Obama playing games with defense cuts
Only days before the aircraft carrierHarry S. Truman was due to leave Norfolk, Va., for the Persian Gulf this month, the Pentagon abruptly canceled the deployment, pleading poverty.
With cuts in the federal budget scheduled to take effect Friday, Pentagon officials said they feared that sending the carrier on a six-month cruise to the Middle East would empty their operations accounts.
President Obama on Tuesday alluded to the decision to hold back the Truman. "The threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to cancel the deployment," he said in a speech in southeastern Virginia, a few miles from the Norfolk naval base. He sought to lay the responsibility for the imminent cuts on Congress, adding that "only Congress has the power to pass a law that stops these damaging cuts and replaces them" with more sensible alternatives.
But on the same day that the Defense Department cuts are to begin, one of the Navy's newest vessels, the littoral combat ship Freedom, will set sail for Singapore on a long-planned, eight-month deployment, part of the Obama administration's emphasis on rebuilding the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, officials said.
The contrast between the Truman and the Freedom is a revealing reminder that, while the spending cuts, known as a sequester, will be far-reaching and in some cases severe, there is an element of gamesmanship in the way the administration portrays the effects.
As the White House looks to put Congress on the defensive for failing to move on a plan to halt the sequester, it's a powerful argument to blame the budget mechanism for blocking an aircraft carrier from the conflict-racked Middle East.
Similar high-profile cuts have begun to crop up elsewhere in the government. On Tuesday, administration officials announced that immigration authorities were releasing several hundred nonviolent detainees from holding facilities around the country. Because of the budget cuts, officials asserted, the government won't have enough money to hold all its 34,000 detainees. Officials say the released detainees are under other forms of supervision, including electronic and telephonic monitoring. Their cases continue to proceed in court.
Some defense officials and outside analysts say the Pentagon could have found the money to send the Truman to the Middle East, though it would have required the Navy to curtail other deployments and operations. Keeping the Truman home will save as much as $300 million, officials said.
...If the military had not been forced by the Obama administration to waste millions on green energy boondoggles last year they would have had enough for the deployment. I wish the media had a long enough memory to recall such waste.