The Cable

Clinton Trots Out Former Military Brass and CIA Director to Slam Trump and Cruz

Leon Panetta and others repudiate the GOP front-runners’ blustering response to Brussels: ‘'It puts more of our troops in danger.”

<> on February 14, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia.
<> on February 14, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia.

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign on Friday used its highest-profile national security surrogate yet — former CIA director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta — to step up its attack on Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for their tough-guy responses to Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels.

Trump reacted to the bombings on the subway and at the international airport in the Belgian capital by doubling down on his calls for the U.S. to ban Muslims and torture terror suspects, while Cruz said U.S. law enforcement should begin policing Muslim neighborhoods and blamed “political correctness” for the attacks.

Panetta, along with Rand Beers, former deputy assistant to the president for Homeland Security, and retired Maj. Gen. Tony Taguba, who led the investigation of the Abu Ghraib scandal, said in a press call for the Democratic candidate on Friday that those policies put forth by the two front-runners for the Republican nomination are actually endangering American troops and spawning more terrorists.

“Donald Trump is saying we should torture people and bomb families of terrorists and walk away from NATO and build walls and round up Muslims and keep them out of country,” Panetta said. “These are not serious proposals. They are political slogans and not strategies for dealing with this threat. And they’re reckless, and they won’t work.”

As for Cruz, he said, the recommendation that police patrol Muslim neighborhoods “is hard to even understand,” suggesting it may be unconstitutional and could antagonize the very community necessary for domestic counterterrorism efforts to work. New York Police Department Commissioner William Bratton called Cruz’s demand — and his criticism of New York’s security strategy — “really out of line.”

“So both Trump and Cruz’s approaches are the kind shoot-from-the-hip slogans that demonstrate what I fear is a stunning lack of knowledge about national security,” Panetta said.

Beers piled on, describing Cruz’s call for Muslim policing as “completely wrong-headed.” Before advising the president, Beers served as acting Homeland Security secretary, he noted that he spent 42 years in government on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism.

“He thinks he’s found a solution for catching terrorists,” Beers said of Cruz. “I think he’s found a strategy that’s going to create more terrorists.”

With Trump’s rhetoric, that may already be happening. Al Shabaab, a Somali-based terror group that is linked to the Islamic State, began using clips of Trump’s anti-Muslim comments in a recruitment video earlier this year. And shortly after the bombings in Brussels, an outlet that redistributes pro-Islamic State propaganda released a video celebrating the attacks, with Trump’s remarks about the Belgian capital featuring prominently.

“And now it’s a horror show,” Trump says, “an absolute horror show.”

Photo credit: WIN MCNAMEE/Getty Staff

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