October 26, 2021

Three Former Cabinet Officers Criticized Obama in their Memoirs

It is very rare to have a president being severely criticized while in office from two of his former secretaries of defense and by a secretary of state. But this is what has happened to President Barack Obama. Robert Gates, his first secretary of defense, and later Leon Panetta, the second secretary of defense, wrote memoirs that were highly critical of the president’s leadership and his failed national security and foreign policies. Former Secretary Hillary Clinton also criticized Barack Obama in her memoir as she tried to distance herself from the president while planning to run for the White House in 2018.

Ed Rogers wrote an article titled “The Insiders: Panetta, Gates and Clinton are trying to tell us something about Obama” which was published in The Washington Post on October 7, 2014. Rogers said that the revelations in former secretary of defense and CIA chief Leon Panetta’s new book, Worthy Fights: a Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace, regarding President Obama’s inadequacies and mistakes as commander-in- chief, have led to a fresh appraisal of similar disclosures from former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in his memoir and the more gentle criticisms of the president found in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s book.

Rogers pointed out that none of these individuals are amateurs. Panetta, Gates and Clinton are not lightweights, nor do they think they need to reveal secrets to get attention. So when the three former cabinet officers of the Obama administration agree on something, whatever they are telling us should be looked seriously. The nation should pay attention. The reporter wrote that the explosive disclosures they all independently reported about President Barack Obama should not be seen as acts of disloyalty or selfishness, as The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote in his latest article. What else could have motivated their so-called disloyalty?

Rogers stated the following: “We should look at their revelations not as selfish, disloyal acts, but as sincere warnings from patriots. Are they trying to tell others still serving in this administration that President Obama has the wrong instincts and a misguided worldview? Do they think the president needs to be aggressively hounded into doing the right thing to protect America’s interests and not be left to his own devices? Perhaps Panetta, Gates and Clinton are telling those who still serve in government that President Obama’s biases and instincts need to be challenged… Maybe Panetta, Gates and Clinton are putting loyalty to a country at risk ahead of deference to the president who appointed them.”

The three former cabinet officers were aware that their alarming disclosures would be have a great impact in the nation as well as the established pro-Obama media and that many pro-Obama reporters would not like their decision to go public. It appears that Robert Gates and Leon Panetta have both held their last government jobs. Both of them do not need money and they do not have an agenda beyond contributing to the historical record.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton may have a different motive behind her latest book, which is to put some distance between her and the failed domestic and foreign policies of Obama. However, the points she makes are still valid when reinforced by Gates and Panetta. Hillary Clinton, no matter how hard she tries when she runs for president, it will be very difficult for her not to assume responsibility for the many failures of the Obama administration foreign policy since she was the secretary of state. When Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of state, the Obama administration participated in the overthrow Qaddafi in Libya in 2011, who was at the time and ally in the War on Terror, in support of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda-linked terror organizations.
Later on the Obama administration engaged in a Middle Eastern gunrunning operation by sending guns from Libya to Turkey to Syria and the majority of those weapons ended in the hands of the Islamic State, the al Nusra Front and other terror groups. Then came the criminal negligence and dereliction of duty that occurred in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. If these actions, which constitute treason and high crimes, if and when they are revealed to the nation, perhaps at the conclusion of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi investigation, not only would destroy and possibly impeach the president, but Hillary Clinton will go down as well.

The three memoirs by Clinton, Panetta, and Gates have revealed that there are very serious problems within the Obama administration and that our national security is at risk. As Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal told a reporter from The Washington Post, “Secretary Panetta and others are echoing what is obvious from the outside, but it’s more powerful when it’s coming from people on the inside.”

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

According to the official biography of the Defense Department, Leon Edward Panetta served as the 23rd Secretary of Defense from July 2011 to February 2013. Before being appointed by President Obama to the Department of Defense, Panetta served as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from February 2009 to June 2011.

From July 1994 to January 1997, Leon Panetta served as Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton. Prior to that, he was Director of the Office of Management and Budget, a position for which he had had experience due to his years of work on the House of Representatives Budget Committee. Leon Panetta, a member of the Democratic Party, served as a United States Representative from California from 1977 to 1993, rising to House Budget Committee chairman during his final four years in Congress.

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s memoir

Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s memoir is already making waves with its strong criticism of President Obama’s policies on Iraq, Syria, and other nations. Panetta stated in his book that President Barack Obama has damaged the credibility of United States with his lack of leadership in dealing with our enemies. He also revealed that President Obama do not listen to the advice given by the military and that he is indecisive and weak.

Peter Baker, a reporter from The New York Times, wrote an article entitled “Panetta’s memoir tells of frustration with Obama” which was published in The Miami Herald on October 7, 2014. Panetta wrote a memoir entitled Worthy Fights: a Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace, which was published on October 7, 2014. The reporter pointed out that although Leon Panetta is respectful of the president, who according to him “follows a well reasoned vision for the country”, he criticized President Obama by saying “all too often he avoids the battle, complaints, and misses opportunity.”
The former secretary of defense wrote in his memoir that he disagreed with the president regarding the complete withdrawal of all United States troops from Iraq in 2011. In the book, titled Worthy Fights, Panetta wrote that president Obama made a mistake in not pushing harder to secure a residual U.S. troop presence in Iraq after the 2011 withdrawal deadline – a decision that he says was responsible for the rise of the Islamic State.

Another criticism in Panetta’s memoir was the failure of President Obama to intervene in Syria’s Civil War by arming rebels from the Free Syrian Army early on. Panetta suggested the president should have been more quick to arm the moderate Syrian rebels fighting the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Panetta and other members of the administration, like then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pushed to send weapons to the rebels in 2012, but they were ultimately overruled by President Obama.
Leon Panetta also criticized the abrupt reversal of Obama’s decision to strike Syria in retaliation for using chemical weapons on civilians. Panetta believed that the president was sending the wrong message to the world as he vacillated frequently. Panetta wrote that had Obama followed a different policy course, the United States would be in a stronger position as is now to fight the extremist jihadists of the Islamic State.

Panetta strongly disagreed with the deep automatic budget cuts mandated by the sequester to the Pentagon which amounted to 10% of the entire Pentagon’s budget for the next 10 years. Secretary of Defense Panetta said at the time that those deep budget cuts seriously damaged the national security of the nation and would embolden our enemies around the world.

Secretary Panetta stated in his memoirs the following: “That episode highlighted what I regard as his most conspicuous weakness, a frustrating reticence to engage his opponents and rally support for his cause. That is not a failing of ideas or of intellect… Too often, in my view, the president relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.”

Baker explained that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta after his resignation observed with great concern President Obama’s “losing his way.” Former Secretary of Defense Panetta in an interview on October 6, 2014 stated the following: “Obama was concerned about the frustration and exhaustion of the country having fought two wars. The president had the hope that perhaps others in the world could step up to the plate and take on these issues. As a result there was a kind of mixed message that went out with regard to the role of the United States.”

David Jackson wrote an article entitled “Panetta questions Obama’s Islamic State strategy” which was published in US Today on October 7, 2014. The reporter said that former defense secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta has criticized President Obama in his new book and on his book tour. Jackson explained that the former Secretary of Defense Panetta stated the following: “I take the position that, when you’re commander-in-chief, that you ought to keep all options on the table … to be able to have the flexibility to what is necessary in order to defeat the enemy.” Panetta added the following: “We’re conducting air strikes. But to make those air strikes work, to be able to do what you had to do, you don’t — you don’t just send planes in and drop bombs. You’ve got to have targets. You’ve got to know what you’re going after. To do that, you do need people on the ground.”

In another interview Panetta stated the following: “Look, I’ve been a guy who’s always been honest. I have been honest in politics, honest with the people that I deal with. I’ve been a straight talker. Some people like it; some people don’t like it. But I wasn’t going to write a book that kind of didn’t express what I thought was the case.”

Panetta believes that the jury was “still out” on President Obama’s legacy. He stated the following: “For the first four years, and the time I spent there, I thought he was a strong leader on security issues. But these last two years I think he kind of lost his way. You know, it’s been a mixed message, a little ambivalence in trying to approach these issues and try to clarify what the role of this country is all about.”

When White House press secretary Josh Earnest was asked about the criticism of President Obama by former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, he said the president was “proud” to have Panetta on his national security team and said he’d “leave it to others” to pore over the memoir. Earnest stated the following: “The president is proud of the leadership that he’s demonstrated. It’s critically important that we have an American president who is willing to make the case to our international partners and to our allies to get involved in these things and again, whether it is confronting the causes of an Ebola outbreak…or take the fight to ISIL. There’s no one else who’s going to sit around and get that done.”

As for Panetta’s strong criticism of President Obama, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the following: “Anybody in any administration who serves in prominent positions like that has to make a decision about how and when and whether to talk about their experience serving the President of the United States. And I’ll leave it to others to judge the conclusion that Secretary Panetta has reached about sharing his experience.”

Leon Panetta, Janet Napolitano, and Joe Lieberman warned the nation of increasing danger of cyber attacks

The former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, as well as former Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee Joe Lieberman, have warned us several times of the great danger that we are facing of an impending surprise Pearl Harbor-like cyber attack coming from the space that could devastate our electrical grid, banks, financial institutions, water and sewer systems, and military and government computers.

On January 24, 2013, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, speaking at the Wilson Center, a think tank, said that we are facing an impending threat of a cyber attack equivalent to the attack of September 11, 2001. She said that many of our banks have experienced many cyber attacks. Like other officials, she is concerned that our electrical grid, water and sewer systems, and our armed forces are facing a clear and present danger. Our navy is being subjected to 100,000 cyber attacks per hour. Napolitano wants Congress to approve laws on cyber security since cyber attacks are coming from everywhere and are increasing in number and sophistication. The Chinese has also penetrated our computer systems that regulate our oil and natural gas pipelines within our nation.

The Obama administration and Congress reduced significantly the budget of the Pentagon and sending a message of weakness to Russia and China

In March 2013, sequestration was implemented and $55 billion was cut from the Pentagon annually for the next 10 years. This massive cut represented 10% of the entire Pentagon´s budget. The U.S. Navy will be reduced from 286 ships to 230 ships, leaving our Navy the size it had in 1915! The U.S. Army will be reduced from 569,000 soldiers to 420,000. The last time our Army was so small was in 1940! The 1,990 fighter aircraft of the U.S. Air Force will be reduced to 1,512, the smallest it had ever been in decades. The U.S. Marines will be reduced to 175,000 soldiers. Tens of thousands are losing their employment in defense-related industries.

Thom Shanker and Helene Cooper wrote an article entitled “Pentagon Plans to Shrink Army to Prewar Levels Equal to that of 1940,” which appeared in The New York Times on February 24, 2014. The reporters explained that Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel would like to shrink the United States Army to its smallest force since before World War II buildup.

Under Hegel’s plans the U.S. Army would be reduced to about 420,000 soldiers over the next couple of years. The entire fleet of Air Force A-10 fighter aircraft would be eliminated. The Navy would be allowed to purchase two destroyers and two attack submarines every year. But 11 cruisers will be ordered into reduced operating status during modernization. The Navy will be allowed to keep the 11 nuclear aircraft carriers for the time being. However, the George Washington aircraft carrier would be brought in for lengthy repairs.

Pentagon officials acknowledge that these budget cuts “will impose greater risk on the armed forces if they are again ordered to carry out two large-scale military actions at the same time.” They believe that victory will take longer and there would be a larger number of casualties. Further, these officials said that a smaller military could invite adventurism by our enemies. For many years, the Pentagon and the White House have argued that the United States needed a military large enough to fight two wars simultaneously, for example, one in Asia and one in Europe. With these cuts it would be impossible to do that. If this is such a great concern of officials in the Pentagon, why is the Obama administration making these severe cuts to our military?

Secretary Hegel defended those severe cuts as necessary “in order to sustain our readiness and technological superiority, and to protect critical capabilities like special operation forces and cyber resources.” Of course, it is important to maintain a technological superiority through research and development as well as spend more money on special operation forces. Our cyber command needs to be expanded and strengthen. However, severely cutting the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Marines will not “sustain our readiness.” This writer has seen all the chiefs of the Armed Forces testified before Congress and all of them are in agreement that the cuts are very severe and damaging to our national security.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that to cut military spending by 10% “would be catastrophic” considering the enormous threats that the nation is facing around the world. In February 2014, Director of National Security, Lieutenant General James Clapper, told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that “looking back over my more than half a century in intelligence, I have not experienced the time when we had been beset by more crises and threats around the globe.”

Governor Romney had stated during the presidential campaign of 2012 that he would have increased defense spending $150 billion a year in order to make our armed forces stronger and more capable of protecting us from our enemies. While China and Russia drastically increase their defense spending and modernize their armed forces, Iran continues to enrich uranium in order to build nuclear bombs, North Korea continues to build nuclear weapons and improve its missiles, al-Qaida and other Islamist terrorist groups continue to get stronger; obviously, this is not the time to cut the Pentagon’s budget and disarm unilaterally.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates

According to the Department of Defense, Robert M. Gates served as U.S. Secretary of Defense from December 2006 to July 2011. Secretary Gates was the only Secretary of Defense in U.S. history to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected president. Robert Gates had served eight presidents before becoming the secretary of defense. Gates was the president of Texas A&M University, the nation’s seventh largest university.

Secretary Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional. During that period, he spent nearly nine years at the National Security Council in the White House, serving four presidents of both political parties. Secretary Gates served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. He is the only career officer in CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director.

Secretary Robert Gates’ memoirs

Former Secretary Gates wrote memoir titled, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insiders Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, which was published in 1996.

After submitting his resignation, Gates wrote a memoir titled, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, which was published on January 14, 2014. Gates pointed out that Obama appeared to doubt his own strategy in Afghanistan to the point of being “outright convinced it would fail.” Gates wrote that by early 2010 he had concluded the president “doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his.” He had harsh words for President Obama’s leadership style and commitment to the Afghanistan war, accusing the president of losing faith in his own strategy. “For him, it’s all about getting out,” he wrote.

Obama deployed 30,000 more troops to stabilize Afghanistan before starting to remove soldiers in mid-2011, after months of tense discussion with Gates and other top advisers. Gates said he never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, “only his support for their mission.”

Former Secretary Gates wrote regarding President Obama that his “fundamental problem in Afghanistan was that his political and philosophical preferences for winding down the U.S. role conflicted with his own pro-war public rhetoric … the nearly unanimous recommendations of his senior civilian and military advisers at the departments of State and Defense, and the realities on the ground.”
Gates, who was secretary of defense under the George W. Bush administration also worked for every president since Nixon, except Clinton, said that underneath his notoriously calm exterior he was frequently “seething” because he felt Obama and his team had neither trust nor confidence in him. Secretary Gates was highly critical of Vice President Joe Biden, accusing him of “poisoning the well” for military leadership.

At the White House, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in response to the book, “The president welcomes differences of view among his national security team, which broaden his options and enhance our policies. Hayden stated that “The president disagrees with Secretary Gates’ assessment — from his leadership on the Balkans in the Senate, to his efforts to end the war in Iraq, Joe Biden has been one of the leading statesmen of his time, and has helped advance America’s leadership in the world.”

Conclusion

It is very sad to have a president such as Barack Obama who has been so highly criticized by two of his former secretaries of defense and by his former secretary of state. It is well known to the nation that this president does not listen to the sound advice given to him by the military, by his two former secretaries of defense, and by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A recent example of the president’s failure to listen to advice given by the military, is the fact that generals and members of Congress have told Obama that in order to defeat the Islamic State, he would have to put boots on the ground, such as special forces, to direct airstrikes and do special missions. Thus far, Obama have disregarded this sound advice.

Who does the President listen for advice on defense and national security policies? Sadly, President Obama’s strongest advisor on both domestic and foreign policies issues is the Iranian-born Valerie Jarrett, whose father-in-law Vernon Jarrett was a card-carrying member of the United States Communist Party and a close friend of another communist member of this party, Frank Marshall Davis, the mentor of young Barack Obama. Valerie Jarrett is extremely close to both the president and Michelle Obama. Back in Chicago, Valerie Jarrett had had hired Michelle Obama when she was Chief of Staff to Mayor Daley in Chicago. What experience does Valerie Jarrett have in foreign policy and national security issues?

Another close advisor of President Obama is David Axelrod whose mother ran a communist newspaper in New York City. Other advisers and officials that Obama has hired are members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Most of the rest of the president’s advisers, like himself, have had no experience in foreign policy or national defense policy. It is the blind leading the blind!

One thing that became clear in the three former cabinet officers’ memoirs was that many of the decisions made by the White House have more to do with politics than with protecting the national security of the nation. It is obvious that a White House that is driven by political considerations instead of the national security of the nation has placed us in great danger. Another alarming disclosure made Leon Panetta and Robert Gates is that they are both worried about the future the United States with such a weak and vacillating commander-in-chief in the White House.

Obama is so arrogant and narcissistic and that he feels he can disregard the recommendations made by his secretaries of defense and top generals and admirals in the Pentagon. The memoirs of the former cabinet officers indicated that President Obama has poor judgment, wrong instincts and a misguided worldview.

Very alarming is the fact that the nation learned recently that Obama only sees 42% of the intelligence briefings since he is always raising money for the Democratic Party or for his own organization, Action for America, or is out of town on lengthy and costly vacations. Obama is becoming increasingly detached and disengaged as a president. The world is in flames and he goes happily to play golf with celebrities and friends.

Obama was informed again and again that the Islamic State was growing in strength and presented a major threat to our national security and he ignored those intelligence briefings. We all remember how he called Islamic State a “a junior varsity team” that did not threatened the United States in any way. Later, Obama said he had no strategy in dealing with Islamic State. It was after the beheading of two American journalist and other Western Europeans and the horrendous atrocities never seen since Nazi Germany, that the president reluctantly went to war with a very poor strategy that will not succeed in defeating this bloody and genocidal jihadists.

Most of the military has no respect for the incompetent and indecisive commander-in-chief of the armed forces who saluted recently two Marines, coming out of the presidential helicopter with a cup of tea in his hand. Such a disrespect for our military has never been displayed before. It is also signaled to our enemies that President Barack Obama does not like our military.

It is a catastrophe to have a commander-in-chief such as Barack Obama at a time when our beloved country is beset by so many crisis and threats around the world.

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