Military Leaders Oppose Samantha Power for U.N. Ambassador

Nearly 50 military leaders, national security officials urge Senate in letter to reject nomination

Samantha Power, Barack Obama, U.N. ambassador nominee
Barack Obama, Samantha Power / AP

Nearly 50 former military leaders and national security officials urged the Senate on Wednesday to reject the controversial nomination of Samantha Power as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Power, a longtime Obama confidante and Harvard University professor, was tapped for the position earlier this year.

Her nomination quickly drew criticism from former military brass and pro-Israel leaders who say that Power has a history of leveling harsh criticism at the Jewish state, as well as advocating in favor of an American apology tour at the U.N.

"In light of her low regard for our country, her animus towards one of our most important allies, Israel, and her affinity for those who would diminish our sovereignty and strengthen our adversaries, we consider her to be a wholly unacceptable choice for this sensitive post and urge you to reject this nomination," the officials wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.).

The former military officials and pro-Israel leaders warned that Power will seek to dampen U.S. influence at the U.N. and use her post to back the international body’s anti-Israel agenda.

"Samantha Power’s decades-long track record makes clear that she neither embraces these principles [of freedom] nor is disposed to play this important role in advancing them," the letter states.

The officials, among them former Navy Admiral James A. "Ace" Lyons and Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin, warned that Power will seek to subvert U.S. interests and kowtow to hostile nations.

"Almost since its inception, the United Nations has been dominated by member states, organizations and personalities who share Dr. Power’s sentiments," the letter states. "We do not need to add to their number – especially as the representative of the American people – someone who shares their transnationalist agenda, with all that implies for our interests and freedoms," the letter states.

Several of Power’s fiercest critics gathered at the National Press Club on Wednesday morning to publicly reject the nomination and urge the Senate to do the same.

Gen. Boykin, a former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, said that Power wants to position the U.N. as a global governing body.

"Samantha Power’s attitude that we need to cede our sovereignty to the U.N. is very misguided and is very dangerous as far as I’m concerned," Boykin said. "Maintaining our sovereignty and our pride at being Americans are fundamental to our future."

"What she would really like to do is cede our authority to that international body," he warned, referring to Power’s writings criticizing the U.S. military and its role in the world.

"I’ve given enough of my life to this country that I have the privilege and liberty to stand up and say I oppose her and oppose her on the grounds of U.S. sovereignty," Boykin said.

Frank Gaffney, a former assistant defense secretary in the Reagan administration, said that as the July 4th holiday approaches, Americans should keep in mind that Power has been "harshly critical" of American policies.

Power has been "harshly critical over a long period of time of our country," said Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy, which organized the anti-Power letter and press conference.

"Her position is easily confused with that of people who are actually enemies of the U.S. when it comes to the character of the country and its role in the world," Gaffney said.

Former Rep. Allen West (R., Fla.) agreed that Power has "shown a disdain for American power" and a "great disdain for our ally, the state of Israel."

West went on to describe Power as a "loyal Obama acolyte" who has "no diplomatic capabilities."

"Miss Power is an über-left militant progressive whose previous statements against America and Israel should cause us concerns," West said. "But perhaps she is the ideal" candidate for the Obama administration, which has come under fire for other controversial appointments, such as that of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Pro-Israel leaders such as Mort Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the nation’s oldest pro-Israel group, have slammed Power for saying that a "mammoth protection force" should be sent to Israel to protect the Palestinians.

Citing "major human rights abuses" in Israel, Power said in a 2002 interview that the United States should cut off aid to Israel and invest "billions" in a Palestinian state, despite its leaders support for terrorism.

"It may mean sacrificing—or investing I think more than sacrificing—literally billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine," Power said, adding that the United States must install a "meaningful military presence" in Israel.

Groups like the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) have defended Power on multiple occasions, claiming that she is a close ally of Israel’s.

The ZOA’s Klein, however, slammed Power for not apologizing or explaining her anti-Israel remarks in subsequent interviews

"When she’s been asked about these unbelievable statements she does a Jackie Mason — ‘What did I say? I don’t remember.’"

Power is a troubling choice given the United Nations’ history of singling out Israel for criticism, Klein said.

"We strongly believe that when you look at her record it is clear Samantha Power is bad for America, bad for Israel and we strongly oppose her nomination," Klein said.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank confronted Gaffney and West Wednesday during a question-and-answer session.

"I think we’re tiptoeing up to this," Milbank said. "Is anybody saying [Power is] disloyal to her country, unpatriotic, an enemy of the United States?"

"My view of this is whatever one thinks of her patriotism, it is very clearly not a view of patriotism that is shared by the vast majority of the American people or any common definition of the term," Gaffney responded.

"But that’s really not the point. The point is in this official capacity, if affirmed by the U.S. Senate, will this individual be promoting what patriots believe about this country … or will she be working in ways absolutely antithetical to those views and the U.S.?"

West also rebuffed Milbank, who he accused of seeking out a snarky sound bite.

"I know people want the cute sound bite," West said. "But that’s not what it’s about."