FOURTH POST – SEPTEMBER 5, 2012 – LEON PANETTA SPEAKS TO MERCURY NEWS SERVICE IN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW; DEFENSE SECRETARY TELLS IT ALL.
In a rare display of candidness and transparency, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has agreed to sit down for an interview with MNS investigative reporter, Marmaduke Quailbeak and Wurlitzer Prize award winning journalist, Brunhilde Liebesbombe. The interview was conducted in Secretary Panetta’s office at the Pentagon on September 1, 2012.
MNS: We would like to express the gratitude of the American people and the world for this opportunity to hear your views on international affairs, Mr. Secretary.
PANETTA: Okay. Would you like to try some of this wine. My cousin, Rocco, made it. It’s pretty good.
MNS: Um, no thanks. The United States has declared its support for the rebel Free Syrian Army but has limited its support to “non-lethal” weapons. What does “non-lethal” mean?
Leon Panetta was born in Monterey, California, to Italian parents from Calabria. The major milestones in his life were work at his father’s restaurant and spying for the U.S. Army.
PANETTA: Non-lethal means, like, exactly that. It’s stuff they can’t use to kill anybody.
MNS: But, the U.S. is reported to have sent night-vision equipment. That enables the FSA to kill Syrian soldiers and civilians.
PANETTA: (Agitated) Hey, don’t say that word, (whispers), “civilians”. Well, anyways, the rebels can’t use the night vision stuff to kill. I mean, unless they beat some Assad guy over the head with the thing, it can’t be used by itself to hurt anyone. Right? ….And I don’t want any more questions like that, okay?
MNS: What about the U.S. sending Yemeni Al-Qaeda killers to Turkey to fight with the FSA? Isn’t that lethal?
PANETTA: No. The human being is not lethal. I mean, you can’t take a Yummany (sic) and throw him like a grenade. Got it, smart ass? Anyway, that’s Petraeus’ thing now. We got nothin’ to do with that.
MNS: But, it seems we’re supporting the FSA which is attracting our old enemies, the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. What’s your response to that?
PANETTA: (picks up crib notes and starts to read). You don’t mind, do you, if I use this sheet?
MNS: No, not at all.
PANETTA: “He’s slaughtering his own people.” “He’s gotta step down.” “He’s beleaguered”, “He’s embattled”. “He’s increasingly isolated.” “The Syrian poople (sic) have spoken”. “It is only a matter of time before he’s toppled.” ….”And…….”
MNS: Please, Mr. Secretary! What we mean is, there has to be some support for him both in the Army and among the people. His army is over 300,000 soldiers and they seem to be loyal. What do you say to that?
PANETTA: Oh, they’re all Assads. That’s what Petraeus keeps saying. (laughs).
MNS: Do you mean that all Syrian soldiers and officers are members of President Assad’s family?
PANETTA: Exactly that. These Assads are like Italian Catholics. They breed like rabbits.
MNS: What about “command-and-control” in both Jordan and Turkey – even Israel – isn’t that lethal aid to an insurgency? Doesn’t that enable the FSA and other terrorists to kill? Surely, that has to be considered lethal aid.
PANETTA: And don’t call me Shirley!! (guffaws). I love that. We just make sure they get across those
land mines and avoid Syrian security people. That’s to insure their safety, that’s all. Ain’t no big deal.
Secretary Panetta, seen here at our interview, cleverly sneaks his right index finger into his nostril to prevent a bead of mucous from sullying his upper lip.
MNS: But they get into cities and take over neighborhoods and kill soldiers and civilians. That’s lethal aid you’re giving them……
PANETTA: Hey, who in the Hell do you work for? Iran? Russia? How about, Assad’s family? Why don’t you go and join the party over there? Are you a U.S. citizen?
MNS: I am not! I’m a citizen of the Falklands and Brunhilde, I believe, is German.
BRUNHILDE: Richtig! Mein hubsche Kollege. Ich moochte einem Frage……..
PANETTA: (Reels in his swivel chair) What!! This gal’s some Tedescho? No way! Interview is over. I don’t do interviews with the enemy.
MNS: Please, Mr. Secretary. I think you’ve seen too many war movies. (We were escorted out of the Pentagon at that point and told not to come back again.)