Tags: james mattis | defense secretary | leon panetta | waiver

Ex-Defense Sec. Panetta Calls on Waiver for Gen. Mattis

Image: Ex-Defense Sec. Panetta Calls on Waiver for Gen. Mattis

Marine Gen. James Mattis (Ret.) (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By    |   Tuesday, 06 Dec 2016 02:47 PM

Leon Panetta, the former secretary of Defense under President Barack Obama, said retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis should get the waiver required to serve, and he should also get the job.

Panetta provided the praise for Mattis in a Washington Post interview with Josh Rogin.

"It's important that the Congress, in the process of providing that waiver, makes sure that Jim Mattis understands that he has to play a role, not just on the military side, but also on the civilian side. I think he does," Panetta said in the interview.

Panetta praised Mattis for speaking his mind when necessary.

"Sometimes his attitude rubbed some people in the White House the wrong way, because he was aggressive. It never made him hesitate to keep saying what he believed was necessary. You wanted Jim Mattis in the room, because he speaks truth to power."

Mattis has experience in Defense Department policy and management, as well as diplomatic experience with U.S. allies, according to Panetta, who led the Pentagon while Mattis was head of Central Command.

Congressional lawmakers must approve a waiver for Mattis to serve as secretary, since he retired less than seven years ago. That rule was mandated in 1947 — at the time the limit was 10 years — and Panetta said the law was a product of the times.

"That was in a time coming out of WWII when there was a tremendous reliance on military leadership during the war and a recognition that they were warriors while the people considering defense policy had to consider wider issues. I believe that civilian control and civilian involvement in the Defense Department is an important principle, but I also don't think a military background should be disqualifying," Panetta said.

Amending the 1947 law would require separate votes in the House and Senate, the Post reported.

New York Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand disagrees with Panetta and is opposed to Mattis getting a waiver. Other Democrats, such as California Rep. Adam Schiff and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, have said they have not yet made a decision.

Kori Schake wrote a book with Mattis about civil-military relations. She foresees an increase in retired officers taking civilian security positions.

"I would rather see the civilian side strengthened than to see the line moved for retired military folks, but we are where we are," she said in the Post.

Politico reported that Republicans are trying to put confirmation of Mattis in a spending bill that must pass by Friday, but Democrats are urging them to keep the issues separate.

 

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Leon Panetta, the former secretary of Defense under President Barack Obama, said retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis should get the waiver required to serve, and he should also get the job.
james mattis, defense secretary, leon panetta, waiver
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2016-47-06
Tuesday, 06 Dec 2016 02:47 PM
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