Statements of Secretary of Defense Panetta — sent by FNC’s Sarah Courtney (on the flight with the Secretary)

Screen Shot 2012-11-09 at 4.50.22 PM

My colleague sent these notes — she is traveling with Secretary of Defense Panetta:

——

Sent in flight from DOD spokesman gmail account – in hopes it reaches you in time for evening news programs.

Verbates in quotes at the top – followed by notes from full gaggle

 

Sarah Courtney

Fox News

 

***VERBATES***

ON PETRAEUS:

“First, obviously, it was a very sad situation to have a distinguished career like that end in this manner. And my heart obviously goes out to him and his family, but I think he took the right step and I think its important when you’re director of the CIA with all the challenges that face you in that position, that personal integrity comes first and foremost.”

“With regards to the future, you know, having served there the first 2 years of this administration, I think its really important to continue to have the CIA stay on track doing the job that is absolutely essential to our national security. They have very important mission focused on intelligence and intelligence operations and I think it’s very important to get someone strong and capable and dedicated to be able to continue that effort. This is a critical time to make sure that with all the threats that we’re dealing with in the world, that we maintain a strong intelligence operation.”

 

Q – Any indications the Petraeus affair started while he was on active duty? Could he be prosecuted? Would that be your call?

 

“You know, I don’t know the answer to that. I guess, I’m reading the papers like you are to determine just what the committees finds out, what the ultimate investigation determines on that issue. We obviously are going to watch this closely to determine just exactly when that took place. But I think right now my view is lets see what the investigation turns up and what the congress, these committees are able to determine just exactly what took place.”

 

Q – As a former member of congress – do you think Capitol Hill should have been briefed sooner?

“That’s another issue I think we aught to look at, because as a former director of the CIA and having working very closely with the intelligence committees, you know I believe there is a responsibility to make sure that the intelligence committees are informed of issues that could affect, you know the security of those intelligence operations.”

 

BENGHAZI:

“One of the things that we are doing right now is we are involved in an assessment btwn DOD and the state department to look at the embassies in that region and what additional steps need to be taken in order to ensure the security of our embassies. So we do need to look at how we can A, improve security and 2, be able to effectively respond if there are any threats.

With regards to Benghazi itself, I think this has been pointed out, we moved very quickly to deploy the forces that we thought were important to deal w/ the threats in the region. We deployed those forces as quickly as we could. But the problem w/ Benghazi itself is the events there were happening on rapid pace, that attack was largely over by the time of response.”

Q – more troops?

“The fact is, we had them deployed to the key areas that we needed to have them move from. And you know, we have so many bases in the area, obviously siganella was one of those bases, but Roda as well as other bases in the region. The fundamental fact is this: in order for us to be able to move quickly -we have to have some advance notice that something is going to happen and in this case we didn’t have that. When we were informed the attack was already happening, and to be able to respond quickly when an attack is already going on, just make it very difficult to be able to move as quickly as we would have wanted to.”

ON SEQUESTRATION:

“There’s been a lot of discussion on this within the last few days. And there obviously is some hopeful talk of trying to find some compromise on this issue. I really do think that coming out of the election, this is a real opportunity for both republicans and democrats to address the fundamental challenge that faces this country with regards to our deficits and you know, as you know from my own history, in dealing w/ budget deficits – in order to do it on a fair & effective basis, you have to look at the key areas of the federal budget. The fact is that we have addressed the disgressionary area, taken almost a trillion dollars out of the disgressionary area and out of defense alone, almost a half trillion out of defense. I think responsibility now of Republicans and Democrats has to be to look at the entitlement area, what savings can be achieved on entitlements and what additional revenues need to be on the table as well.

Every budget agreement that I’ve been a part of, has involved entitlement savings, its involved revenues, and its involved disgressionary caps. And I think those are all the pieces that have to be discussed and put together in a, ultimately a budget agreement that can not only avoid sequestration but can avoid the other problems that we’re going to confront on the fiscal cliff.”

Q Chances that defense asked to pay more?

SP: “We have already made a significant contribution to deficit reduction. You take 500 Trillion dollars, 500 billion dollars, half a trillion dollars, out of the defense budget, we’ve been able to do that in a responsible way that’s tied to defense strategy that is going to take us into 2020 and beyond, for the next 10 years. So we’ve done it in a responsible way, we’ve responded. The challenge now for democrats & republicans in the congress is to look at these other areas that have to be part of a budget agreement and those are largely entitlements, which represent almost 2/3 of the federal budget and revenues. Those are the areas that have not been addressed. And frankly, before locating more from disgressionary, I want to see some progress with regards to both entitlements as well as on revenues.”

 

“The other danger here, b/c these are tough decisions, these are tough decisions and we’re dealing with a lame duck congress in which time is constricted here. This is going to be a real challenge for members to be able to address some of these bigger issues. But the worst thing that could happen would be for them to just kick the can down the road, and just delay the whole process without addressing the fundamental issues that need to be addressed. If they just kick the can down the road, its just going to continue to represent a cloud over the defense department and that’s the last damn thing I need right now.”

 

 

 

Secretary Panetta Gaggle (11/12/2012)

On the record / On camera

En route Perth, Australia

 

 

 

Panetta:

It was a great honor to be in Hawaii on Veteran’s Day & to lay a wreath at the cemetery. It’s an important day to recognize the sacrifices made by men & women in uniform in past & present time. Particular for me as Vietnam war vet to have the chance with Max Cleland to dedicate the new memorial – honor for me to be able to participate in that event. All of us on Veterans Day need to pause and be thankful for sacrifices that have been made to ensure we’re safe for the future

We’ve obviously sacrificed a great deal in the region – have produced a safer more secure prosperous pacific region. That sacrifices led to 60 years of stability & have allowed our many allies and neighbors to rise and prosper. Many of them have been able to take millions out of poverty. We have a region that I think really is advancing in terms of peace & prosperity. Important to our security – also to our economic future as well.

Looking ahead – we’re going to work to invest in the region in order to continue progress that’s been made. Stress for all of you the rebalancing to this region is very important part of defense strategy. Effort to rebalance is real. Its going to be long term which will continue to work at this. Also tangalble..in last year. New deployments to Australia, with the deployment of marines to Darwin – also looking as you know at being able to send to Singapore- we have announced 60/40 split regards to navy ships – will take effect over these next few years towards 2020.

Completed deployment of Ospreys to Japan. Stressing improvement and investments of these countries with working closely w/ PAYCOM. In Korea cyberspace – continue to strengthen that relationship in very critical nation that is extremely important for future. Working with Philippines access as well – another country working to develop capabilities. Working w/ India, defense cooperation – my deputy working w/ India to advance that progress -as you know China trip, progress relationship and to develop strategic dialogue – important peace in the region

 

The rebalance can not just be about moving more ships or troops to the region – ultimately it has to be a rule of government approach – high level engagements w/ Sec of State, chairman of joint chiefs, president coming to this region next wee- continue diplomatic assistance, engagement and we need resources to ensure this commitment is sustainable to the future.

Our hope to continue to make new partners in this region – be able to work with countries, develop capabilities, deepen and modernize existing partnerships & alliances – build regional institutions particular with ASEAN – Cambodia – meet w/ ASEAN defense ministers. WE believe we have an opportunity to develop that organization into effective -bring countries together, real opportunity to make that work

New frontiers areas of cooperation, lot of work, focus but we are as I’ve said time and time again – a pacific nation, pacific power, fundamental goal here to work with other countries to advance peace & prosperity

 

Q now that the election is over -2nd term Nat sec team – your future. Can you say intention staying for 4 full years – have you had discussions w/ POTUS about departure?

SP: No secret at some point I’d like to get back to California – there are a lot of challenges right now re: defense issues in Washington, sequestration, budget, Afghanistan and I think the president and I are working very closely to make sure we meet those defense challenges Right now my goal to meet responsiblies. That’s the most important focus

 

Q 4 years?

SP: Who the hell knows. My experience in Washington – you better do this day to day

 

Q – Petraeus resignation – do you feel the right step he took? As former director – concerned about agency moral? Workforce?

SP: “First, obviously, it was a very sad situation to have a distinguished career like that end in this manner. And my heart obviously goes out to him and his family, but I think he took the right step and I think its important when you’re director of the CIA with all the challenges that face you in that position, that personal integrity comes first and foremost.”

“With regards to the future, you know, having served there the first 2 years of this administration, I think its really important to continue to have the CIA stay on track doing the job that is absolutely essential to our national security. They have very important mission focused on intelligence and intelligence operations and I think it’s very important to get someone strong and capable and dedicated to be able to continue that effort. This is a critical time to make sure that with all the threats that we’re dealing with in the world, that we maintain a strong intelligence operation.”

 

Q – Benghazi – should the pentagon have had forces in the region closer to Libya – so there wouldn’t be such delay…

SP: “One of the things that we are doing right now is we are involved in an assessment btwn DOD and the state department to look at the embassies in that region and what additional steps need to be taken in order to ensure the security of our embassies. So we do need to look at how we can A, improve security and 2, be able to effectively respond if there are any threats.

With regards to Benghazi itself, I think this has been pointed out, we moved very quickly to deploy the forces that we thought were important to deal w/ the threats in the region. We deployed those forces as quickly as we could. But the problem w/ Benghazi itself is the events there were happening on rapid pace, that attack was largely over by the time of response.”

Q troops closer?

SP: “The fact is, we had them deployed to the key areas that we needed to have them move from. And you know, we have so many bases in the area, obviously siganella was one of those bases, but Roda as well as other bases in the region. The fundamental fact is this: in order for us to be able to move quickly -we have to have some advance notice that something is going to happen and in this case we didn’t have that. When we were informed the attack was already happening, and to be able to respond quickly when an attack is already going on, just make it very difficult to be able to move as quickly as we would have wanted to.”

Q – on Afghanistan – up to date – Gen Allen re troops

SP: Gen Allen working on actions we were reviewing – with WH hope is we can complete this process in net few weeks – confidence we’re going to get to the right # we’re going to need for post 2014

Q – what options?

 

SP: we have to address counter terrorism – afghan army & ability to provide capability carefully reviewed. How you respond to each mission – variation there – to determine how to best missions…what are some of the variations . We’re going to have to look at that ,determine what’s the best course to have effective in 2014.

Q – Warned about sequestration – now that election over – do you have clear idea how sequestration will be resolved? Kicked down the road?

“There’s been a lot of discussion on this within the last few days. And there obviously is some hopeful talk of trying to find some compromise on this issue. I really do think that coming out of the election, this is a real opportunity for both republicans and democrats to address the fundamental challenge that faces this country with regards to our deficits and you know, as you know from my own history, in dealing w/ budget deficits – in order to do it on a fair & effective basis, you have to look at the key areas of the federal budget. The fact is that we have addressed the disgressionary area, taken almost a trillion dollars out of the disgressionary area and out of defense alone, almost a half trillion out of defense. I think responsibility now of Republicans and Democrats has to be to look at the entitlement area, what savings can be achieved on entitlements and what additional revenues need to be on the table as well.

Every budget agreement that I’ve been a part of, has involved entitlement savings, its involved revenues, and its involved disgressionary caps. And I think those are all the pieces that have to be discussed and put together in a, ultimately a budget agreement that can not only avoid sequestration but can avoid the other problems that we’re going to confront on the fiscal cliff.”

Q Chances that defense asked to pay more?

SP: “We have already made a significant contribution to deficit reduction. You take 500 Trillion dollars, 500 billion dollars, half a trillion dollars, out of the defense budget, we’ve been able to do that in a responsible way that’s tied to defense strategy that is going to take us into 2020 and beyond, for the next 10 years. So we’ve done it in a responsible way, we’ve responded. The challenge now for democrats & republicans in the congress is to look at these other areas that have to be part of a budget agreement and those are largely entitlements, which represent almost 2/3 of the federal budget and revenues. Those are the areas that have not been addressed. And frankly, before locating more from disgressionary, I want to see some progress with regards to both entitlements as well as on revenues.”

 

“The other danger here, b/c these are tough decisions, these are tough decisions and we’re dealing with a lame duck congress in which time is constricted here. This is going to be a real challenge for members to be able to address some of these bigger issues. But the worst thing that could happen would be for them to just kick the can down the road, and just delay the whole process without addressing the fundamental issues that need to be addressed. If they just kick the can down the road, its just going to continue to represent a cloud over the defense department and that’s the last damn thing I need right now.”

 

We have done our part re deficit redux – don’t intend to put anything additional on table. Need to see what progress they make – in terms of delaying w/ deficit crisis

Q – 3rd trip to Asia – Why?

SP: US strongest military powering the world – remain strongest mil power. WE can walk and chew gum at same time. Cover threats that exist in the world not just in Asia pacific region -t hats what we’re doing even as rebalance to pacific – force in mid east – to try to deal with contingencies there responsiblies to allies and partners – if a plan we put in place, defense plan ,recognizes that we can do this rebalance, meet responsiblies elsewhere – that’s why its very important on the defense budget to meet respoinbliest some degree of certainty what the budget will look like in next 5 years. I feel comfortable right now re how we’re dealing w/ threats to mideast – have to continue to deploy ships in way that gives us some degree of flexibility- doesn’t put too much pressure on men and women in uniform – very confident mil leaders doing this in responsible way – USA big enough o handle threats

Q – Any indications the Petraeus affair started while he was on active duty? Could he be prosecuted? Would that be your call?

 

“You know, I don’t know the answer to that. I guess, I’m reading the papers like you are to determine just what the committees finds out, what the ultimate investigation determines on that issue. We obviously are going to watch this closely to determine just exactly when that took place. But I think right now my view is lets see what the investigation turns up and what the congress, these committees are able to determine just exactly what took place.”

 

 

Q – As a former member of congress – do you think Capitol Hill should have been briefed sooner?

“That’s another issue I think we aught to look at, because as a former director of the CIA and having working very closely with the intelligence committees, you know I believe there is a responsibility to make sure that the intelligence committees are informed of issues that could affect, you know the security of those intelligence operations.”

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