ON STATE OF THE UNION
Candy Crowley sat down with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey to discuss Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel's confirmation hearings, the U.S. troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, and the threat of al Qaeda in North Africa and lingering questions about the Benghazi attack. Panetta says his biggest concern is "if the sequester is allowed to go into effect, I think it could seriously impact on the readiness in the United States. And that's a serious issue." Dempsey echoed him "I couldn't agree more. We face a true readiness crisis."
Then our panel – The Hill's Associate Editor A.B. Stoddard, Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Former Obama Adviser Melody Barnes and Time Magazine's Executive Editor Mike Duffy – talked immigration, guns, and the economy's mixed signals.
Plus, 2006 Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward shares his take on the growing focus on head injuries in the NFL "I mean, as players, we know what we sign up for. The NFL is not for everybody."
And finally, on Super Bowl Sunday what can Washington learn from football? Fmr. VA Sen. George Allen tells us they aren't so different.
Leon Panetta, Defense Secretary, on the Hagel nomination:
"I know Chuck Hagel. And, I think that he's got good experience with regards to public service. He understands the issues at the Defense Department and I think he'll be a great secretary of Defense."
Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs Chairman, on the Hagel nomination:
“I found him to be very thoughtful and very well prepared and interested. So if he's confirmed, I’m sure we'll establish a very close working relationship.”
Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs Chairman, on Afghanistan troop levels in 2014:
“No one has ever suggested zero to me. I think the ultimate number will be based on the mission and how deeply we want to be involved with their continued development and also what they want, literally what the sovereign nation of Afghanistan wants... my instinct is that their development is moving at a pace and their acceptance and responsibility is moving at a pace our numbers after '14 can be modest.”
Leon Panetta, Defense Secretary, on the Benghazi response:
“This is not 911. You can not just simply call and expect within two minutes to have a team in place. It takes time. That's the nature of it. Our people are there. They are in position to move but we've got to have good intelligence that gives us a heads up something is going to happen. ... Better intelligence about what was taking place there would have given us a head start.”
Sec. Panetta & Gen. Dempsey on their “biggest concern”
PANETTA: "The biggest concern I have, frankly, right now, is the uncertainty- the budget uncertainty on Capitol Hill, because if the sequester is allowed to go into effect, I think it could seriously impact on the readiness in the United States. And that's a serious issue."
CROWLEY: "And I would assume you agree with those parting words."
DEMPSEY: "I couldn't agree more. We face a true readiness crisis."
Hines Ward, former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, on player safety in the NFL
"As players, we know what we sign up for. The NFL is not for everybody. Of course, you can play college football, but you have grown men out here playing football. And I think for the NFL, they're trying to do the right thing. It's just that football is a violent sport. As a football player, we know what we sign up for."