By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)
Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, today's best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage. To contact us, email email@example.com.
Fort Hood Shooting Leaves Four Dead, 16 Others Injured
(The Wall Street Journal: Ana Campoy, Nathan Koppel, Devlin Barrett)
Officials identify the suspect as active-duty soldier Ivan Lopez.
Viktor Yanukovych Says He Was 'Wrong' on Crimea
Defensive and at times teary-eyed, the ousted president said that he still hopes to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin to get the annexed region back.
Lawmakers Signal Palestinian Action Could Threaten Funding
(Reuters: Patricia Zengerle)
U.S. lawmakers said they were unhappy about the Palestinian leadership's decision to sign more than a dozen international conventions, and warned it could trigger a cutoff of U.S. aid.
Key Senators Will Vote to Declassify Senate Findings on CIA
(McClatchy: David Lightman, Marisa Taylor)
Their votes are likely to mean a majority of the 15-member committee will back declassification.
CIA Fires Back at Congress's Benghazi Theories
(The National Journal: Jordain Carney)
A former top agency official says he didn't let politics influence his editing of now-controversial talking points.
U.S. Secretly Built 'Cuban Twitter' To Stir Unrest
(Associated Press: Desmond Butler, Jack Gillum, Alberto Arce)
The project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, sought to evade Cuba's stranglehold on the Internet.
Iraq Veteran at Ft. Hood Kills 3 and Himself
(The New York Times: Dave Montgomery, Manny Fernandez, Ashley Southall)
Authorities said the soldier who opened fire at the Army base was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Iraq Vet Reportedly Wrestled With Mental Health Issues
(The Washington Posts: Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Adam Goldman, Sari Horwitz)
Tragedy strikes again at the site of a 2009 mass shooting, but investigators don't see immediate terrorist links.
Obama: We Will Get To Bottom Of Ford Hood Shooting
(Associated Press: Nedra Pickler)
President Barack Obama vowed that investigators will get to the bottom of a shooting incident Wednesday at Fort Hood.
Hagel: Shootings At Fort Hood A 'Terrible Tragedy'
(Associated Press: Lolita Baldor)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is calling the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, a "terrible tragedy."
Pentagon Grapples With Dangerous Insider Threats
(The Washington Post: Ernesto Londoño)
A report released in the wake of the Navy Yard shooting led to vows for reforms, but budget constraints may slow progress.
Fort Hood Shooting Hits Close to Home for Families of 2009 Victims
(The Wall Street Journal: Maria Armental)
Kerry Cahill, whose father was killed four-and-a-half years ago: 'How do we keep this stuff from happening again?
U.S. Seeks Stiff Penalties Against Ukrainian Oligarch
(The Washington Post: Will Englund)
The Justice Department made it clear that it is prepared to play hardball against a Ukrainian businessman who has deep knowledge of the workings of Gazprom.
NATO: Russia Could Achieve Ukraine Incursion in 3-5 Days
(Reuters: Adrian Croft)
Russia has massed all the forces it needs on Ukraine's border if it were to decide to carry out an "incursion" into the country, and it could achieve its objective in three to five days.
Ukraine Says It Will Hand More Power to Regions
(The Wall Street Journal: James Marson, Katya Gorchinskaya)
Government approves plan allowing election of regional governor.
Outgunned Ukraine Strives for Military Overhaul
(Associated Press: Peter Leonard)
Tanks headed north into Ukraine this week from Russian-controlled Crimea. Not at the head of an invading army, but on a trainload of military equipment in such poor shape that Moscow had no use for it.
U.S. Officials Downplay Impact of Ukraine Crisis on Nuclear Security Efforts
(National Journal: Douglas Guarino)
Obama administration officials sought to downplay the likelihood that the recent crisis in Ukraine would undermine various arms-control and nuclear-security efforts.
NASA Suspends Contact With Russia Over Ukraine Crisis
(The Verge: Arielle Duhaime-Ross)
But work at the International Space Station will continue.
Another U.S. Ship to Sail for Black Sea
(Navy Times: Andrew Tilghman)
The Navy ship will be the first to enter the Black Sea since the destroyer Truxtun left March 21.
Switzerland Snubs U.S. Effort to Sanction Russian Billionaires
(Reuters: Caroline Copley, Tom Miles)
Switzerland decided last week against imposing its own sanctions in response to the Ukraine crisis, but promised not to become a place to circumvent sanctions imposed elsewhere.
Do Americans Think Obama or Vladimir Putin Is the Stronger Leader?
(CBS News: Rebecca Kaplan)
American voters are evenly divided over whether President Obama or Russian President Vladimir Putin is the stronger leader as the two face off over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
NATO General Says He Sees Potent Russian Threat
(The New York Times: Michael Gordon)
Gen. Breedlove said the Russian force that remains is a potent mix of warplanes, helicopter units, artillery, infantry, and commandos.
Will Putin Push Sweden Toward NATO?
(Breaking Defense: Annelie Gregor)
Sweden, long the major neutral power in northern Europe, has climbed quietly and elegantly out of its cozy perch to great effect since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Crimea Offers Showcase for Russia's Rebooted Military
(The New York Times: C.J. Chivers, David Herszenhorn)
A sleek new vanguard of the Russian military has been on display.
Patriot Act Author: Only My Anti-NSA Bill Will Close 'Loophole' Spying on Americans
(National Journal: Dustin Volz)
The one-time champion of granting the intelligence community more surveillance authority is redoubling efforts to pass his spying reform bill.
Forbes: Saving Carrier Means Concessions
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
Rep. Randy Forbes says he's confident Congress can rescue the aircraft carrier USS George Washington this year but not so sure it can preserve a batch of cruisers the Navy wants to lay up.
Senate Appropriators Skeptical of A-10 Cuts
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
Senate Defense Appropriations Chairman Dick Durbin and other appropriators expressed skepticism Wednesday of the Air Force's decision to cut the entire A-10 fleet
Iraq Veteran Named to Armed Services Committee
(Navy Times: Leo Shane III)
Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was named to the House Armed Services Committee.
Source: Pakistan Already Has U.S.-Made MRAPs, New Deal in Works
(Defense News: Paul McLeary)
While controversy swirls over reports that Pakistan may receive some of the excess Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles that the United States has sitting in Afghanistan.
NATO, Russia Dispute Over Crimea Disrupts Afghan Cooperation
(Reuters: Adrian Croft)
Counter-narcotics and helicopter programs will be affected.
War and Unrest Provide for a Scarred Campaign Trail in Afghanistan
(The New York Times: Matthew Rosenberg, Azam Ahmed)
Amid repeated Taliban attacks and a continuing war, Afghan presidential candidates step onto planes with guards carrying AK-47s, and rocket-propelled grenades are sometimes part of carry-on baggage.
U.S. Urges Safe, Fair Afghan Election
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
The U.S. is urging Afghan presidential candidates, supporters, and officials to abide by election laws and regulations this Saturday.
Eighty Percent of Afghans Have No Confidence in Their Electoral System
(Huffington Post: Stephen Calabria)
While Afghans have very little confidence in the honesty of their elections, they still have a great degree of confidence in their military, a new survey finds.
$11M Afghanistan Prison Likely to Have to Be Rebuilt
(Marine Corps Times: Leo Shane III)
U.S. investigators found serious structural flaws in the $11 million-plus Baghlan prison in Afghanistan without even visiting the site.
Afghanistan and the Bottom Line
(Al Jazeera: Jamie Tarabay)
More than $100 billion in U.S. taxpayer money and counting: how billions of dollars for Afghan reconstruction were mismanaged and how billions more will flow, even after U.S. troops are gone.
Pakistan Taliban Suspend Month-Long Ceasefire but Still Want Talks
(Reuters: Jibran Ahmad)
The Pakistani Taliban have not extended a monthlong cease-fire but are still open to pursuing peace talks with the Islamabad government.
Iran Says Does Not Seek Indefinite Power for Assad
(Reuters: Michelle Moghtader)
Iran, Syria's main regional ally, does not see President Bashar al-Assad staying in power indefinitely but neither does it want "extremist forces" to replace him.
Germany to Provide Armed Escort Ship to Aid in Syrian Chemical Destruction Mission
Germany says it will provide an armed escort ship as part of an international mission to destroy Syrian stockpiles of toxic chemicals.
Syria Accuses Rebels of Planning Gas Attack Near Damascus
(Reuters: Michelle Nichols)
Syria is charging in a letter to the United Nations that opposition groups want to blame it on government security forces.
U.S. Hars: Has 'Serious Concerns' About Possible Iranian U.N. Envoy
(Reuters: Arshad Mohammed)
The United States has told Iran it has deep misgivings about the possibility that Hamid Abutalebi, a veteran Iranian diplomat, may be named to serve as Tehran's new ambassador.
Iran, Russia Working to Seal $20 Billion Oil-for-Goods Deal
(Reuters: Jonathan Saul, Parisa Hafezi)
The White House has said such a deal would raise "serious concerns" and would be inconsistent with the nuclear talks between world powers and Iran.
Kerry: Israeli, Palestinian Leaders Must 'Lead'
(Associated Press: Matthew Lee)
Kerry said there are limits to what the Obama administration can do to push the parties together.
U.S. Pushes Mideast Talks Despite Setbacks
(The Wall Street Journal: Joshua Mitnick, Nicholas Casey, Jay Solomon)
The Obama administration vowed to continue its pursuit of Middle East diplomacy.
New Palestinian Recognition Bid Largely Symbolic
(Associated Press: Karin Laub)
A decision by President Mahmoud Abbas to seek further international recognition of a "state of Palestine" has thrown into disarray the troubled U.S. mediation efforts on a peace deal.
Middle East Peace Talks Hang by a Threat
(Time: Karl Vick)
The U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian negotiations still have life but few expect any real progress after both sides up the ante.
Ex-State Department Adviser Stephen Kim Sentenced in Leak Case
(The Washington Post: Ann Marimow)
A former State Department arms expert who leaked classified information to a Fox News reporter was sentenced to 13 months in prison after a pointed courtroom debate.
Secretary of State John Kerry in Algeria for Reform, Security Talks
(Associated Press: Matthew Lee)
Kerry is in Algeria for talks on economic and political reforms and strategic security cooperation, including counterterrorism.
Latest Secret Service Agent Misstep Called Isolated Incident
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson and Johnson met with senators from the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
White House Sharply Curtails Major Counterterror Exercise in Washington
(Washington Free Beacon: Bill Gertz)
The exercise, code-named Eagle Horizon 2014, was cut back instead to small-scale communications checks within federal agencies.
Jeh Johnson Seeks 'New Energy' for Homeland Security Department
(Politico: Mike Allen)
The DHS secretary said one of his top missions has been to "inject a new energy into this place."
Report: DOD Not Tracking 'Revolving Door' Statistics
(Stars and Stripes: Chris Carroll)
The Defense Department isn't properly keeping track of senior officials who leave the government to take jobs with defense contractors.
Raytheon Presses to Preserve Tomahawk
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
Company officials said that Raytheon's Tomahawk missile production relies on more than 100 subcontractors in 24 states and that ending work in fiscal 2016.
Navy Unfunded Request for Carrier Refueling Removed
(USNI News: Sam LeGrone)
A $796 million line item that would go toward the refueling and overhaul of USS George Washington was removed from the Navy's unfunded requirements list.
U.S. Builds Up Marines in Asia
(The Wall Street Journal: Yuka Hayashi)
Amphibian push is meant to ease doubts about Asia pivot.
Coast Guard Cadet Accused of Touching Classmate
(Associated Press: John Christoffersen)
A government attorney says a U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet should face a court-martial for entering a classmate's room and touching her leg.
Disgraced Guantanamo Guard Got Medal for Saving Detainee From Suicide
(Miami Herald: Carol Rosenberg)
A former Guantanamo guard being discharged instead of facing a sexual-assault trial did avert a detainee's suicide around the time of last year's prison camp raid that put hunger strikers under lockdown.
Yahoo Adds More Security To Thwart Surveillance
(Associated Press: Michael Liedtke)
Yahoo has added more layers of security in its effort to shield people's online lives from government spying and other snooping.
The U.S. Military Is One Step Closer to Having Invisibility Cloaks
(Defense One: Patrick Tucker)
Researchers are one step closer to creating shields that could render parked tanks and aircraft virtually invisible.
'I Just Need a Company That's Willing to Give Me a Chance'
(The Washington Post: Greg Jaffe)
Piecing together the puzzle of veterans' unemployment proves difficult.
Post-9/11 War Vets: Bush Over Obama
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
Nearly two-thirds of post-9/11 veterans said Bush was a good leader for the military, compared with 42 percent who said the same about Obama, according to the survey.
Russia's Plan to Partition Ukraine
(The Atlantic: David Frum)
In the weeks since Russian forces seized Crimea, Vladimir Putin's plan for mainland Ukraine has become increasingly clear: partition.
Taking a Spoon to a Gunfight
(War on the Rocks: David Maxwell)
While the United States has spent the last decade-plus trying to learn to "eat soup with a knife," the Russians have been reaching back to some tried-and-true methods from the Cold War.
How I'll End the War: Notes From an Officer on His Way to Afghanistan
(The Daily Beast: Nick Willard)
An American military officer leaving on one of the last deployments to Afghanistan before the war ends, writes about his experiences in a new feature for The Daily Beast.
No, F-22s Can't Save Ukraine
(War Is Boring: Robert Farley)
Colonel's mad proposal perpetuates air power folly
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