Defense Secretary Fires Top Officials Defense Secretary Robert Gates ousted both the Air Force's top military officer and top civilian official yesterday in an unprecedented double firing.
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Defense Secretary Fires Top Officials

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Defense Secretary Fires Top Officials

Defense Secretary Fires Top Officials

Defense Secretary Fires Top Officials

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates ousted both the Air Force's top military officer and top civilian official yesterday in an unprecedented double firing.

BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York, this is the Bryant Park Project.

MIKE PESCA, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from NPR studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR news. News, information, and a whole lot of me. I'm Mike Pesca.

It's Friday June 6th, 2006, no Rachel. Rachel is away on assignment as we say. It's not actually accurate. I don't know what she's doing on the assignment, perhaps sleeping late and God bless her if she is, but this is just a little gift from me to you. Oh yeah. It's 2008, it said 2006 on my page and I read it. So that's good, I know who to bet in the Derby, anyway. So what I'm offering to you is this. Whenever you're away or doing something or just slacking off, try to get other people to say that you are on assignment. It makes it sound whole lot more official.

On the show today, we'll be taking a look at the Democratic primary season. The 2012 Democratic primary season. Zing. You thought I'd say 2008, because it's 2008. No, I didn't get that date wrong. We are talking about the Democratic primary season ahead. You know, turns out this last Democratic season, there were some snags, some snafus, and we're going to at how the superdelegates systems will be working out in the future. We'll be talking to Mark Siegel, a former executive director of the DNC. Will the Dems change their system after this year's primary? Let's discuss.

And the lead singer of the band Subtle is in the studio to talk about their concept album, "Exiting Arm" concept album. Off putting term? Or inviting term? Let's blog it. They are also an alt-rap group and this guy is crazy in a good way. I think you'll like my interview with him. Plus we've got a lot of stuff to talk about regarding the concept of bacon and salt together. Bacon salt. Everyone's doing it, and it's good for the troops. We'll also get today's headlines in just a minute. But first.

Secretary ROBERT GATES (Department of Defense): I have accepted the resignation of the secretary of the Air Force and the resignation of the chief of staff of the Air Force.

PESCA: That was Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He ousted both the Air Force's top military officer and top civilian official yesterday in an unprecedented shake up. Gates ask for and accepted the resignations of Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley and Air Force secretary Michael Wynne after a damning internal report about the Air Force's mishandling of nuclear materials. In that incident that Gates called the trigger for the move, the Air Force shipped fuses for nuclear war heads to Taiwan when they were supposed to send helicopter batteries. Here's Secretary Gates yesterday.

Secretary GATES: This incident represents a significant failure to ensure the security of sensitive military components and more troubling, it depicts a pattern of poor performance.

PESCA: Another high profile screw up happened last August when a B52 bomber flying across the U.S. was mistakenly armed with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, and Secretary Gates says he grew more concerned when these issues weren't taken seriously by the Air Force.

Secretary GATES: Even then, action to ensure a thorough investigation of what went wrong was not initiated by the Air Force leadership but required my intervention.

PESCA: The investigation was carried out by a navy admiral. NPR Pentagon correspondent, Tom Bowman summarizes the report's contents.

TOM BOWMAN: One source I talked with called it pretty damning. It complained that no one senior person in the Air Force is in charge of the nuclear arsenal. They pushed it down to a lower level, and also, since the end of the cold war, the report says, the Air Force really has lost focus on maintaining its nuclear weapons.

PESCA: And Bowman says the move is more evidence that while a lot of folks in Washington talk about accountability, Secretary Gates really means it.

BOWMAN: Last year he fired the Army Secretary Francis Harvey for not taking seriously enough the problems uncovered at Walter Reed Army Hospital and he basically told him to resign, and Harvey was gone within days.

PESCA: White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said President Bush knew about the resignations, but was not involved in the shake up. Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Arms Services Committee responded favorably to the move. Meanwhile one official tells the associated press that Secretary Gates has settled on new candidates for both jobs but hasn't yet formally recommended them. You can go to NPR News throughout the day for updates on this story. Now let's gets some more of today's headlines with the BPP's Mark Garrison.

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