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Sen. Jack Reed: Hadley Should Be Fired

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"Sen. Jack Reed: Hadley Should Be Fired"

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According to President Bush, incoming war czar Gen. Doug Lute “will be the full-time manager for the implementation and execution of our strategies for Iraq and Afghanistan.”

During his confirmation hearing this morning, Lute clarified that his new authority means that National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley’s portfolio will no longer include Iraq and Afghanistan. Shocked by the revelation, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) argued Hadley should be fired if he’s taken a hands-off approach to the most important national security issues:

REED: That I find interesting. I mean, frankly, Afghanistan, Iraq, and, related to that, Iran, are the most critical foreign policy problems we face. And the national security adviser to the United States has taken his hands off that and given it to you? Is that your understanding?

LUTE: Sir, that’s the design, yes.

REED: Well, then he should be fired, because, frankly, if he’s not capable of being the individual responsible for those duties and they pass it on to someone else, then why is he there? Well, that’s my view.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/06/reedlute.320.240.flv]

The Senate then took a short recess in the middle of the hearing. When the committee meeting resumed, Lute had a prepared statement — likely communicated to him by the White House — that he offered to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) in which he backpedaled from his earlier claim that Hadley is irrelevant on Iraq and Afghanistan. Hadley’s “role is not diminished by this appointment,” Lute clarified.

An early architect of the Iraq war, Hadley has proven to be more of a spin artist than a policy adviser. Some examples:

– He falsely claimed that Iraq was not in a civil war
– He claimed that the Iraq Study Group supported Bush’s escalation
– He defended Dick Cheney’s claim that the insurgency was in its “last throes”

(HT: Mahler3)

Transcript:

REED: I’m certainly going to support you. Couldn’t do otherwise. But I don’t think I’m doing you a big favor, to be blunt. My sense if, you step back, your appointment represents a devastating critique of the national security apparatus of this White House, because all you’re being asked to do was what Mr. Hadley and Dr. Rice were supposed to be doing for the last several years: identify problems, coordinate resources, bring them to the attention of the president, get presidential direction. And that has been abysmal.

And I think also, too, I’m afraid that your position will be someone who’s there to take the blame, but to not really have the kind of access to the president and the resources you need to do the job. I presume you will be reporting to Mr. Hadley?

LUTE: No, sir. I’ll be reporting to the president and coordinating with Mr. Hadley.

REED: And Mr. Hadley will be reporting to the president independently?

LUTE: On matters outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, yes, sir.

REED: That I find interesting. I mean, frankly, Afghanistan, Iraq, and, related to that, Iran, are the most critical foreign policy problems we face. And the national security adviser to the United States has taken his hands off that and given it to you? Is that your understanding?

LUTE: Sir, that’s the design, yes.

REED: Well, then he should be fired, because, frankly, if he’s not capable of being the individual responsible for those duties and they pass it on to someone else, then why is he there? Well, that’s my view.

In fact, I think if the president was really serious, he should replace Mr. Hadley, appoint you as a civilian, not as an Army officer. And also if he didn’t choose to do that, replace General Pace with you, because we do need direction and a change in direction of policy. I just fear that you’re going to be placed in an impossible situation.

And I know why you’re doing this job: It’s because at the core, you’re a soldier, because you understand what those young men and women are doing out there, and you can’t do anything less. But I am very concerned that this is not going to work. It’s just another political, public relations ploy rather than a significant change of strategy. But my respect to you is such that certainly I’ll support you. And I wish you well. And if anything that you think I can do to assist you, please call upon me.

LUTE: Thank you, Senator.

REED: Thank you.

LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Reed.

LEVIN: Let me just clarify one thing — and your answer is so critically important here: Is there a written description of your job which states what you have just said to Senator Reed, that you are going to report to the president on Afghanistan, on Iraq, and that Hadley does not have that any longer in his portfolio? Is that in your written description?

LUTE: It is, sir. The best written description is perhaps the response to the first policy question, which is an extract of the job description itself.

LEVIN: But it excludes Hadley reporting?

LUTE: No, sir.

LEVIN: You have the exclusive — you got that chunk of his portfolio.

LUTE: I believe that’s right. It does not exclude him from also advising, but the responsibilities for advising for Iraq and Afghanistan, if confirmed, will be mine.

LEVIN: I agree with Senator Reed. I view that as an astounding indictment and a bifurcation of the national security job. Now there’s two national security advisers to the president — one on Iraq and Afghanistan, and one on everything else.

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