The chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is accusing Treasury Secretary Jack Lew of “severely” threatening U.S. national security by suspending “nearly all” of the staff that tracks the enforcement of sanctions against Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.
Rep. Edward R. Royce urged Mr. Lew to review his decision to furlough staffers of the Treasury Department’s Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Office, which also monitors sanctions against Syria and North Korea.
In a letter to Mr. Lew, the California Republican complained that the administration’s decision “threatens to severely undermine the effectiveness of our bipartisan and essential Iran sanctions policy.”
He reminded Mr. Lew that as recently as Sept. 27 the Treasury Department “provided assurances to the public” that the office monitoring the sanctions would continue to function if the government faced a partial shutdown.
However, only days after the White House furloughed 800,000 nonessential workers, the Treasury Department approved massive temporary layoffs at the Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Office.
The office “has had to furlough nearly all of its staff due to the lapse in congressional funding,” it said.
Mr. Royce asked Mr. Lew to reconsider the decision on the grounds of national security.
“Needless to say, these recent staffing decisions leave me puzzled,” he said.
PAKISTAN’S NEXT ENVOY
The Pakistani press is abuzz with rumors that the next ambassador to the U.S. could be Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army chief of staff who announced his retirement Sunday.
The News of Pakistan reported that he is likely to get another military assignment or the appointment to Washington to succeed Ambassador Sherry Rehman, who returned to Pakistan in the spring.
Gen. Kayani is also a former spymaster, having served as director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency from 2004 to 2007.
He said Sunday that Nov. 29 will be his last day in office, and described reports about his future as “all sorts of rumors and speculations.”
“I have served this great nation and had the privilege of commanding the finest army of the world for six years to the best of my abilities and with the sincerest of my intentions,” he said Sunday.
Gen. Kayani is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and of the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Ga.