On "Starting Point" this morning, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) weighs in on the controversy over Chuck Hagel's nomination to Secretary of Defense. He explains why he won't vote to confirm Hagel for the position, and why he thinks Democrats should be worried.
Transcript available after the jump.
Weeks before President Barack Obama announced his nomination for Secretary of Defense; Republicans began lining up against the possible tapping of former GOP Senator Chuck Hagel. Now that Hagel a Vietnam veteran is the official pick, some lawmakers in the president's own party do not seem very thrilled about it either. This includes Democratic Senator from Maryland, Ben Cardin who says Hagel is going to have to clarify some of the things he has said in the past regarding Israel and Iran as well as remarks in 1998 questioning whether an "openly aggressively gay" nominee could be an effective U.S. ambassador. This morning Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) joins “Starting Point,” to weigh in on Hagel’s nomination to be the next Secretary of Defense.
Cardin who served with Hagel in the Senate says the former Republican senator from Nebraska is a “good person” and he agrees “with a lot of [Hagel’s] positions in regards to Iraq.” He adds that while he believes the president should be able to choose who he wants to have on his team, “the advice of the consent of the senate is a very important responsibility and we have to do it independently and there are questions that need to be answered.” He goes on to reaffirm that this “is President Obama’s choice,” although Hagel is not who he would prefer to see as Secretary of Defense.
Cardin who also served with Hagel on the Foreign Relations Committee says that if he is granted a private meeting with the nominee he will ask Hagel if he will “stand strong against those who threaten us in support of terrorism,” despite Hagel’s “reluctance to use our military.” He says he would also ask him about his comments regarding direct negotiations with terrorist groups. Cardin says he would also like to know where Hagel stands on “gays in the military” – more specifically his view on “making sure that there’s no discrimination in our military service.”
A new book based on secret documents, private emails, and interviews with more than one hundred key characters is taking a closer look at a key group of military figures like General David Petraeus, John Nagl and H. R. McMaster and their plot to revolutionize the United States military. The book, “The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War,” which was in the works before recent controversy broke regarding Petraeus’ affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell also includes information from interviews with Petraeus himself. This morning the author, who is also a national security columnist for Slate Magazine, Fred Kaplan joins “Starting Point” to discuss his new book and the Petraeus – Broadwell affair.
Kaplan says Petraeus and other military leaders who he dubs “The Insurgents” in his book came up in a generation where they had experienced fighting in places like El Salvador, Haiti, Bosnia, Somalia and “saw this was the kind of war” that was to come. He says as a result Petraeus and others decided they needed “to turn the army around so that it can deal with these in a systematic way. They had studied insurgencies and they had behaved within the bureaucracy the same way that insurgencies do in their own kind of war.”
When Petraeus took command of the operation in Iraq Kaplan says he changed the definition of war in U.S. army. Kaplan says, “at the beginning of the occupation of the war there was no command operatus ...he set up a new government, he vetted candiates for an election, he revitalized the economy, he reopened the university, he reopened the border with Syria.” Kaplan goes on to say Petraeus did this “all on his own authority without really checking with anybody…that has been his M.O. throughout this sage.”
Regarding the scandal that broke regarding Petraeus and his biographer Pauala Broadwell Kaplan says he “was the one who first revealed who the affair was with – not that [Petraeus] had an affair, he revealed that himself and it was a bit of a surprise but it was kind of obvious who it was with,” based on rumors and solid confirmations from sources.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are visiting four key states this week - Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and New Hampshire - to highlight pending defense cuts.
At the end of this year, the Defense Department budget could see $500 billion in cuts if Congress and President Obama do not act. The cuts are part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was passed last year to avoid a fiscal crisis. It slashed more than $1 trillion from the budget, split evenly between non-defense and defense programs.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has warned that the cuts to defense could be disastrous for the US military.
Sen. McCain and Sen. Ayotte, members of the Armed Services Committee, explain the purpose of their Town Halls on how defense budget cuts could harm US security.
The Starting Point team debates if the US defense budget should be cut by $500 billion.
Because of a recent surge of counterfeit military parts– such as pieces of equipment used in aircrafts– the Senate Armed Services Committee has adopted new legislation to change the procedural laws for buying new or refurbished parts.
Senator Carl Levin joins Starting Point this morning to explain the details of the new law, which he has been working on alongside Sen. John McCain.
Levin explains that the news laws say that parts can only be bought from contracted, authorized distributors or certified suppliers and dictates that suppliers will be responsible for their own repairs.
Regarding the threat posed by the counterfeit parts, Levin explains that the problem occurs almost exclusively with equipment produced in China, and poses a "significant" safety threat to the nation.
Rep. Adam Smith and Rep. Duncan Hunter on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's cautious calls for less military spending.