Obama Claims Personal Credit for Military’s Strategic Review
On January 5, 2011, President Obama conducted a Press Conference at the Pentagon, to announce the results of a Defense Strategic Review. He claimed that the results would guide a budget reduction to be announced in the “coming weeks.” Before he departed and turned the conference over to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), he seemed desperate to ensure he received a large share of the credit.
“So I’m going to let Leon [Panetta – Secretary of Defense] and Marty [General Dempsey] go into the details. But I just want to say that this effort reflects the guidance that I personally gave throughout this process.”[i]
That should certainly reassure every American – particularly those with family members serving in the military. What level of arrogance allows a man who never served in the military, who railed against the Iraq war, who voted against the surge in Iraq and whose total life experience consists of campus life, drug use, community organizing, agitating and political campaigning, to sit in the company of America’s finest flag officers – all of whom are combat veterans – and suggest that their successful development of a Defense Strategic Review is a reflection of “the guidance that I personally gave throughout the process”?
Obama: Ready to Share with Russians – Not Congress
According to the Washington Times, “President Obama signaled Congress during the week of Jan 2, 2012, that he was prepared to share U.S. missile defense secrets with Russia.” This revelation was consistent with information previously published, indicating that Obama was “planning to provide Moscow with Standard Missile-3 (SM3) data.” Such data sharing could, according to security officials, allow the Russians to counter our defensive missiles. [i]
As this argument wages, Obama signed into law, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA), on December 31, 2011. The NDAA, in part, restricts the ability of the President to share classified ballistic missile defense information with Russia without reporting to Congress 60 days in advance, the specific information to be shared. While Obama signed the law, he indicated in his signing statement, that he would interpret its provisions in a manner that gives him maximum “flexibility” (remember that word and his open mic moment with Dimitri Medvedev). With regard to one section of the law, Obama said:
“…While my Administration intends to keep the Congress fully informed of the status of U.S. efforts to cooperate with the Russian Federation on ballistic missile defense, my Administration will also interpret and implement section 1244 in a manner that does not interfere with the President’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign affairs and avoids the undue disclosure of sensitive diplomatic communications. Other sections pose similar problems. Sections 1231, 1240, 1241, and 1242 could be read to require the disclosure of sensitive diplomatic communications and national security secrets.”[ii]
The President seems to be saying that his right to share national security secrets with a foreign power should not be subjected to restrictions that would cause him to disclose to our own Congress, sensitive diplomatic communications, or the same national security secrets. In other words, classified national security documents warrant less protection than diplomatic communications with a foreign government. Revealing our secrets to a foreign power – according to this line of thinking – is less threatening than releasing them to members of Congress.