NY Times uncritically reported GOP claim that F-22 cuts mean Obama "refuses to fund programs critical to our national defense"

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

In reporting GOP criticism of the Obama administration's decision to end funding for F-22s, The New York Times but did not point out that Secretary Gates said the "military advice" he received is that "there is no military requirement for numbers of F-22s beyond" those that have already been funded.

In an April 6 article, The New York Times uncritically reported Rep. Tom Price's (R-GA) assertion that Defense Secretary Robert Gates' proposal to cease funding for additional F-22 fighter jets is indicative of President Obama's "refus[al] to fund programs critical to our national defense." The Times did not point out that during an April 6 press briefing, Gates said "it was not a close call" to end funding for F-22s once four more jets are constructed and further stated that "the military advice that I got was that there is no military requirement for numbers of F-22s beyond the 187" the military will have once those four additional jets are completed.

Asked during the April 6 press conference to "give a sense of whether this was a close call or a no-brainer," Gates replied: "For me, it was not a close call. And the basic conclusion was that, first of all, we have fulfilled the program. I mean, it's not like we're killing the F-22. We will have 187 of them." Gates further stated, "So we are completing the F-22 program. And the military advice that I got was that there is no military requirement for numbers of F-22s beyond the 187." Gates added that it was also the advice of the Air Force to not fund the construction of additional F-22s.

From the Defense Department's transcript of Gates' April 6 press conference:

Q The F-22 decision is going to get scrutinized now that your budget has emerged from the shadows, so to speak. Can you give a sense of whether this was a close call or a no-brainer, in one -- and why couldn't you have bought more? Why wouldn't it fill the role that the Joint Strike Fighter will be filling that you outlined?

SEC. GATES: For me, it was not a close call. And the basic conclusion was that, first of all, we have fulfilled the program. I mean, it's not like we're killing the F-22. We will have 187 of them. That has -- the 183 of that has been the program of record, as I recall, since 2005. So we are completing the F-22 program. And the military advice that I got was that there is no military requirement for numbers of F-22s beyond the 187.

Q What about the Air Force advice? They've been (allegedly ?) badgering you with all sorts of analysis that they need 60 more.

SEC. GATES: That was their advice as well.

Q Excuse me. It was their advice as well that -

SEC. GATES: Yes.

Q -- that you didn't need more than 187?

SEC. GATES: Yes.

Q Really? Okay.

From the April 6 New York Times article:

This year Mr. Gates made the unusual decision to publicly announce his proposed reductions in the Pentagon budget before the recommendations are sent to the White House.

Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told reporters last week that Mr. Gates, a Republican who has worked for eight presidents of both parties, may have been trying to provide some political cover for Mr. Obama over the cuts.

Representative Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, reacted strongly against Mr. Gates's proposal to end spending for the F-22, which employs 25,000 workers in Georgia and across the country.

"It's outrageous that President Obama is willing to bury the country under a mountain of debt with his reckless domestic agenda but refuses to fund programs critical to our national defense," Mr. Price said in a statement.

In addition, a bipartisan group of six senators urged Mr. Gates not to make large cuts in missile defense programs. In a letter to Mr. Obama, they said the reductions "could undermine our emerging missile defense capabilities to protect the United States against a growing threat."

The group included the Republicans Jon Kyl of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma as well as Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, and Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Defense Funding
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
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