February 1, 2013
Contact:
Emerson Brown, NPR


   

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA TELLS NPR NEWS
EXCEPTIONS TO NEW WOMEN IN COMBAT POLICY WON'T "BE THAT EASY"

PANETTA GIVES FIRST EXIT INTERVIEW ON 'WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY' FEBRUARY 3

AUDIO AVAILABLE NOON (ET) SUNDAY AT NPR.ORG

In his first exit interview, outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta tells NPR that ending the ban on women in combat will make it difficult for the military to keep certain jobs off limits for the purpose of maintaining tough standards. With hearings to name his successor taking place this week, Panetta speaks with NPR Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin about his recent endorsement of women in the military's "right to fight," the latest announcement of his longstanding career in national security and domestic policy.

The full conversation airs February 3 on Weekend Edition Sunday (find local stations and broadcast times at npr.org/stations); audio will be available at noon (ET) at NPR.org. An excerpt from the conversation is now available at the site and more follow:

When asked if the military services could carve out exceptions to the new policy and maintain the ban for some positions, Panetta responded: "I think getting rid of the barrier makes it a little tougher for them to come back and ask for exceptions. But if they can make a case, then I think it's up to a future secretary and a future chairman to see whether or not they really want to do that. I don't think it's going to be that easy to do, if you want to know the truth."

On the current debate in Washington over the country's budget and growing deficit, Panetta, who served as the head of the Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton, said he has seen this fight before: "For us, governing was good politics. If you could make the tough choices even though they were tough, ultimately if you found solutions, it was good politics. It was good for Democrats, it was good for Republicans, it was good for Republican presidents who happened to be in office at the time. Today, I'm not sure that people really think that governing is good politics. I think they think confrontation and conflict in many ways serves them politically better than trying to negotiate a resolution and coming up with answers."

He went on to say: "Everybody knows when you're dealing with a budget deficit of this size, you can't avoid putting everything on the table. You have to put everything on table. The budget is only made up of so many pieces. You've got to put entitlement on the table, you've got to put discretionary spending on the table. And you have to put revenues on the table. We've always done that. And obviously we then compromise between all three. But there is no way to solve the size problem we face today and not deal with each of those areas."

All excerpts from the interview must be credited to "NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday." Broadcast outlets may use up to sixty (60) consecutive seconds of audio from the interview. Television usage must include on-screen chyron to "NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday" with NPR logo.

Weekend Edition Sunday brings listeners the news of the day in combination with distinctive interviews, colorful arts and human interest stories, and a popular weekly puzzle from Will Shortz. The two-hour broadcast is heard by approximately three million listeners on more than 680 NPR Member stations nationwide. For local stations and broadcast times, visit npr.org/stations