The most transparent administration in history
Acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan has mandated new restrictions on the way the Pentagon shares information with Congress about military operations around the world, a move that is straining ties with key Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
In a May 8 internal memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post, Shanahan lays out the criteria for when Pentagon officials may provide congressional offices or committees information they request about operational plans and orders.
The memo comes as lawmakers from both parties complain that the Trump administration has withheld information that prevents them from executing their constitutionally mandated oversight role. Some lawmakers are also concerned about whether Shanahan has allowed the military to be drawn too deeply into President Trump’s immigration agenda.
“Congress oversees the Department of Defense; but with this new policy, the department is overstepping its authority by presuming to determine what warrants legislative oversight,” Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.), the chair and ranking Republican of the House Armed Services Committee.
The memo was shared widely inside the Pentagon but was sent to key lawmakers only after inquiries by The Post. It outlines a half-dozen guidelines, including requirements that military officials and political appointees evaluate whether the request “contains sufficient information to demonstrate a relationship to the legislative function.” The memo urges Defense Department officials to provide a summary briefing rather than a requested plan or order itself.
The memo appears to have been inspired by concerns that lawmakers, who have security clearances, will not safeguard military plans. It calls on officials to assess “whether the degree of protection from unauthorized disclosure that Congress will afford to the plan is equivalent to that afforded” by the Pentagon.
Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the memo “seems to be another way in which they can claim that they don’t need to respond to legitimate inquiry of Congress.” Reed received the memo Saturday, shortly after The Post asked the Pentagon about it.
“From what I can glean from the memorandum basically they can use any factor they want to say no and they can make a determination what they think we need to do our job,” Reed said in an interview. “I think we’re better positioned to determine what we need to do our job.”
The administration is stonewalling absolutely everything. You'd think at some point the Republicans would grow a little bit concerned but apparently they just trust Trump and his unfit D-list cabinet to do the right thing. They really shouldn't be paid. They are completely AWOL.
And, of course, this is the official line:
Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for Shanahan, said the new policy aims to increase “transparency and information sharing with Congress.”