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Tata DoD Nomination (Rightly) Runs Into a Wall of Opposition

Why did the Senate Armed Services Committee abruptly cancel his confirmation hearing?

Trump’s nominee for Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, former Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, ran into an obstacle when the Senate Armed Services Committee abruptly cancelled his confirmation hearing today. His past anti-Muslim and conspiratorial statements on Twitter and elsewhere have made him politically radioactive:

A U.S. Senate committee on Thursday canceled a confirmation hearing for the Pentagon’s top policy job of a former Army one-star general widely criticized for spouting conspiracy theories, making inflammatory statements about Muslims and suggesting that a former CIA director should suffer sexual humiliation in prison.

Retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, 60 years old, nominated by President Trump to be undersecretary of defense, was to face the Senate Armed Services Committee following a wave of criticism from retired generals, civil rights groups and others.

But Gen. Tata’s nomination lacked the votes to advance, said a senior Republican Senate aide.

“The administration should consider nominating people who are qualified,” the aide said.

Tata’s past statements have been dogging his nomination for months since they were first reported on by CNN. Tata has since deleted the tweets in question, but some of them have been preserved here. After several high-profile retired generals withdrew their endorsement of his nomination because of Tata’s statements, he has tried to do damage control and apologize for what he said, but opposition to his nomination has only grown.

Among other things, Tata has falsely claimed that Obama was a Muslim, and he said that Obama pursued the nuclear deal with Iran to “subvert U.S. national interests to Islam.” At one point, he called Obama a “terrorist leader.” The original CNN report included details of statements Tata had made on radio programs as well:

Tata, in one radio appearance, speculated the Iran deal was born out of Obama’s “Islamic roots” in an attempt “to help Iranians and the greater Islamic state crush Israel.”

These are all ridiculous, untrue claims and they are all obviously meant to be defamatory. It reflects very poorly on his character that he would spread such scurrilous lies. It also shows that Tata lacks the good sense and judgment that someone in a position of this importance ought to have. More recently, Tata was also cheering on Trump’s threat to bomb Iranian cultural sites, which would be war crimes if they were carried out. Tata’s reason for this was even more disqualifying. He said that Iran was hiding its “nuclear weapons development” at cultural sites in the country, which is as bizarre as it is false. The National Iranian American Council released a statement in opposition to Tata’s nomination yesterday:

Not only does General Tata have a track record of offensive and discriminatory language towards Muslims and those of Middle Eastern descent, but his outlook on U.S. policy towards Iran suggests that he would accelerate the administration’s escalation toward war and could support the execution of war crimes.

There seems to be enough determined opposition to Tata’s nomination to prevent it from moving out of committee, and that would be a good result. If he were to be confirmed, it would be an embarrassment to the country, and it would put someone with poor judgment and hard-line views in a position of tremendous influence in the Department of Defense. The Journal reports:

But another retired major general, Paul Eaton, said at a press conference Wednesday organized to show opposition to Gen. Tata’s confirmation: “He would be a pariah overseas and greatly dilute our capacity to produce outcomes. This is not a guy we want in that position.”

It appears that most members of the Armed Services Committee agree, and the president will have to start looking for a new nominee.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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