By Debbie Gregory.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has withdrawn retired senior diplomat Anne Patterson as his choice for Undersecretary of Defense for Policy after the White House indicated unwillingness to fight what it said would be a battle for Senate confirmation.
Mattis did so after Senators Ted Cruz (R-Tex ) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark), two key members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed strong opposition to Patterson’s selection.
The senators were strongly opposed to Patterson’s nomination because she served as United States ambassador to Egypt from 2011 to 2013, a time when the Obama administration supported an elected government with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood that was ultimately overthrown by the Egyptian military.
“I believe that political appointees in the foreign policy and national security arena need to reflect the president’s priorities, and Obama administration officials who helped implement the Obama willful blindness to radical Islamic terrorism and active appeasement of the Muslim Brotherhood do not reflect those commitments,” said Cruz.
Cruz praised Mattis as “a strong and serious leader with decades of experience defending this country,” and said he was “hopeful that the foreign policy and national security team assembled at the Defense Department and throughout this nation will demonstrate the same clear-eyed realism and seriousness of resolve that is needed to keep this country safe.”
Mattis’s acquiescence to Patterson’s withdrawal came after he fought and won a major battle with the White House to remove Iraq from the list of majority Muslim countries whose citizens are barred from U.S. entry under Trump’s executive order on immigration.
“I think it’s very unfortunate that they haven’t moved forward with these nominees,” McCain said. “You can’t expect [Mattis] to run the entire show.”
Asked to comment on the Patterson news, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz) said Cotton and Cruz “can do what they want to do, but a principle that has been followed for five administrations is let the people surround themselves with the people who let them operate most effectively.
“I know Anne Patterson very well, I knew her when she was ambassador to Egypt. I think she is very talented,” McCain said.
As of now, Mattis represents the only Senate confirmed spot at the Pentagon, where over 50 spots remain open.