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

    Obama, Mr.-Most-Transparent-Presidency-in-History, but ONLY when it comes to our national secrets. But when it comes to his college transcripts, ACCESS DENIED. Fast and Furious documents, ACCESS DENIED. But election booths for illegals and dead people, ACCESS GRANTED.

    July 24, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  2. Sniffit

    oops, edit:

    "All this amounts to is Mittens now using MISrepresentations of what other people say, not just misrepresentations of what Obama himself has said."

    July 24, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. mm

    Mitt Romney wouldn't know how to frame decent foreign policy or manage intelligence leaks if his fortune depended on it.

    July 24, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Ha, what happens when the special prosecutors find confirm this. Isn't it illegal?

    July 24, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. Sniffit

    "Heck, I even managed to hide all sorts of income and money from the IRS in foreign bank accounts....how could I NOT be better at nashunal sekyooritah?"

    July 24, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  6. works for me

    Watch it there Mittens. Not all Americans are stupid and not all Americans believe your lies.

    July 24, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  7. Dagnytag

    Liberals, look at your comments. Look in the mirror. This was potentially the worst intelligence security leak in U.S. history and all you can do is react like some foam-at-the-mouth rabid attack dogs? Tax returns? Liberal ideology is a complete fraud, fundamentally flawed, and rotten to the core.

    Liberals, you perpetuate a morally, ethically, and intellectually bankrupt group-think ideology. Another in a long line of failed ideas, better known as collective subjugation. Don't flatter yourselves.....you're not "different". You're just as bad or worse at best.

    July 24, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The President has appointed the appropriate personnel to look into the leaks.
    Cut out the distractions and show us the money.
    Where are the tax returns Robmey?

    July 24, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  9. ABCD

    Does Romney have new ideas to explain to people?? The answer is NO. This is like one going hunting without a gun. He goes back home empty handed! So will do Romney.

    July 24, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  10. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of OBAMA FAILURE

    Her statement was very clear. And just about everybody already knows it was Donnelly that was leaking the information. The guy is a political hack in an intelligence role that he is not qualified to hold.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., confirmed that a recent spate of national security leaks originated in the White House as she called for President Obama to stop the flow of information out of the White House.

    “I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from it’s ranks,” Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman, said yesterday during her address to the World Affairs Council. “I don’t know specifically where, but there — I think they have to begin to understand that and do something about it.”

    Feinstein added that “the importance of this has to be really set by the president himself, and hopefully he will do it.”

    July 24, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  11. rrd


    "One of your own points a finger at the Obama administration for the national security leaks and your only comment is about Romney's tax returns?"

    Feinstein has quite clearly and unarguably stated that she does not believe for a second that Obama is in any way involved, behind it, encouraging it for political reasons or even responsible for it. In fact, he's got 2 prosecutors specially assigned to investigate it and plug the leaks. All this amounts to is Mittens now using representations of what other people say, not just misrepresentations of what Obama himself has said.
    July 24, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |

    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.

    July 24, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  12. rla

    The American people get the attitude and deceit of this administration and that will show up in November– TIME TO MOVE ON>

    July 24, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. rs

    You mean like former Vice President Dick Cheney outing a CIA agent?

    Oh, I didn't think so...

    July 24, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. PHIL TJ

    How can Mitt lead the USA if he uses obama word for campaign. Where ever Obama goes, they go so that they can zexor Obama word for their benefit. The one think the world cannot undestand America is becuse there are too many un educate people in this country and Romny is using their ignorant. This election is not who can do a better job. It is between GOP white folks who want Obama out of office and any price. American, listen, YOU DO NOT KNOW THE VALUE OF AN EGG UNTIL IT BREAKS DOWN. Romney will sell you for a dollar. He is a liar,tax evader. Remember, Iran, China, Russian are all watching Romney. Some of these people can stand lies. Watch out, you life depends on this election too

    July 24, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  15. when your nightmares end WILLARD begins

    I'm from Missouri Mitt so you'll have to SHOW ME before I believe this tripe.

    July 24, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  16. California Gary

    Say there dag......"worst intelligence security leak in history"? Laying it on a little thick aren't you? How does this compare to, say, exposing an operational undercover CIA operative for political purposes? Did you have an issue with that one? All administrations have to deal with "leaks" from time to time.......this crosses party lines, and to act like "this one" is worse than all others is just a rant on your part. Maybe you need to look in the mirror yourself.

    July 24, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  17. rs

    "Liberals, you perpetuate a morally, ethically, and intellectually bankrupt group-think ideology"

    What? Meanwhile the GOP lives a rich, fact-free fantasy live, dealing in lies, inuendo and falsehood complete with its own mouthpiece (Rush), fantasy news outlet (FOX), with talking points generated by Mr. Rove.

    Look- Mr. Romney's behavior can no longer be called "flip-flopping". It is more a denial of truth and previously held beliefs. The GOP as a hwhole is spinning so rapidly rightward that todays' "conservative" dogma is tomorrows "leftist-communist plot".
    Get a grip.

    July 24, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  18. Andy

    You Dems need to settle down. Instead of getting all riled up about Romney's statements, take a minute and read the entire article. it was California Democrat Dianne Feinstein (chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee) that initiated this discussion about the leaks coming from the White House. It would help if you read more than just the heading and then spouted off comments about irrelevant information like Romney's tax records. I guess when your chances are getting slimmer and slimmer by the day you'll grasp at any straw you can. Nice try!

    July 24, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. rs

    Obama 2012 – BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of OBAMA FAILURE-

    On the college transcript front- Look up FERPA and stop yammering.

    July 24, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. The Other Dale

    No, no, no, no, no. Mitt, this isn't the type of attack you want to go with, because all it comes across as is paranoia and hysterical lying. This is the type of thing you possibly hint at in a campaign, not make it your focus. Because once someone comes forward and says "you're wrong, Mitt," the game is up and you'll have to backpedal to prove you're not just grabbing at anything because you have nothing. I'm sure some GOP heads are already tearing their hair out over this because it's pure 100% amateur-time.

    July 24, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  21. Rob Jones

    Any time CNN wants to bury a story that makes Obama look bad and garner pro-Obama comments, it goes in the "Political Ticker" blog rather than an actual main news story that belongs on the front page. That way we can hear all the little libs refer to "mittens" and "faux news" and the boogeymen GWB and Cheney. So obvious. Can't wait to see the blow-out in November. The most remarkable thing about that will be just how awful these people are, because no doubt the MSM is still shilling away for them.

    July 24, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. Romneycares Less

    Show me your MONEY, MITT! I'll never vote for another do nothing show nothing Republican!

    July 24, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. Joi Gibson

    WOW! Just wow! This guy is going to flat out accuse President Obama of foreign policy leaks for political reasons – at a VFW event – pot, meet kettle. AND, Willard is always whining about the President's attack add. All Willard does is attack, he is the king of attack ads. He wiped out his competition in the primaries with his political attack ads. And to say the fiscal cliff we are heading toward is solely the responsibility of President Obama is a flat out lie. That is what Congress agreed to; the very same Republicans who are complaining voted for it now they do not want to live by it.

    All Willard talks about is how all the country's ills are solely President Obama's fault. Yet, he offers nothing in return. This guy is the worst.


    July 24, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. Q

    I am guessing that the evidence for these charges will be released with his tax returns....

    July 24, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  25. Wake up people

    Show us your taxes Robmey and please don't forget your long form birth certificate!

    OBAMA 2012!

    July 24, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
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