Policy & Strategy

OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Romney goes after Obama on intel leaks

Romney went after Obama hard on leaks after Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) gave him an opening Monday when she said at an event that “the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.”

{mosads}Feinstein backtracked from the remark Tuesday, issuing a statement that said she did not know the source of the leaks and she was “disappointed” how Romney had used her words.

But the Romney campaign simply piled on further, suggesting that Feinstein had received “the Cory Booker treatment” from the White House, a reference to the Newark mayor changing his tune about attack on Bain Capital being “nauseating.” When Feinstein was approached by The Hill as she was walking into her closed-door intelligence authorization mark-up Tuesday afternoon, the chairwoman said that she was not going to comment beyond her statement.

Romney’s remarks Tuesday also indicate that the campaign is ready to make the leaks a bigger part of its case against the president. Romney didn’t come out in favor of a special counsel at first, as his campaign gave a statement after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) first called for a special counsel that did not take a position. Two weeks later, Romney said he supported the special counsel in an interview, but Tuesday’s attacks significantly ramped up the offensive.

GOP lawmakers gather on defense cuts: The sequestration gang is getting back together. Five Republican lawmakers are speaking at a Capitol Hill forum Wednesday on the devastating impact of the sequestration cuts to the defense industry. Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Reps. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Randy Forbes (R-Va.) are speaking at the “Defending Defense” event, sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation and Foreign Policy Initiative.

Sound familiar? That’s because it is. All five lawmakers also spoke at a “Defending Defense” back in February looking at the Pentagon’s budget request and also talking about sequestration — although the level of volume in Congress on the issue was significantly lower back then.

Cyber war: If its true that the United States will likely wage its next war over keyboards and computer screens, members of the House Armed Services want to know if the Pentagon is ready to fight that fight. The heads of the Navy, Army and Air Force cyberwarfare divisions, as well as the chief of Marine Corps combat requirements will look to answer those questions during Wednesday’s hearing before the House defense subpanel on emerging threats and capabilities. The Pentagon is already rewriting the book on how it defends against and possibly responds to cyberattacks against the United States, the top uniformed officer in charge of the effort told Congress in March. 

These new “standing rules of engagement” will look to expand existing Pentagon protocols regarding cyberattacks beyond military networks, Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the new Cyber Command told the subcommittee in March. The goal will be expanding DOD’s authority in the cyber realm to give the White House more options on how to respond to a large-scale cyberattack, Alexander said at the time. 

Passing the torch: On Tuesday, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz took the podium at the Pentagon for the last time as the service’s top uniformed official. Schwartz, who will retire from the Air Force on August 10, will be replaced by Gen Mark Welch. During his tenure, Schwartz oversaw the rise of unmanned aircraft within the service’s fleet, shepherded the Air Force’s new tanker program into reality and strengthened service controls over its nuclear weapons complex. 

Severe lack of discipline and oversight in that enterprise forced DOD to sack former Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and replace him with Schwartz. Former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne was also fired in the wake of the nuclear weapons scandal and replaced with current Secretary Michael Wynne. 

The four-star general was also endured the rising costs and schedule delays associated with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, problems with the F-22 Raptor that forced DOD to ground the fleet multiple times. Most recently, the air service has been slammed by allegations of rampant sexual abuse of female cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. 

While Schwartz legacy has yet to be written, the soon-to-be former chief of staff was nothing but positive about his tenure. “It’s been a wonderful ride,” he told reporters on Tuesday. 

Inhofe targets Navy’s Green Fleet: Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) is continuing Republican pressure on the Navy’s “great green fleet,” naval exercise sending a letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus that questions the Navy’s biofuel purchases. Inhofe asks in the letter for a report from the Navy that details the total cost of the “green” event, including everything from fuel burned to the painting of logos on ships and planes to promote the event. “Requiring the Navy to spend exorbitant amounts of an already stretched budget on alternative fuels is impacting our near and long term readiness,” Inhofe wrote. Congress is threatening to restrict the military’s ability to use biofuels.


–Panetta lifts F-22 flight restrictions

–Political pressure stymies Afghan corruption probe

–GOP blasts DOD uniform decision for gay pride parade

–Defense cuts hit Virginia Senate race

 Please send tips and comments to Jeremy Herb,  jherb@thehill.com, and Carlo Muñoz, cmunoz@thehill.com.

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Tags Dianne Feinstein John McCain Kelly Ayotte Lindsey Graham Randy Forbes

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