July 24th, 2012
03:30 PM ET
10 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. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of OBAMA FAILURE

    Yeah, funny how all of these Obama administration investigating themselves deals are just never heard of again. People were canned in the GSA scandal only after it was revealed in the media. Obama and his lackeys are actively concealing and covering up one of the most corrupt, inept, lawless administrations in teh history of the country.

    Menawhile the incompetent Dept. of Justice goes after yet another state for protecting the integrity of their election process, Pennsylvania. Now they are even extending their strong arm tactics to northern states. These fools absolutely have to go this November or this country is doomed.

    July 24, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  2. kakaraka

    Really? Is this guy serious?

    July 24, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  3. Jeremy

    "The time for stonewalling is over." This coming from the man who, despite the demands of most of the nation, including a large portion of his own GOP brethren, refuses to release the same amount of tax returns that the last 40 years worth of presidential candidates have released. You can't have your cake and it too.

    July 24, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  4. cali ha ha

    Prove it

    July 24, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  5. Linda

    Sen. Feinstein believes the leaks are coming from the White House...shouldn't THIS important information be the focus of CNN's reporting?

    July 24, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  6. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Why does a candidate need to take a trip to England, Ireleand and Poland, unless it is a vacation. Anyone who has contributed to the Romney campaign should demand there money back. Romney is a man born of privilege, who does not know what it is to really work for a living, and believes it is acceptable to use other people's money for his benefit.

    July 24, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. drake mallard

    Romney: Obama mandated contraception so he might take your guns tooDid The Government Bail Out Romney’s Bain Capital?

    Republican Senate nominee Mitt Romney’s rescue of a business consulting firm was achieved in part by convincing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to forgive roughly $ 10 million of the company’s debts, according to sources close to the deal and federal records obtained by The Boston Globe.The way the company was rescued was with a federal bailout of $10 million. “The rest of us had to absorb the loss … Romney? He and others made $4 million in this deal. … Mitt Romney: Maybe he’s just against government when it helps working men and women. But this flip flopping moderate who also claimed to be progressive was for and against Obama’s wall street bailouts

    The facts of the Bain & Co. turnaround are a little more complicated, but a Boston Globe report from 1994 confirms that Bain saw several million dollars in loans forgiven by the FDIC.

    the Washington Post after the newspaper reported that Bain Capital, the private equity firm the GOP presidential candidate founded, invested in several US companies that outsourced jobs to China and India

    July 24, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Bill

    All this clown can do is point fingers, and sling mud. No policy discussions at all. You will never be president Mittens. And unless you can win more than 40% of the lation vote (you are now at 21%), your hope for election is doomed. This is a fact.

    July 24, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. drake mallard

    From Draft Dodging to War Mongering Mitt Romney is George W. Bush

    Mitt Romney was in favour of the war in Vietnam, but was too chicken to fight in it. He had his little pro war sign, and was happy to see other people be sent and get killed, but wouldn't go himself.

    July 24, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I watched Mittens' speech from 2002 where he reminded the athletes they did not get there without the help of the rest of us. Then he comes out with an attack on the president for similar remarks. He may be white, but he has nothing to offer America.

    July 24, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  11. lol

    Here we go again Obama screwed up one more time. This president destroys everythign he touches.

    July 24, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. WiredweirdinSF

    Although widley reported in Europe, it is not being reported in the US that the Aurora killer was a big marijuana and drug usedr. As the current administration favors such people as well as corrupt union bosses and welfare frauds over responisble, hard working taxpayers, I can see why the liberal media has chosen to ignore this story.

    July 24, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    It is the mark of a coward who would make such extreme charges then run from the battlefield by going on an overseas trip where the political race is not a topic to be discussed. The act is akin to shouting "food fight" in a school cafeteria, throwing something, and then cuttin' and runnin' for the door as chaos erupts behind you.

    July 24, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    America survived one republican depression, and we are getting out of a republican near depression, but people seem to want to go back to the Bush economy of runaway spending, unnecessary unfunded wars, unfunded drug programs, and an increase in the national debt of $4.6 trillion under Bush. If Mittens gets elected, will he blame Obama for the republican depression he will cause?

    July 24, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  15. namryan

    Yep, the time for stonewalling is over... where are your tax returns Mr. Romney? Did you avoid paying taxes using foreign accounts? Where is your filing for the Swiss account for 2010? You are missing a mandatory doc there... the one that specifies the transaction on that account, it's a rule against money laundering...

    July 24, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  16. PJ, TX

    "There you go again", offering nothing of substance.

    July 24, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  17. paulcat

    Why is it so hard for Mitt to deal with the facts, oh that's right, he's a republican & this is the only way they can win an election.

    July 24, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  18. Roy

    Romney has reluctantly released only 1 year of tax returns.

    That's less than any Presidential candidate in 36 years!

    Obama has released 12 years of tax returns.

    Romney's own father released 12 years of tax returns when he ran for President because he wanted the American people to know that he was an honest man with nothing to hide.

    What's Romney hiding?

    July 24, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  19. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens shredded his records as governor of MA, shredded his records of contracts he awarded in Salt Lake, refuses to release his tax forms, denies his running Bain from 1999-2002, shipped MA government jobs to India, has foreign donors whose names he won't release, is bought and paid for by the Kochs and other billionaires, and keeps his money overseas.

    July 24, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  20. benny

    It's okay Romney. We believe anything you say. Now what about that oceanfront property in Kansas?

    July 24, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  21. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    In Mitt's speech, he will probably say, "I will not apologize for starting two new unnecessary wars, and adding $5 trillion to our national debt."

    July 24, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. ST

    Romney has a problem of all the time jumping on to something. This is not the way how the challenger does. If nothing happens, it means he has nothing to talk about. I always ask myself, did he ever prepare himself in the past years for this battle????

    July 24, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. ghostriter

    Psssttt......Mittsy......weren't you just complaining about unfounded charges being thrown about? You didn't like to be called a felon. But it's OK to throw your own out there.

    No worries. Everyone's doing it. I just don't wanna see you crying about how unfair it is when it happens again to you.

    July 24, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. once upon a horse

    I guess finding out if something is true before accusing the other person no longer is important in the 2012 campaign and YES that goes for BOTH sides.

    July 24, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. King

    Mr secretive himself talking about leaks, I guest we'll never know how much the Chinese are pushing money to his campaign. so that his rich sponsors can even outsource more american jobs to them. I wonder how much secrets the american people can tolerate before its too late. stop pushing money to the rich, because the american economy is not benifiting. keep money here to circulate among small business so that they can hire folks.

    July 24, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
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