Lawmakers: When Did Defense Nominee Know of Alleged Moscow Treaty Breach?

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 21, 2014, 5:22 a.m.

An Obama nom­in­ee to a seni­or Pentagon post will have to an­swer ques­tions next week on his know­ledge of al­leged Rus­si­an vi­ol­a­tions of an arms con­trol pact.

Bri­an McK­eon has been nom­in­ated to the po­s­i­tion of prin­cip­al deputy un­der­sec­ret­ary of De­fense for policy. In the buildup to next week’s Sen­ate con­firm­a­tion hear­ing, two Re­pub­lic­an law­makers have writ­ten to the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, de­mand­ing to know wheth­er the cur­rent Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Coun­cil chief of staff was aware back in 2010 that Rus­sia was sus­pec­ted of vi­ol­at­ing a nuc­le­ar-forces re­duc­tion pact, the Daily Beast re­por­ted.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­cently ac­know­ledged hav­ing con­cerns that Rus­sia is in breach of the 1987 In­ter­me­di­ate-Range Nuc­le­ar Forces Treaty, though it has yet to form­ally ac­cuse Mo­scow of any vi­ol­a­tion. The ap­par­ent source of con­cern is Rus­si­an test­ing of a new ground-launched cruise mis­sile, dat­ing back to 2008. The agree­ment pro­hib­its Rus­sia and the United States from pro­du­cing, stock­pil­ing or test­ing any cruise or bal­list­ic mis­siles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles.

In their let­ter, Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee mem­bers Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Ro­ger Wick­er (R-Miss.) de­man­ded to know wheth­er McK­eon was aware of the al­leged treaty breach at the time when he was act­ing as a key White House rep­res­ent­at­ive on Cap­it­ol Hill dur­ing the push to se­cure Sen­ate rat­i­fic­a­tion of the New START treaty, ac­cord­ing to the news pub­lic­a­tion.

“Based on your role as Vice Pres­id­ent [Joe] Biden’s lead ne­go­ti­at­or on the New START treaty and as one of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s primary li­ais­ons with the Sen­ate dur­ing the New START rat­i­fic­a­tion pro­cess, we are in­ter­ested in what you knew about po­ten­tial vi­ol­a­tions of the INF treaty and what in­form­a­tion was shared with the Sen­ate,” the two sen­at­ors said.

Wick­er and Ayotte also want an­swers on why it took the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion so many years to up­date Con­gress on its con­cerns about pos­sible treaty trans­gres­sions by Mo­scow.

“If the ad­min­is­tra­tion knew about po­ten­tial vi­ol­a­tions dur­ing con­sid­er­a­tion of the treaty and did not fully in­form the Sen­ate of these vi­ol­a­tions while it de­bated New START, this would rep­res­ent a ser­i­ous ab­rog­a­tion of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­spons­ib­il­it­ies,” states the let­ter, which was viewed by the Daily Beast.

A Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee aide told the news web­site that McK­eon’s pos­sible know­ledge of pur­por­ted Rus­si­an treaty vi­ol­a­tions could sty­mie his con­firm­a­tion.

“It is not yet clear wheth­er the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fail­ure to in­form the Sen­ate dur­ing [New START] treaty con­sid­er­a­tion was be­cause of neg­li­gence or a de­lib­er­ate act of bad faith,” the com­mit­tee staffer said.

Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Coun­cil spokes­wo­man Caitlyn Hay­den op­ted not to re­spond to re­quests for com­ment on the GOP let­ter.

What We're Following See More »
Lawmakers Express Reservations About Gov’t Hacking Powers
31 minutes ago

Twenty-three members of Congress "on Thursday asked the Justice Department to clarify how a looming rule change to the government's hacking powers could impact privacy rights of innocent Americans. The change, due to take place on December 1, would let judges issue search warrants for remote access to computers located in any jurisdiction, potentially including foreign countries. Magistrate judges can normally only order searches within the jurisdiction of their court, which is typically limited to a few counties."

Clinton Has Raised $101 Million in October
32 minutes ago

"Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced that her campaign and joint fundraising committees raised $101 million in the first 19 days of October, giving her committees $153 million in cash on hand." Her campaign itself has about $62 million on hand. The campaign said the average donation was $50.

Clinton, FLOTUS Campaign Together for First Time
32 minutes ago

Hillary Clinton appeared on the campaign trail for the first time with Michelle Obama on Thursday night. At the joint appearance in North Carolina, Mrs. Obama said, “When you hear folks talking about a global conspiracy and saying that this election is rigged, understand that they are trying to get you to stay home. They are trying to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter, that the outcome has already been determined and that you shouldn’t even bother to make your voice heard.”

Clinton Up 9 in USA Today Poll; Up 3 According to Fox
20 hours ago

A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds Clinton leads Trump by 9 points nationwide, 47% to 38%. A Fox News national poll has Clinton up just three points, 44% to 41% over Trump.

Cruz: Eight Justices Could Be an Ongoing Situation
22 hours ago

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that "there was “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices—appearing to suggest that the blockade on nominee Merrick Garland could last past the election." Speaking to reporters in Colorado, Cruz said: "I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.