Category: Defense

Foxnews – Gen. Mike Flynn, Allen West, Dr. David Grantham: Yes, we can defeat terrorism

This piece originally appeared at Foxnews.com. “The legendary Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu rightly observed generations ago that “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” But he also taught that “if you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” And right now, our strategy suggests we know neither the enemy nor ourselves.

That must change, and quickly.

The president refuses to know that our current adversary in radical Islam lives by an apocalyptic worldview – one that relies on unconscionable levels of slaughter to bring about its final caliphate.

One cannot rationalize away such an irrational ideology. No medieval battles over Jerusalem, no features of Guantanamo Bay and certainly no aspect of Western culture can justify this level of bloodlust. And yet the current administration stubbornly searches for a clarification that might explain that militant Islam is the result of something other than irreconcilable religiosity. It is a theme akin to “we have met the enemy and decided to deny its existence.”

This obfuscation and denial is the pattern of the administration, one revealed early on when officials termed the Islamic terrorist attacks as “man-caused disasters” and combat operations as “overseas contingency operations.” This willful ignorance has prompted a dangerous mismatch in priorities. The president telling future military leaders, for example, that they are derelict in their duties if they deny climate change creates an environment of false truths, resulting in unsafe policy. Those on the front lines cannot defend against the threat when the threat is purposely misidentified.

It has also led to dishonest conclusions, such as arguing that the loss of territory equates to American military success, and the frequency of terrorist attacks represents the Islamic State’s desperation. Even those with a cursory knowledge of jihadists understand that the successful execution of an attack is seen as a signal of divine support. Frequency only strengthens their resolve.

One should never be so intransigent as to deny the truth of the enemy. That only concedes the initiative and gives the enemy an ability to outmaneuver you strategically.

Instead, we must get into the head of the enemy. All three of us have been there. It’s not pretty. There exists an unparalleled devotion to their cause; a fanatical adherence to Islamic conventions.

Take for instance Abu Zubaydah, a senior Al Qaeda leader captured in 2002. His religious fidelity led him to actually thank his overseers for enhanced interrogation because, according to him, those captured were permitted by Allah to provide information once they reached their own limit for physical or psychological hardship. He said “you must do this for all the brothers.”

They are resolute in their convictions. They are dedicated to the slaughter of any who do not share their warped vision for the future. That’s the enemy.

But America must also know itself. Jihadists do not distinguish between black and white, young or old, poor or rich. Our enemy sees us all as Americans, and we should do the same. It is essential that we champion American exceptionalism — defined not as a pompous view of self, but as the beacon of light for individual freedom in a world lacking it. We must have a shared understanding that our country, our constitutional republic, will always be the last great hope for liberty. And above all, we must agree to protect it.

The government must also know its responsibilities. The next administration and each one thereafter must embrace its constitutional obligation to provide for the common defense, and must never put the interests of others above those they serve. Those leaders should clearly and correctly define the enemy, and articulate an unambiguous national and international strategy to defeat it.

Make no mistake; we are at war. And the enemy possesses an unalterable 7th century ideology with 21st century capabilities. But even the most dogmatic can be defeated. They have been defeated when the United States, leaders and citizens alike, chose to know the enemy and resolved to defeat it. From the Barbary Wars to Nazism, Imperial Japan to communism, America chose sacrifice over compliancy, bravery over fear. The American people squared their collective shoulders and faced the threat head-on.

All of this can be done. And we will do so with unwavering integrity, renewed strength and unapologetic resolve. Knowing ourselves and our enemy will ensure victory.”

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General Flynn goes from the NCPA to the Republican National Convention

General Michael Flynn headlined the Republican National Convention Monday night with a rousing speech that laid out what the next president must do in order to protect the United States and its interests around the globe.

His comments echoed those he delivered only months earlier at the National Center for Policy Analysis’ biannual Hatton W. Sumners Distinguished Lecture Series — an NCPA program where nationally and internationally renowned speakers address business leaders, college students and the general public on the the nation’s most pressing issues.

In a passionate address to NCPA supporters in March 2016, General Flynn spoke at length about the specific threat from terrorist organizations, adversarial governments and cyber belligerents, and the overlap among them. Flynn stressed the need to improve America’s intelligence capabilities, and made a spirited plea for the administration to engage its allies and moderates in the Middle East in order to defeat the rising tide of radical Islam.  America must identify and work directly with those reformists like Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi if we expect to see victory, Flynn said.

The defining moment at the NCPA event came when the General emphasized the importance of protecting national security information, and found himself genuinely dumbfounded that a candidate who so willfully compromised that material would still be considered worthy of the highest office.  The findings from the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server released months later proved she had quite deliberately (but without malice) undermined the national security of the United States.  As a veteran and former intelligence specialist like General Flynn, I found the compromise equally troubling, and now fear our intelligence capabilities may see a tremendous decline since sources who risk their lives to work with us will lack confidence that we can maintain their anonymity. I have addressed here why this extreme level of carelessness is so dangerous to U.S. security and why NOT charging Clinton further undermines our long-term capabilities.

Just as he had months earlier to NCPA guests, Flynn told the crowd at the RNC Convention that these threats facing America had to be confronted head-on with “unwavering integrity, renewed strength and unapologetic resolve.” He also noted that the U.S. military needed the support to undertake the missions asked of them. The president’s recent troop requests for Iraq and Afghanistan, absent the funding necessary to do so, proved yet again that he intends to prolong the fight without providing the support to the warfighter to accomplish the mission. It does not have to be this way, though.

There is a way to maintain and increase troop levels without adding more to the budget. For example, rerouting funds away from ambiguous climate change programs and related civilian positions, and eliminating the climate directive issued in January 2016 which saddles the military with unnecessary tactical considerations, would be the first step in maximizing efficiency while stabilizing expenditures (explained here).  Another goal would be to address the rise in misplaced defense spending, which has only seen a decrease in American security — a paradox I have termed defenseless debt.  Solving the problem, in part, would involve decreasing and moving executive slush funds, like the Overseas Contingency Operation account, back under defense control, while limiting Pentagon staff positions and decreasing spending on expensive and potentially harmful security assistance programs in places like Africa.

Each of these would be a first step in properly funding defense capabilities and will ensure the warfighter has the tools to protect America. Flynn says the threat must be faced head-on. But our forces cannot do so when leadership has its head in the sand.

 

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Part I: Why the ‘Jack of All Trades’ Model for Military Aviation Fails

Today’s federal budget is one of constrained resources.  But the answer to such challenges is not consolidation of weapons systems.

The U.S. military celebrates the diversity of its force in every area except tactical airpower.  The size of our forces makes the U.S. military uniquely capable of having specialized airframes.  For example, a B-52 could theoretically assist ground troops during a firefight, known as Close Air Support (CAS), but its primary mission is and should be Strategic Attack.  True, the maintenance and supply chain costs for multiple airframes can be a challenge, but fielding a force with feigned breadth and hollow depth is foolish.  Forcing these platforms to become ‘Jack of All Trades’ undermines mission effectiveness.

Our aircraft carriers formerly had as many as four different tactical platforms launching from their decks.  Today, the F/A-18 Hornet remains the only one.  The Hornet is a formidable threat to our adversaries’ aircraft, naval fleets and centers of gravity.  However, it becomes a problem when the Navy demands this one aircraft be as proficient as four different airframes.  There exists a very finite amount of money and time to develop and maintain proficiencies for two or three distinctly different mission types.

Recall when the F/A-22 Raptor was sold to Congress in the 1990s as Lockheed Martin’s new multi-role, 5th Generation marvel that would perform a new mission: Air Dominance.  Once the funding was assured, the Raptor’s designation promptly changed to F-22A – a change to the Attack prefix that the F-15C Eagle community welcomed because it ensured their expertise would remain air-to-air combat.

Their community within the Air Force is recognized as the Jedi Knights of air combat.  I remember briefing and debriefing missions with or against Eagles and walking away with many lessons learned to better fly and teach dogfighting.  But had the F-22 designation remained as initially conceived, it would have added air-to-ground training to F-15C mission and hollowed out their air-to-air mastery.

The Navy fared differently.  The sister service previously boasted a cadre of F-14 Tomcat pilots that rivaled the F-15C Eagle pilots.  Now, the Hornet force must divide its resources among air-to-air, air-to-ground and even air refueling missions due to the retirement of the S-2 Viking.  But just this week, the commander of Air Combat Command (ACC) in testimony before Congress appears to suggest the multi-role F-35 must focus on Air Superiority – the airframe pledged to replace A-10, AV-8B Harrier, F-16, and F-18.  Sadly, the Air Force bought far too few F-22s for their needs, and is now making up for the Raptor shortfall with F-35s.

I fear the Pentagon is beholden to buying the shiny new toy, rather than providing the jets and the people to best support our fellow soldiers and marines.  As a possible solution, our national leaders must communicate to our allies that such mission specialization – equipment, maintainers, and operators – is imperative to maintaining our decided advantage against our enemies.  Many of our fellow NATO members, for instance, do not spend their pledged percentage of GDP on defense although they depend on and train with these American platforms.  Those nations should contribute the shortfall between their actual and required spending directly to the U.S. DoD to offset our country’s investment in these critical mission types.

Designing, funding and fielding an airborne Swiss Army knife is possible.  But when the demands on the knife saturate the person wielding it, a swarm of Bowie knives will win the day.

Chris Wiley is an NCPA contributing fellow

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Why Not Charging Hillary Damages National Security

FBI Director James Comey recommended no criminal charges for Hillary Clinton. According to Comey, there was no precedent to charge Hillary Clinton for all the abuses he outlined in his 15 minute press conference.

That’s hard to believe.

Comey explained that no combination of the following existed:

  • No clear, willful mishandling of classified information;
  • The amount of classified material did not meet the threshold for prosecution;
  • The actions did not imply or infer a disloyalty to the United States;
  • There was no clear effort to obstruct justice;

He went to great lengths to explain that, in his estimation, her actions were incredibly careless. But they did not meet the criminal intent for even gross negligence.

But gross negligence does not rest solely on purposeful or premeditated intent. The definition of negligence includes carelessness. These rules were hammered into our heads as protectors of Special Access Program (SAP) information. Based on the law, an unwillingness to protect secrets got you in trouble. Your intent only determined the level of punishment.

So now I wonder, all the steps I took as a counterintelligence specialist to protect special access information really, in essence, didn’t matter. The paperwork. The tradecraft. The precaution. Any time I chose to follow even the most redundant rules for safeguarding SAP, Comey now says those were unnecessary steps because my heart was in the right place.

So why does letting Clinton walk matter to national security? The resolution to this case tells those guarding SAP information that mishandling it in an honest but clumsy way will be excused (depending on who you are). Even premeditated actions, such as building a private server to transfer information, will be overlooked if you didn’t intend that information to harm the United States. It’s hard to demand rigorous oversight when all someone has to claim is “I never intended for this to happen.”

The most frightening consequence of this decision, however, concerns the message it sends to our current informants risking their lives around the globe or any future sources willing to help the United States. Comey’s laundry list of misdeeds that climaxed with the stunning choice not to bring criminal charges told sources that the American government will not work terribly hard at protecting their identity, and will not take it seriously when exposed. I fear we just lost future access from many, many useful people.

National security succeeds based on information and a major portion of that information comes by way of sources. I explain here why protecting Special Access is so very important.

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Eight Reasons Why We Face a National Security Problem

This originally appeared in my townhall column: John Kerry called the Istanbul airport attack a sign of desperation on the part of ISIS. The following observations suggest American leaders are the ones desperately clinging to failed strategies.

  1. Choosing symbolism over substance: Whether or not expressed explicitly, the administration demands uniformity of thought and diversity in appearance. As a result, upwards of 200 military officers have been “purged” for failing to acquiesce to a rudderless national security strategy that, among other things, subjects the military to costly and fruitless social engineering projects. A dangerous future awaits a country that diverts defense spending to that which offers no measurable benefit to military readiness. Woe to them who funds appearance over capability.
  2. Dangerous growth in government: Any expansion in government inevitably gives leaders an unwarranted sense of self (see the European Union). That remarkable hubris leads officials to believe, for instance, that they have identified the primary cause of weather patterns, and thus, have the power to fix it. A lack of consensus among specialists in this area is no match for such vanity. Assured of their position, big government saddles the military with climate directives that only serve to undermine its effectiveness. (see here)
  3. Faking moral outrage: The administration’s moral high ground is nothing but a false summit. And the latest sprint to the top in the wake of the Orlando massacre is fueled by widely vague notions of gun control and a staunch resistance to define the enemy. Government plans to drag America uphill to “Assault Rifle Ridge” only then to demand that citizens ignore the greater peaks that loom overhead, with names like “Emboldened Russia” and “Radical Islam.”
  4. Misinterpreting American exceptionalism: Some modern conservatives continue to rely on a misguided notion that all things American – democracy, capitalism and hot dogs – are inherently exceptional and, therefore, easily transferrable to all people. Such a simple interpretation inevitably leads to clumsy nation-building projects and unproductive security assistance programs. Both have increased defense spending, while doing little to enhance U.S. security. I call this defenseless debt.
  5. Misunderstanding American exceptionalism: John Kerry “cringed” at hearing the term. President Obama has lectured about its use. They incorrectly believe it to be a pompous vision of America where the ignorant believe the United States represents the climax of human culture, government and economy. Progressives then, ironically, respond with another form of American exceptionalism, which says the country’s faults and past misdeeds are, in fact, exceptionally American. Such a premise concludes that America is uniquely bad and all others endure as victims of that legacy. This leads to number 6.
  6. Prizing reputation over defense: The administration seems to be more concerned with its reputation among America’s adversaries than among those it governs. For this reason, we have the Iran nuclear deal. For this reason, what might inspire terrorism goes unstated. For this reason, Marines changed out of their uniforms four different times while readying themselves to respond to Benghazi, all because state officials felt embroidered American flags were potentially harmful to local sensibilities. We know the end of that story.
  7. Negotiating national security: The government must provide for the common defense. That’s non-negotiable. But 2015 marked the first time in history the Commander-in-Chief vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act for reasons unrelated to defense (he wanted more domestic spending). And when Congress acquiesced, both branches set the wrong precedent that the government’s constitutional duty to provide for the common defense matched their imagined duty to provide for the domestic welfare.
  8. National secrets taken lightly: The former Secretary of State completely compromised U.S. national security secrets, and still feels qualified to request a promotion. Either she displayed premeditated disregard for America’s security or, see number 5, excused the behavior because it only harmed an exceptionally unjust and discriminatory security apparatus. This breach is incredibly dangerous, as I have previously explained here.

America is a constitutional republic founded on a special of rule of law that allows for the truest expressions of personal liberty. And officials will not have a shared interest in preserving that legacy until the government can agree that defending America is truly its top priority.

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Scramble the jets! … (unless it’s Benghazi)

With the release of the report of the Select Committee on Benghazi this week, we were reminded of our government’s failure to defend American lives during the 2012 terrorist attack in Libya.  Four Americans were killed during the attack.  The question that continues to haunt many Americans: Why couldn’t we scramble any F-16s from Aviano Air Base in Italy for 13 hours when our fellow Americans were under attack?

This morning at Joint Base Andrews, an active shooter exercise was mistaken for an actual attack.  The military base, which is located in the suburbs of Washington and is home to the “Air Force One” presidential aircraft, was placed on lockdown while the tense situation unfolded.  Armed response teams and other first responders quickly assessed the situation and realized the mistake.  Thankfully, nothing except some minor chaos resulted.

Ever since the September 11 attacks, standard procedure in the Washington area is to launch a combat air patrol (CAP) of F-16s or other fighter aircraft to protect the nation’s capital in case a local event is prelude to a larger attack.  At least that’s one lesson we haven’t forgotten from 9/11.  I live and work in the D.C. area so I can sometimes see the jets; more often I can hear their engines.  Today was no different.  I could hear the CAP fly above while the situation at Joint Base Andrews unfolded below.  It is a prudent defensive move, and I’m told the pilots need the flight hours anyway.

Alas, today’s events underscore the same question as above:  If F-16s are used to protect the nation’s capital during a situation like today’s, why couldn’t we scramble any F-16s from Aviano Air Base in Italy for 13 hours when Americans were under attack at Benghazi?  We wish we knew the answer.

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How Defense Spending Creates an Unsecure Future

This originally appeared in my Townhall column: “The defense budget, in constant dollars, has held steady for nearly 30 years. However, our armed forces are ill-equipped for conflict. Expenditures have remained stable for decades, yet America now has 35 percent fewer combat brigades, 53 percent fewer ships and 63 percent fewer combat air squadrons. How in the world does military preparedness worsen while spending goes virtually unchanged?

The rise in spending in conjunction with a decline in capacity points to financial mismanagement and legislative abuse. Americans are witnessing a rapid acceleration in what I call defenseless debt, a paradox wherein military liabilities increase alongside a simultaneous deterioration in American security. And this disturbing trend has worsened under the Obama administration.

The Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) fund epitomizes defenseless debt. The non-discretionary, “emergency” account has essentially become an executive and Pentagon slush fund used to circumvent current spending caps established by the 2011 Budget Control Act. A Stimson Center report found that OCO money has increased significantly relative to the declining number of U.S. troops overseas, from $1 million per troop to $4.9 million. And the rather inexpensive fight against ISIS cannot account for the eye-popping jump in expenditures.

This slush fund presumably finances all the advise and assist programs, or what CNN termed “small wars,” initiated in Somalia, Libya and Yemen, among other places. But these small wars do not reflect or represent a broader, coherent plan.  The same Stimson report noted multiple Pentagon officials as saying recent increases in OCO funding “are not rooted in strategy.”

Increased spending not used for improving readiness means pilots and maintainers, for instance, now have to cannibalize parts from old jets to keep new ones flying; all in order to meet the demands of an administration that has now been at “war” longer than President Bush. Military officials conclude that the current approach only “generates insecurity in the Defense workforce…and creates long-term uncertainty for defense planners.”

Defenseless debt in a nutshell: spending increasing, while capability and security decrease.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration and some in Congress also funnel money into defense programs that further weaken military readiness. Biofuels companies, for example, received $16 million in defense contracts in 2014. But as naval aviator and instructor Ike Kiefer explains, using biofuels instead of oil to fuel the military would require 3.2 billion acres, “one billion more than all U.S. territory including Alaska.” Another absolutely unachievable long-term solution.

Most recently, the president issued an executive directive demanding military planners consider climate effects during operational planning. The ambiguous instruction has forced the military to expend manpower and money to find answers for problems where no desirable outcome has been put forth by the administration. The government should be championing cutting-edge, environmental solutions that better U.S. military advantage, not impair it.

But the era of defenseless debt truly climaxed with Obama’s decision to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for reasons unrelated to defense in 2016. He became the first president in history to veto a defense bill in order to secure more domestic spending. And when Congress acquiesced, both branches set the wrong precedent that the government’s constitutional duty to provide for the common defense matched their imagined duty to provide for the domestic welfare.

All of this to say, years of defenseless debt has set a precedent. And precedent equates to permanency in government. As Ronald Reagan warned years ago, government policies and programs are “the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll see on this earth.”

The president and some in Congress have established a precedent for future officials to commandeer the defense budget for any and all matters. Bernie Sanders, if elected, will likely turn to defense cash once basic economics catch up with the inevitable failure of his domestic agenda. Hillary Clinton will likely do no different. Donald Trump is perhaps the only conceivable candidate of the three that might shun the pattern of defenseless debt.

In any case, this is not a call for more spending. This is a call for wise spending. Congress could consider some of the following as they debate the 2017 defense budget:

Each measure aims to replace America’s current defenseless debt strategy with one that builds an effective and cost-efficient military. It can be done.”

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Fighter Aircraft and 21st Century Threats

Chris Wiley is a Veteran and Contributing Fellow for the NCPA:

“Simply put:  the A-10 Warthog’s lethality and simplicity have ensured its longevity.

I will get to the specific merits of the A-10 Warthog in a bit, but we must first revisit history to reinforce my premise.  When I entered the Air Force Academy in 1993, the post-Cold War era was in full swing.  And the ensuing “peace dividend” defense budgets ushered in a period of downsizing for the U.S. Air Force.

The prospect for a “near peer” or force-on-force air war had greatly diminished with the collapse of the Soviet Union, resulting in Fighter Wing de-activations, aircraft retirements, mandatory Reductions in Force (RIF) and drastic contractions in forward deployed assets.  These factors compelled the Air Force to embrace an “Expeditionary” model; a smaller, modular concept used by the Marine Corps for decades.  The Marines’ dependent relationship on their Navy “big brother” had molded them into a lean, nimble Combined Arms weapon, at the ready for our nation.

Initially, the Air Force invented the Composite Wing, which clustered Air Mobility, Tactical Aviation and the requisite logistical support together organizationally, and stationed the Wing at a common base to provide Major Command leadership “chess pieces” for rapid deployment.  The Composite Wing then evolved into the Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) which packaged existing, but often geographically separated, units into packages available for deployment.  As flare-ups emerged in the Middle East, the Air Force supported U.S. Central Command by developing a rotation schedule that balanced deployments across combat units and offered the ability to tailor capabilities to mission requirements.  This model continues to the present.

Under this strategy, my A-10 unit, the 355th Fighter Squadron then stationed near Fairbanks, Alaska, and with a primary mission to defend South Korea from North Korea, still held a spot in the Central Command’s expeditionary rotation.  Our unit deployed in support of Operations NORTHERN and SOUTHERN WATCH in Iraq.  We also deployed several times to Kuwait and Afghanistan.  And the post-9/11 world has not permitted a slowing of this “Ops Tempo,” or the frequency at which units deploy.  The Air Force has essentially maintained this robust expeditionary posture for over 20 years.

Why then is the A-10 often considered for “mothballing” when it remains the best fit for this intense and longstanding expeditionary model?  After all, ongoing engagements make the current system incredibly expensive.  As I mentioned, ops tempo remains high and, therefore, transit costs or those monies used to pay for units to rotate in and out of theaters 3 to 4 times annually remain incredibly high.  Until planners use basing arrangements like those used for the Korean Peninsula –‒ a model in which personnel serve one or two year “remote” tours, but the airframes and the logistical support stay in country ‒‒ the A-10 will remain the most appropriate aircraft for this model.

Indeed, we have Warthogs presently headlining the Air Force’s new expeditionary package in reaction to Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.  The A-10 is adaptable and has proven capable of immediately allying with host-nation air forces to demonstrate NATO’s cooperative power.  Additionally, more than one stateside A-10 squadron has deployed to Europe and showcased its unique ability to land at bare-base situations.  The risk of damage to the A-10 from foreign objects is far lower than other Air Force fighters, which allows Warthogs, for instance, to operate from un-maintained runways and even dry lake beds.

Moreover, the United States’ engagements at the center of this expeditionary model remains ill-suited to the new 5th Generation weapons platforms currently being pursued by the Pentagon.  The Air Force has focused its acquisitions process on replacing 4th Generation tactical aircraft, like the A-10, with technologically advanced and exorbitantly expensive aircraft designed primarily for massive, full-spectrum wars –‒ the types of conflict that waned with the Cold War’s conclusion.

Instead, the Air Force’s lowest technology tactical airframe, the A-10 Warthog, has proven itself the optimal Close Air Support (CAS) platform for current engagements, namely global terrorism.  Rugged, simple, survivable – the physical attributes of the A-10 Warthog are not “Expeditionary” by chance.  During conceptual development, the Air Force envisioned the A-10 deploying to Forward Air Refueling Points (FARP) in West Germany to support NATO ground forces against a Warsaw Pact invasion.

The takeaway for our citizens, Congress, and the Air Force is to embrace the Warthog for a few more years.  No plane flies forever, but the Air Force cannot retire a capability so appropriate for the current expeditionary engagements without a viable successor.  The proposed successor may be a quantum technological leap beyond the A-10, but is it expeditionary and ready to supply close air support today, or ever?  The Air Force needs to be honest with their sister services, Congress and the taxpayers.”

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A Must See Video on Military Readiness!

The president recently threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act — the bill that annually funds our military — currently being considered in the House of Representatives.  The administration wants to continue its high level of “overseas contingency operations” without the funding and training necessary to do so.

This video is a moving demonstration of why this policy has deadly consequences.

The NCPA is proposing a viable course to achieve a fiscally responsible military that will keep America safe. Join us in this endeavor as we focus on the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act at NCPA.org and our Provide for the Common Defense Now! Petition.

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Is the Iran Deal on the Rhode to Recovery?

This originally appeared in my townhall column:

“I always figured a breach in the seemingly impenetrable circle surrounding the administration and its puzzling national security solutions would be the result of loose lips, rather than revulsion at the troublesome ideas circulating therein. And now deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes is trying to take back his words.

Most know by now his admission that the White House misled the public on the purpose of the deal, and acknowledged that many of his media “compadres” serve as palace guards for the Obama administration. But retrieving words once spoken is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. And now Congress needs to step in. The Senate should consider using the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to protect the country and our allies from the administration’s “agreement” with Iran.

Apologists are trying to save face in the wake of these comments by attempting to rebrand the deal as a clumsy product of group think; or the hurried maturation of a bad idea in a space completely insulated from counter-arguments. An “echo chamber,” as Rhodes called it.

My father has a better term: group stupid. He correctly reasons that we do things in a group that we would never consider on our own.

In any case, group stupid now remains the most attractive excuse for this pitiful agreement, simply because critics will often extend grace to the hapless. After all, most observers recognize actions of group stupid to be reckless and impulsive, and if given a second chance, believe those involved would generally avoid the same course of action.

Rhodes’ comments, however, confirm that the Obama administration brokered the agreement with full knowledge of its terrible structure and unbalanced conditions, and then sold it as something else. That’s premeditation, not imprudence.

Rhodes has verified this deal to be as solid as a pinky swear with an Ayatollah missing both hands.

Congress can begin to fix it, here’s how.

The NDAA, the annual bill that sets the military budget, has arrived in the Senate. As part of funding our defense force, the Senate could also consider adding portions of proposed legislation as amendments to the NDAA to rectify this miserable pinky swear agreement.

First, the Senate could consider using excerpts from H.R. 3662 Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, introduced by Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.), as an amendment. In one instance, the proposed bill legislates congressional authority wherein “Any rule to amend or otherwise alter a covered regulatory provision regarding sanctions on Iran shall be subject to congressional review requirements.” In other words, this statue prevents the executive branch from unilaterally and arbitrarily applying or rescinding sanctions. This would curb the excesses of an otherwise emboldened executive branch and limit future administrations who harbor similar ambitions.

Congress could also consider including excerpts from of H.R. 4342 Iran Ballistic Missile Prevention and Sanctions Act introduced by Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), as another amendment as a means of penalizing Iran for its missile tests.

Indeed, as one can see, the Iran issue has bipartisan support. Adding amendments of this nature could find backing across party lines. And the American people would love to see such compromise, especially on an issue in which they so stringently disagree with the administration.

The Rhode to accountability starts with the NDAA.

The NCPA is proposing a viable course to achieve a fiscally responsible military that will keep America safe. Join us in this endeavor as we focus on the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act at NCPA.org and our Provide for the Common Defense Now! Petition.”

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