Bipartisan Push on Defense Budget Review

December 7, 2010 By Madeleine Pryor

The House is finalizing a full-year Continuing Resolution this week that would fund the federal government at roughly FY10 levels, with some adjustments to specific programs made. While the Administration has proposed some changes to the International Affairs Budget relative to FY10 levels, it remains unclear how it will be affected.  Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) continues to work on preparing an omnibus package, looking to release it after the House passes the year-long CR.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Prosecute Assange Under the Espionage Act (Dianne Feinstein—Wall Street Journal)

When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange released his latest document trove—more than 250,000 secret State Department cables—he intentionally harmed the U.S. government. The release of these documents damages our national interests and puts innocent lives at risk. He should be vigorously prosecuted for espionage.

Condoleezza Rice: Ratify START, with caveats (Laura Rozen—Politico)

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, writing in the Wall Street Journal, urges the Senate to ratify the new START treaty, but to make clear to Moscow the treaty doesn’t limit U.S. missile defenses.  Rice — George W. Bush’s secretary of state and a former NSC official in his father’s administration  as well as a fluent Russian speaker — has been conspicuously missing until now from the lists of former GOP national security heavy-weights who have lined up to endorse the U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reduction treaty, whose antecedents have enjoyed broad bipartisan support.

Smart Power

Political Stalemate Blocks Obama’s Civilian Aid for Wars (Rizza Leonzon—Devex)

The Obama administration is tapping more American diplomats, embassies and consulates, and is expanding the workforce of the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of its civilian and diplomatic approach to development.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Afghanistan Softens Ban on Private Security Firms (Alissa Rubin—New York Times)

Under the modified policy, security firms with development company contracts, as well as those that work for NATO, foreign embassies and the United Nations, would be allowed to continue to work until their contracts expire, Abdul Manan Farahi, a senior adviser to the interior minister, said in a news conference. What would happen if a security contract expired before a development project was complete was not clear.  The exemption of development companies is new, and comes after strenuous objections from the many nonprofit companies that work with, among others, the United States and British governments, which complained that without security they would have to end development projects.

Dollars and Sense on Defense (David J. Trachtenberg—AEI Center for Defense Studies)

Despite falling several votes shy of the minimum necessary to place the Commission’s recommendations before Congress, the Bowles-Simpson effort has provided a cloak of bipartisan respectability to those who favor greater Pentagon budget austerity.  Another group, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force, co-chaired by Alice Rivlin, former director of President Clinton’s Office of Management and Budget, and former Republican Senator Pete Domenici, has argued for a freeze on military spending over the next five years.

State Dept. Daily Is Window on a Jittery Planet (Scott Shane—New York Times)

The Diplomatic Security Daily is a classified roundup of potential horrors facing American diplomats or citizens anywhere in the world. A look at one issue, from June 29, 2009, gives a feeling for the nerve-racking atmosphere in which State Department officers routinely operate.   The Diplomatic Security Daily is classified “secret/noforn,” a label that prohibits sharing it even with foreign allies, and it goes to American embassies and other outposts to alert them of possible threats.