April 9th, 2014

Sec Hagel to CNN’s Jim Sciutto on Russia: “We’re always vigilant and we’re always looking at the options that we need to take.”

CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto sat down with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today in China. Highlights from the interview are below and a full transcript of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer will be posted on http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS

Please credit — CNN’s Jim Sciutto

Read More: CNN.com: In search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, two new signals buoy hope


Highlights from Full Interview — RUSSIA, UKRAINE, MISSING PLANE & FT. HOOD

—- RUSSIA —-

SCIUTTO:  But it is apparent on the ground.

HAGEL:  Uh, well, this is not just a short-term every — every week.  Uh, let’s start with this.  Russia has isolated itself.

Look at the vote in the United Nations.

How many votes did Russia get?

I think maybe 10, uh, out of 190 nations.  Um, Russia has done great, uh, damage to its standing in the world, confidence and trust, uh, in its motives.  There are long-term consequences.  These economic sanctions will hurt Russia, there’s no question about it.

This isn’t a matter of one or two days or one or two weeks.  Uh, when Russia has taken the action that it has to violate the integrity and, uh, the sovereignty of a nation, there will be long-term consequences.  Those long-term consequences are playing out.  There may be more consequences.

So I don’t agree that — that they’ve gotten away with this.  Yes, they’re still in Crimea.  Yes, they still have troops on the border.  But, these are long-term, uh, dynamics that you play out.  And starting with the fact that Russia has really isolated itself in — in a global community that Russian needs, we all need, to be part of a global community for our own economic, uh, interests, as well as security and stability.


SCIUTTO:  Are you more concerned today, uh, than you were, for instance, last week, that Russia will — will take the next step and go into Eastern Ukraine?

HAGEL:  Uh, we are always vigilant.  We’re always looking at, uh, the options that we need to take.  As you know, General Breedlove, who is our supreme allied commander, has been tasked by NATO to come up with new and additional measures and options.  The, uh, he will be reporting those options back to me, as well as — as to NATO.

So, we don’t take anything for granted.


SCIUTTO:  On the plane, you had a redetection of those two signals, uh, in the last 24 hours, for a length of time.  You have the — the head of the Australian — the Australians, the head of the search, saying that he is, in his words, confident that, uh, that the plane’s wreckage will be found in the near future.

I wonder if you share that confidence, based on the information you know now?

HAGEL:  Well, Jim, you know this region and you know the immensity of this task.  Uh, I have spoken a number of times to the Malaysian acting transportation minister, who also, as you know, is the defense minister – I just was with him in Hawaii.

We, in the United States, have honored every request that he made.  The pinger is ours.


HAGEL:  But this is a, uh, an inter — international effort, which you and I talked about earlier today.  And that should not be minimized, I think, by anybody, that all these nations of Asian Pacific, China, all the nations are working together on this.

But, uh, we’re hopeful.  It’s an immense search area.  We think it’s been narrowed, but I can’t give you a — a forecast on, uh, what they may come up with, what they may — may not.

There’s been some new, um, evidence here that, uh, maybe the — these new and emerging sounds will — may lead to something.

But it’s important we don’t, uh, lift anyone’s hopes, the families of these passengers in a — in an unfair way.  And, of course, our — our hearts, our prayers and our thoughts go out to those families who are living in this world of the unknown.  We’re doing everything possible; we will continue to do everything possible to help the Malaysian Airlines and Malaysian government to locate that plane.

SCIUTTO:  I wonder if you’ve had any — because certainly, you have a number of nations contributing assets, U.S. included.  But other nations that don’t normally work together, you know, you said, it’s an incredible collaboration, a great detective story, in effect, detective effort.

But I wonder if — there have also been cases and concerns about how quickly some countries have shared their radar data, for instance, and so on.

I wonder if you have any concern, frustration that the search could have moved more quickly had that not happened, had the partners involved shared what they knew more quickly and more openly.

HAGEL:  Jim, I’m not going to second-guess what we knew, didn’t know, should have been out there sooner or who didn’t come forward with evidence sooner.  I don’t know.  I don’t think anybody knows the facts yet.

And I think we should be careful that we don’t all judge and jump to conclusions before we get the facts.  We do that too often in the world and it leads not to any positive results.  Let’s focus on doing everything we can, all of us, finding that plane, helping the victims and the families and everyone who’s involved here.  That’s where our focus should be.  That’s where our focus should be.  There will be plenty of time to second-guess and evaluate.

—- FT. HOOD —-

SCIUTTO:  OK.  A final question then on Fort Hood, uh, a tragedy just last week.  Uh, five — what was it, five years after another horrible tragedy at Fort Hood, and there have been other casses.  But I — but I wonder, from your perspective, from that perspective, what — how did the Department of Defense fail?

What were the failings that allowed Lopez to do — to carry this attack out so soon after another deadly attack on base?

HAGEL:  First, um, I think today, the president of the United States is going to be in Fort Hood.  My deputy secretary of Defense, uh, will be down there representing me.  I’ve been talking with her every day, along with our senior leaders, about what happened and what we know.  And so that’s first.

Our, um, our prayers, our thoughts, go out to the families, uh, that are part of the — the tragedy, the families of the victims.  And we’ll support them and do everything we can to help them.

Uh, we don’t know all the facts yet, first of all.  And, again, I think it’s important, before we all jump to a conclusion here, let’s get — let’s get the facts.

One person who, uh, is killed or wounded or violated on a military base is one too many.  And, uh, when it happens, just like the Navy Yard, which we’ve just announced implementation of recommendations of panels that came back to me looking at this as they did, uh, Leon Panetta did, as a result of the 2009 tragedy at Fort Hood, um, those have been — a lot of those, not all — all of them, but most of them, implemented.  We’ll do more in the Navy Yard.

Each one of these is different.  Every different — every situation is different.

Now, what I just said about one is too many and that’s the way we look at it.  But the reality is, we have over 5,000 installations in the world, over half a million buildings.  We want — we will do everything we possibly can to assure the safety of our men and women who come to work or live on those bases every day.  And we will constantly strive for that.

Uh, if there was an issue here that a procedure or a process that wasn’t followed, we’ll find out.  If we need to do new things in order to better protect that base and all bases, we will do them.

Uh, but, uh, I don’t think this is, uh, an epidemic when and when you look at how many bases we have to protect.  And we do a pretty good job of it.

But one is too many.  And, uh, when we have one, we will do everything we can to find out what happened, why it happened, take care of the victims’ families and do everything we can to assure that it never happens again.

Uh, and that’s what we’re going to do.