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Inside the Ring
Question of the Day
Mullen v. Cartwright
Political warfare has broken out within the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, and vice chairman, Gen. James E. Cartwright facing off as bitter foes.
One issue is a nasty battle over whether Gen. Cartwright will succeed Adm. Mullen when he steps down later this year.
Gen. Cartwright, who rose to the top without combat experience, is the reported favorite of President Obama and worked with the president on the ultrasecret operation to kill Osama bin Laden.
According to officials in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill, Gen. Cartwright is said to be under scrutiny by three senators who were alerted to character issues, including an inspector general's report earlier this year that cleared the four-star general of allegations of impropriety related to a female subordinate two years ago.
Additionally, reports are circulating on both sides of the Potomac that Gen. Cartwright's wife, Sandee Cartwright, is planning to go public with her feelings about her husband.
The Cartwrights are separated, and Mrs. Cartwright has written a letter to several high-ranking military officers outlining what defense officials say are the reasons for the separation.
The three senators were identified as Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both California Democrats, and Susan Collins, Maine Republican.
"I'm told they are all very upset with Cartwright and claim he did not comport himself well with women," said one congressional aide.
A second official, however, said Mrs. Feinstein and Mrs. Collins have not expressed any concerns, at least about the inspector general's investigation, and that Mrs. Boxer's views were not known.
Sen. Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Thursday that "some are attempting to impugn Gen. Cartwright's reputation."
"I deeply regret this since he is one of America's most respected four-star generals with both sophisticated weapons knowledge, as well as four decades of distinguished military service," she said.
"He is also noted as a brilliant strategic and innovative thinker — particularly with respect to asymmetric warfare."
A spokesman for Mrs. Boxer declined to comment. Congressional aides said the senators were not aware of allegations against Gen. Cartwright but were alerted to the issues by news inquiries.
Kevin Kelley, a spokesman for Mrs. Collins, said the senator "thinks highly of Gen. Cartwright and has worked closely with him."
Two Pentagon officials said they suspect the dishing of dirt on Gen. Cartwright is coming from someone close Adm. Mullen, who is lobbying within the government against Gen. Cartwright's potential nomination to be chairman.
Spokesmen for Adm. Mullen and Gen. Cartwright had no comment.
A military official said: "There does seem to be a very active effort to lobby against" Gen. Cartwright.
The official said he had heard that Gen. Cartwright's view about the chairman's job is that he is ready to retire but would continue to serve as the top military adviser to the president if asked. He also is not lobbying for the position.
A second national security official said: "It's not a good thing for these two senior officers to be at odds."
Adm. Mullen and Gen. Cartwright clashed in the past over U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan and more recently on how the military should respond to China's military buildup, with Gen. Cartwright opposing a tougher posture toward Beijing.
The White House this week released its strategy report for securing cyberspace, which calls for defending against electronic attacks from terrorists, cybercriminals and foreign states.
"We will seek to encourage good actors and dissuade and deter those who threaten peace and stability through actions in cyberspace," the report says. "We will do so with overlapping policies that combine national and international network resilience with vigilance and a range of credible response options."
Most of the strategy report is focused on nonmilitary cybersecurity efforts, including diplomacy and legal action. But the report also sets out the use of force to protect U.S. networks and action in cyberspace against hostile actors.
"When warranted, the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country," the strategy says. "All states possess an inherent right to self-defense, and we recognize that certain hostile acts conducted through cyberspace could compel actions under the commitments we have with our military treaty partners."
The report says the United States will "exhaust all options before military force whenever we can." The United States "will carefully weigh the costs and risks of action against the costs of inaction."
Tauscher's next treaty
Ellen "the Tausch" Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms-control international security, has her sights set on pushing ahead with another arms-control treaty after passage of the New START pact earlier this year.
Those efforts, however, are likely to be difficult because of opposition from a key Senate Republican.
Mrs. Tauscher told the Arms Control Association in a speech May 10 that the Obama administration's next goal is to try to win Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was voted down by the Senate in October 1999 as not being in the U.S.'s national security interest. A procedural move by pro-treaty advocates at the time kept the treaty from dying.
The treaty bans underground nuclear testing, and critics say its verification and enforcement provisions are weak and that it has had a minimal impact on stemming the spread of nuclear weapons.
Sen. Richard Lugar, Indiana Republican and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is continuing to oppose ratification of the test-ban pact.
"Sen. Lugar's position hasn't changed since he voted against the treaty in 1999, in part because the treaty has not changed," Mark Helmke, an aide to the senator, told Inside the Ring in an email. "There is no clear definition of what a test is, and the ability to verify the treaty is still questionable."
Mr. Lugar is among the more arms-control-friendly Republicans, and his opposition means any effort to ratify the CTBT will be an uphill fight.
Mrs. Tauscher said in her speech that the Obama administration is preparing to launch an "education campaign that we expect will lead to ratification" of the treaty."
The top State Department arms-control official also has been trying to reach an agreement with the Russians on missile defense that she said in the speech she hopes will "turn what has been an irritant to the United States and Russia relations into a shared interest."
She did not explain why defending the United States and its allies from missile attacks was an irritant to U.S.-Russian relations, but the policy does not appear to be working.
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said in Moscow on Wednesday that his government wants strong guarantees on U.S. missile defenses and threatened a new arms race if Washington failed to give in to its demands.
"In that case, we will have to develop our offensive nuclear potential; that would be a very bad scenario that would throw us back to the Cold War," Mr. Medvedev said.
While some in the news media promote the romantic view of the secretive Muslim Brotherhood, new WikiLeaks files from Guantanamo Bay show the Islamist organization has been a career path for some of al Qaeda's most ruthless members.
WikiLeaks files show Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed started his terror career as a teenager in the Brotherhood in Kuwait, reports special correspondent Rowan Scarborough.
"At the age of 16, detainee joined the Muslim Brotherhood," one Pentagon report states. "After joining the Muslim Brotherhood, detainee became more dedicated, read more about religion and taught others about Islam in order to recruit them into the Muslim Brotherhood."
It was the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which says it wants democracy, that nourished the radical Islamic views of Ayman al Zawahri, al Qaeda's No. 2 leader.
Documents seized in Northern Virginia by the FBI show the Brotherhood wants to use the political and legal process to bring Muslim law to America.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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