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CIA Tactics Went Beyond Law, Fired Nuke Commander Gets Lower Rank, American Missing in Yemen

By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)

Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, today's best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage. To contact us, email earlybird@nationaljournal.com.

 

Congress Bans Iran's Proposed U.N. Ambassador
(Reuters: Patricia Zengerle)
The White House has not said whether Obama will sign the bill.

Fired Nuke Commander Will Retire at Lower Rank
(Associated Press: Robert Burns)
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James decided Michael Carey's would retire at the one-star rank of brigadier general.

CIA's Use of Harsh Interrogation Went Beyond Legal Authority
(McClatchy: Ali Watkins, Jonathan Landay, Marisa Taylor)
The Senate report also found that the spy agency failed to keep an accurate account of the number of individuals it held. 

 

American Citizen Sharif Mobley Is Missing in Yemen
(The Guardian: Spencer Ackerman)
His abrupt disappearance comes ahead of a court hearing at which his lawyers planned to introduce what they say is evidence of U.S. complicity in his capture and subsequent interrogation.

Congressman: Wait Until '15 for Major Pay, Benefits Reform
(Navy Times: Leo Shane III)
But Rep. Buck McKeon said he may accept smaller changes to pay and benefits in the current budget debate.

FBI Opens Up About Link to Military Special Operations
(The Washington Post: Adam Goldman, Julie Tate)
With the war in Afghanistan ending, a little-known relationship between the bureau and the Joint Special Operations Command for secret missions against al-Qaida comes into view.

UKRAINE

Russian Military on Ukraine Border in High State of Readiness, Says NATO
(The Wall Street Journal: Stephen Fidler)
NATO shows satellite images that it says demonstrate military preparedness. 

 

Ukraine PM: Regions Should Have More Powers
(Associated Press)
It was unclear how much authority he envisioned, or whether it would be likely to mollify separatists.

Military Assaults Against Pro-Russian Occupiers Rumored in Eastern Ukraine
(The Guardian: Alec Luhn)
Buildings in Donetsk and Luhansk remain occupied despite an offer of amnesty for those who leave peacefully.

U.S. Officials Object to French Arms Sales With Russia
(The Hill: Peter Sullivan)
The U.S. has been trying to emphasize its unity with Europe in standing up to Russia.

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U.N. Hints Russia and Its Allies Rigged Crimea's Secession Vote
(Foreign Policy: Colum Lynch)
A final version of the report is expected to be presented to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, April 15.

U.S. Will Stand With Ukraine, but Will It Fight?
(USA Today: Tom Vanden Brook)
How many U.S. troops in Europe does it take to deter Russia?

U.S. Accuses Russia After Putin Warning on Gas Supplies to Europe
(Reuters: Alexei Anishchuk, Bill Trott)
President Vladimir Putin warned that Russian gas supplies to Europe could be disrupted if Moscow cuts the flow to Ukraine over unpaid bills.

Moscow Turns Off Voice of America Radio
(The Washington Post: Kathy Lally)
The U.S. Embassy described the move as part of an effort to limit independent media.

EUROPE

450 U.S., Romanian Troops in Joint Military Games
(Associated Press: Nicolae Dumitrache)
Four F-16s and one Romanian MiG-21 LanceR took off from Romania's Campia Tarzii military base.

CONGRESS

Sen. Kelly Ayotte Plans Financial Sanctions Bill Against Russia
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
The sanctions would prevent U.S. banks from transacting with certain Russian banks and bar new investment by U.S. citizens in the Russian Federation.

Senate Weighs NASA Decision to Restrict Ties With Russia
(Orlando Sentinel: Mark Matthews)
The major exception to NASA's blockade of Roscosmos is the operation of the International Space Station.

Top U.S. Lawmaker: Intelligence Top Priority in Defense Bill
(Reuters: Patricia Zengerle)
"If you don't know what somebody else is doing, you don't even know what your risks are," Rep. Buck McKeon says.

Mental-Health Screening for Soldiers Picks Up Steam
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a bill calling for mental-health screening for recruits before they can join the military.

McKeon Satisfied With Military on Benghazi
(Associated Press: Donna Cassata)
Republicans accuse the Obama administration of misleading the American people about a terrorist attack. 

Senate Committee Probes 'Cuban Twitter'
(Associated Press)
The Senate foreign relations committee on Thursday asked the US Agency for International Development to turn over all records about the secret program.

Boehner Hammers Obama Administration Over Benghazi
(Roll Call: JM Rieger, Matt Fuller)
The House speaker notably and vociferously went after the administration for putting up roadblocks to answers on Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and the IRS scandal.

House Dems Urge Obama to Quickly Declassify CIA Report
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
Forty House Democrats are urging President Obama to quickly declassify portions of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the government's use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

Congress to Be Briefed on Review of Boston Bombing
(Associated Press: Eileen Sullivan)
The review was conducted by the inspector general of the intelligence community, which is composed of the 17 intelligence agencies.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

Generals: Two-War Strategy in Jeopardy Under Sequester
(The Hill: Blake Neff)
All four branches are making cuts to their overall strength in the fiscal 2015 budget, and the commanders warned the possible return of the sequester in 2016 could force cuts that would create a critical shortfall in preparedness. 

NAVY

Littoral Ship's Fitness for Asia Questioned by Some in U.S. Navy
(Bloomberg: Tony Capaccio)
The Navy should consider buying fewer of the ships if its limitations prevent effective use in the Pacific.

Navy May Delay Decision on Replacing Carrier Supply Planes
(Reuters: Andrea Shalal)
The Navy is looking for an inexpensive way to replace its aging fleet of 35 C-2 planes that ferry passengers and spare parts to aircraft carriers.

Navy Tests 'Smart' Helicopter Rocket Launchers
(Military.com: Brendan McGarry)
Each of the launchers is capable of firing 19 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System rockets made by BAE Systems.

AIR FORCE

General: Preserving A-10 Not a Priority
(The Hill: Blake Neff)
Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Larry Spencer said if the force received a small boost to its 2015 budget, it would rather divert the funds to other priorities.

Cut Defense Civilians to Save the A-10?
(Politico: Austin Wright)
Some House members are considering additional cuts in the Defense Department's civilian workforce to save the A-10 Warthog attack jets that the Air Force wants to retire.

MARINE CORPS

Marine Corps Preparing for Expanded Role in Africa
(National Defense: Dan Parsons)
Since the end of World War II, U.S. foreign policy in Africa has been based on diplomacy and international aid rather than military presence.

Military Releases Name of Marine Shot at Lejeune
(Associated Press)
Lance Cpl. Mark N. Boterf of Crowley, Texas, died after a single gunshot wound to the chest earlier in the week.

STATE DEPARTMENT

U.S. Ambassadors Court the World in Campaign-Style Video Introductions
(Yahoo News: Olivier Knox)
The spots look a lot like campaign videos—it's easy to imagine a presidential candidate participating in something like this about Iowa.

MIDDLE EAST

State Department: No Decision on Jonathan Pollard
(Politico: Edward Isaac-Dovere)
Jonathan Pollard isn't going free — at least not yet.

U.S.: 'Gaps Narrowing' in Talks Between Israelis and Palestinians
(Reuters: David Storey)
Asked precisely what the negotiators were trying to achieve, State Department Secretary Jen Psaki said: "We are working to determine what the path forward is for these negotiations."

Israel, Palestinians to Meet Amid Efforts to Defuse Crisis
(Bloomberg: Amy Teibel)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to sit down today to try to defuse a crisis that threatens to scuttle U.S.-sponsored peace talks.

SYRIA

Syria Chemical Destruction Deadline Still Possible
(Associated Press)
If Syria can remove all its ingredients for making poison gas and nerve agent from the country by the end of the month, an ambitious June 30 deadline for destroying the chemicals should be met.

Ship Ready to Destroy Syria's Chemical Arms at Sea
(Reuters: Fiona Ortiz)
Experts just have to hope the weather holds and Damascus delivers on time.

ASIA/PACIFIC

China's U.S. Ambassador Plays Down Tensions After Hagel Trip
(Reuters: Doina Chiacu)
Hagel's trip to China exposed tensions over its territorial disputes with regional U.S. allies, including the Philippines and Japan.

VETERANS

Large Numbers of Vets With PTSD Live Near Military Bases
(McClatchy: Chris Adams)
It's a concentration that reflects the tendency of former soldiers to settle near bases once they leave the service. 

Abused Veterans Looking for Support
(Dayton Daily News: Thomas Gnau)
It took Air Force veteran and Huber Heights resident Jackie Williams some 25 years to talk about how an Air Force colleague raped her in the late 1980s.

ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

Declassify the CIA Report
(The Washington Post:Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Jay Rockefeller)
It could ensure that secret detentions remain a thing of the past.

No Pass for Egypt
(The Washington Post)
The Obama administration must hold the ruling military to the standards of democracy

China's Aircraft Carrier Is Nothing to Fear
(Bloomberg)
The U.S. Navy's blue-water capabilities are vastly more powerful, and it will be that way for many years to come.

Vladimir Putin Has Given NATO a Reason to Live
(Real Clear Defense: Daniel Goure)
One of the major challenges facing NATO was the absence of a common threat.

Telling My Family That I'm Leaving Again for Afghanistan
(The Daily Beast: Nick Willard)
Before he leaves on another deployment to Afghanistan, a military officer has to break the news to his family.

The Israeli B-52 Is a Terrible Idea
(War Is Boring: Robert Farley)
Why second-hand U.S. bombers won't help Israel deter Iran.

Defense Civilian Layoffs Won't Be Pleasant, but They Are Necessary
(Government Executive: Rep. Ken Calvert)
For too long, the Defense civilian workforce has been unrestrained in both growth and effectiveness.

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Keeps me informed about national leadership concerns."

Senior Military Officer

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AJ, US Army Officer

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