Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Defense Secretary Mattis withdraws Patterson as choice for undersecretary for policy

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/defense-secretary-mattis-withdraws-patterson-as-choice-for-undersecretary-for-policy/2017/03/14/dd5ec8bc-08b6-11e7-93dc-00f9bdd74ed1_story.html?utm_term=.7999f66e3c34

“Defense Secretary Mattis withdraws Patterson as choice for undersecretary for policy,” by Karen DeYoung, Washington Post, March 14, 2017:
From the Washington Post text:
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has withdrawn retired senior diplomat Anne W. Patterson as his choice for undersecretary for policy after the White House indicated unwillingness to fight what it said would be a battle for Senate confirmation.
U.S. officials said that two members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), were strongly opposed to Patterson’s nomination because she served as U.S. ambassador to Egypt from 2011 to 2013, a time when the Obama administration supported an elected government with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood that was ultimately overthrown by the Egyptian military.
The withdrawal leaves Mattis with a bench still empty of Trump-appointed senior officials, a situation that stretches across the administration as Cabinet secretaries have not chosen or the White House has not approved nominees. Although Obama administration holdovers remain in a few jobs, after eight weeks in office, President Trump has not nominated a single high official under Cabinet rank in the Defense or State departments….
The White House plans this week — perhaps as early as Tuesday — to announce a handful of approved nominees proposed by Mattis for senior Defense Department positions, but Patterson will not be among them, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity about internal decision-making.
Mattis’s acquiescence to Patterson’s withdrawal came after he fought and won a major battle with the White House to remove Iraq from the list of majority-Muslim countries whose citizens are barred from U.S. entry under Trump’s executive order on immigration.
Although he reportedly insisted that he be able to select his own team when he accepted Trump’s offer to head the Defense Department, Mattis has skirmished repeatedly with the White House over appointments. His initial choice for deputy secretary, Michèle Flournoy, withdrew from consideration after meetings with White House officials. Flournoy served as the department’s undersecretary in the Obama administration….
Patterson retired from the State Department in December as assistant secretary for Near East affairs, the top official on the Middle East, with the highest rank, career ambassador. She also served as ambassador to Pakistan, Colombia and El Salvador.
But it was primarily her service in Egypt, as the public face of Obama’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood-backed government of then-President Mohamed Morsi, that led to her rejection by the White House, officials said….
Although Patterson was said to be supported by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and was seen as likely to have garnered a majority of votes from Republicans and Democrats, the Trump administration has voiced strong support for Sissi as a strong counterterrorism ally and largely dismissed criticism of his repression of human and civil rights.
While the administration has denounced the Muslim Brotherhood, its plans to issue an executive order designating it a terrorist organization appear to have fallen at least temporarily by the wayside as a number of Middle East experts and U.S. allies in the region have warned against such a step