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Obama Defense Nominations Pass SASC; See Lynn Letters

UPDATED: The full Senate is set to debate and vote Monday on the nomination of Bill Lynn to be deputy defense secretary. While the bill is on the schedule as a unanimous consent measure, the Senate leadership has granted Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and hour to discuss the nomination, with half an hour each going to the Senate Armed Services Committee's leaders, Sen. Mark Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). We'll have to see if Grassley tries to derail the nomination or uses his time to make points about nominees' ethics restrictions.

Late this afternoon, the Senate Armed Services Committee overcame whatever lingering ethical and moral objections they might have had to the nomination of Bill Lynn to serve as deputy defense secretary and moved his and three other nominations to the full Senate for a vote.

The committee, acting by voice vote so there is no record of who voted which way, approved Lynn, Robert F. Hale to be undersecretary of defense for comptroller, Michèle Flournoy to be undersecretary for policy, and Jeh Charles Johnson to be DoD's general counsel.

A little earlier in the day, the Project for Government Oversight (POGO) released Lynn's letters detailing his positions on what he should and will do regarding his prior work as Raytheon's chief lobbyist. In POGO's view, "the letters reveal that despite managing Raytheon’s lobbying strategies for a multitude of issues—including missile defense, sensors and radars, missiles, and munitions and artillery—Lynn will only recuse himself for one year from the programs he personally lobbied on."

POGO reasons that, although Lynn supervised lobbyists on a wide array of programs, he "only pledged, however, to not seek an authorization for the next year to participate in decisions on any of the six programs on which he personally lobbied: the DDG-1000 surface combatant, the AMRAAM air-to-air missile, the F-15 airborne radar, the Patriot Pure Fleet program, the Future Imagery Architecture, and the Multiple Kill Vehicle."

How broad should the ban on decisions be for senior defense officials? Should they be required to recuse themselves from any decision affecting the company for which they worked or should they do as Lynn will do, recuse themselves from those programs for which they had direct personal responsibilities? Let us and the Hill know what you think.

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