National Security Devastation

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said yesterday that one of the planned F-35 fighter jet models might be a victim of budget cutting. Appearing before the House Armed Services Committee he said he is concerned about whether the United States “can afford all three” variants of the F-35. And the short take off, vertical landing model might have to go. Dempsey said he still has to learn more about the issue and confer with Marine Corps commandant General James Amos, but the Lockheed Martin–manufactured jet is certainly under close scrutiny.

Leon Panetta meanwhile told Congress he wasn’t using “scare tactics” when he said that cutting the defense budget by more than $450 billion will “truly devastate our national security.” The president, he said, was on board with the assessment. Some protesters however begged to differ, shouting “war machine” and “you are murdering people” during Panetta’s testimony.

Even though he’s changed jobs, now heading the CIA, General David Petraeus isn't forgetting about the military. He has instructed CIA analysts to include the military’s input earlier on in the National Intelligence Estimate–creation process. Petraeus was not happy about the dismal portrait of the war in Afghanistan painted by the last intelligence assessment, which contrasted with reports coming from troops on the ground. National Intelligence Director James Clapper agrees with the change that is supposed to improve the accuracy of the CIA’s reports.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is once again wading into the economic realm. Speaking today at the New York Economic Club, Clinton is expected to say that considerations of economic growth should factor into foreign policy decisions: “security is shaped in boardrooms and on trading floors - as well as on battlefields.” 

And special envoy David Hale sat down yesterday with Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas in Paris. Hale in fact had “a full round of consultations in Paris,” according to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. Washington is trying to get the Israelis and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.