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Panetta: You’re Either With the Defense Industry Lobbyists or You’re With the Terrorists

The special pleading for the military-industrial complex on the part of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has reached truly disgusting levels:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been steadily escalating his warnings about the impact of the deep cuts facing the Pentagon if the congressional super committee fails to reach a deal. On Thursday, he played the last – and strongest — card in his deck, arguing that the hundreds of billions of dollars of mandatory cuts would directly imperil U.S. national security […]

He went even further on Thursday, using arguably the strongest rhetorical weapon in his arsenal. Mandatory defense cuts, he warned, would weaken the armed forces to the point that enemies would be emboldened to attack the U.S.

“In effect, it invites aggression,” Panetta said during the new conference, just his second since taking office in July.

That’s right, reducing the size of the military from bigger than the military of every nation on earth combined to just slightly smaller than the military of every nation on earth combined leaves us terribly vulnerable to attack. Keep in mind the last “military” attack on the United States, outside of the War of 1812, was pulled off by 20 people with boxcutters. I don’t know that having the extra $300 billion in advanced weapons systems at the ready plays a role in stopping that. He actually said that these reductions, which would take the military to a size recommended by bipartisan panels, would turn the US into a “paper tiger.”

And rather than cutting the military, Panetta has openly called for exemptions that would force the cuts to fall on social safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. Even internally at the Pentagon, Panetta is more interested in cutting the health care benefits of veteran retirees than reducing the bloat.

First Democrat running the Pentagon in 15 years, folks.

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David Dayen

David Dayen