airport in the history of the world. I do remember what I was wearing, a red, white and blue Stars and Stripes T-shirt. It was the T-shirt I always wore in Ireland on special occasions.
Even as a little girl with a thick Dublin accent who had never been to America, I knew that the American flag was the symbol of fortune and of freedom. But I quickly came to learn that to find opportunity in this country, one didn’t actually need to wear the flag, one just needed to try to live up to it.or the next three months, I came home from school every day, as my mother can attest, my dad can attest, and I sat in front of the mirrors for hours, straining to drop my brogue so that I, too, could quickly speak and be American.

She graduated from Lakeside Highschool in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School. She spent her early career as a correspondent for Time Magazine and later The New Yorker, reporting from anywhere crises were happening: Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan.

2. Power Calls Herself a “Genocide Chick”

Power is a scholar of U.S. foreign policy, especially as it relates to human rights and genocide. Power founded the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Alongside her advocacy for Barack Obama’s candidacy, Power is best known for her efforts to increase public awareness of genocide and human rights abuses, particularly in the Darfur conflict.

3. She Was Fired After Calling Hillary Clinton a “Monster”

Hillary Clinton Testifies, Mark Thompson, Gregory Hicks

Samantha Power — an unrelenting human rights advocate who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, sometimes to a fault — called Hillary Clinton a “monster” during an interview with the Scotsman. Although at the time she was one of Obama’s top advisors, Power let her true feelings slip about the first lady:

“We f***** up in Ohio…In Ohio, they are obsessed and Hillary is going to town on it, because she knows Ohio’s the only place they can win….She is a monster, too – that is off the record – she is stooping to anything.”

Powers was apparently referring to Clinton’s offensive on Obama during the 2008 primaries. Although Power’s slip got her fired, it did not sever ties with Obama.

4. Sean Hannity Called her one the “Top 10 Most Dangerous People of the Obama Administration”

Sean Hannity isn’t the only conservative commentator who has put in his two cents on Power. Glenn Beck has said:

For anyone who thinks that Samantha Power is just some low level cog in the Washington machine, the New York Times just did a nice profile on her role in the current administration. It turns out that Mrs. Cass Sunstein is probably the most dangerous woman in America, after all.

“She’s problematic. She’s made some some very questionable statements regarding Israel,” said Ed Lasky, co-founder of American Thinker to NBCnews. “She seems to have a strong allegiance towards United Nations and international bodies, and those have not been organizations that have been favorable towards America or toward Israel.”

5. She Is a Notorious Critic of Israel

Considering her past comments about Israel and her perceived stance on the Middle Eastern country, it’s likely that her appointment will be contentious, drawing particular frustration from conservatives and those who believe that her policy stances will be damaging to Israel.

A video excerpt from an interview Samantha Power gave in 2002 in which she was asked, as “a thought experiment,” to consider how her support for robust American intervention to defend human rights abroad might be applied to the the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Many will still wonder if her views surrounding Israel and the Middle East will impact how she manages her position and her treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

6. She Won a Pulitzer prize

A Problem from Hell

The 37-year-old already has one Pulitzer Prize behind her, for her book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.The book argues that in many countries, specifically Bosnia and Rwanda, the U.S. could have prevented the murder of tens of thousands of people, but politicians’ judgment got clouded by geopolitical considerations and worries over domestic support that stopped them from acting. Former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke once said of the book, “It’s very painful reading, but it has to be read.”

After reading her book in 2005, he read her book on genocide and asked his aides to arrange a meeting promting the relationship between the now president and Powers. During her speech when accepting the position of U.N ambassador Wednesday, Power told Obama:

“From the day I met you and you told me that you had spent a chunk of your vacation reading a long, dark book on genocide, I knew you were a different kind of leader and I knew I wanted to work for you.”

7. Men’s Vogue Called her One of the Most Beautiful Women in the World

Samantha Powers Vogue

In a profile story in Men’s Vogue, Samantha Power was described as a “Harvard brainiac who can boast both a Pulitzer Prize and a mean jump shot (ask George Clooney). Now the consummate outsider is working on her inside game: D.C. politics.” Marie Claire magazine named you the Smartest Woman In America and People Magazine nominated her as one of the 100 most influential people in the U.S

8. She Was an Advocate for Military Intervention in Libya


Samantha Power is considered to be a key figure within the Obama administration in persuading the president to intervene militarily in Libya. Power argues that America has a moral obligation to examine all tools in the toolbox (diplomatic, economic, political, and military) to respond to mass atrocity.

9. She is Married to Law Professor Cass Sunstein

Power with her husband Cass Sunstein

Power with her husband Cass Sunstein

Power met her husband while working on the Obama campaign. Cass Sunstein was the Administrator of the White House Office of Intermaotion and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. They have two children together. Some commentators have noted that both Power as well as Susan Rice are women with young children that have attained extremely high positions in Obamas government

10.Power May Push for U.S Intervention in Syria’s Civil War

One of the thousands killed in Syria's war (GettyImages)

One of the thousands killed in Syria’s war (GettyImages)

Powers has been a strong advocate for humanitarian intervention and Syria is at the top of the foreign policy agenda. The civil war in Syria grows more bloody by the day and yet Obama has not arrived at a strategically advantageous way to intervene that, for him, justifies the American risk involved. Susan Rice and Power are among those in the administration who lean toward intervention and have advocated for it in internal discussions.