Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union “and on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Perhaps the Senate Armed Services Committee will do a more exacting interview when they get his testimony.
Here are some of the questions he should be asked:
Is the secretary of defense a policy-making job? Does it matter what you think? Do you “run” anything? (Chuck Hagel said no to all three.)
How important is it for you to speak publicly with accuracy? Do the secretary of defense’s words have meaning and can they either clarify U.S. policy or muddle it?
Is there time for a learning curve in your job?
After Libya’s civil war ended, did we drop the ball, failing to provide support for the new Libyan government and to recognize the infiltration of al-Qaeda?
Did you discuss the deteriorating security situation with the president at any time before the Benghazi attacks? Was he aware of the growing presence of al-Qaeda in Libya and in North Africa more generally?
When did you know that Benghazi was a terrorist attack by al-Qaeda-related elements? Whom did you share that information with?
The president through much of 2012 insisted we had decimated al-Qaeda. Is that right?
If the sequestration cuts would be “devastating” and “irresponsible,” why did the White House insist they be included in the Budget Control Act? Is it irresponsible to hold the defense budget hostage to a demand for a tax hike?
What is our policy for addressing the Arab Spring?
Are there military actions we could take in Syria that would involve relatively low risk to Americans and accelerate Bashar al-Assad’s departure? Why have we not done so?
Was it desirable to negotiate a Status of Forces agreement in Iraq? What consequences have flowed from our failure to do so?
Do you think we have done everything possible to make the threat of force against Iran credible? Would announcing “red lines” help in that regard? What other steps should we be taking?
Have we successfully completed our mission in Afghanistan or have we redefined our mission so we can pull out most of our troops? Are Afghan security forces ready to take over?
The administration has suggested we “pivot” toward Asia. Can we “pivot” away from the Middle East? To be effective in Asia, what size Navy do we need?