March 9th, 2012
10:02 PM ET
3 years ago

Gingrich calls for Panetta resignation

(CNN) – Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich on Friday called on Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to resign, rebuking him for telling a congressional panel that the U.S. would “seek international permission” before intervening in the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.

“I have been told that the secretary of defense has suggested that international agreements override the Congress,” Gingrich told supporters in Gulfport, Mississippi. “If he believes that, he should resign tonight.”

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Responding to a statement that the U.S. was placing military resolutions of the United Nations, NATO and the Arab League ahead of those made by Congress, Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday: "You know, our goal would be to seek international permission. And we would come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this, whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress."

Later in the day, a defense official told CNN that Panetta’s comments could be taken out of context.

"He was re-emphasizing the need for an international mandate. We are not ceding U.S. decision-making authority to some foreign body," the official said.

But Gingrich said the secretary’s comments showed “how radical this administration is.”

“The time has come for us to focus on American interests. And I want you to know that the foreign policy I would follow starts with American values, American interests and American institutions,” he said.

At rally earlier Friday in Mobile, Alabama, Gingrich added, “Leon Panetta is the United States secretary of defense, not the United Nations secretary of defense.”

The U.S. Constitution stipulates that the power to declare war rests with Congress, and the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces.

Gingrich is not the first presidential candidate to call for Panetta’s resignation. At a November CNN presidential debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the defense secretary should resign in protest of defense cuts that were to be triggered by a budget supercommittee stalemate.

And Panetta is not the first Obama administration official who Gingrich has said should resign. Three other Cabinet secretaries – Attorney General Eric Holder, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar - have gained his ire, as has Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the “White House czars.”

“The first executive order I sign will abolish as of that moment every White House czar,” he said at a late February rally in Dalton, Georgia.

- CNN’s Shawna Shepherd, Chris Lawrence and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

Also see:

Romney in Mississippi: 'I like grits'

GOP quick to criticize president over jobs report

DNC hits Romney on individual mandate

Game Change' actors dish on Palin, portrayals and politics


Filed under: 2012 • Leon Panetta • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    You have to admit that when it comes to resigning in disgrace the Newt is the Republican with the most experience. I mean, being forced out because you are too unethical to be a Republican is amazing. Republican politics and cesspools have a commonality where the really big smelly chunks always seem to rise to the top.

    March 10, 2012 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
  2. chrisnot

    Mr. Gingrich is impossibly humorous.

    March 10, 2012 04:29 am at 4:29 am |
  3. Anonymous

    What kind of political stunt is this fool at 70-fool forever trying to pull .

    March 10, 2012 04:33 am at 4:33 am |
  4. J.V.Hodgson

    Seems to me that the concept of pre-emptive wars and International coalitions was invented by Presidents named Bush and that the Iraq and Afghan wars and the war on terror none have been approved by the congress of the united states.
    So now Mr Panetta proposes as part of a strategy review discussing that with potential coalition partners and therfore the UN thats along way shoert of actually going to war.
    He should sto twisting the facts and nature of the invstigation committee of congress to which he was reporting that it was a review of options.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    March 10, 2012 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  5. Wake up people

    This old grand dragon war monger needs to sit his old red neck down. He just wants war, war, war. The American people need jobs not another war. But that is the old white man way. Just bully everyone and take over their land and their people.

    March 10, 2012 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  6. DixonIV

    Do we really want the Congress deciding on war planning? The current congress can't work effectively on anything. The President should work with our allies, then bring it to Congress for approval. Bush one had support from many countries when we went to Iraq the first time. I don't like that we went, but he did exactly what he said. Kicked Sadam out, then left. The second Bush took the cowboy approach and look how that turned out. Ten plus years of death and destruction that did nothing to stablize anything. Like always, Republicans never see a war they don't like. It helps when the leaders deciding used a deferment to do their service.

    March 10, 2012 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  7. John

    And this Is way you will never be President. All you Republican want to do Is start a war some where. And that the reason the dept Is so high now.

    March 10, 2012 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  8. Tony in Maine

    Gingrich really needs to go back to Georgia and run for "Husband of the Week," "Marryin' Sam," or something he really understands.

    Panetta speaks English, Newt, not redneck.

    March 10, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  9. 4merRepubCT

    Another reason why Gingrich should never be Prez – we need to know that the global community will support our actions and not leave the U.S. isolated. How is it that someone who spends so much time trying to prove how intelligent, how well-educated he is, does not understand the nuances of "permission"? Panetta is not playing a game of "Mother,may I?"- but looking for other countries to articulate their "approval" and intent to stand by us. Gingrich obviously does not recognize or understand the subtleties of diplomacy, and is definitely not ready to lead.

    March 10, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  10. KatR

    Several members of my family have worn the uniform of our country since WWII, including myself. I am a Navy vet from the Vietnam era. For the first time in my memory we have a CIC and a secretary of defense who will think very, very carefully....exhausting all other options....before sending our troops into combat. GOP candidates like Newt seem to want to sacrifice our brave troops to further their ideal that America tells the rest of the world what to do. Sounds like the bully in the schoolyard.

    March 10, 2012 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  11. diridi

    this guy is an idiot. He may need forth wife to sleep with.

    March 10, 2012 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  12. jdun

    The guys a loose cannon- good thing he no chance of winning the white house- can you imagine his interplay with our friends and allies? He must think this is the 1950's again.

    March 10, 2012 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  13. Grahame Rhodes

    Gingrich is a complete air head! Nobody in the GOP is saying anything about all the biological weapons that Syria holds. Everyone of these idiots does not understand that this is a small world and not governed by what the USA says and does. This is an international community not this war mongering idiot Gingrich. Finally who's sons and daughter are going to be sent to war. Not any of the Gingrich clan or any other of these war mongering GOP idiots

    March 10, 2012 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  14. anon-i-mouse

    Why do Republicans love war so much? Libya was a stunning success with minimal money involved and NO deaths of our soldiers. Why do they want us to go in and invade Syria and Iran? So we can have even more ununded wars, more debt and more killed soldiers? Working with the international community on these things will cost us left in blood and treasure.

    You can bet that if any of these were a direct threat to us, the Obama administration would act swiftly. But these events are not direct threats to us, so we don't need to continue to be the world's policeman on them!

    March 10, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  15. Slightly Left of Center

    Yeah, well I'm waiting for Newt to resign....from the U.S.A. He can go to Syria. Maybe the moon.

    March 10, 2012 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  16. Please Grow Up

    Oh, Newt – please stay in the race. You're just too good.

    March 10, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  17. wgf

    Vote GOP, because it's time for another pointless war.

    March 10, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  18. truesoy

    That is no different from Bush going to the UN for a resolution authorizing for intervention in Iraq.
    So, what's Newt's problem?

    Sincerely,
    Truesoy

    March 10, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  19. DaveC

    Newt, you are indeed a goof. You know what Panetta meant. Why don't you just go home already? You have lost and there is nothing you can do about it.

    March 10, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  20. ZacATL

    Yes because unilateral action has worked so well for us over the past 10 years >_<

    Seriously is anyone going to vote for these guys? Who?!

    March 10, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  21. bcnu_too

    What an idiot and buffoon Gingrich is to make such stupid remarks. He, like all his fellow Repubs, think we should be in constant war in the Middle East. He must have been standing too close to his wife when she sprayed her hair and inhaled some of that industrial strength hairspray she uses.

    March 10, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  22. springthecat

    While you're at it, Newt, don't forget to arrest the Supreme Court

    March 10, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  23. maxhedroom

    Someone needs to rescue those kids holding the signs behind Gingrich.

    March 10, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  24. Jeff in Virginia

    Newt, it's time for you to go back into your lair.

    March 10, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. iTALIAN NONNO

    Gingrich is a desperate individual right now,.. he can't stand that he's being rejected in the polls,.. he should do what he's good at,.. divorce himself from the political scene.

    March 10, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
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