National Security

FP’s Situation Report: A new task force for the Philippines; More misconduct alleged in the Secret Service; Gen. James Amos’ Heritage Brief used to acquit a Marine?; Mark Wahlberg loses his ‘sh-t’ while discussing Navy SEALs; and a bit more.

By Dan Lamothe

It's getting uglier in parts of the Philippines, even as relief workers arrive in the typhoon-ravaged nation. Reports from the ground suggest that while U.S. forces and humanitarian organizations move in earnest to help the Philippine people, desperation has set in nearly a week after Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated entire cities and towns. Keith Bradsher and Rick Gladstone, writing for the New York Times: "The paralysis was epitomized by the first attempt in Tacloban to conduct a mass burial of typhoon victims, whose corpses had been putrefying for days on the streets and under piles of debris. The attempt ended in failure as trucks carrying more than 200 corpses were forced to turn back when they faced gunfire at the city limits. The identities of the gunmen were not clear. Covered with black plastic tarpaulin, the bodies were returned to a makeshift outdoor morgue at the foot of the hill topped by City Hall, where they emitted a powerful odor in the tropical heat." More here.

The official death toll, as of daybreak in the Philippines on Thursday: 2,357, according to multiple published reports. That's well below the 10,000 initially feared dead, but it's expected that number will rise as rubble is searched for bodies.

U.S. forces will create a new task force to handle the relief effort. U.S. Pacific Command just announced that Adm. Samuel Locklear has designated Marine Lt. Gen. John Wissler to lead Joint Task Force 505 as it performs Operation Damayan, the relief effort. The word roughly means "help in time of need" in Tagalog. Wissler is the commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force, with headquarters in Okinawa, Japan. The majority of the U.S. forces on the ground in the Philippines initially came from III MEF.

Beefed-up command and control: "Lt. Gen. Wissler and his staff will depart Okinawa in the coming days as the command and control element for U.S. military support to disaster relief efforts in the Philippines," Marine officials said in the news release. The move signals that additional U.S. troops will deploy to the Philippines in coming days, as humanitarian assistance continues. The relief effort has been led by Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, who arrived in the Philippines on Sunday.

The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, meanwhile, has assembled a 15-person team that is using high-tech mapping to help in the Philippines. Breaking Defense's Colin Clark: "Formed right after the storm made landfall, the team is ‘providing damage assessments of key infrastructure, roads and communication networks destroyed in the storm,' Don Kerr, NGA spokesman said [Wednesday] evening in an email. A senior Marine Corps official described NGA's efforts yesterday as "key" to the military's planning for and subsequent response to the disaster. More here.

Welcome to Thursday's edition of Situation Report. I'm Dan Lamothe, and I'll be filling in for Gordon Lubold, your Situation Report Jedi, for the rest of the week. If you'd like to sign up for Situation Report, send Gordon a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll add you. And if you like what you see, tell a friend. Register free for Situation Report and other FP products here. As always, if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease, because if you see something, you gotta say something -- to Situation Report. One more thing: please follow me at @DanLamothe, and Gordon at @glubold. Attention readers with yahoo addresses: we're working on the issue that delays the arrival of Situation Report each day.

Two agents have been cut from the Secret Service. The Washington Post reports this morning that they were dumped following an investigation into an incident last spring in Washington's landmark Hay-Adams hotel. From the Post's Carol D. Leonnig and David Nakamura: "The disruption at the Hay-Adams in May involved Ignacio Zamora Jr., a senior supervisor who oversaw about two dozen agents in the Secret Service's most elite assignment - the president's security detail. Zamora was allegedly discovered attempting to reenter a woman's room after accidentally leaving behind a bullet from his service weapon. The incident has not been previously reported. In a follow-up investigation, agency officials also found that Zamora and another supervisor, Timothy Barraclough, had sent sexually suggestive e-mails to a female subordinate, according to those with knowledge of the case. Officials have removed Zamora from his position and moved Barraclough off the detail to a separate part of the division, people familiar with the case said."

It's not the first time the Secret Service is in the spotlight for misbehavior. Remember Cartagena? More from the Post: "The incident came a year after the agency was roiled by a prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, prompting vows from senior officials to curb a male-dominated culture of hard partying and other excesses. The service named its first female director, Julia Pierson, seven months ago, and an extensive inspector general report on the agency's culture launched in the wake of the Cartagena scandal is expected to be released in coming weeks." More here.

What's next with Iran? Almost a week after discussions between Iranian officials and Western powers to reduce the country's nuclear program broke down, finger-pointing is still en vogue. A new New York Times story examines the situation from Tehran, where Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has laid the majority of the blame on the French. From the Times' Thomas Erdbrink: "Following Mr. Zarif's lead, Iranian politicians, clerics, commanders and state news media outlets have been criticizing France. Students are threatening to occupy the French Embassy in Tehran and politicians are calling for a boycott of French products - not that there are very many because of the sanctions imposed over Iran's nuclear program. ‘France is playing a silly role, pushing the world away from peace, in order to represent some timid and cunning Arab and regional countries who are afraid to face Iran themselves,' said Amir Mohebbian, an adviser close to the Iranian leadership." More here.

FP's The Cable examined France's role in the breakdown last weekend. In case you missed it, it's here.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry took a beating on Iran from Republicans on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. The Cable's John Hudson: "Although the purpose of the briefing was to convey how new sanctions could derail the delicate negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, Republicans stormed out of the closed-door session in opposition to the Obama administration's message. At the same time, top Democrats remained silent or refused to comment as they exited the Capitol. ‘It was solely an emotional appeal,' Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told reporters after the briefing. ‘I am stunned that in a classified setting, when you're trying to talk with the very folks that would be originating legislation relative to sanctions, there would be such a lack of specificity.'" More here.

The Pentagon and a shady Russian arms dealer are breaking up. The Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday it will no longer buy Mi-17 helicopters used to outfit the Afghan air force from Rosoboronexport. The corporation has come under a firestorm of criticism this year for selling weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which is accused of using them to commit atrocities. My story for FP: "For years, it has been one of the world's stranger -- and uglier -- arms deals, blasted by good governance advocates and human rights activists on three continents. Now, the Pentagon and Russia's premier weapons dealer are finally breaking up, amid pressure from Capitol Hill and a possible criminal probe into the Army's controversial program to buy Russian helicopters for the Afghan air force." More here.

Four Marines were killed in an explosion at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and it appears it occurred while they were sweeping a range for ordnance. From U-T San Diego's Gretel C. Kovach: "They were explosive ordnance disposal technicians who died in an explosion during a range sweep for unexploded munitions, a Marine official told U-T San Diego. The cause of the accident about 11 a.m. in the Zulu impact area in the center of the Marine base adjoining Oceanside is under investigation." More here.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos' tough talk on misbehavior may have just helped a Marine beat criminal charges. His "Heritage Brief," a series of speeches he gave last year blasting sexual assault and other misbehavior, was cited by a lawyer who helped his client, a staff sergeant, beat criminal charges. He had been accused of embezzlement, domestic abuse and other misdeeds. From Marine Corps Times' Hope Hodge Seck: "The criminal case against Staff Sgt. Anthony Rios Jr., 38, is significant because his legal team tied the aggressive effort to prosecute him to a presentation delivered last year to thousands of Marines around the world from the service's commandant, Gen. Jim Amos. Amos' so-called Heritage Brief took aim at what he saw as a rash of misbehavior in the ranks - everything from sex assault and hazing to monkey business in the war zone - and called for Marines to hold one another accountable when they screw up."

But the command for Rios, a wounded warrior, took it pretty far, cracking down on the Marine after the commandant began delivering the Heritage Brief. From the story: "Documents obtained by Marine Corps Times indicate Lt. Gen. Steven Hummer, then the head of Marine Forces Reserve, along with Lt. Col. Eric Kleis, the staff judge advocate in the case, signed off on prosecuting the domestic-violence charges despite the investigating officer's recommendation otherwise. The IO said the charges were baseless. Rios said the jury asked to see him after the Nov. 1 acquittal and offered him a formal apology for what he had been through." More here.

More to come? The commandant's spokesman, Lt. Col. Dave Nevers, told Situation Report that it's his understanding the Heritage Brief wasn't the reason Rios was acquitted, however. He was seeking additional information about the case this morning.

Remember the Air Force officer accused of sexual assault? You know, the one who led the service's sexual assault prevention branch at the time he was charged? He was acquitted on lesser assault charges on Wednesday in court in Arlington, Va. From Kristin Davis and Brian Everstine of Air Force Times: "A jury of five men and two women found the former chief of the Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office not guilty of assault and battery related to allegations he groped a woman's buttocks in Arlington, Va., in May. Jurors deliberated for about one hour and 15 minutes Wednesday before clearing Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, 42, of the misdemeanor charge. Krusinski was at first expressionless when the verdict was read, but within seconds he was smiling and talking with his attorney. He exited the Arlington County courthouse without commenting on the two-day trial's verdict. ‘I just want to say I love my children,' he said.

Nevertheless, another form of punishment Krusinski received came up in court Wednesday. Krusinski's alleged victim hit him multiple times in the face outside Freddie's Beach Bar in Crystal City, Va., witnesses said. More from Air Force Times: "The defense focused on discrepancies over the number of times the woman hit Krusinski in the face and whether she hit him with the hand that held her cell phone or her other hand. The woman said she hit him three times. Multiple witnesses who said they saw the altercation testified it was far more than that. Vaughn Coleman, an employee at Freddies, said she witnessed Krusinski being hit repeatedly for about 15 seconds. Coleman, who is transsexual, also said Krusinski grabbed her earlier that night with both hands and said, ‘I have a penis, you have a penis. It's OK. You can come home with me.'" More here.

Mark Wahlberg blasted Hollywood privilege and praised the military at the premiere for "Lone Survivor," his new movie about Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell. He reportedly was asked about the rigorous training he received to play the part of Luttrell, a Navy Cross recipient who was the only member of his team to make it out of a July 2005 mission in Afghanistan. His passionate response was filled with profanity, and went on for almost five minutes straight. From Entertainment Tonight: "Wahlberg looked visibly pained by the question and started on what would become an almost five-minute monologue. "For actors to sit there and talk about ‘oh I went to SEAL training'? I don't give a f-ck what you did. You don't do what these guys did. For somebody to sit there and say my job was as difficult as being in the military? How f-cking dare you, while you sit in a makeup chair for two hours," Wahlberg said.

"I'm sorry for losing my sh-t. Don't ask any more questions tonight." That's how the actor concluded his rant. More here.

Wahlberg has played a number of service members in movies, including a Marine sniper in 2007's "Shooter" and a soldier in 1994's "Renaissance Man." It's worth noting that many Marines love "Shooter," in which he plays Gunnery Sgt. Bobby Lee Swaggart, who refuses to give up after he is framed for an assassination attempt on the president. When a platoon of infantry Marines in Marjah, Afghanistan, learned in 2010 that your fill-in Situation Report correspondent had not seen the movie, they screened it that very evening, using a dusty projector and a white sheet hung from a wall in the decrepit schoolhouse they called home at the time.

National Security

FP’s Situation Report: DOD mulls a new DepSecDef; A Navy scandal widens; What Forbes wants members to know; Why is the MCC sending money to corrupt countries?; Little’s last briefing; and a bit more.


By Gordon Lubold

The Pentagon says no need for "rotational troops" for the Philippines. Stripes J. Taylor Rushing: "Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Tuesday that he did not see a need for a rotational presence as part of U.S. troop aid to the Philippines, even as the aircraft carrier USS George Washington closes in on the embattled region. U.S. officials are negotiating with officials in the Philippines to ensure greater access for troops to areas damaged by last week's typhoon that left casualties in the thousands. The Washington, which carries about 5,000 sailors and more than 80 planes, left from a port in Hong Kong and is expected in the Philippines within the next three days. At least 250 Marines have delivered more than 100,000 pounds of relief supplies in the Philippines as well, he said." More here.

The next DepSecDef might be... we don't know yet. But with Sen. Lindsey Graham's hold on nominations still holding, there's a good chance the Pentagon is coming up with a Plan B for its Number 2 to fill the Deputy Secretary of Defense job now held by Ash Carter. We're told by multiple officials that the Pentagon may identify a candidate who can serve in an Acting role -- but who would not likely ever be installed permanently -- until the real nominee can be vetted, named, nominated and confirmed by a Senate process that has not shown signs of efficiency and speed. It's possible Christine "Top Gun" Fox, who was the director of the Pentagon's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, or CAPE, office could be named in the interim. Fox -- who inspired the Kelly McGillis character in the movie "Top Gun" led the popular Strategic Management Choices Review, a top-to-bottom look at Defense Department spending in light of billions of dollars of cuts the Pentagon confronting. Because that process -- nicknamed the "Scammer" for its shotgun-style approach to evaluating programs -- hasn't earned Fox widespread love across the Defense Department. But she is well-regarded and is thought to possess the requisite skills to be the Pentagon's Number 2 at least for a period of time.

Another option may be naming one of the Service Secretaries to the post for a period of time. Since there is no sitting Air Force secretary - only Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning who is also the Undersecretary of that service - Fanning is an unlikely pick. That leaves Secretaries Ray Mabus of the Navy and John McHugh of the Army. Either could be seen as filling that role as a bridge until the permanent person was selected, Situation Report is told. But the clock is ticking: Carter leaves the Department Dec. 4. Also, former Marine Bob Work, now the CEO at the Center for a New American Security and a former Undersecretary of the Navy before leaving that job earlier this year, is on a not very long list of candidates to replace Carter.

Welcome to Wednesday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to sign up for Situation Report, send us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. And if you like what you see, tell a friend. Register free for Situation Report and other FP products here. As always, if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease, because if you see something, you gotta say something -- to Situation Report. One more thing: please follow us @glubold. Attention readers with yahoo addresses: we're working on the issue that delays the arrival of Situation Report each day.

The Navy's corruption scandal continues to widen, now to a new, second case. The WaPo's Craig Whitlock "Federal authorities are investigating three senior Navy intelligence officials as part of a probe into an alleged contracting scheme that charged the military $1.6 million for homemade firearm silencers that cost only $8,000 to manufacture, court records show. The three civilian officials, who oversee highly classified programs, arranged for a hot-rod auto mechanic in California to build a specially ordered batch of unmarked and untraceable rifle silencers and sell them to the Navy at more than 200 times what they cost to manufacture, according to court documents filed by federal prosecutors. The purpose of the silencers remains a mystery. According to the court papers, one of the intelligence officials told a witness in the case that the silencers were intended for SEAL Team 6, the elite commando unit that killed Osama bin Laden. The case is the second ­contract-fraud investigation to entangle senior Navy intelligence officials in recent weeks.

"There is no known connection between the two corruption cases, but both reach high into the Navy hierarchy and, based on prosecutors' filings, expose how easy it can be for contractors and insiders to defraud the service of millions of dollars. The investigations also call into question the Navy's ability to prevent fraud.

"In April 2011, after yet another contracting scandal, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus pledged a crackdown and appointed a special panel to improve oversight. ‘We will not accept any impropriety, kickbacks, bribery or fraud,' he promised at the time. A few months later, however, civilian intelligence officials at Navy headquarters began circulating e-mails that set into motion the scheme to purchase the firearm silencers, according to affidavits from investigators and other documents filed recently by prosecutors in U.S. District Court in Alexandria." Read the rest of the unfolding tale, here.

Why is this U.S. foreign aid agency poised to send hundreds of millions of dollars to flawed, corrupt and undemocratic countries - in violation of its own rules? FP's Yochi Dreazen looked into it in this exclusive: "The Millennium Challenge Corporation, or MCC, is an independent U.S. foreign aid agency dedicated to 'advancing American values' by reducing poverty, advancing good governance, and weeding out corruption. But people familiar with the matter say that the MCC -- led by Colorado banker Daniel Yohannes -- is seriously contemplating giving money to Sierra Leone and Benin, which fail to meet its "control of corruption" requirements, and Liberia and Morocco, which meet less than half of the organization's 20 requirements for civil liberties, sound economic policies, and other measures. If approved, each country could receive hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. government funding over the next few years." Read the rest here.

Randy Forbes is looking to educate members on readiness in that classified briefing we told you about last week. Rep. Randy Forbes, the Virginia Republican who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, told Situation Report yesterday that the classified briefing on Thursday will be a way to illustrate to members who may not be familiar with readiness issues the degree to which sequester and other "Draconian cuts" damage the military. Forbes, to Situation Report: "The bottom line is that we are decimating the national defense of this country. If you assume that I'm correct on that and I think the Joint Chiefs would agree, I think that if that's going to happen, our members need to at least know what they're doing before they continue casting these votes that decimate the military... Very few [members] have looked at the consequences of what they're doing. Those consequences are startling." Forbes said he's not trying to lobby members in that sense - but that the information they'll learn at the briefings will speak for itself.

Why is Rand Paul being so careful when he talks about the military? The NYT's Jim Rutenberg on Sen. Rand Paul's remarks at the Citadel yesterday in which he tried, carefully, to step away from the interventionist "Bush Doctrine:" "On Tuesday, Senator Rand Paul went [to the Citadel], effectively to describe just how far he would go in moving the nation away from that doctrine, another step in his effort to position himself as part of the ever-earlier maneuvering of presidential politics, while establishing his place in the continuing fight over his party's direction. As a face of the emergent strain of libertarian-leaning Republicanism, Mr. Paul has drawn suspicion from members of the party's hawkish wing, which has held sway for decades. Some of them consider him an isolationist.

Speaking at the Citadel, on the Ashley River here, Mr. Paul declared his support for the ‘peace through strength' approach of President Ronald Reagan but, true to form, called for an audit of the Pentagon." Paul: "America must be engaged in the world, commercially, diplomatically and, when necessary, militarily... But to be engaged doesn't mean to always be engaged in war... As a senator, I will, if I have to, not hesitate to vote for war,' he said but added that ‘an America that did not seek to become involved in every conflict of the world could do things to make us safer at home and abroad." More here.

Today at the Pentagon - Hagel hosts Slovenia's Minister of Defense at 10:45 a.m. and then Kazakhstan's Minister of Defense at 2:15. Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Sandy Winnfeld and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno attend the USO 16th Annual Salute to Military Chiefs at 6:30pm. at Pentagon City's Ritz-Carlton.

What happened yesterday at the Pentagon: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel convened all the combatant commanders and other military leaders to talk about "the current budget uncertainty and its impact on force readiness and management" during a five-hour meeting, a senior defense official tells us. Commanders provided brief reports to Hagel on their areas of responsibility, and Hagel noted that the mix of fiscal and strategic challenges they face is "unlike any they have faced in their careers," the defense official told Situation Report. Hagel thanked Adm. Sam Locklear of U.S. Pacific Command for the command's efforts after the typhoon in the Philippines and Gen. Bob Kehler of Strategic Command for his years of service.

Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey and the commanders then crossed the river to brief POTUS.

Jon Stewart and MOH recipient Sal Giunta attended a "Heroes Gala" last night put on by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. See them here.

The security agreement with Afghanistan is tied to the situation with military workers. The WSJ's Nathan Hodge: "...The engineers, Clarito Bansale and Jay-Jay Esguerra of the Philippines, were finally released on Saturday following intense diplomatic pressure, in an incident that foreign officials here say points up a disturbing trend: the criminalization of commercial disputes... The question of whether U.S. personnel and contractors would be immune from Afghan prosecution is the last major issue of contention in talks for a continued U.S. military presence here after next year. A traditional Afghan gathering, known as the Loya Jirga, is set to meet in Kabul this month to decide on the issue, which Washington sees as a nonnegotiable condition to stay." Read the rest here.  

Afghan opium production reaches record high, AFP, here.

Raytheon and Lockheed are trying to sweeten the offer to build a Patriot system for Turkey since Ankara is on the fence about the $3.4 billion deal with China. Reuters' Andrea Shalal-Esa, citing one source who said there are "internal discussions" happening about the Patriot offer, cited a second source who confirmed the preliminary discussions "about how the offer could be adjusted to be more competitive with bids submitted by the Chinese firm, and a European group," she wrote. "Both sources said no decisions had been made and it was important to allow Turkey - a member of NATO - time to make up its mind. Turkey announced in September it had chosen China's FD-2000 long-range air and missile defense system against rival offers from Franco/Italian Eurosam SAMP/T and Raytheon. It said China offered the most competitive terms and would allow co-production in Turkey, but the decision caused alarm in NATO countries worried about China's growing clout." Read the rest here.

Is the LCS in trouble? The WSJ's Nissenbaum in this Page Oner today under the eyebrow "Ripe Target:" Nissenbaum: "When the USS Freedom's report card came in last week from Singapore, it didn't provide great news for Navy brass trying to keep Pentagon budget cutters away from the experimental warship. The U.S. Navy had sent the vessel to Asia this spring, hoping the innovative Littoral Combat Ship would prove its detractors wrong and live up to the Navy's belief that it can be the backbone of America's future fleet. Instead, the narrative was marred by generator meltdowns, burst pipes and propulsion troubles that delayed the Freedom's participation in international war games. When Navy leaders were given an expedited assessment on the ship's performance last week, they found the scope of those problems to be ‘a little stunning,' says Rear Adm. Tom Rowden, the Navy's director of surface warfare. It was an unwelcome review for the Navy, at a particularly bad time. The service is running into mounting high-level Defense Department resistance to the Navy's plan for a ship that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says ‘represents the future of the Navy-and the future of warfare.'" Read the rest here.

The Navy is going to keep its carrier-hopping killer drone flying until 2015 (with video!) War is Boring's David Axe, writing on FP:

"Pratt & Whitney turbofan whining, tires slamming on the steel deck in puffs of white smoke, the X-47B killer drone prototype arrived on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on Nov. 9. Over the next several days the kite-shaped X-47B launched, landed and taxied in increasingly complex wind conditions, racking up test data and bringing the Navy closer to deploying the world's first jet-powered robotic bombers. Lots more tests are still to come. 1,092 feet long and displacing 104,600 tons of water, the 29-year-old, nuclear-powered Roosevelt is the third of the Navy's 10 flattops to test the pair of X-47B drones that Northrop Grumman built under a roughly billion-dollar contract starting in 2007. After six years of design, production and ground testing, the pair of 62-foot-wingspan drones -- known to the Navy as "Salty Dogs" and to Northrop engineers as ‘Doritos' -- took to the sea in December 2012." Read the rest here.

Snowden is reportedly running out of cash. UPI: "Nearly all the money U.S. secrets leaker Edward Snowden had since he fled the United States in May is gone, his attorney in Russia said.

‘The savings he had, he has almost entirely spent on food, rent, security and so on,' attorney Anatoly Kucherena said in an interview published Tuesday in Rossiiskaya Gazeta." Read the rest here.

The White House blasted new efforts to place more sanctions on Iran. The Cable's John Hudson: "In its most forceful language to date, the White House and State Department blasted Congressional efforts to place new sanctions on Iran as delicate negotiations continue on the country's nuclear program. Without mincing words, U.S. officials warned that spoiling diplomatic talks with Iran would be a ‘march to war.'" Carney: "It is important to understand that if pursuing a resolution diplomatically is disallowed or ruled out, what options, then, do we and our allies have to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon?... The American people do not want a march to war."

George Little had his last briefing - at least he thinks so. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, leaving the building Friday, held what is likely his last briefing in the Pentagon before joining the private sector for an undisclosed position somewhere. At the briefing the former CIA spokesman-turned-Pentagon-spokesman was asked by CNN's Barbara Starr what the public didn't yet know about the Osama bin Laden raid - what the news media never asked - and what the administration's response would have been had the mission gone south. Little acknowledged there might be a deet or two out there that no one has unearthed, but settled on "you and the American people know a great deal about what happened on that very important day."

As for what would have happened if the mission hadn't gone well: "I think that the likelihood is that, just given the way these things work in this day and age, that we would have had to be truthful and accurate about what happened. Thankfully, we didn't have to go that route and it was a successful operation... the fact of the matter is that we did have a plan for success and we had a plan for failure, in terms of what we would have said publicly."

Hey, why you lookin' at me? Longtime NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Mislaszewski had one more question based on Little's final answer. 

Little: "Yes, Mick?"

Jim Mislaszewski: "Why -- why did you look directly at me when you suggested that some of us might disagree?"

Little: "I wasn't glancing with any particular purpose or person in mind."

JM: "Just checking."

Little: "Yeah, no, not at all. Not at all."

The section of the briefing in question between the two in which Little talks about "over-classification" and Mik noticed Little staring at him.

Little: "In some cases, is there over-classification? I don't know any government official in their right mind who would say there's never over-classification. I think that is an issue from time to time. But overall, I think that this department does a very good job of trying to be as transparent as possible about as many issues as possible. That's certainly been a goal of mine since coming here, and I hope it continues. That's the right thing to do. Transparency is critical for this department and its legitimacy. One of the reasons that we in the Department of Defense, the U.S. military, have a very high approval rating with the American people is because we are transparent. Even when it's bad news, quite frankly, we tend to come forward quickly and own up to it and talk about the measures we're taking to ensure that the problem doesn't occur again. Some people may disagree with me about that, but that's our general orientation. And we're going to, I think, continue to do that, and whoever succeeds me I'm sure will carry that banner forward." Read the transcript here.

Meanwhile, Little is still mum about his successor. Asked by a reporter if he'd like to name that person right then and there, Little passed up on the opportunity. "I don't think a decision has been made, so I can't. You want me to come up with a cover story, Barbara?" [JK!]

Where is he going? "My immediate goal is to spend a little time with my boys, to actually drop them off at school and maybe even pick them up, and I look forward to spending a little bit more time with them and with the entire family. And then I'll pick up from there and see what the options are."

The press: "Well, good luck." 

Little said the press had become like a second family to him and that he "will forever cherish the relationships we've built, both here at the Pentagon and on the many trips we've taken together around the world."  Little's last words: "Thank you very much. Nice working with all of you. Thank you."