[Update] Turner's full letter below the original post.
ABC News' Jake Tapper reports that Barack Obama has yet again been caught on an open microphone, this time begging Russian President Dmitri Medvedev for some "space" on missile defense because he would have more flexibility after the November presidential election.
President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.
President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
Ed Morrissey reminds readers this is not the first time Obama has been embarrassed or embarrassed America by having his comments caught on an open microphone, then goes on to ask a very valid question:
Obama won’t share these plans with the American people. However, he’ll share them with the Russians, and ask for their help in influencing the election. That should tell American voters all they need to know about this President.
Or perhaps not. What other nations has Obama asked for “space” on American foreign and national-security policy so that he can win a second term? And what American interests is Obama willing to trade for that “space”?
More via The Politico:
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said in a statement that “the United States is committed to implementing our missile defense system, which we’ve repeatedly said is not aimed at Russia."
This brings up the obvious question of "Flexibility to do what exactly?"
That is a question being asked by Rep. Michael R. Turner (R., Ohio), chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces, according to The Washington Free Beacon:
“Congress has made exquisitely clear to your administration and to other nations that it will block all attempts to weaken U.S. missile defense,” Turner stated in the letter. “As the chairman of the strategic forces subcommittee, which authorizes U.S. missile defense and nuclear weapons policy, I want to make perfectly clear that my colleagues and I will not allow any attempts to trade missile defense of the United States to Russia or any other country.”
Turner noted that during the December 2010 ratification debate over the New START arms treaty with Russia that the president made specific promises that Russia’s opposition to U.S. missile defenses would not impact U.S. plans to deploy both short- and medium-range missile defenses in Europe and elsewhere.
Additionally, the president promised to make both “qualitative and quantitative improvements in its missile defenses,” Turner said.
“You have already walked away from detailed promises to modernize the U.S. nuclear deterrent; are you now planning to walk away from your promises regarding U.S. missile defense as well?” Turner asked.
Amid concerns that the administration planned to share highly classified missile defense secrets with Russia in an effort to assuage Moscow’s fears that U.S. defenses will target its missiles, the defense authorization bill signed into law by the president contains a provision that limits the president’s ability to share classified data with Russia.
“Congress took this step because it was clear based on official testimony and administration comments in the press that classified information about U.S. missile defenses, including hit-to-kill technology and velocity at burnout information, may be on the table as negotiating leverage for your reset with Russia,” Turner said, noting that the president said he may treat the limit as nonbinding when he signed the defense bill into law.
The comments in Seoul, in addition to the signing statement, “suggests that you and your administration have plans for U.S. missile defenses that you believe will not stand up to electoral scrutiny,” Turner said.
Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl weighs in and criticizes Obama for promising concessions on missile defense.
In a statement, Kyl said that the president canceled plans for anti-ballistic missile systems in Poland and Czech Republic and supported langauge in the New START arms treaty that links missile defense to nuclear reductions.
“We know the administration is sharing information with Russia, including plans to deploy missile defenses in Europe,” Kyl said. “We know the president has significantly reduced funding and curtailed development of the U.S. national missile defense system, undermining our ability to effectively intercept long-range ballistic missiles. And we know the president has doubled-down on efforts to reduce our nuclear arsenal while failing to honor his promises to modernize the aging nuclear weapons complex.”
However, Kyl said what is unknown is what Obama has planned for after the election after gaining the reported “flexibility” in dealing with Moscow.
“Perhaps the Russians, in whom President Obama recently confided, could shed some light on his missile defense plans for the American people who otherwise have been left in the dark by this president,” Kyl said.
Professor William A. Jaconson asks "Why does Obama feel the President of Russia is entitled to know more about Obama’s plans than the American public?"
Many American voters would like to know the answer to that question.
[Update] Turner's full letter below- Press release HERE and PDF of letter HERE.
Dear Mr. President,
I request your urgent explanation of your comments to President Medvedev in Seoul this morning.
During the New START treaty ratification process, you made specific promises that Russian concerns about missile defense will not be allowed to affect U.S. missile defense deployment plans. You further committed that the United States will make both qualitative and quantitative improvements in its missile defenses. You have already walked away from detailed promises to modernize the U.S. nuclear deterrent; are you now planning to walk away from your promises regarding U.S. missile defense as well?
As you know, in the FY12 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress enacted, and you signed into law, a provision constraining your ability to share classified U.S. missile defense information with the Russian Federation. Congress took this step because it was clear based on official testimony and Administration comments in the press that classified information about U.S. missile defenses, including hit-to-kill technology and velocity at burnout information, may be on the table as negotiating leverage for your reset with Russia. Despite signing the FY12 defense authorization legislation into law, you then issued a signing statement signaling that you may treat that provision protecting U.S. missile defense information as non-binding. This morning’s comments, on top of that action, suggests that you and your administration have plans for U.S. missile defenses that you believe will not stand up to electoral scrutiny.
Congress has made exquisitely clear to your Administration and to other nations that it will block all attempts to weaken U.S. missile defenses. As the Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which authorizes U.S. missile defense and nuclear weapons policy, I want to make perfectly clear that my colleagues and I will not allow any attempts to trade missile defense of the United States to Russia or any other country.
Michael R. Turner
Chairman, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces