After returning from what he called a "frank" meeting with political and military leadership in Pakistan, Adm. Mike Mullen told me the reports of tense conversations between officials were "overstated."
“It is a very difficult time and yet a very important relationship. And both Secretary Clinton and I really went there together to reaffirm the commitment on the part of the United States to continue to work with Pakistan and there were a host of issues discussed,” Mullen told me.
My colleague Nick Schifrin reported that the Pakistanis were given a list of leaders – and possibly targets – in the Haqqani and al Qaeda networks who the U.S. wants more intelligence on.
So did Mullen hear what he needed to from the Pakistanis?
“We were very frank with them and they were very frank with us. On the army side right now there is a very significant introspective look and review that is ongoing. And I think they are going to have to get through that. And that makes sense to me,” he said. “I did hear from the military leadership their continued commitment to look ahead and work with us and we think that’s important.”
Mullen will retire in October after 42 years in the military. But he wouldn’t share his thoughts about his expected successor as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey.
“The president’s the one who makes all the selection for the senior appointments. And just like you I await that announcement. I know there has been a lot of speculation about it but I certainly don’t want to get out in front of the president.
And on this final Memorial Day before his retirement Mullen reflected on his more than four decade career in the military.
“This is a level of both leadership and commitment and opportunity, and it’s been a great privilege…The opportunity and privilege to serve during these two wars and to lead 2.2 million young men and women who make up the best military of the 42 years that I have been serving,” he told me.