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  • Morning Bell: Will Leon Panetta Ensure That America Is Defended?

    Amid a continuing war in Afghanistan, a new operation in Libya, ongoing military efforts in Iraq and a failing foreign policy doctrine, President Barack Obama has proposed cutting the already overstretched U.S. military by $400 billion. And today, he is expected to nominate CIA Director Leon Panetta to serve as Secretary of Defense, replacing the retiring Robert Gates. As Panetta stands for confirmation, the Senate must ask whether Panetta is the right man for the job of helping to provide for America’s defense.

    The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano, Ph.D., writes that there are five main questions the Senate should pose to Panetta to determine whether he will honestly assess what the U.S. military needs to ensure a common defense or merely go along with the president:

    1. Defense budget: President Obama has repudiated his own defense review (the Quadrennial Defense Review), which he delivered in 2010 and which by law is supposed to provide an honest assessment of project needs. Now, his recent decision to pick an arbitrary goal of $400 billion in defense cuts over the next decade—and then ask for a review to justify it—will be your first job in office. Why should we trust you to do anything but rubber-stamp his demands?

    2. Vital priorities: Do you agree that instead of cutting defense, the next Secretary of Defense should be focused on helping the U.S. military win in Afghanistan, identifying a clear plan for the United States with and in Iraq beyond December, avoiding mission creep in Libya while actually helping create a coherent strategy for the Arab “Spring,” and crafting a clear, more effective policy toward Iran to prevent it from becoming a nuclear power?

    3. China: We need a rational, credible plan to counter the People’s Republic of China’s large-scale military modernization program. Can you deliver on a plan that will ensure that the U.S. remains a capable stabilizing military force in Asia—one that never has to fear intimidation from China?

    4. Missile defense: Since entering office, President Obama has negotiated the New START nuclear agreement with Russia that has diminished U.S. stature as a nuclear power. He has cut back U.S. missile defense posture to what he believes is just-enough, just-in-time missile defense, rather than building robust defenses that would answer potential threats. Do you think that was smart? Would it not have been wiser to do everything within his power to ensure that the U.S. and its allies have the most robust defenses possible against threats from Iran and North Korea?

    5. Homeland protection: The U.S. must be better prepared for protecting the homeland. Despite all its rhetoric, this Administration actually cut the number of specially trained and equipped military forces that would respond to a weapons of mass destruction incident. That seems wrongheaded. Will you do more to ensure the homeland is adequately protected, including for emerging threats like cyber attacks?

    These questions are vitally important in light of what the Panetta pick could mean for the military. The Hill reports:

    Shifting Panetta to DOD “probably means bigger cuts to the defense budget,” said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute.

    “Secretary Gates was strongly committed to maintaining a robust defense posture, but Panetta will be more interested in getting along with the White House, which must find ways of cutting the deficit,” Thompson said. …

    “Putting Panetta in as defense secretary means Obama now has an ally at the Pentagon,” said one senior GOP congressional aide. “He will be more inclined to agree with the president on a number of issues where Gates might have pushed back or disagreed with the president.”

    Making arbitrary cuts to the military and walking in lock-step with the president is not what America needs from the person responsible for directing our armed forces, defending our homeland, and ensuring that our military has all that it needs to execute its mission around the world. It needs a strong leader who can help turn around the Administration’s sad record on foreign policy and national security while also pushing back against dangerous cuts to defense. The Senate must now determine whether Leon Panetta is up to the task.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    46 Responses to Morning Bell: Will Leon Panetta Ensure That America Is Defended?

    1. Dale, El Paso, TEXAS says:

      Frankly….I think he is a very poor choice. But then everyone in the Obama regime has been a poor choice. Panetta will bow to this administrations every wish I'm afraid and do it with no regard for our nations defense or the needs of the troops in harms way.

    2. John New Jersey says:

      this will be the biggest guttinb of the defense dept. The libs are salivating.

    3. Carolyn Obendorfer, says:

      I personally do not have faith in anyone in the Obama Administration keeping us safe. I really believe Obama is out to destroy the United States and have said so since he first came upon the scene. We are in deep trouble in this country and we had better all wake up before it is too late and we are a second rate country.

    4. Rick says:

      Again this president is lost. Since taking office has not done thing to improve or protect our country. What he has done along with his flock of sheep is waste and put this country in danger. Where in the world would he even consider running again he has hurt us bad enough. To be honest if we are in the middle east for humanitaian reasons thrn when do we go after china. Oh can't do that there equal or now growing bigger than us. I'm afraid and so is the population in the real world ppl are scared what this so called president has done. Enough

    5. Joaquin Canals, Rale says:

      Panetta is coming in to be Obama's hatchet man.

      Obama has been very clear that he wants to chop billions from the defense budget, and Panetta is the guy to do it.

    6. Jeffery Saddlemire says:

      I have zero confidence in this man. I'm sure that he has been put in this position by the BHO to cut the military and defense to the bone putting our country at great risk and the cuts are not to save money.

    7. Luke Blackford, Houm says:

      It is impossable to balance the budget without cuts in defense spending. You know that and we know that. You and the republicans must be pushing this agenda in order to make it impossible for congrees to balance the budget. This may facilitate your political agenda, but it is detrimental the country and the American people. If you are truely concerned for the country, you'll reconsider this tact. It's stuff like this that makes me want to reconsider supporting you.

    8. Arthur Cantrell says:

      With another administration "yes" man in this position, our defenses at home and abroad and decidely weaken.

      Ask all the victims of the Mexican cartels along our borders. Even if General Patraeus was named Director of Homeland Security; the administration will handcuss his efforts at true security.


      Arthur Cantrell



    10. Don Ruane Lilburn Ga says:

      Not a chance in hell that, Leon Panetta is incapable of defending the USA.

      He is the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and with all the resources of that fine agency he needed a newspaper to alert him to the turmoil in Egypt.

    11. ThomNJ says:

      Maybe there should be only one question: Why should we confirm a partisan hack with no military experience and a past anti-military bias like you?

    12. B. Eric, Syosset N.Y says:

      Panetta to Sec Def is purely political. He will be another of Obamas toady Sycophants( thats a yes man not a pcycho). The defense of this country will deminish even further.

    13. Marlene Amick, Carme says:

      Considering Panetta's record it is unlikely he is the best man for the job. It is also unlikely the people questioning him will ask the cogent, revealing questions you have posed. Panetta will be in charge at the Pentagon, our country will suffer for it and the politicians will continue on their merry way, most of them in campaign mode, as usual.

    14. Willard Salemink says:

      Your contention that the administration must devise a way of "winning" in Afghanistan is fantasy. We "good guys" have no more capability to win there than did the Russian "bad guys."

      We have to quit killing innocent people and sacrificing our troops in the guise of protecting our country. In case you have not noticed the bad guys are everywhere.

      How many Number Two and Three bad guys have we killed over the last nine years? l

    15. Wayne Johnson says:

      I think it would be nice if we went back to Congress being the ONLY body able to declare war (Presidents could react defensively for 90 days), but for it to continue longer, the Congress must act. And a part of the declaration should be to set the objective of the war.

      War is too serious to be "informal."

      A Vietnam Vet

    16. Jeff Gustafson, Spok says:

      I don't disagree with any of this but I must also say that what is so concerning today is "who do you trust?" Conservatives dropped the ball in 2002, we have already seen the freshman class "settle" for a pittance when it comes to cuts and I fear at every turn that in the end conservatives will once again do the compromising without getting much at all out of the other side. We are in serious times and yet it does not seem that anyone back there is serious about it. I listen to Obama talk as if he is the rational one, the mediator…and yet more than any presidency I have lived through (Eisenhower forward…) Obama has clearly been the most divisive president of them all. He would not compromise when they had the majority, he has openly criticized anything that differs from his view and every bill was purchased to pass with uncontrolled spending. And yet he and the democrats continue to get away with taking the high road when they don't even know where it is.

      I am not convinced that congress on the whole is convinced that we have a problem or they are convinced that there is no return path and so why bother. Whose side is everyone on? Is there something we don't know such as there is already another world order pulling the strings? There is definitely something that we as the general public don't know and that is what concerns me.

    17. Robert, North Richla says:

      Panetta is the democrat's utility player, for sure. But how can he do any worse than Rumsfeld? Rumsfeld, who was old enough to know that we had over 350,000 troops in Japan by late 1945 for occupation – and over 1 million in post-war Germany (both places were safer than Middle East) – yet he said we would waltz into Baghdad to parades and celebration. He made no plans for military police, martial law or any of the proven "best practices" available to freshman West Point cadets. Joe Galloway (who co-wrote We Were Soldiers) reported that a massive arms depot was unguarded; was not secured; was not blown; and willing Iraqi's just walked out with as many RPG's, mines, grenades, AK-47's and as much ammo as they could carry – for weeks! But Rummy had a powerpoint presentation – though I don't think it called for ten years. Can Panetta be any worse?

    18. B. Eric, Syosset N.Y says:

      This is for Roberrt of Richmond Hills. You have to keep in mind that no matter how bad things get, It can allways get worse.

    19. Todd, Virginia says:

      The military has been very fortunate that Secretary Gates stayed on as the Secretary of Defense for as long as he has. Gates has done a very admirable job in improving moral and operations within the Pentagon and all the services following the Rumsfeld years.

      Unfortunately, most rational people knew that Obama would eventually get around to installing his own toady to head the Pentagon. For all of our service members still serving, be ready to go back to the military we had under the Carter administration – no supplies, no equipment, no training and no moral.

      Hopefully, the next President will be cut from the same cloth as Ronald Reagan. And hopefully, the Republican "leadership" is looking for someone who will bring the leadership, vision and determination that Reagan brought to this country.

      Colonel, US Army, Retired

    20. Robert Reynolds says:

      Panetta will go along to get along; he's a wuss which is exactly what Obama's handlers want. The nation is in trouble.

    21. Don Vander Jagt, Gra says:

      The president's choices are never good for America because he is not interested in what is good for America !!

      A good place to start cutting from the defense budget would be to ground Air Force One and two.

      This president and the last president have displayed a calloused disregard for the taxpayer by using defense budget money to fly themselves around for entertainment, self gratification, self-promotion and the whim of the day.

    22. George Colgrove VA says:

      The AP had an article regarding Panetta and his cost cutting skills – the reason why he was selected. The article suggested that the cuts already made for the current year was considered no t enough.

      Other than the excellent work provided by the HF regarding just under $100 billion in cuts spread over several years, conservatives have not identified tangible cuts that could be made to reduce the civilian operational components of the DoD. It is widely accepted that there is a large amount of redundancy and overlap in the administrative ranks of the DoD and the branches. The DoD performs payroll not only for itself but for other federal departments as well. There are opportunities to cut the DoD without touching the mission – to defend this nation.

      I fear however it may be getting too late for conservatives to be at the table. Liberals are now solidly in charge of the department. However, it was disappointing to learn the Gates recommended Panetta.

      Cuts have to be made everywhere – we should focus those cuts on eliminating redundancy, consolidate similar or overlapping operations, tighten security, and limit access to curb leaks, consolidate all non-military functions outside the DoD. Before we cut one soldier or one defense system, we conservatives had better make sure all dollars spent in the DoD are focused on defense.

      Here is the point, it is now admitted that the DoD spent over a billion dollars to house pretty much 6400 federal workers in mostly administrative positions. The data used for constructing this building was flawed at best. This building is for all intensive purposes the one of the most expensive building per square foot built in the greater DC area at a cost of over $550/ sq. ft when normal private sector luxury office construction barely reaches $200/sq ft. Hundreds of millions of dollars are still needed to improve traffic to the sight – something that won’t be completed for years to come. The killer here is that while this construction loomed, we killed a $1.5 billion dollar missile defense system. It is kind of foreshadowing the priorities of this federal department.

      Here the DoD has no problem spending nearly the same amount of money to protect and defend 6400 federal workers who, for the most part, will be considered non-essential in a government shutdown, then protect the entire nation in the event of a missile attack. Food for thought.

      I suspect defense systems and soldiers will be on the chopping block, with some of that money put back into the federal workforce. The CIA needed $500 billion to cover its unfunded pensions. How much of these cut will be switched over to DoD federal workers pensions? Just a question.

      If we do not get a handle on the day-to-day operations of the federal government, regardless of the department, and the extraordinarily high cost covering the federal workforce, there will not be enough money to defend this country even with going deeper into debt by trillions each year – and for the left, we may not have enough to provide seniors with their social security checks either!

    23. West Texan says:

      As a political appointee, I'm sure Panetta had to put on his training wheels as director the CIA. If he learned anything from that experience, he will know better than to go along with the president's unconstitutional social agenda at the expense of defending the country.

    24. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      I can't think of anything worse than Leon Panetta for Defense Czar! Seems to me he came through Colorado wrecking things, so may be that he got his Spoils for Communizing us. The People's Republic Of Colorado was a rather amazing 'take over.'

      All these Democrats are like a bunch of midgets running things (no offense to midgets!) I don't see real greatness in any of them, No Stature. Come on! Let's Profile them! Huh? Y'wanna? So let's say there are 100,000 DINOs out there pushin' Dead Ideas NO body wants! Then you have a severely limited Demographic from which to pick yr' leaders! Hey look! Demo-crats fit the Profile! Maxine Watters? Uh-d-duh Barney Frank? Um-uh-uma Obama? INCOMPETANTS!

      Hey! This is fun! Profile the Dummy-crats. Use Statistical Analysis on them. They fit the Profile of Usurpers! So many data points fit! To these guys the Middle Of The Road is "extreme!" I'll tell you what Extreme Right is but you would have to change your diaper! Scary is what the truth is. Gee! I think I am a reasonable person. I still have my sense of humor. Reading Law didn't kill it! Even Fulford hasn't ruined it! Golly! Donald Trump is Middle Of The Road saying "Vet Your Candidates!" That's not at all extreme. Goldwater could have saved millions of lives with a few well placed A-bombs. The Real Extreme is the DINOs in Congress running America off the Cliff! That's SCARY!

      Obama wasn't Vetted! Panetta was probably NOT Vetted either! Obama was appointed, he was Awarded the 'Precedency' for his fine work bringing the whole damned Housing Market down! On purpose, of course! ACORN + Community Redevelopment Act + Barney Frank + Fanny Freddie + SEC packing Toxic Assets as AAA + Obama on the Campaign Trail scaring people! DINOs scare people. That's what they do! Go Ahead, Donald, wreck their world!

    25. SFC Assanowicz, Jala says:

      Leon Panetta as Sec Def….I feel safer already (Sarcasm). In reading some of the other posts, I am all for cutting the Defense budget to help balance the budget as long as it doesnt kill securing the countries interests and leave us hanging in the breeze…but that comes with the caveat that cuts occur across the ENTIRE budget! Yes..that means the dependent class and their entitlements as well. To include politicians pet projects, special interest groups, and all the other fraud, waste and abuse (Pigford, ACORN, anyone?).

      I remember not having parts for equip, ammo, or fuel for training under everyones favorite President Clinton.

    26. Robert, North Richla says:

      Amen to Jeff from Spokane. We will not win anything in 2012 (nor would we have thought we won anything in 2010) without millions of former democrats, plus independents and tea partiers like myself. People who want results are not going to vote for the mealy-mouth, do-nothings like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell (the wait until you see what we do next year crowd) – all 527 of them! The Magnificent Eight need our help.

    27. Bob Covyeau, Belvide says:

      Why not leave Panetta in place, and let Patraeus run DoD?

      Not only more logical, but less political.

    28. John Arizona says:

      What a disappointment to name Panetta to head the DOD. I thought for sure BHO would have appointed either Michael Moore or Joy Behar to that post. They would make as much sense.

    29. Steve S. California says:

      Panetta can be worse than Rumsfeld because the times are worse, and every little misstep will hurt more.

    30. gary sheldon AZ says:

      It is doubtful there are any Republicrats that will pitch a high fast one at any of the minimessiah's nominees for any post or department "head". The Peter Principle has ruled for a long time with the socio-coms and this move will continue to "make the most of every crisis" if it does not indeed create a new one.

    31. Joaquin Canals, Rale says:

      Yes Robert, it's all Bush's/Rumfeld's fault.

      Allow me a minute to cue the *crickets*

    32. Polina, Madison NJ says:

      @Luke Blackford, Houma, Louisiana

      You needed to inject the political hate into your post.

      So, your BHO started a third war and now he has to cut defense budget?

      Russians lost thousands in Afghanistan..finally abandoning it….you, liberals were screaming bloody hell about Bush wars, now you are content with 3 Obama's, who us so concerned about humanitarian issues in Libya, but not the fact that 35,000 were massacred in Mexico in 4 years and that we have their cartel operating in 260 towns in USA? Nea…all is important to this destroyer in chief is that he already spent over 200 million dollars just on his AIR force travel and lives a dream of a lifetime….destroying our country is just an icing on a cake for him!

    33. Jeff DeMatteo, Leban says:

      This is akin to putting Janet Napoletano in charge of our whole country's homeland security even when she couldn't stop the invasion of illegals in Arizona when she was the Governor. Obama's objectives can only be realized if the US becomes weak and this is just another facet in that plan.

    34. toledofan says:

      Well' I guess we can probably call it before the votes are counted; Panetta wins with rousing approval. I think that Heritage has hit another home run in this article and it's obvious that Panetta will do the Presidents bidding and our troops will suffer for it. I think that Gates overstayed his welcome and he should have left 6 months after Obama was inagurated, but, he didn't and I think now we have some real hard lifting that has to take place. It's like we never learn, why do we keep putting the same people into positions that they have no idea of what to do or how to do it. This is another example of whjy the Democrats can't be trusted with managing the government, the economy or the military.

    35. Kaydell Bowles, Brig says:

      Another step by President Obama to destroy this country. Panetta is not the right man for the job. Dare he tell the leader he inot wearing clothes? The defensive role of government expressed in internationbal terms is national sovereignty; military, economic and political. This is required by the Constitution "the defence for the people".

      "Should we disarm? And does it really make and difference whether we disarm unilaterally or collaterally? Either course of action would surrender our military independence. Should we pool our economic resources or our monetary system with those of other nations to create some kind of regional market? It would constitute the surrender of our economic independence. Should we enter into treaties such as the UN? Covenants which would obligate our citizens to conform to their social behavior, their educational slystem, their treatment of the news, and even their religious practices to rules and regulations set down my international agencies? Such treaty obligations amount to the vountary and piece-meal surrender of our political indenenced. The answer to all questions is simply NO!" (Ezra T Benson, "Enemy hath done this" page 153.)

    36. Shebah, Florida says:

      Please do me favor and just let Obama run the show – that is what he was elected to do. In 2012, the American people will decide which way to go.

    37. Lou, San Diego says:

      Is there anyone on this White House staff who has credibility? Can anyone find confidence in the Panetta shift?

    38. Lee-White Tanks AZ says:

      This potential appointment just continues the "march" of has beens into offices over organizations that they are entirely unfit to run.

      Penneta to DOD is about as bad as it can get. This man has never shown one once of spine, he has been an mental "absentee" member of the National Security Committee bringing absolutely zilch to the solution of the massive security risks the US faces from the jihadists. And, he is a known "Yea" vote to any and every Obmama program.

      There is a name for this type of underling and it is not Mr Secretary!

    39. Judith in Michigan says:

      Upon doing research of Mr Panetta's background, I found he has a lofty background in: budget work, domestic marketing, consumer relations and nutrition, personnel and police, domestic hunger and foreign languages and international studies, oceanic policies, plus other varied projects, but not much in the way of national defense.

      Being appointed CIA director 2 years ago strictly for political reasons is not much of a resume enhancer.

      There are 2 questions I would ask Mr Panetta:

      1: What, Sir, makes you believe you are qualified to be in control of the defense of The United States of America?

      2: Why do you want the job when you must know there are many more qualified people than you in our country?

    40. Frank, Florida says:

      I wouldn't trust Leon Panetta as far as I could toss him. The fact that he was head of the CIA is a sad comment on Obama's appointees. He's just another political "yes" man who I doubt is qualified to do anything related to national security or defense.

    41. Jim-MN says:

      What a lacky and excuse for DOD secretary. Just another political hack that Obama can blame his decisions on.

      Did ya here the economic news today. We heading for double dip depression, yes, depression, not recession.

      Everything is on course for our great leader.

      Such fools the independents are. How can anyone take a person who says they are an independent seriously.

    42. Dr. Henry D. Sinopol says:

      What a joke, Pannetta is a comrade in lock step with Barry O. & his commitment to destroy the greatest military on earth. The Chamberlin of our times….

    43. Beacon01 says:

      Panetta will further wreck what is left of the military. I remember what the Clinton's did to the military and the cia before they left the white house, stealing the pictures and silverware as they left. Obama will do worse than they did I am

      afraid. I wonder why he wasn't invited to the royal wedding ?

    44. Richard - MD says:

      We're on a downward slide on a very dangerous slope. I don't think we will recover. How can a president consider such large defense cuts when Russia and China are spending record amounts on their military budgets ? They're not doing this as part of a defensive posture. Soon we will be challenged and we will lose. If Obama is re-elected our doom is certain.

    45. Daniel, CA says:

      As a retired military and now working for the Department of the Navy as a training specialist, this selection scares the living hell out of me. I lived through the Carter and Clinton cuts while on active duty and those where bad, but I feel this will be even worse because Panetta is the Obama "YES" man. He will do everything Obama wants. Panetta could not properly run the CIA, how in the world will he run the US military?? If the Senate lets this happen, every one of them will need to be voted out to save our country.

    46. Nancy says:

      This Leon Panetta needs to be VETTED since the time he started college – too many questions, shady and dark associations – John Birch Society, communists associated, Russian spyes and the list go on……..Please do not let him be the Defense Secretary……….

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