Panetta leaves for South America
DoD gets the FBI to Benghazi, where is Dempsey’s outrage, no Big Bird talk at the Pentagon, and more.
Panetta leaves today for Peru, Uruguay, and Brussels. Pentagon pressec George Little said the trip will reaffirm the Pentagon's commitment to those important "defense partnerships" in South America. In Peru, Panetta will meet with the president and the minister of defense. "Peru is one of the United States' strongest democratic partners in South America and it is a country of growing regional importance," Little said at a briefing Thursday, adding that the Pentagon is interested in "deepening" U.S.-Peru military ties in counternarcotics, counterterrorism and humanitarian operations.
Panetta leaves today for Peru, Uruguay, and Brussels. Pentagon pressec George Little said the trip will reaffirm the Pentagon’s commitment to those important "defense partnerships" in South America. In Peru, Panetta will meet with the president and the minister of defense. "Peru is one of the United States’ strongest democratic partners in South America and it is a country of growing regional importance," Little said at a briefing Thursday, adding that the Pentagon is interested in "deepening" U.S.-Peru military ties in counternarcotics, counterterrorism and humanitarian operations.
In Uruguay, Panetta will participate in the 10th Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas. Panetta will travel on to Brussels for a NATO ministerial meeting on Afghanistan, where insider attacks will likely come up as coalition partners begin to get uneasy about the spate of attacks.
Before leaving for South America, Panetta’s Pentagon released a Western Hemisphere policy statement. (as if to say: even with the pivot to Asia, we’re not forgetting you, Western hemisphere.) http://1.usa.gov/QLw6sm
Reporters on a plane: Reporters accompanying Panetta to Uruguay, Peru and to Brussels: AP’s Baldor, Reuters’ Alexander, AFP’s Rabechault, and the ABC TV pool.
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The U.S. military got the FBI to the Benghazi site, the Pentagon said yesterday, but offered little more in the way of details, citing security concerns for future operations. Three weeks after the attack that killed four Americans, including Amb. Chris Stevens. Questions about the investigation, and the delay to get FBI investigators there in a timely fashion have been raised, especially after CNN found his diary, and then a Washington Post reporter this week found sensitive government documents strewn about the attack site. http://bit.ly/OX1zJd
Meanwhile, why is it so difficult to figure out who killed Chris Stevens? It’s a reasonable question posed by Martha Crenshaw, who notes that efforts to ID the perpetrators of past attacks — like the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole — faltered despite far more stable conditions for an investigation. But, in Libya, "The scene of the crime, so to speak, has already been contaminated. It is difficult to see how evidence can be gathered and the perpetrators identified with any confidence, no matter how intense our effort." http://bit.ly/PUqqNm
Marty Dempsey isn’t outraged. But Kori Schake, writing on FP, wants to know why. She thinks the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey should respond to President Obama’s debate line about the Pentagon and defense spending — "My opponent would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don’t even want" — given that Dempsey rebuked Paul Ryan earlier this year for suggesting that the military secretly harbored concerns about Obama’s idea for spending cuts. Schake thinks Dempsey should take the president to task for suggesting the military is monolithic in its views on defense spending, though it’s unclear how the chairman might do that publicly.
Schake: "I’m very much in favor of our military staying out of politics; but if Gen. Dempsey is going to set himself up as the arbiter of the civil-military boundary, he needs to actually police both sides of it. And that means correcting the record when the president misleads the public or caricatures our military as having only one view about an important national issue that goes directly to their military judgment." http://bit.ly/PWfnDh
Speaking of Dempsey, he may recommend that Kip Ward retire as a four-star. Situation Report reported yesterday that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta would soon decide Ward’s fate after the former AFRICOM commander was investigated for lavish spending, using military aircraft for largely personal trips, and other fiscal misdeeds. Last night, AP reported that Dempsey wants Ward to retire as a four-star (he is currently a two-star as he awaits word on any punitive actions against him). Col. Dave Lapan, Dempsey’s spokesman, told Situation Report he would not comment on the chairman’s advice or recommendations to Panetta. If the story is true, there will be even greater interest in Panetta’s final decision. http://bit.ly/QLX3MB
RT? The Joint Staff ??@thejointstaff
"As long as you … continue to trust each other we’ll get through whatever the world can throw at us." ?http://1.usa.gov/SLSv9h
Mike Rogers thinks the cyber threat warrants getting something done during the lame duck. There is a "new level of threat" that would target networks here "from an unusual source," the chair of the House Intelligence Committee said Thursday, reported Killer Apps’ John Reed, and there could be some "very real consequences" if nobody does anything about it. Rogers would only say the threat emanates from a country that isn’t normally seen as a major cyber threat. His efforts would essentially revive the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA. http://bit.ly/VnFYP4
Rogers fears China is targeting American think tanks, reports USA Today. http://on.freep.com/VEgDiA
Is drone warfare slipping away from civilian oversight? Jim Gourley, a reader of Tom Ricks’ Best Defense, posited this yesterday: "We are ‘evolving’ the military to be a human force that performs civil-military relations and infrastructure work with a smaller ‘killer elite’ group of spec-ops, intelligence, and drone units that operate in the dark without the knowledge, let alone supervision, of the civilian society that’s supposed to control them. We know less and less about what our military is doing, but the really troubling part is that we like it that way."
George Little was tarred and feathered at the podium yesterday. On the day after Mitt Romney pledged to cut funding for Sesame Street, CNN reporter Barbara Starr asked about the Pentagon’ relationship with the Sesame Street organization, with its work with military families: "Now, quite seriously, that this is part of the conversation, do you — does this department feel that this kind of relationship is beneficial? Do you want to see it continue? Do you — you know, do you continue to support this kind of thing with the ‘Sesame Street’ organization?"
Little replied: "Well, without getting into recent references in high- profile settings to ‘Sesame Street’ I will say that we’ve had a long- lasting and effective partnership with ‘Sesame Street’ … they have supported military children. But I’m not going to get into politics here. I wouldn’t want to ruffle any feathers, so to speak."
Question: "So you can talk about Big Bird, but not…"
Little: "We do have big birds, but I’m not going to comment on Big Bird…. I am going to stay far away from that particular Big Bird."
Press one for English, two for Spanish. Little may have made Pentagon podium history Thursday by following the announcement he made of Panetta’s trip with an announcement, in Spanish, as well. We certainly don’t remember Morrell ever speaking Spanish in the briefing room, or for that matter Di Rita or Clarke.
Asked if he would make the NATO announcement in French, Little said he would be "happy to talk French anytime."
- VOA: UN Security Council condemns Syrian attack on Turkish village. http://bit.ly/QO182V
- The Hindu: Syria denies apologizing to Turkey over incident. http://bit.ly/T91bvi
- Reuters: Rivalry between Libyan cities sharpens over rebel’s death. http://reut.rs/Wtoted
- Haaretz: American shot dead after shooting and killing Israeli hotel worker. http://bit.ly/Pensav
- Al-Arabiya: Assad moved chemical weapons according to classified docs, with the help of Iran and the knowledge of Russia. http://bit.ly/UHmLU1
- Radio Free Europe: Iranians flocking to Afghanistan to stock up on currency. http://bit.ly/VE0723
- ABC (blog): Request for plane by security team in Libya denied by State. http://abcn.ws/QKFKPf
Eleven Years and Counting
- NBC (blog): Soldier who lost four limbs returns home. http://nbcnews.to/SNDow2
- RT: Russia warns of premature NATO pullout from Afghanistan. http://bit.ly/Vq35bT
- News Track India: Karzai warns Pakistan to terrorists from crossing border. http://bit.ly/QX5c4m
- WaPo: Pakistani politician plans protest over drone strikes. http://wapo.st/VprLkE
- Guardian: Code Pink may stage hunger strike in Pakistan over drone attacks. http://bit.ly/QXZbkJ
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children. Twitter: @glubold
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