In June 2011, shortly after Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, then-CIA chief Leon Panetta gave a speech to the SEALs that took part in the raid — proceeding to then drop some serious Microsoft Visio Sales Conference '08 motivation on them.
Panetta's speech became famous when it was revealed that it included confidential information, and that the audience for the speech included the filmmakers behind Zero Dark Thirty. The conservative organization Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the speech, getting a response earlier this month. The group notes that "the entire transcript of the Panetta speech provided to Judicial Watch by the CIA is classified 'Top Secret,'" and that "more than 90 lines are redacted for security reasons," reinforcing that it should not have been given to an audience that included people without clearance.
That aside, however: It's a weird speech. The head of the CIA, talking to an audience that apparently included members of one of the nation's mostly highly-trained military outfits, reminded them of the importance of teamwork. Literally. Panetta walked through a number of similar bromides, the sort of thing that you'd expect to find written in elegant type on a black background under a photo of a waterfall.
Panetta's advice to the Navy SEALs
Note: These are all verbatim.
- We always have to be willing to question. Never take anything for granted.
- Never give up. [Ed. - Seriously.] … You can never surrender to frustration or anger or impatience.
- Always trust dedicated people who work in the intel community. The fact is, we're all on the same team.
- You have to be flexible and you always have to develop a backup plan.
- Be willing to take risks. … It's also the spirit very frankly that made this country great.
- This success … depended on close teamwork and it depended on secrecy. This was a seamless team effort from the beginning.
That last one may in part stem from the fact that many of the people to whom he was talking were trained for years to function as a team? If you gave a middle manager at Cisco the opportunity to subject his sales team to intense training for two years in horribly challenging conditions, they would probably have a lot of seamless team efforts, too.
As a lesser offense, Panetta also mangled a quote from The Godfather, as Jon Schwarz noted on Twitter:
Panetta couldn't even get his Godfather reference right, saying bin Laden now "swims" with the fishes: pic.twitter.com/TrQYhR8rsi— Jon Schwarz (@tinyrevolution) December 11, 2013
Panetta's full speech is below, via Judicial Watch. Print it out and memorize it for your next corporate gathering. Wear a tie.