Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
- Leon Panetta has served as the secretary of Defense since being sworn in July 2011 and will soon be stepping down from the position. Secretary Panetta has also served as the director of the CIA under the Obama administration, and as director of the Office of Management and Budget and White House chief of staff for President Clinton. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years after first being elected in 1976. Secretary Panetta also founded The Panetta Institute for Public Policy at California State University, Monterey Bay.
- Last week, Secretary Panetta announced women would be allowed to serve in ground combat units. He said in eliminating the direct ground combat exclusion rule, “we are making our military stronger and we are making America stronger. We honor, we deeply honor all of those past generations -- combat soldiers and Marines, who fought and died for our freedom. And in many ways, their sacrifice has ensured that the next greatest generation will be one of men and women who will fight and die together to protect this nation. And that is what freedom is all about.”
- Here is his most recent Meet the Press appearance.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey
- Gen. Martin Dempsey is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking military officer. Prior to his post as chairman in 2011, Gen. Dempsey also served as the Army’s chief of staff, and in Iraq as commander of the 1st Armored Division and as commanding general of MNSTC-I training Iraqi forces.
- Gen. Dempsey and the joint chiefs recommended to Secretary Panetta rescinding the rule direct ground combat exclusion rule, which prohibited women from serving in combat. He said, “[W]e are acting to expand the opportunities for women to serve in the United States armed forces and to better align our policies with the experiences that we have had over the past decade of war. Ultimately, we're acting to strengthen the joint force.”
- Gen. Dempsey recently talked with Rock Center’s Ted Koppel about Afghanistan, the danger of cyber-attacks, and General David Petraeus. He also spoke about the ongoing threat of al Qaeda: “I think it would be a mistake to give the American people the sense that al Qaeda is defeated wherever we happen to find them. And I think that it`s fair to say that there will be a part of the al Qaeda threat emanating from both western Pakistan and potentially Afghanistan for the foreseeable future.”
Roundtable: Gibbs, Reed, Navarro, Brooks
- Former White House Press Secretary and senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs recently said the president’s announcement of gun control legislation was “the very beginning of a long, arduous, very, very tough campaign. I think the whole White House has to act like it. He’s got to just not be passionate today […] but he’s got to do it each and every day for a while. He’s got to get out of the White House and travel the country. He’s got to make his case directly to the people.” Here is his most recent appearance.
- Founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition Ralph Reed thinks Democrats are “overplaying their hands” with a liberal agenda. He said, “This is not the kind of playbook that you would want to carry into election after election.” Watch his latest appearance on Meet the Press.
- Republican strategist Ana Navarro served as national Hispanic co-chair for Gov. Jon Huntsman’s 2012 president campaign and as national co-chair of John McCain’s Hispanic Advisory Council during his presidential run. Navarro said the president should leave immigration reform to the bipartisan effort in Congress. “These senators are seasoned veterans of these immigration battles. They know the art of the possible. They know how far they can push and what is viable to get it passed and they are invested in getting something passed.”
- New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote this week, “On immigration, the evidence is overwhelming; the best way forward is clear. The forlorn pundit doesn’t even have to make the humanitarian case that immigration reform would be a great victory for human dignity. The cold economic case by itself is so strong.” Watch his most recent appearance here.
- NBC Sports’ Bob Costas recently talked about the effects NFL rules will have on the game, the player safety and the upcoming Super Bowl game.
NBC Chief White House Correspondent and Political Director Chuck Todd is filling in as moderator this week.
Follow these guests on Twitter:
- Gen. Martin Dempsey: @Martin_Dempsey; @thejointstaff
- Leon Panetta: @DeptofDefense
- Ralph Reed: @ralphreed
- Ana Navarro: @ananavarro
- David Brooks: @nytdavidbrooks