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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today joined Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s The Situation Room to discuss the escalating crisis in Iraq; to warn against working with Iran in the region; and to encourage U.S. support of the Iraqi military in the form of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and equipment.
BLITZER: Where do we go from here, what do you want President Obama to do?
INHOFE: First of all, in 2009, 2010, and 2013 we sent some very strong recommendations to the President and said whatever you do, don’t cut and run and leave them without any intelligence, without the other sources- things we could have done with them- logistics, foreign military sales and all of that. But he did it anyway… The main thing is, to offer them the support of having the intelligence and then some equipment they need to have, because what happened is we just walked away from it.
During the interview, Inhofe declared that any joint efforts with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard would be a “horrible mistake."
INHOFE: Now they’re talkin about, some of the people are talking about joining in with Iran on this thing, which I think would be a horrible mistake.
On Friday, Inhofe responded to President Obama's Iraq statement saying that "the nation deserves better answers from President Obama." Inhofe pointed out that the Obama Administration's failed foreign policy has "created a leadership vacuum eagerly filled by Iran. Specifically, the vacuum is being filled in Syria by the Russians and Iranians, and in Iraq by ISIS occupying cities and the Iranians now sending military units reportedly to defend Baghdad."
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), joined FOX News' Dana Perino Tuesday evening to discuss new details that emerged from the SASC closed door hearing on the prisoner exchange that resulted in the White House releasing five senior Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay nearly two weeks ago. Most notedly, Inhofe shared his concern that the White House failed to consult or even notify in advance our military leaders on the ground, including Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).
Click here to watch a video of the discussion
Host dana PERINO: "Senator, could you start off with telling us a little bit of, did you learn anything today that was new that we haven't heard already?"
SEN. JAMES INHOFE, RANKING MEMBER, SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: "All I learned today is how well orchestrated the White House is. They had everyone saying the same thing. No one disagreeing. And so there is very little new. There is one thing that's not classified that I will share. And I was in shock. Dana, it was against the law for them to do this without the 30-day notice. I think we all have covered that. We know that. But even General Dunford, who is the commanding general in Afghanistan, and General Austin, of the Central Command, they were not advised either that they were turning these people loose. Everyone who is on record now -- James Clapper, who is the intelligence director, he said he would not have turned them loose under no circumstances. They tried to turn this same group loose just a few months ago. And they all said no. Leon Panetta, he was secretary of defense at that time. He said, no, we can't do it.
And so, to answer your question, there wasn't anything new. And a lot of this stuff that they talked about should not be classified anyway."
Sen. Inhofe calls for a Sudanese woman sentenced to death to receive asylum.
By Peter Roff, Published June 2, 2014
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No one knows how much attention the Obama administration is paying to the plight of a Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan for refusing to renounce her faith, but the lack of pictures of first lady Michelle Obama holding a #FreeMeriamIbrahim sign suggests it’s not very much.
The story of Meriam Ibrahim, whom the Sudanese government has decided was raised in a Muslim environment, meaning she must renounce her belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ or die, has not gotten the same level of attention as the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by a terrorist group that objects to their receiving an education. Nonetheless it is, from an American perspective, just as if not more important because she is the wife of a U.S. citizen, and should, therefore, be a priority for the president and his national security team.
That they have failed to act may be due to the intense negotiations just concluded that produced the release of an American soldier allegedly being held captive in Afghanistan in exchange for the release of five high-ranking terrorist detainees who were being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As time passes, however, the story of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who went missing nearly five years ago from his post in Afghanistan, becomes all the more mysterious.
“Bergdahl’s mysterious disappearance from the small military outpost there and the subsequent revelation that he was in enemy hands prompted questions that still linger,” The New York Post reported Saturday. “Soon after the capture, Taliban commander Mulvi Sangeen claimed a drunken Bergdahl was snatched while he stumbled to his car in the Yousaf Khel district of Paktika,” the paper said – noting that the U.S. military called the assertion a lie but also reporting that the now former captive had “made murky statements that suggested he was gravitating away from the soldiers in his unit and toward desertion,” according to an interview given by a member of his platoon.
If it turns out the administration did indeed release five high-value prisoners captured in the war on terror in order to secure the release of someone who more properly should stand before a military court martial, as some are now suggesting, the president and national security adviser Susan Rice, among others, will have a lot of explaining to do.
What that all means, in the infinite scheme of things, is that the administration needs a clear national security win it can brag about to deflect attention not just away from its seemingly ill-considered “trade for terrorists” but from the unfolding scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs that forced the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki and the other bad news the president and his team have visited on the nation over the last five days.
Fortunately for Ibrahim – and for the rest of us – someone who hasn’t taken his eye off the ball is Oklahoma GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe, who Monday wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry suggesting the U.S. government immediately grant her and her family, including the child to whom she gave birth last week while a prisoner, political asylum.
“I fear for the health and safety of Ms. Ibrahim, her husband and two children,” Inhofe told his former senate colleague, “despite statements by the government of Sudan that no sentence will be carried out until two years after the completion of her appeals.” The Sooner State’s senior legislator is one of more than a score of senators who have introduced S. Res. 453, which called for the immediate release of Ibrahim and her children.
In a statement, Inhofe made clear his efforts were all about encouraging the U.S. government to support religious freedom within Sudan and recognize “every individual regardless of religion should have the opportunity to practice his or her religion without fear of discrimination.”
Inhofe may have given Obama and company a way out: If Ibrahim is eventually executed, they would most assuredly get a well-deserved portion of the blame. A grant of political asylum would be, for Obama, a proactive way to resolve this most serious crisis in a way that allows the Sudanese government to save face, since she is the husband of an American citizen. Everyone could declare victory, everyone could argue that principle was upheld – even if those principles are in direct conflict with one another – and most importantly, Ibrahim would be alive and free and able to practice her faith as her conscience dictates. It is a strategy the administration should pursue with the greatest possible dispatch, even if that means putting Kerry on a plane for Africa. If he times it right, he could hitch a ride with the departing terrorists the administration is sending to Qatar for a year in order to save the taxpayers some money.
National Journal Magazine published a special report on the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) which profiles Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the committee, and three members of the minority staff.
Ranking Member James Inhofe
By Fawn Johnson: Click to read online
James Inhofe is airing a new campaign ad. It shows the 79-year-old lawmaker flying a private plane upside down. His nephew, a video producer, mounted cameras on the wings, the tail, and the nose of the aircraft to document the stunt, which the Oklahoma Republican says he has performed hundreds of times.
"I've been flying for 55 years. People always say, 'Inhofe, you're too old to run for reelection.' And I say, 'When I'm no longer flying an airplane upside down, then I'm too old to run for reelection.' "
As a pilot, Inhofe combines disciplined understanding of his craft's parameters with joyful (some would say reckless) execution of fun feats. As a senator, he combines an unapologetic belief in a few simple ideas—President Obama is disarming America, defense spending in Oklahoma should keep coming to Oklahoma—with deep knowledge of the legislative process.
And as the Republican leader on the powerful Armed Services Committee, Inhofe is deft at maneuvering across the aisle. He worked hand in glove with committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, to pass an uncluttered defense authorization bill last December, even missing his 54th wedding anniversary when the floor deliberations dragged on. He and Levin argued that the Senate shouldn't attach unrelated amendments to the bill—because the legislation was simply too important.
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"It's the one bill that you have to have to give the resources to our kids who are out fighting battles," Inhofe told reporters at the time.
"The world we live in now has our troops in harm's way, has their families that need our support," Levin said at a December press conference.
Now, Inhofe is in full deal-making mode again. He stepped out of a hearing at which the Joint Chiefs of Staff were set to testify last week and met privately with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., to talk about the next defense authorization bill. "It makes conference easier," he explained.
Inhofe is a proud defender of military activities—and the money that goes with them—in his home state. He brags that Oklahoma has always come out ahead during base realignment and closure decisions, because the communities around the bases in his state are so supportive, donating land for roads, schools, and hospitals to be used by the military. "You'd think this is true in every state, but it's not," he says.
Does his 20-year membership on the Armed Services Committee help in that capacity? "All I do is offset any bias that comes from other members," Inhofe says. "It seems like there's always someone trying to use political influence to gain some of the missions that we have done so well on in Oklahoma, and all I want to do is offset that."
Inhofe rejects the idea that the current budget constraints will restrict committee members' power to bring military goodies to their home states. This isn't the first time the defense budget has faced cuts, he says. He remembers protesting on the floor when President Clinton attempted to wield the ax. "We corrected that," Inhofe says. He sees Obama as an "extreme liberal" whose top goal is to disarm the military, but he thinks committee members have the power to slow down that process. "We've been through it before," he says.
Inhofe also has a soft side. He is keenly interested in Africa, and is on a first-name basis with many of the presidents of the continent's 52 countries. On one of his to trips to Ethiopia, Inhofe found an abandoned 2-day-old baby in a field. That girl is now his 14-year-old granddaughter, adopted by his daughter Molly.
His first trips to Africa, before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, were religious missions. "I'm a Jesus guy," he says. Now, in addition to his missionary work, he helps broker military-training arrangements with African countries to help them contend with terrorist cells.
Inhofe is running for his fourth full term as senator this year, a contest he should win handily. He fully expects the Republicans to take control of the Senate, which means he would step down as the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee and hand the gavel to Sen. John McCain of Arizona. McCain served for six years as committee ranking member before ceding the position to Inhofe due to term limits. Under Senate GOP rules, McCain can serve another six years as chairman.
If his party wins the Senate, Inhofe expects to lead the Environment and Public Works Committee—taking over from Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer—which would give him the opportunity to go after a host of environmental regulations. He was a land developer before he was elected to the House in 1986, and he says environmental rules were the biggest obstacles he faced. He considers it poetic justice that he is in line to chair the committee "that has jurisdiction over the very bureaucracy that tried to put me out of business for 20 years." Needless to say, if Inhofe winds up in the cockpit, he plans to pilot a bit differently.
Minority Committee Staff Members
By Christopher Hopkins: Click here to read online
JOHN A. BONSELL
MINORITY STAFF DIRECTOR
Bonsell is ranking member James Inhofe's staff director on the committee, and he fits the position's archetype: loyal to his boss, revered by his staff, and dubious of the press.
Bonsell, 54, who declined to be interviewed, entered military service by way of an Army ROTC scholarship program at Pennsylvania State University, where he graduated with a degree in political science in 1981. Over the next 20 years, he held a variety of command and staff positions, including chief of concepts and doctrine for the Army. After being selected for colonel and brigade-level command, Bonsell retired from the Pentagon for family medical reasons.
From 2001 to 2007, Bonsell served as Inhofe's military legislative assistant, advising him on matters related to defense, homeland security, foreign relations, intelligence, and veterans' affairs. Bonsell then left government service to work as vice president for Robinson International, a chemical-testing company, before returning to Capitol Hill in February 2012 as Inhofe's legislative director.
ANTHONY J. LAZARSKI
MINORITY PROFESSIONAL STAFF MEMBER
Lazarski had a shot at becoming an Air Force general. He chose to work for Inhofe instead.
"I can count on one hand the number of members that I would do that for," Lazarski says. "Everyone knows that [Inhofe] is an advocate for a strong military. That's why I retired from the Air Force just months before my board was to decide whether I would be promoted."
As a top lieutenant to Bonsell, Lazarski has a portfolio that includes overseeing Air Force readiness, development, and procurement programs; military depots; U.S. Africa Command; and U.S. Transportation Command. A retired Air Force colonel with more than 2,300 flight hours in a dozen different models of aircraft, the well-liked, quick-witted 54-year-old is known by the sobriquet "Lazer."
Raised in North Arlington, N.J., Lazarski was inspired to join the Air Force by the moon landings of the 1960s and '70s. As a cadet at the Air Force Academy, he was selected for pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, and was soon flying F-111s out of Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. In the years that followed, he hopscotched around the globe, flying jets and performing other duties in the United Kingdom, Germany, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Italy, and elsewhere. Lazarski shoots model rockets with former NASA astronaut Tom Stafford, who was the commander of Apollo 10 in 1969. He is also active in the Cub Scouts—an activity not without peril. "Last weekend, I came back from a camping trip with three ticks," he says.
TOM W. GOFFUS
MINORITY PROFESSIONAL STAFF MEMBER
"I remember mowing my front lawn and seeing them pass overhead," Goffus says of the fighter jets that captured his imagination when he was a teen growing up outside Pittsburgh. "No one in my family had been in the military before, but that kind of got me interested."
Fast-forward 35 years, and Goffus is the main adviser to Inhofe on matters relating to Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and China. A former command pilot with more than 3,100 flight hours in the F-15, T-6, and T-37 aircraft, he came to the committee via the National Security Council and the State Department, and has experience navigating the interlocking parts of the U.S. national security apparatus. "It's kind of like trying to figure out a Rubik's Cube," Goffus says.
The self-deprecating 50-year-old, whose call sign is "Chum," attended the Air Force Academy and has master's degrees from the University of Washington (Seattle) and the Naval War College. He was commissioned in the Air Force in 1985 and commanded the 558th Flying Training Squadron at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas and the 55th Mission Support Group at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
Toward the end of his military service, Goffus was deployed to Afghanistan for six months. At one point, a high-ranking State Department official at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul told him, "You're able to talk to us, and we can understand you, which isn't always true when we're dealing with the Pentagon." He encouraged Goffus to apply for a position in the State Department after he returned from his command tour.
"I think he got more than he bargained for," Goffus says. "I ended up in the office right next to his; I'm sure he regretted that."