Overnight Defense: Obama invokes Iraq war to hit Iran deal critics

Overnight Defense: Obama invokes Iraq war to hit Iran deal critics

THE TOPLINE: President Obama on Tuesday hit critics of the Iran nuclear deal, likening them to backers of the Iraq War.

"In the debate over this deal, we're hearing the echoes of some of the same policies and mindset that failed us in the past," he said in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention.

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"And some of the same politicians and pundits that are so quick to reject the possibility of a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program are the same folks who were so quick to go to war in Iraq and said it would take a few months.

The president also chided the "chest beating" some lawmakers were doing over the deal.

"Instead of chest-beating that rejects even the idea of talking to our adversaries, which sometimes sounds good in sound bites but accomplishes nothing, we're seeing that strong and principled diplomacy can give hope of actually resolving a problem peacefully," he said.

Obama's comments came as the administration pushed ahead with its case for the controversial deal that lifts economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.

The White House launched a new Twitter handle and website on Tuesday to build support for the deal.

Republicans are pushing back. Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCongress faces growing health care crisis in Puerto Rico The Hill's 12:30 Report Colbert mocks Trump for sipping water during speech on Asia trip MORE (R-Fla.) said Democrats face a "stark choice."

"They can either stand with President Obama and allow this flawed ‎agreement to go through, or they can stand with a majority of the American people, our friend Israel and our moderate Arab allies in the region," said the 2016 presidential contender.

OBAMA LOWERS FLAG FOR SHOOTING VICTIMS: President Obama on Tuesday honored the five service members who were killed in a lone-wolf attack last week in Chattanooga, and ordered that flags at the White House and public buildings be flown at half-staff.

The flags will remain at half-mast through Saturday "as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on July 16," said Obama.

The shootings last Thursday at a military reserve center killed four Marines and one sailor: Marine Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Lance Cpl. Skip Wells and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith.

"We don't yet know all the details behind the attack in Chattanooga," Obama said Tuesday. "But we do know that al Qaeda and [ISIS] have encouraged attacks on American soil, including against our service members.

"And this threat of lone wolves and small cells is hard to detect and prevent," he said.

Momentum is building after the shooting for arming military personnel to prevent future attacks.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, became the seventh governor to issue an executive order to arm the National Guard in his state.

Also, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a Marine veteran, became the latest to introduce bills to allow military officers to carry weapons at recruitment centers.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also said Tuesday that a provision allowing members of the military to carry weapons could be included in the compromise version of the annual defense policy bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), being negotiated by the House and Senate.

"Right now, we have the NDAA and that's being discussed in conference as well, that provision," McCarthy said. "It could be in the NDAA conference because they have that issue inside there where it could allow the base commander to have the determination."

DEM: BENGHAZI PANEL MUCKING WITH IRAN DEAL: The House Select Committee on Benghazi is interfering with the Iran nuclear deal by scheduling a hearing at the same time Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryTrump's dangerous Guantánamo fixation will fuel fire for terrorists Tech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny Overnight Tech: Senate Dems want FCC chief recused from Sinclair merger | Tech rallies on Capitol Hill for DACA | Facebook beefs up lobbying ranks MORE is supposed to testify about the agreement, according to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).

Kerry is supposed to appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee next Tuesday morning to discuss the merits of the nuclear agreement. Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizStop wasting tax dollars on failing nuclear projects Trump vows hard line with Iran, setting stage to decertify deal Renewing America’s commitment to nuclear energy MORE, will also testify, along with Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewSenator demands answers from DOJ on Russia bribery probe Koskinen's role in the ObamaCare bailout another reason Trump must terminate him The debt limit is the nation's appendix — get rid of it MORE.

But the Benghazi panel wants Jon Finer, Kerry's chief of staff, to testify before their panel on the same day.

Cummings, the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, ripped the request.

"Next week -- on the same day Secretary Kerry will be testifying about the historic deal to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon -- Republicans are demanding that his chief of staff, who spent months working on these negotiations, drop everything and testify before the Benghazi Select Committee on the pace of document production," Cummings said in a statement.

"This is either embarrassingly poor planning or a flimsy attempt by Republicans to scuttle the Iran deal. Either way, this is a preposterous abuse of authority," he added.

Cummings cited a July 20 letter from the State Department stating that Jon Finer wouldn't be able to appear before the panel next week to discuss the agency's document production.

'KHORASAN GROUP' LEADER KILLED: The Pentagon confirmed Tuesday that the leader of the Khorasan group -- an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria -- has been killed.

"Muhsin al-Fadhli, a longtime al-Qaeda operative, was killed in a kinetic strike July 8 while traveling in a vehicle near Sarmada, Syria," said Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis.

Al-Fadhli was the leader of a network of veteran al-Qaeda operatives in Syria who were planning attacks against the U.S. and allies, Davis said.

"He was a senior al-Qaeda facilitator who was among the few trusted al-Qaeda leaders that received advanced notification of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks," he said.

Al-Fadhli was also involved in terrorist attacks that took place in October 2002, including against U.S. Marines on Faylaka Island in Kuwait and on the French ship MV Limburg, he said.

"His death will degrade and disrupt ongoing external operations of al-Qaeda against the United States and our allies and partners," Davis said.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

- Obama: 'These mindless cuts have to end'

- McCain defends Vietnam vets after Trump attack

- Senators huddle with Energy secretary on Iran

- Pentagon rolls out new military lending rules

- CBO: Bill to rein in VA would save $145M

 

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