A former senior member of President Barack Obama's national security team is panning the administration's decision to rule out the use of ground troops to fight ISIS and questioning Obama's leadership style.
"I take the position that when you're commander in chief that you oughta keep all options on the table...to be able to have the flexibility to what is necessary in order to defeat the enemy," former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta told CNN. "We're conducting air strikes. But to make those air strikes work, to be able to do what you had to do, you don't– you don't just send planes in and drop bombs. You've gotta have targets. You've gotta know what you're goin' after. To do that, you do need people on the ground."
Panetta's comments are a stinging rebuke of Obama at a crucial point in his administration as the president battles multiple national security threats, including ISIS, a resurgent Russia and the spread of Ebola.
His memoir, "Worthy Fights," describes a White House that did not use its "leverage" to try and keep a residual force in Iraq.
"Those on our side of the debate viewed the White House as so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests," he wrote in the book.
A malfunction in key technology behind the Obamacare website left users unable to apply for health coverage late Sunday.
Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said a vendor networking issue at Verizon subsidiary Terremark was to blame. Peters said the vendor had "experienced a failure in a networking component," and the attempted fix crashed the system.
Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) spokesman Jeff Nelson said his company was working on the issue and it would be "fixed as quickly as possible."
The outage was the latest issue to hit the troubled HealthCare.gov. Since a disappointing debut on Oct. 1, some users have been unable to create accounts or sign up for coverage.
“Now, we expect Secretary Sebelius will get a lot of tough questions about this problem and all the others when she testifies before Congress on Wednesday,” CNN’s Athena Jones reports.
“And that's the same day the president heads to Boston to promote Obamacare.”
Nearly 500,000 people have filled out applications for Obamacare coverage despite the highly publicized problems with online sign-ups, administration officials told CNN Saturday.
"The website is unacceptable, and we are improving it," one senior administration official said. "But the underlying insurance product is good, and across the country people are getting access to affordable care on January 1."
The Affordable Care Act is intended to serve more than 48 million Americans without health insurance. Most Americans face tax penalties if they do not have health insurance by January 1.
The online sign-up process began October 1 and immediately ran into technical problems. Users often were unable to create required logins and passwords and ran into error messages even after that stage. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen, who tried to enroll as an experiment, needed two weeks to reach the application stage.
Insurers also have complained of problems. Congressional hearings on the glitches are planned for next week.
The open enrollment period continues through March 31.
"We are going to work intensely for the next six months to make sure we meet the demand," the administration official said.
“Now, if you look at the homepage this morning for Healthcare.gov, there is something new that you can click on. It says apply by phone,” Cohen reports.
“I must say I have talked to these phone operators many, many times. They are very helpful. They do answer quite quickly.”