Blank Rome Government Relations


Lawmakers Rally behind Successful Operation to Raid bin Laden Compound

President Obama announced Sunday night that U.S. forces had raided a Pakistani mansion and killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Hiding only 35 miles from Pakistan's capital of Islamabad, bin Laden met his demise 10 years after the 9/11 attacks in a firefight with a small team of U.S. forces that launched a daring raid on the compound where he was holed up with some trusted advisers.

In the months leading up to Sunday's triumphant operation, Obama convened nine national security meetings on the subject, most of which took place within the past six weeks. The array of information seized from the Pakistani compound of Osama bin Laden and his reliance on couriers suggests that the terror leader—despite nearly a decade spent in hiding—still sought to provide strategic guidance to terrorists within the organization. The material contained on about five computers, 100 remote electronic storage devices, such as flash drives, and 10 hard drives is one of the most significant in the history of the war on terror. Documents seized in the raid on bin Laden's compound have yielded a myriad of new intelligence, from names and locations of terrorist suspects to chilling details of al-Qaeda plots to attack targets in the United States and beyond.

Lawmakers celebrated the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death, congratulating American troops, the intelligence community and the White House for putting an end to the hunt for bin Laden. House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Peter King (R-NY), one of Obama's most vocal critics on national security issues, commended the president. King commended President Bush for "putting words into action," and remarked that President Obama deserves equal credit for his "resolve in this long war against al-Qaeda." Further, Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-MI) added that Pakistani military and intelligence organizations "have a lot of explaining to do" due to the proximity of bin Laden's hide out to a major Pakistani military and intelligence complex. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA) warned that even as al-Qaeda affiliates in Yemen, Africa and Asia mourn the loss of their leader, those groups will not waver in their determination to attack the US.

House Armed Services Committee Completes Subcommittee Markups

The House Armed Services Committee has completed all subcommittee mark-ups on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. However, the provisions must still be considered by the House Armed Services Full Committee and on the floor of the House of Representatives. The full committee markup will take place on Wednesday, May 11 in 2118 Rayburn House Office Building.

In a markup Wednesday, the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities recommended a slight increase in funding for the elite forces that conduct cutting-edge counter-terrorism missions. The bill proposes an additional $5 million over the $45 million originally requested for "expansion of authority for support of special operations to combat terrorism." In a statement, subcommittee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said the panel also recommended increased funding to meet "unmet requirements in ships and radios" for U.S. Special Operations Command, also known as SOCOM.

The Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee approved, by voice vote, its portion of the fiscal 2012 defense policy bill (HR 1540), including a provision to limit money for a program to replace the Marine Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, or EFV, until the Navy provides Congress with a cost analysis for its replacement program. Subcommittee Chair Todd Akin (R-MO) also announced his support for the future of two legs of the nuclear triad by supporting the next generation bomber program as well as the ballistic submarine replacement program.

In the Readiness Subcommittee markup, signed off on a $275.8 billion military readiness measure Thursday that proposes a reduction in spending due to a drawdown of forces in Iraq and would allow for the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process to wind down. Chairman Randy Forbes (R-VA) struck $30 million in funds for construction requirements to homeport a nuclear aircraft carrier to Naval Station Mayport, Florida from its location in Norfolk, VA.

The alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Abrams Tank production line were both given new leases on life in the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces markup. Their portion of the bill, approved by voice vote, includes a provision that would allow for building a second engine for the fighter if the current Pratt & Whitney engine failed to meet certain goals and additional funding was needed. Armed Services members, including Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon are considering stronger language, which could be added to the authorization bill when the full committee meets next week to consider the legislation.

The Subcommittee on Military Personnel marked up its portion of the defense authorization bill Wednesday. At stake was language to block a small increase in Tricare Prime enrollment fees for working-age retirees, the first since 1995. The blocking maneuver long promised by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), subcommittee chairman, could be reversed next week when the full committee does a final mark up of the entire defense bill. Chairman McKeon believes "now might be the time to allow a modest increase" in Tricare fees for retirees under 65, said committee spokesman Josh Holly.

Strategic Forces Subcommittee chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) and ranking member Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) recommended cutting $79.5 million from the $10.2 billion request for unclassified space activities. The mark included: transferring $142.2 million from Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) for evolved AEHF military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) to a separate program element for Next-Generation MILSATCOM Technology Development; increase of $20 million for Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) data exploitation; and an increase of $25 million for Defense Reconnaissance Support Activities. The mark also contained language that directs the Secretary of Defense to notify Congress if he determines a space-based or terrestrial-based commercial communications service will cause widespread harmful interference with DOD GPS receivers.

Quote of the Week

"We got him."

For more information, please contact:
Maj. Gen. Tony L. Corwin, USMC (Ret.) – Corwin@BlankRome.com
Stephen Peranich – Peranich@BlankRome.com
Pete Giambastiani – Giambastiani@BlankRome.com
Abby Goldstein – Goldstein@BlankRome.com
 


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