Experts to Senate: Mattis deserves historic waiver to be defense secretary

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Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., speaks with Eliot Cohen, professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, prior to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, as members considered a proposal to pass a waiver allowing recently retired Gen. James Mattis to become the next secretary of defense. (Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)
From Stripes.com
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., speaks with Eliot Cohen, professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, prior to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, as members considered a proposal to pass a waiver allowing recently retired Gen. James Mattis to become the next secretary of defense. (Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)

Experts to Senate: Mattis deserves historic waiver to be defense secretary

by: Travis J. Tritten | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: January 11, 2017

WASHINGTON — Expert witnesses on Tuesday advised the Senate to grant Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis an historic legal waiver so he can be considered as Donald Trump’s defense secretary.

The retired Marine general’s resume and character — as well as concerns over the incoming president — justify giving Mattis a one-time exemption from federal law, which requires any defense secretary to be at least seven years out of military service, according to a Johns Hopkins University professor and a program director at the nonpartisan Center For Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, D.C.

Mattis, 66, has been retired since 2013 and would be the first general in 70 years to be exempted from the law designed to maintain civilian control of the military. The Senate Armed Services Committee called in the expert witnesses as Congress weighs whether to approve the unusual waiver and clear the way for Mattis’ confirmation when Trump takes office Jan. 20.

“I’ve known Gen. Mattis for well over a decade. He is probably the most widely read and reflective officer I know,” said Eliot A. Cohen, a professor of strategic studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. “More importantly than that, he’s shown himself to be a man of exceptional character judgment and exemplary commitment to legal and constitution norms.”

Mattis is known as a kind of warrior monk and gained a dedicated following among the rank and file military during a four-decade career that included commanding infantry troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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