WASHINGTON — Senior US Senator John McCain demanded in a letter out Thursday that President Barack Obama’s pick to be the Pentagon’s top Asia hand detail his role in internal White House feuds on national security.
And McCain signaled that he might block former national security council (NSC) chief of staff Mark Lippert’s nomination to be assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs depending on his answers.
“Your actions while working at the NSC are an important indicator of your fundamental qualification to carry out the duties of the critically important position for which you have been nominated,” the Republican lawmaker said.
McCain, in a letter first detailed by the Foreign Policy Magazine blog The Cable, questioned Lippert about his reported feuds with former Obama national security adviser Jim Jones as detailed in journalist Bob Woodward’s 2010 book “Obama’s Wars.”
McCain, Obama’s defeated rival in the 2008 presidential election, says some of Lippert’s reported behavior “could be described as arrogant and disloyal” and points to a passage in Woodward’s book accusing him of “rank insubordination.”
Most of the allegations in the book consist of Jones railing about Lippert allegedly leaking derogatory comments about him to the media and allegedly cutting off his access to Obama during a 2009 trip to Europe.
Lippert told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a November 17 confirmation hearing that he did not leak to reporters about Jones and sought to defuse widespread accounts that they clashed.
“I didn’t leak to the press and there wasn’t insubordination,” he said. “There was also times we disagreed, but I knew General Jones was the boss.”