As the Obama administration carries out its drone war on al-Qaida operatives in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen, a senior lawmaker on Thursday fired the latest shot in a simmering Capitol Hill turf war over which committees will oversee the program.
House Armed Services Committee Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, is pushing legislation that would require the executive branch to notify the congressional defense oversight and appropriations committees “of any overseas lethal or capture operations outside Afghanistan,” according to a statement issued by his office. No where in the statement are the congressional intelligence panels mentioned, signalling the increasing efforts of pro-military lawmakers and Obama administration officials to move the controversial drone program under the control of the Pentagon. More
Typically military posture hearings are a chance for lawmakers to grandstand and spout political soundbites that they promote to constituents in their home districts.
Those at the witness table often stick to their script of talking points, rarely deviating from the party line, and often times don’t even get a chance to respond as a member’s time for questioning expires.
But every now and then, tensions boil over and witness goes off script. That’s exactly what happened Thursday. More
Since last December, Congress has had Fiscal Cliff Week then Sequestration Week then CR Week and most recently Budget Week. The Senate even had Guns Week. And now comes Drone Week.
Two congressional panels on Tuesday are holding hearings on the role of armed unmanned aircraft in future military operations — and the very legality of using armed drones to kill al Qaeda leaders and operatives. Yet, data about the frequency of U.S. drone strikes reveals several interesting things. More
Michele Flournoy has achieved a lot of firsts in her career. She was the first Pentagon policy chief, a stint that made her the first senior female U.S. defense official to sit across with leaders in Afghanistan, China and elsewhere. And she was one of the founding leaders of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a Washington think tank.
But she has never appeared on “Meet the Press,” a Sunday morning destination for Washington’s power elite. That will change on Sunday, when Flournoy, who sources said made President Obama’s shortlist for defense secretary earlier this year, sits across from host David Gregory.
MTP Executive Producer Betsy Fischer Martin tweeted the booking Friday afternoon: “Michele Flournoy, the highest-ranking woman in Pentagon history as fmr Under Secretary for Policy, “Meets the Press” for 1st time Sunday.” More
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel once was a Republican United States senator. Several members of the party’s old-school defense budget hawk and interventionist wings count Hagel as an old friend. After all, his congressional voting record isn’t that different from their own records.
The GOP military spending hawks and interventionists have a few things in common. Generally, both factions believe in robust Pentagon budgets that grow above the inflation rate each year. They also, for the most part, believe in a large U.S. military that should be used frequently for all sorts of reasons, from pursuing American interests to fighting al Qaida across the Middle East and North Africa to confronting dictators and rouge states to promoting democracy worldwide.
They might consider Hagel, whose nomination they fought, an old pal. But, make no mistake, the GOP defense spending hawks and interventionists are skeptical about the new secretary because he simply is not one of them. One must look no further than Hagel’s speech Wednesday at the National Defense University in Washington to understand that. More
Don’t call it a filibuster. Or, wait, maybe it actually is. Whatever one calls Senate GOP tactics, Senate Democratic leaders are again searching for five Republicans to vote with 55 Democrats Friday morning to end the not-a-filibuster-turned-filibuster and move to a final (simple majority) vote on Hagel’s nomination to become U.S. defense secretary. More
Three United States senators. Securing their collective support is all that stands between Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s pick to be defense secretary, and confirmation.
To kill the threat of a nomination-killing filibuster on the Senate floor, Hagel needs 60 votes. There are 55 Democrats in the chamber, meaning he needs five GOP senators to support him.
Republican Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Mike Johanns of Hagel’s own Nebraska say they will vote “yay.” That means Hagel’s magic number, to borrow a baseball term, is three. More
Today is the day so many have been waiting for. No, it’s not Super Bowl Sunday. Yet. Rather, former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee about his nomination to replace Leon Panetta as defense secretary.
Since Hagel’s name was floated for the post in early December, Hagel has been sharply criticized by his former fellow-GOP senators and pro-Israel groups for his past comments on the U.S.-Israel alliance, whether the Pentagon budget can and should be trimmed, how to confront Iran over its nuclear arms program, gay rights and the proper size of the U.S. nuclear arms fleet. Expect questions on all those topics. Another likely line of questioning could come from Republicans about allegations that Hagel is hard on staffers.
In answers to written policy questions provided to the panel this week, Hagel largely tried to align himself with the views of President Barack Obama. For instance, he took the same tone as Panetta, saying pending defense sequestration cuts would undermine U.S. military power. Defense News senior reporters John T. Bennett and Marcus Weisgerber will be here throughout the hearing — yes, including on a possible second day — live blogging the action. Please check back early and often for updates.
5:49 p.m. — Sen. Levin gavels this epic hearing to a close. Thanks for stopping by. ANALYSIS: Not a dominating performance by Hagel. He labored a bit, and seemed to contradict himself at times. Doubt he lost any Democratic support, however. — John T. Bennett
5:42 p.m. — Sen. Cruz calls Hagel “the most antagonistic” member in Senate (ever?) against Israel, and most unwilling (ever?) to confront Iran. Levin asks Cruz to submit any remaining questions for the record, but never looked directly at Cruz, instead icily gazing straight ahead. There’s tension there. – John T. Bennett