July 24th, 2012
03:30 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney blasts Obama for leaks and military cuts

Reno, Nevada (CNN) - Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama and his administration of leaking classified intelligence details for political gain in a major foreign policy speech in Reno Tuesday.

"Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished. The time for stonewalling is over," Romney said at a gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. President Barack Obama addressed the group Monday.

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In Romney's speech, his final domestic stop before his trip to England, Israel and Poland, Romney called on the Obama administration to properly investigate the leaks in a timely manner.

"It is not enough to say the matter is being looked into, and leave it at that," Romney said. "When the issue is the political use of highly sensitive national security information, it is unacceptable to say, 'We'll report our findings after Election Day.'"

To help back up his argument, Romney quoted Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who said at an event Monday the leaks were coming from within the White House.

"I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from its ranks," Feinstein said during a question and answer session at a World Affairs Council forum. "I don't know specifically where, but they have to begin to understand that, and do something about it."

Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has used tough language in the past regarding the leaks but has declined to join the Republican call for a special independent investigation.

In June, the Department of Justice announced it was appointing two U.S. attorneys to investigate the leaks, which included classified information published in the New York Times in June regarding what was described as a U.S. cyberattack targeting Iran's nuclear centrifuge program.

Other recent possible leaks of classified information included details on the administration's efforts to expand its drone program and Obama's involvement in "kill lists" against militants in Yemen and Pakistan.

The public airing of details surrounding a recently disrupted bomb plot in Yemen by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula also angered intelligence and national security officials.

On Monday, Feinstein was clear she didn't think Obama or his top aides were responsible for releasing the classified information. She did say, however, that Obama needed to set a tone in his administration that leaks would not be tolerated.

"I don't believe for a moment [Obama] goes out and talks about it," Feinstein said of secret intelligence information. "I don't believe the briefers go out and talk about it. But who knows who else. And I think that the importance of this has to be really set by the president himself, and hopefully he will do it."

READ MORE: Feinstein hits Romney for using her comments in speech

In his remarks, Romney asked "Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets? Did a superior authorize it? These are things that Americans are entitled to know – and they are entitled to know right now. If the president believes – as he said last week – that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts."

The former Massachusetts governor also pointed to Obama's first Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was first appointed by President George W. Bush.

"After secret operational details of the bin Laden raid were given to reporters, Secretary Gates walked into the West Wing and told the Obama team to 'shut up.' He added a colorful word for emphasis," Romney said.

He added, "Let me be clear: These events make the decision we face in November all the more important. What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain? I'll tell you right now: Mine won't."

In his remarks, Romney pinned the blame for the upcoming "fiscal cliff," which includes massive cuts to military spending, squarely on Obama.

"Don't bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking," Romney said. "Strategy is not driving President Obama's massive defense cuts. In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be 'devastating.' And he is right."

The cuts, which would begin in January 2013, are the result of a Congressional deal struck between Democrats and Republicans last fall during the battle over raising the federal debt ceiling. If negotiators from both parties fail to strike a deal, the Pentagon will be forced to cut an additional $500 billion from its accounts over the next 10 years.

In his remarks, Romney spelled out the consequences of the cuts, saying "That devastation starts at home. These cuts would only weaken an already stretched VA system and our solemn commitment that every veteran receives care second to none. I will not allow that to happen."

Obama also addressed the so-called "sequester" on Monday, telling the VFW that Republicans were "playing politics with our military."

"Let's get serious and reduce our deficit and keep our military strong," Obama said.

Responding to Romney's assault on leaks and budget cuts, Obama's campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt said the GOP candidate was offering only "bluster."

"With all of the complex global challenges facing our nation today, Governor Romney's much-hyped foreign policy speech once again is all bluster, offering no specific plans for our relations with any region of the world," LaBolt wrote. "He's about to embark on a foreign trip where his aides have promised no policy, just photo-ops and fundraising. By resorting to cheap attacks that lack credibility rather than answering the most basic questions about his foreign policy agenda, Governor Romney has simply not passed the Commander-in-Chief test."

READ MORE: Romney walks political tightrope on foreign policy

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Filed under: 2012 • Foreign Policy • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Thomas


    Romney is Desperate .

    I hope Mitt explains to the Veterans in Reno today , why he nor his five sons volunteered for military service.

    A true American Patriot .
    July 24, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |

    And when did Obama volunteered?

    At least Obama's Grandfather did , he served in WW2.

    Mitt Romney's relatives have never served in the military ,

    rrd , don't you find it strange that all five of Romney's sons avoided military service during a war they supported ?

    July 24, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "well if you can put the kool-aide down for a minute, you'll see that I said "Obama administration" not Obama. Neither does Romney."

    Yawn. The subtext is clear and you know it. Playing semantic games is the last refuge of a man with no argument.

    July 24, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished.
    And this is what's pissing you off, isn't it Robmey? Not the leaks themselves, but the fact that you perceive the information is being used for Obama's political advantage....not yours.
    How about that Cheney and his diarrhea of the mouth vis-a-vis that agent? What punishment was meted out to him?
    Obama 2012. Because Robmey is nothing but the Koch brother's puppet and mouthpiece.

    July 24, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
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