Situation Report

Pentagon: not so fast on the Vickers story

The Army’s plan to create platoons of Jason Bournes; Panetta talks strategy and sequester today; NBC’s Engel released; Mini red velvet cupcakes at State’s party, and more.

The Vickers story: not so fast, defense officials say. Last night, McClatchy reported that Pentagon investigators fingered Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Mike Vickers as having leaked "restricted information" to the makers of the film on bin Laden, "Zero Dark Thirty," and referred the case to the Justice Department. It was an eyebrow-raising moment for a man widely well-regarded and thought to be going places — maybe to head CIA. The Pentagon’s inspector general’s office, according to the story, by Marisa Taylor and Jonathan Landay, said Vickers had provided the filmmakers the name of a U.S. Special Operations Command officer who had helped plan the May 2, 2011, raid on bin Laden’s home in Pakistan. The identities of certain personnel can be classified, the article said.

Pentagon press secretary George Little was quick to push back. George Little confirmed that there is a DOD inspector general investigation "on the question of whether Mr. Vickers provided classified information in an interview with the filmmakers," But in an e-mail Little said the Pentagon has no knowledge of a pending investigation by the Justice Department.

"The McClatchy story published this evening concerning Mike Vickers, the Undersecretary for Intelligence, is misleading and unfair," he told Situation Report in the e-mail. The case surrounds an interview between Vickers and the filmmakers, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, set up by the Pentagon, to provide "strategic context" on the raid that killed bin Laden. A transcript of the interview, obtained by the group Judicial Watch, shows that Vickers revealed the name of a special operations officer involved in the raid.

But the transcript was released to Judicial Watch only after a "thorough and rigorous classification review" in response to the group’s Freedom of Information Act request. The Pentagon’s Office of Security Review — which reviewed Stan McChrystal’s book and many others — consulted with the Joint Staff, U.S. Special Operations Command, the National Security Agency, and other "relevant components" within the department. "The review concluded that the transcript was unclassified in its totality, including with respect to the names of individuals mentioned in the course of the interview," Little said. Some names were redacted for privacy reasons, not because they are considered classified information.
"The story unfortunately leaves the impression that Mr. Vickers engaged in the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, something the Department simply did not find," Little said.

Welcome to Tuesday’s edition of Situation Report, where we note that a year ago American troops crossed the border out of Iraq, thus formally concluding that long conflict. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at And sign up for Situation Report here: or just send me an e-mail and I’ll put you on the list. And if you have a report, piece of news, or tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease.

NBC’s Richard Engel and crew are freed safely after five days of being held in captivity in Syria and now safe in Turkey.

The Army has a plan to make super soldiers. Killer Apps’ John Reed tells us that Army futurists are considering ways to recruit troops that can be turned into "super-empowered" or "enhanced" troops who could be better thinkers and fighters. Reed: "The Army is thinking about turning you into Jason Bourne to convince you to enlist — and then to enable you to fight better." Reed’s report is based on an interview of an 0-6 from the Future Warfare Division at the Army’s TRADOC. Explaining this new breed of soldier, Col. Kevin Felix told Reed: "He’s super empowered, either chemically or through his training. You can create cognitive enhancements for individuals and that may be a way to recruit them because they can come into the military and get that kind of enhancement."

Help FP make its list of the top 50 National Security folks something you’d be proud to put under the tree. We are soliciting your ideas for people in the national security community who are bright, innovative, or influential — people who make a difference, had a big impact in the past year, or will have a big impact in the year ahead. Bonus points for people who are less well known, behind-the-scenes types who nonetheless make their mark strategically, academically, or operationally. We can’t give you a T-shirt, but we will offer complete confidentiality if you send us your ideas, and soon, to, or, or

Special people. OK, so we weren’t the only ones who thought of it. Defense News released their top 100 most influential people over the weekend, and Tom Donilon, No. 1, beats out Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, and Mike Vickers (Nos. 2,3,4 and 5). Number 100? David Petraeus.

Daniel Inouye passed away. The highly decorated World War II vet and second-longest serving senator in history died at Walter Reed in Bethesda yesterday after respiratory complications, a spokesman said.

From the WaPo: "A methodical behind-the-scenes operator who rarely sought the media spotlight, he was little known outside Hawaii and the halls of the Capitol. But his wartime record, for which he received the nation’s highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor – coupled with his reputation for a bipartisan approach to politics – helped him gain respect from and influence with colleagues of both parties." WaPo:

One soldier remembers another: Dempsey on Inouye – "Senator Inouye exemplified the role of servant-leader, both in and out of uniform, and served as a true role model for so many Americans," Dempsey said in a statement. "While serving in the U.S. Senate for the State of Hawaii since 1962, Senator Inouye has been not only a friend to the military, but more importantly a strong advocate for our Veterans and our families.  His tireless efforts on support for our Veterans, particularly in healthcare and education, will greatly benefit thousands of military servicemembers and our families for years to come. Deanie and I pass our deepest sympathies to his family and to the great state of Hawaii in the passing of this great Soldier.  He is missed."

"Deaf, blind, and mute": A U.S. official tells the E-Ring’s Kevin Baron that the satellite from the North Korean launch is already failing and falling from orbit. "We haven’t completed our final assessment, but it’s a good chance whatever they put up there is deaf, blind, and mute."

The DOD IG released its newsletter detailing newly completed investigations. They include one on "logistics support" for the Army’s Stryker vehicles; another about how Navy officials retaliated against a reserve lieutenant who made "protected communications" but who endured "multiple unfavorable personnel actions"; and another about the Defense Contract Management Agency and Defense Contract Audit Agency on what exactly triggers an audit. There are also bits about a former Army major sentenced in a contract bribery scheme and an Iranian national charged with attempting to export military aircraft parts to Iran: "According to the indictment, [Moazami Goudarzi] attempted to purchase aircraft parts from an undercover agent and offered to pay more than market value because of the embargo on sending these parts to Iran."

CSBA releases a report later today by Todd Harrison and John Speed Meyers on "lessons learned in wartime contracting and expeditionary economics."  From the report: "If the United States embarks on another attempt at nation building, it may again be found ill prepared without a more concerted research effort into the economic reconstruction aspects of warfare, often referred to as expeditionary economics."

Today marks the day the last troops left Iraq. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta goes to the Press Club to speak at 12:30 to talk troops, readiness, strategy and sequester. The speech builds on discussions Panetta has had with his leadership team, including combatant commanders, the Joint Chiefs, and others, "on the progress that’s been made implementing the strategy and the challenges that lie ahead," a defense official told Situation Report. He’ll highlight two major issues: the strain of deployments and the need to ensure readiness, as well as the lack of budgetary stability and the shadow of sequester.

As the U.N. Security Council mulls a resolution to approve a multinational African force to help stabilize Mali, there continues to be much concern about the impact that al Qaeda in the Maghreb is having on the country and on the region. Mali, some fear, could become the next Afghanistan — a hotbed for terrorist organizations whose influence could spread. The Pentagon is poised to provide much support through training, equipping, and logistical support. The U.N. resolution may be passed in the next week or so. This morning, Susanna Wing, Michael Shurkin, Stephanie Pezard, and Andrew Lebovich will all appear on a panel on Mali at the United States Institute of Peace to talk "causes and options." The panel will be moderated by USIP’s Jon Temin.

Viola Gienger, formerly Pentagon reporter for Bloomberg, has joined USIP as a senior writer.

The press corps partied on without Hillary Rodham Clinton. While the secretary of state recovers from a mild sickness and a related concussion after she took a fall, State’s press corps enjoyed Maryland crabcakes, BBQ sliders, gourmet cheese and charcuterie, and jams and red velvet mini cupcakes, we’re told. "A chamber trio played strings in an anteroom while the press mingled with public servants on a terrace overlooking the mist-shrouded Washington Monument," Kevin Baron told us.

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