By: CNN's Ashley Killough
Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday his "biggest concern" right now is the uncertainty over budget issues on Capitol Hill.
"If the sequester is allowed to go into effect, I think it could seriously impact on the readiness in the United States," he said on CNN's "State of the Union." "And that's a serious issue."
The U.S. military could face the start of $500 billion in budget cuts in about a month if Congress fails to come up with a budget plan that avoids the so-called sequester, a serious of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts spread out over the next decade.
By Gregory Wallace
Republican legislators on Sunday questioned the motives behind the Obama administration’s initial description of the September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, after Friday briefings on Capitol Hill from the former CIA director.
Asked whether the Obama administration’s initial description of the attacks as “spontaneous” was an attempt to avoid a discussion about terrorist groups being involved, Sen. Roy Blunt said, “Until you hear a better explanation, that's the only conclusion you could reach.”
“You have to have a really good reason why you don't give the American people the information you had, unless you think you're somehow going to really endanger the people that are in other parts of the world,” the Missouri Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”FULL STORY
By Kevin Liptak
The assault on an American diplomatic post in Libya that left four Americans dead provided surrogates for both presidential candidates with fodder for political attacks Sunday, two days ahead of a critical debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.
On CNN's "State of the Union," Romney adviser Ed Gillespie echoed an attack line the GOP nominee delivered last week, insisting that Vice President Joe Biden's assertions at the vice-presidential debate didn't match congressional testimony from State Department officials.
"Vice President Biden directly contradicted the sworn testimony of the State Department in the debate the other night. That led to another round of kind of nuancing by the White House," Gillespie said, adding: "There are inconsistencies here, and I think as Americans we deserve to know what really happened going into this attack."
Robert Gibbs, also speaking with CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union," rejected the Republican criticism of the Obama administration, saying the president's rivals were seeking political gain from the national tragedy.
"We don't need wing-tipped cowboys or shoot-from-the-hip diplomacy," Gibbs said, pointing to widespread criticism of Romney's initial response to the attack in Libya, as well as a protest at the American Embassy in Cairo that occurred the same day.
Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago. Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.
NATO must be willing to be involved in conflict away from the immediate geography of the member nations, the group's secretary general told CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday.
Rasmussen was responding to a Security Clearance article by CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott which reported that the decade-long NATO involvement in Afghanistan has produced what some have described as collective fatigue among European allies and questions about whether NATO should be involved in conflicts outside of Europe's backyard.
"In today's world all allies realize that territorial defense of our populations and our countries may very well start beyond our borders," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen responded in an interview that aired on CNN's State of the Union.
In regards to Afghanistan, Rasmussen said NATO members are starting to pledge the money needed to support Afghanistan, an issue that the U.S. is raising with other countries. Rasmussen described himself as "optimistic" the necessary funds to support Afghanistan's forces will be achieved. FULL POST
The heads of the Senate and House intelligence committees said Sunday the Taliban was gaining ground, just days after President Barack Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan and touted the progress made in the war on terror.
“I think we'd both say that what we found is that the Taliban is stronger,” said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein on CNN’s “State of the Union,” while sitting with Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan.
As first reported on Security Clearance on Friday, Rogers said his recent trip demonstrated that the military and intelligence officials he met with were in disagreement with intelligence officials believing the Taliban were significantly stronger than just a few years ago.
Here's what the two intelligence committee chairs said on State of the Union: FULL POST