Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel while visiting the University of Nebraska Wednesday to talk to students and faculty about the "modern defense enterprise" made a joke that has him in a bit of hot water.
While taking questions from the audience on the university's Omaha campus Hagel points off screen to someone in the back. During a pause while the microphone is presumably being brought to the individual he said, "You're not a member of the Taliban are you?" After which, the joke seems to fall flat as there's a long pause.
Watch the clip:
The man, first identifying himself as Robin Gandhi, an assistant professor at the the university, then begins to ask his question about using cyberweapons.
Robin Gandhi (Photo: UNO)
Buzzfeed reported the Pentagon stating:
Absolutely no slight toward any individual in the audience was intended. That’s the last thing the Secretary would do under any circumstance, in this or any other setting. He didn’t know who would be called next to pose a question.
As for the context that came before Hagel made his joke, he was talking about going to war and making sure it is worthy of asking the men and women in the military to make that sacrifice.
"We better make damn sure it's worth their sacrifice," Hagel said to a round of applause.
Gandhi's profile on the university website specifies his teaching in the field of information assurance. The man received his bachelors degree at Sardar Patel University, Gujarat, India, and went on to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte to obtain his masters and Ph.D. Gandhi is a member of the Department of Homeland Security Software Assurance Workforce Education and Training Group.
Here's the full video of Hagel's speech (the joke comes after 56:30):
According to KVNO-TV, Hagel discussed cyberattacks and other defense challenges, including Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rowhani and North Korea.
(H/T: Free Beacon)