Here are three and their positions on various matters of some import.
Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense: President Barack Obama has put him up to forward Obama’s defense policy of global retrenchment and defense cutbacks.
Hagel thinks it’s appropriate to negotiate with terrorists—Hamas, for instance—and he refused to join a US Senate letter to the EU calling on them to label Hamas a terrorist organization.
In a 2006 op-ed for The Washington Post, he called for a troop withdrawal in Iraq—right before the successful surge, which he also opposed when it came up.
In response to current SecDef Leon Panetta’s statement that the present sequester would gut Defense, and while the Joint Chiefs of Staff were telling Congress that the sequester would lead, variously, to “a severe and irreversible impact on the Navy’s future,” “a Marine Corps that’s below the end strength to support even one major contingency,” and “an unacceptable level of strategic and operational risk” for the Army[,]” Hagel insisted that the “Defense Department, I think in many ways, has been bloated…. So I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down.”
I won’t go over his anti-gay verbal assault on a Luxembourg ambassador nominee, except to note that his attitude will impact Defense’s (repealed) Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.
John Brennan, Director, CIA: Obama selected Brennan to put forward Obama’s policy of no intel collection, just kill them with drones:
Brennan is closely identified with the Obama administration’s expanded policy of using drones…to strike at suspected militants in countries such as Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. The Washington Post refers to Brennan as “the principal architect of a policy that has transformed counterterrorism from a conventional fight centered in Afghanistan to a high-tech global effort to track down and eliminate perceived enemies one by one.” The Post adds that Brennan is at the “core” of the White House centered effort to use drones and that “when operations are proposed in Yemen, Somalia or elsewhere, it is Brennan alone who takes the recommendations to Obama for a final sign-off.”
In truth, there’s much to be applauded about this policy; however, like all things, it can be overdone—and it is here, through the blind, unconsidered application of drone strikes. The biggest symptom of the policy’s failure? The utter lack of intel coming out of these strikes. Dead men, after all, tell no tales.
Brennan compounded this failure, though, with this lie:
There hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.
On top of this, Brennan has no understanding of the fundamentals of terrorism: he’s called jihad a “legitimate tenet of Islam,” insisting instead that these poor, misguided violent extremists are victims of “political, economic, and social forces.”
Jacob “Jack” Lew, Secretary of the Treasury: Obama selected him to continue Obama’s policy of extended (and extensive) borrowing and spending. But he, too, cannot be trusted.
When Lew was Obama’s Director of OMB, he testified before Congressional committees on Obama’s budget proposals:
Our budget will get us, over the next several years, to the point where we can look the American people in the eye and say we’re not adding to the debt anymore; we’re spending money that we have each year, and then we can work on bringing down our national debt.
President Obama’s budget proposals then added at least $600 billion to the deficit every year.
As Senator Jeff Sessions (R, AL) puts it
[Lew’s] testimony before the Senate Budget Committee less than two years ago was so outrageous and false that it alone disqualifies him.
There’s more. Lew claimed that the reason the Democratic Senate hadn’t adopted a budget is that it was being filibustered by Republicans. This demonstrates breathtaking ignorance of the Congress, or further dishonesty, or both. Budgets cannot be filibustered—they get up or down votes and the majority carries the outcome. He also misrepresented the fact that the House (led by Republicans) has passed a budget every year since 2010, and the Senate (led by Democrats) have refused even to debate them.
And there’s this exchange between Bernie Sanders (I, VT) and Lew [emphasis added]:
When asked by…Sanders…at a Senate confirmation hearing in 2010, when Lew was nominated to be head of the Office of Management and Budget, whether the deregulation pushed by Rubin and former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan had “contributed significantly” to the banking crisis, Lew responded:
“Senator, I don’t consider myself an expert in some of these aspects of the financial industry. My experience in the financial industry has been as a manager, not an investment adviser. My sense, as someone who has generally been familiar with these trends, is thatthe problems in the financial industry preceded deregulation. There was an increasing emphasis on highly abstract leveraged derivative products that got us to the point, that, in the period of time leading up to the financial crisis, risks were taken, they weren’t fully embraced, they weren’t well understood.
I don’t personally know the extent to which deregulation drove it, but I don’t think deregulation was the proximate cause.”
That is a statement of such profound (faux) ignorance that it’s awe-inspiring that Lew would say such a thing out loud. Moreover, he was one of the senior economic advisors working for President Bill Clinton when Clinton signed the legislation making all of those “derivative products” exempt from the reach of any existing government regulation or regulatory agency.