Defense Secretary Carl Levin? Republicans Check His Record

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:21 PM EDT

( - Sen. John F. Kerry told MSNBC's "Imus in the Morning" there are "any number of people" that he would name as Secretary of Defense -- and then he named some of them.

In the Wednesday interview, Kerry specifically mentioned three of his fellow senators -- Republicans John McCain and John Warner and Democrat Carl Levin -- as people he considers capable of doing the job. But it was Kerry's mention of Levin that raised eyebrows at the Republican National Committee.

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie issued a statement, saying, "Senator Levin and Senator Kerry have consistently opposed important defense programs, supported deep cuts in intelligence funding and voted against the death penalty for terrorists."

The RNC noted that Sen. Levin voted against both the 1991 Gulf War and the current Operation Iraqi Freedom; and he voted against the death penalty for terrorists at least five times.

According to the RNC, Sen. Levin "voted at least nine times against increasing pay for America's hardworking volunteer military personnel." And he "even voted to slash funding for retired military personnel's pensions."

The RNC said Levin was among those supporting Sen. John Kerry's 1994 attempt to slash intelligence spending. But a number of other Democrats opposed the language that Kerry submitted and Levin supported.

Moreover, Levin voted at least 18 times against higher defense spending, the RNC said

More recently, Levin - the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee -- has expressed the view that the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison goes beyond "just a few guards in some kind of aberrant conduct."

He called it a "much more systemic problem," and said it appeared to him that military intelligence had sanctioned the prisoner mistreatment.

On Wednesday, after seeing additional photos of misbehavior in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, Levin said he believes the Pentagon should release the pictures - and he said the Bush administration should "clean house up as many floors as far up as it goes."

Sen. Kerry has called for the ouster of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and in his Wednesday interview with Don Imus, Kerry accused President Bush of running an "extraordinarily mismanaged and ineptly prosecuted war."

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