OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Gates book tour stops at Pentagon

The Topline: Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates had a line at the Pentagon Thursday that stretched out the door and into the courtyard as he signed copies of his memoir.

Gates’s book, which had harsh words for President Obama, Vice President Biden and many others in the administration, continues to generate reaction more than a week after the first excerpts were released.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took aim at Gates on Thursday, accusing him of being “out to make a buck” by skewering administration officials — and Reid himself — in the memoir.

"He denigrates everybody, everyone, Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton, the president, [Vice President] Joe Biden, me," Reid said in an interview with The Associated Press Thursday.

"I'm surprised he would in effect denigrate everybody he came in contact with in an effort to make a buck," he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was also critical of Gates Thursday, rejecting the former Defense secretary’s accusation that military cuts will diminish Britain’s international stature.

"I don’t agree with him. I think he’s got it wrong. We have the fourth-largest defense budget anywhere in the world. We’re actually investing in future capabilities,” Cameron told the BBC on Thursday.

As for Gates himself, he told The Hill Thursday that comedian Jon Stewart had the best response to the book thus far.

Gates appeared on "The Daily Show" on Wednesday, wearing a neck brace after falling on New Year's Day at his home and breaking his first vertebrae.

"Apparently you wrote about Chris Christie and there was retribution," Stewart joked, referencing the bridge scandal there. 

Senate sends spending measure to Obama: The Senate on Thursday sent the massive $1.012 trillion spending bill — including $520 billion for Defense spending — to President Obama’s desk in a 72-26 vote.

The omnibus bill included a full 2014 appropriations measure for the Pentagon, which was $20 billion more than the military would have received had sequestration remained in effect.

The omnibus quickly cleared Congress after it was finalized on Monday, passing the House on Wednesday before the Senate’s vote Thursday evening.

The Pentagon and defense industry cheered the appropriations measure, which did not include any major cuts to weapons programs and will give the department a bit of budget certainty.

Feinstein defends Clinton from blame on Benghazi: A day after the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report saying that the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attacks were preventable, its chairwoman tried to defend then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from blame. 

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Republicans and media outlets were misconstruing the report and taking the report's conclusions out of context in order to blame Clinton.  "The report approved on a bipartisan basis says no such thing. As a matter of fact, Secretary Clinton is not mentioned a single time in the 58-page bipartisan section of our Benghazi report," she said in a statement.  Six of the committee's seven Republicans said in a section of the report that Clinton was "ultimately" responsible for the lack of security. "I regret that the 'Additional Views' of the report adopted solely by six members of the Republican minority unfairly criticizes Secretary Clinton," Feinstein said. 

McKeon announces retirement: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said Thursday it was time to say goodbye to Congress, making his retirement at the end of 2014 official.

It was a tearful farewell announcement for McKeon, who got choked up at several points as he talked about his career, explained his decision to leave and vowed to continue advocating for a robust military.

The 75-year-old lawmaker has served in Congress since 1993, and has been chairman of the powerful committee for more than three years.

“This is not a funeral. This is not a going away party. This is just saying I’m not going to be running for Congress next year,” McKeon said.

The fact that Armed Services chairman was term-limited was the biggest factor in his decision to leave Congress, and he also lamented the political polarization in both parties.

He also endorsed Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the committee’s vice chairman, to succeed him as chairman next year.

 

In Case You Missed It:

— Pentagon’s hands tied hunting Benghazi attackers

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— Senate bill amends War Powers Act

— McCain blasts move to keep drones in CIA

— White House gives lawmakers Iran deal text

 

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