Remarks by Acting Secretary Shanahan in a Media Availability Prior to an Honor Cordon Ceremony Welcoming the Presidents of the Freely Associated States of Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands to the Pentagon

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan


ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PATRICK M. SHANAHAN:  Good morning, everybody.  How we doing?  It's great to see everybody on this beautiful --

Q:  Mr. Secretary, why do you think that --

SEC. SHANAHAN:  -- Tuesday?  Or is this Wednesday?

Q:  Tuesday.

SEC. SHANAHAN:  It's Tuesday.

 (CROSSTALK)

Q:  Why do you think, sir, it is a good idea, now that you know you've turned over case files to the Justice Department, to have war criminals pardoned?  Why do you think that's a good idea?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  You know what I thought I'd do today is talk to you about going up and visiting the folks on Capitol Hill.  I think it's a really good opportunity to keep this dialogue going on, given this time of high operational tempo, especially with Iran.

I think all of you have been tracking, you know, the threats that we've talked about, and some of the intelligence.  And, you know, one of the things I'd make -- really, kind of, underscore is we talked about those threats, and there were attacks, and I really want to underscore the credibility of the intelligence.  And what I would say about the department, it was extremely responsive, and I think our steps were very prudent, and we've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans.  And that's what's extremely important.

So today, I'm going to go up and talk to Congress, give them a more detailed briefing.  And what I'd like to be able to do is share with you a lot of those details, but they're called secrets for a reason, and so I won't go in -- into those details.

But that dialogue is extremely important.  And it goes -- you know, we're in this period of high operational tempo.  When you, kind of, think about all of the activities that are going on concurrently across the world, so --

(CROSSTALK)

Q:  What do you mean, you've put -- you've put on hold the potential for attacks?  Do you mean the potential for attacks no longer exists?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I'd say we're in a period where the threat remains high.  And our job is to make sure that there is no miscalculation by the Iranians.

Q:  What do you mean --

SEC. SHANAHAN:  That is -- and it's the most important thing we can do as the department is avoid miscalculation, and then control escalation.  Our posture is for deterrence.

Q:  So, yesterday the president said there are no indications the Iranians are getting ready to do anything.  Is that what you're referring to?  And has the threat stream gone down, basically?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  There is risk, and we're managing that risk.

(CROSSTALK)

Q:  Mr. Secretary, how would you (inaudible) lawmakers that this intelligence is real?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I think the -- there's several ways we can address that.  I mean, the first is what we're going to do today.  You have to have a dialogue, and you have to have a conversation.  I think that will start to work on it.

One of the things that I would point out -- I went back and asked, you know, our team, "How many briefings have we done to the Hill since…", this is probably the ninth?  I think we've done nine briefings.  Maybe it was the fifth, but we've done a considerable number of briefings on the Hill.

The, you know, skepticism -- I can't address the individuals, and I think part of today will be to, kind of, give credible information that'll address that.

Q:  But didn't lawmakers say they've seen the intelligence, and they still remain unconvinced?  How are you going to convince them, Mr. Secretary?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  We'll see how that works out today. I'm confident it will.

(CROSSTALK)

Q:  Mr. Secretary, do you think Iran got this message of deterrence on the long run; not these attacks that you're talking about right now, but on the long run?

SEC. SHANAHAN:  I just hope Iran is listening.  We're in the region to address many things, but it is not to go to a war with Iran.

I've got a little visit here.  We'll talk to you soon, okay?  Bye-bye.