Kevin Baron, the defense affairs blogger at the E-Ring of the Foreign Policy website, published a ridiculous litany of blatant lies on December 3rd, related to Sec. Panetta.
Of course, the author, who is a strident liberal himself, approvingly quotes (and parrots the lies of) another stridently liberal anti-defense hack, POGO’s Ben Freeman.
Freeman falsely claims that:
““He sort of surprised us, more generally, how much of an industry apologist in all of this, the rhetoric he’s used — it’s almost verging on propaganda how he used to say sequestration was doomsday and catastrophic.” Gates, Freeman argued, really went after savings. But Panetta? “He’s been really more like politician” than focused on cutting wasteful spending.”
This is utter garbage. Sequestration, as documented in detail by myself and many others (including BPC, Heritage Foundation, AEI, and FPI analysts, HASC Republicans, Congressman Norm Dicks, and the DOD itself, and as agreed by the vast majority of members of Congress of both parties) will gut the US military through making huge budget cuts which, moreover, will be made in a salami-slicing manner: cutting 10% out of everything, the most politically convient way of cutting budgets. Thus, essential programs like the Next Generation Bomber will be cut equally along with waste like generals’ perks and DOD bureaucracies.
And yes, sequestration, or further deep cuts to modernization, or cancellation of crucial modernization programs, WILL gut the military. This is not “propaganda” or “industry spin” or industry shilling or scaremongering. This is a fact confirmed unanimously by all Joint Chiefs of Staff and other US military leaders. So, with regard to sequestration, there are only 3 possibilities:
a) The Joint Chiefs are ignorant folks who don’t know what they’re talking about; or
b) The Joint Chiefs are deliberately lying to scaremonger the public; or
c) The Joint Chiefs are right to sound the alarm on sequestration.
Which is it, Mr Freeman?
But of course, for Freeman and his fellow POGO anti-defense hacks, anyone who sounds the alarm over deep, damaging defense cuts is an “industry shill”, even if, like me, you have never worked in the defense industry. That mindset, however, only utterly discredits Freeman and POGO, not me or Sec. Panetta.
But this is no surprise. POGO is not a “watchdog” group. POGO is a group of very ignorant, but very opinionated, anti-defense hacks. It was founded in 1981 to thwart Ronald Reagan’s reconstruction of the US military and since then has advocated deep defense budget cuts and the cancellation of virtually every crucial weapon program – from the combat-proven M1 Abrams tank, to the cruise missiles that helped counter Soviet SS-20s in Europe, to the B-2 bomber, to the NGB, to the V-22 Osprey, to the F-22 Raptor, etc. It also advocates deep cuts in the military’s force structure, including its SSBN fleets, carrier groups, and the Army’s and AF’s force structure.
And if Leon Panetta – a man who (as HBC Chairman, OMB Chief, and WH CHief of Staff) presided over the deep defense cuts of the late 1980s and early 1990s and implemented deep weapon program cuts personally – recognizes that sequestration (or similarly-sized cuts) would gut the military, then it’s likely true and should be a red flag that sequestration would truly be deeply damaging.
Freeman approvingly cites Robert Gates, Panetta’s predecessor. But Gates – before and after his retirement as SECDEF – sounded the alarm over impending deep defense cuts, including sequestration, numerous times, including in his most high-profile speeches: his famous Efficiencies Initiative announcement speech of January 6th, 2011; his testimonies to the 6 Congressional Committees that execute oversight over the DOD; his famous speech to the AEI in May 2011; his speech at the University of Texas in late 2011; and, more recently, during a videoconference with the CSIS during a recent CSIS event. Gates has warned about sequestration’s damage in language almost as strong as Panetta’s.
It’s time that Freeman started taking everything that Gates has said into account, and started quoting Gates fully, rather than merely invoking his name and the efficiencies he programmed. (BTW, since Freeman likes Bob Gates and his policies so much, he should also acknowledge that Gates found, and repeatedly underlined, the urgent need for the Next Generation Bomber, which Freeman and POGO oppose despite the strong evidence of that need.)
It’s curious to see Freeman now acknowledge that Gates “really went after efficiencies” – until now, POGO has been vehemently denying that the DOD has made any real efficiencies. Just a year and a month ago, shortly after Gates’ retirement, Freeman’s boss Danielle Brian was vehemently denying that the DOD had made any real efficiencies, savings, and cuts, despite promising them, in her own attack on Sec. Panetta’s character and credibility.
By the way, the claim that Panetta has abandoned Gates’ efficiencies is false. Panetta has upheld all of them while finding additional $60 bn efficiencies of his own. And as the DOD has recently stated (as quoted here on this blog on Dec. 5th), Panetta has already eliminated 68 general/admiral billets, while 28 others will be eliminated once the Afghan war ends.
BTW, Mr Baron, you need to get your facts straight, too. Gates was not the longest-serving SECDEF. Robert McNamara was. He served from January 1961 to February 1968 – almost all of the JFK/LBJ era. The second-longest (combining his two tenures) was Donald Rumsfeld (1975-1977, 2001-2006), whose combined two tenures were just a few days shorter than McNamara’s single tenure. The third longest-serving (and IMO the best) was Cap Weinberger (January 1981 to November 1987).
Panetta has NOT been a defense industry shill. In fact, under his plans, modernization spending will see significant cuts, with or without sequestration.
Freeman, Brian, and POGO owe Sec. Panetta an apology, as do you, Mr Baron. But, being dishonorable anti-defense hacks, you will likely never do so. Shame on you for lying so blatantly.