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NSA Maps Pathway Into Computers, Reid Vague on Iran Sanctions Vote, Omnibus Ramps Up War Spending NSA Maps Pathway Into Computers, Reid Vague on Iran Sanctions Vote, Om...

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Early Bird

NSA Maps Pathway Into Computers, Reid Vague on Iran Sanctions Vote, Omnibus Ramps Up War Spending

By Sara Sorcher (@SaraSorcherNJ) and Jordain Carney (@jordainc)

Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, a morning assembly of the best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage from around the Web.Tell your networks to sign up directly here. To contact us, email earlybird@nationaljournal.com.

 

N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers
(The New York Times: David Sanger, Thom Shanker)
The agency has put software in thousands of computers that allows for surveillance and can also create a path for launching cyberattacks, according to documents, experts and officials.

Reid Still Won't Say When Iran Sanctions Could Come to a Vote as Democrats Lay Low
(BuzzFeed: Rosie Gray)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is showing no signs of bringing the Iran sanctions bill closer to a vote as Democrats in the Senate continue to stay mum on the issue.

War Funding Climbs in Omnibus Bill for First Time Since 2010
(Defense News: John Bennett)
A massive U.S. government spending bill introduced Monday evening would ramp up war spending for the first time in four years.

 

Lawmakers Debate Spying Overhauls
(The Wall Street Journal: Siobhan Gorman)
Lawmakers split about whether to overhaul the NSA's surveillance practices aggressively probed a presidential review panel that has called for an array of changes.

Israeli Official Apologizes for Calling Kerry Messianic
(USA Today: Aamer Madhani)
The comments by Israeli Defense minister, published in Israel's Yediot Ahronoth, were roundly criticized by Israel's chief negotiator in the peace talks.

CONGRESS

FY14 Omnibus Would Hold Modernization Funding Near Current Overall Level
(Inside Defense)
The bill would allocate $155.8 billion for military modernization, holding spending 1.5 percent below the $158 billion on weapon systems development and procurement in the Pentagon's post-sequester fiscal 2013 budget.

Congress Seeks to Improve Military Sex-Assault Investigations
(Army Times: Patricia Kime)
The $1.012 trillion omnibus spending bill for fiscal 2014 includes a provision directing the service secretaries to fully fund programs that would improve the ability of military law enforcement agencies to collect evidence and process crime scenes.

 

Congress Wants More Insight Into Cyber, SOF Budgets
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
U.S. lawmakers have ordered the Pentagon to provide more detailed documentation as to how it spends money for cyber and special operations.

U.S. Bill Boosts Warhead Spending by Nearly $1 Billion
(Global Security Newswire: Rachel Oswald)
Legislation released on Monday jointly by the Senate and House appropriations committees would provide $7.8 billion for National Nuclear Security Administration work on the nuclear arsenal.

McKeon's Office Denies Retirement Report
(Roll Call: Emily Cahn)
The California Republican's spokesperson denied a local report that he will not seek reelection.

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Feinstein Rejects NYT on Benghazi
(The Hill: Julian Pecquet)
The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said key conclusions of a recent New York Times investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attack are wrong.

SANCTIONS

Lobbying Picks Up Over Bill to Toughen Antinuclear Sanctions Against Iran
(The New York Times: Rick Gladstone)
Sixty-two multifaith groups urged the Senate to delay a vote, while supporters of the bill pointed to what they called Iran's insincerity.

Cantor Eyes Iran Bill as Democrats Splinter
(Roll Call: Daniel Newhauser)
"This president has continued to say, 'Now's not the time.' So I'm hopeful we can work with our Democratic counterparts both in the House and the Senate to get something done."

Blumenthal: No Vote Needed Yet on Iran Sanctions Bill
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
One of the 16 Democratic backers of a new Iran sanctions bill said he did not support a vote on the bill if negotiations with Iran are making progress.

Hoyer Slams WH on Iran Sanctions
(The Hill: Mike Lillis)
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer hammered the White House on Tuesday for suggesting that lawmakers urging tougher Iran sanctions are advocating for war.

Iran Nuke Deal Doesn't End Debate Over Sanctions
(Associated Press: Bradley Klapper)
It has done little to sway skeptical lawmakers determined to levy new sanctions against Iran.

AIPAC Keeps Low Profile on Iran Bill
(Politico: Manu Raju, Burgess Everett)
Despite growing support in the Senate for Iran sanctions legislation, Democratic leaders have yet to feel insurmountable pressure to bring the measure to the floor.

IRAN

Iran and IAEA Postpone Nuclear Ralks Until February
(Reuters)
U.N. nuclear watchdog does not give reason for postponement of talks with Tehran that were due to happen next week.

Why Russia Might Be Crazy Enough to Buy Iranian Oil and Undermine Nuclear Talks
(Quartz: Steve LeVine)
Moscow privately denies a report that it is conducting barter negotiations that would increase Iranian crude-oil exports by up to 50 percent.

Iran Nuclear Deal Means 'Surrender' for Western Powers, Says Rouhani
(Associated Press)
Iranian president attempts to reach out to hardliners, describing Geneva agreement as a victory for his country.

U.S. Condemns Iran Decision to Put Wreath on Hezbollah Leader's Grave
(Reuters)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was photographed on Monday laying a wreath at the grave of assassinated Hezbollah military commander.

Did Iran Spies Try to Steal Stealth Plane Secrets?
(Foreign Policy: Dan Lamothe)
Already, the case has raised questions about whether more criminal charges may be filed against Khazaee or people with whom he associated.

Iran Nukes: 'Secret' Side Deal or Face-Saving Attempt?
(CNN: Elise Labott)
Global powers and Iran are preparing to carry out an interim deal.

Iran Sought Broad Uranium-Equipment Latitude Under Deal
(Global Security Newswire: Diane Barnes)
Iran pressed unsuccessfully for broad latitude to move bomb-useful uranium equipment under a newly concluded understanding with world powers.

IRAQ

Iraqi Official's Plea to U.S.: 'Weapons Alone Will Not Do the Job'
(The Washington Post: Ernesto Londoño)
Iraq's Sunni deputy prime minister on Tuesday called on the United States to remain engaged in his embattled country.

Sunni Leader Said Iraq Followed U.S. Advice in Crisis
(USA Today: Jim Michaels)
A deputy prime minister also suggested that reports that al-Qaida controlled the mostly Sunni cities were exaggerated.

Iraqi Deputy PM Asks Obama for Election Monitors
(The Daily Beast: Eli Lake)
He believes that free and fair elections will save Iraq from civil war.

As Al-Qaida Revives, Iraq Struggles to Secure Syria Border
(Reuters)
The Baghdad government has deployed troops and new U.S.- and Russian-made weaponry to try and cut the militants' cross-border supply line.

INTELLIGENCE

NSA Chief Denies Spying on Congress
(The Burlington Free Press: Adam Silverman)
But Gen. Keith Alexander says the agency can make no guarantee that representatives or senators have not had their "telephone metadata" caught up in broad government sweeps.

Obama to Place Some Restraints on Surveillance
(The New York Times: Peter Baker, Charlie Savage)
The president plans to increase limits on access to phone data, call for privacy safeguards for foreigners and propose the creation of the post of public advocate.

Holder: Obama Plans 'Smart' NSA Changes
(Politico: Josh Gerstein)
President Obama is planning to announce National Security Agency surveillance reforms that are "smart" and "the right thing to do."

Obama's NSA Review Board Explains Its Reform Recommendations
(CBS News: Marshall Cohen)
Just three days before Obama unveils his plan to reform the National Security Agency, his advisory board laid out its recommendations Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Schiff Unveils NSA Metadata Reform Bill
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
This proposal, the congressman says, reflects what a panel has advised Obama to do on NSA reforms.

Spy Court Judge Slams Proposed Privacy Advocate
(Associated Press: Stephen Braun, Kimberly Dozier)
Members of the presidential task force that recommended such an advocate defended the proposal before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Judge: Arguing NSA Privacy Concerns in Court Is 'Unnecessary'
(National Journal: Dustin Volz)
The judge's comments come amid a debate concerning the proper role of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Obama Has Room to Maneuver on NSA Reforms
(CNN: Matthew Hoye)
The president has some leeway in crafting reforms to the agency's massive data-collection program.

Man in Terror Case Seeks Warrantless NSA Evidence
(UPI)
An Oregon man convicted in 2013 of attempted terrorism has asked to see the evidence against him collected through National Security Agency monitoring.

Snowden to Join Board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation
(The New York Times: Charlie Savage)
The foundation set up by Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers leaker and a supporter of Edward J. Snowden, encourages publishing government secrets in the public interest.

MIDDLE EAST

Egyptians Cast Votes on Proposed Constitution as Military Suppresses Opposition
(Huffington Post: Sophia Jones)
Most protest-weary Egyptians fully back Sisi and the state's "war on terrorism."

Israeli Defense Chief Calls Kerry Messianic, Drawing U.S. Ire
(Reuters: Jeffrey Heller)
Israel's hawkish defense minister drew rare U.S. condemnation on Tuesday.

John Kerry Visits Papal Diplomat to Talk Mideast Peace
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes)
The secretary of State enlisted a new ally Tuesday in his push for Mideast peace in what he described as a "common enterprise" between America and the Holy See.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

It's Becoming Too Expensive for the Military to Go Into Space
(Defense One: Kedar Pavgi)
Per-launch costs have soared into the tens of millions of dollars.

Gates on MRAPs: 'Hurry up! Troops Are Dying.'
(USA Today: Tom Vanden Brook)
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates provides the definitive account of the bureaucratic debris he kicked from the trucks' path to reach the troops who needed them.

Stateside Tricare Service Centers Closing April 1
(Military.com: Amy Bushatz)
All stateside Tricare in-person service centers will be closing April 1, Tricare officials recently confirmed.

3D Printing: Imagine a Brigade Producing Parts on Battlefield
(Breaking Defense: Jonathan Jeckell)
Additive manufacturing, known to the public as 3D printing, may profoundly improve combat readiness and the defense industrial base.

SYRIA

Israel Sees Safe Passage for Chemical Arms Out of Syria
(Reuters)
Internationally monitored convoys removing Syrian chemical weapons are at little risk of being seized by rebels fighting Assad or by his Lebanese Hezbollah allies.

U.S., Gulf Arab States Pledge $1 Billion in Fresh Syria Aid
(Reuters: Sylvia Westall, Warren Strobel)
Donors including the United States and wealthy Gulf Arab countries pledged $1 billion on Wednesday for U.N. humanitarian efforts in Syria.

U.S. Pledges Additional $380 Million for Syria War Victims
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes)
The U.S. is the largest single international donor to the Syrian crisis.

European Spies Reach Out to Syria
(The Wall Street Journal: Maria Abi-Habib)
European spy agencies secretly met with Assad's delegates to share information on European extremists operating in Syria, officials said.

AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN

McKeon Fails to Obtain Afghan Detainee Names
(Associated Press)
The Armed Services Committee chairman told reporters after a closed session Tuesday that Pentagon officials didn't divulge the names he had requested from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

McKeon: Obama Should Do More to Support U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
President Obama needs to do more to highlight U.S. successes in Afghanistan and support U.S. troops there, Republican lawmakers said Tuesday after a classified briefing with White House officials.

Budget Shows Lawmakers More Invested in Afghanistan Than Rhetoric Indicates
(Defense News: John Bennett)
Lawmakers are still spending American treasure there—in the billions of dollars.

ASIA/PACIFIC

U.S., India Meet to get Ties Back on Track After Dispute
(Reuters: David Brunnstrom, Lesley Wroughton)
A senior U.S. diplomat met India's ambassador to the United States on Tuesday with the aim of getting bilateral ties back on track.

Indian Diplomat Seeks Dismissal of U.S. Criminal Case
(Reuters: Joseph Ax)
A lawyer for Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade on Tuesday asked a U.S. judge to throw out immigration and employment charges against her.

U.S. Lawmakers Urge Tough Stance on China Sea Claims
(The Associated Press)
Lawmakers say the United States must not tolerate China's use of military coercion in pursuit of its territorial claims in the seas of East Asia.

DETAINEES

First Camp Commander Says Gitmo Should Close
(Miami Herald: Carol Rosenberg)
The officer who opened the prison camps at Guantanamo in January 2002 and handed it off in April 2002 has spoken out lately about the need to close it.

Mastermind of the Sept. 11 Attacks Wants to Convert His Captors
(Huffington Post: Myriam Francois-Cerrah, Ryan Reilly, Ryan Grim)
The mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks now says that the use of violence to spread Islam is forbidden by the Quran.

INDUSTRY

Defense Industry Relieved With New Spending Bill
(Politico: Leigh Munsil)
The defense industry welcomed the spending levels in the new omnibus bill, as program after program from Virginia-class submarines to Lakota helicopters to Global Hawks were funded at—or above—requested levels.

After 'Transformative' Year, F-35 Program Focuses on Software, Quantity
(Air Force Times: Aaron Mehta)
In 2013, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter added international partners, trained a record number of pilots, hit a number of milestones, and saw vastly improved relations between the Pentagon and its corporate partners.

DynCorp Settles Suit Over 2007 Black Hawk Crash in Italy
(Stars and Stripes: Nancy Montgomery)
Neither the plaintiffs nor defendant would reveal how much Dyncorp agreed to pay to settle the suit just as the case was going to trial on Dec. 31.

Lawmakers Take Ax to Army's GCV Program
(Inside Defense)
Lawmakers dealt a heavy blow to the Army's troubled Ground Combat Vehicle program in the fiscal 2014 defense spending bill by slashing the service's $592 million program request to just $100 million.

NAVY

3-Star: Sailor Shortage Threatens Surface Navy's Readiness
(Navy Times: Sam Fellman)
The largest challenge facing the surface fleet is continuing to maintain and deploy ready warships amid a shortage of 8,000 sailors, the surface Navy's top boss said Tuesday.

Mabus Stresses Forward Presence Despite Fiscal Problems
(Navy Times: Meghann Myers)
The Navy's top civilian stressed the importance of a global presence—and the way people, platforms, power, and partnerships come together to support it.

Lawmakers Seek Data on Sailors' Exposure to Fukushima Radiation
(Air Force Times: Patricia Kime)
House and Senate lawmakers want answers on whether U.S. sailors received high doses of radiation while supporting humanitarian operations in Japan following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Navy Divers Recover Remains of Missing MH-53E Pilot
(USA Today)
Divers located aircraft's cockpit and confirmed presence of remains.

AIR FORCE

Spending Bill Funds Air Force Combat Rescue Helicopter
(Air Force Times: Aaron Mehta)
The Air Force's replacement for the long-running Pave Hawk helicopter is slated to receive funds under a massive spending bill unveiled Monday night.

ARMY

Former Soldier Gets 7 Years in Terrorism Case
(Associated Press)
As part of a deal, Craig Baxam pleaded guilty to destroying records that might be used in a terrorism investigation, acknowledging he destroyed his computer before leaving the country.

Army Mulls Cut of Three Aviation Brigades as Worst-Case Scenario Under Restructure
(Inside Defense)
The Army is looking at a worst-case scenario of three fewer combat aviation brigades as it restructures its aviation branch.

NATIONAL GUARD

National Guard Chafes at Comments of Army Top Officer
(Army Times)
Advocates of the National Guard are hitting back against what some are calling disrespectful comments from the Army's top officer.

AFRICA

Pentagon Labeled Benghazi a Terrorist Attack as Obama Administration Wavered
(New York Daily News: Leslie Larson)
Gen. Carter Ham's newly declassified testimony before the House suggests the prospect of an out-of-control demonstration was not raised by Defense officials and that they immediately considered the incident an attack.

VETERANS

Advocates: COLA Fixes Miss the Mark
(Military Times: Patricia Kime)
A provision of the omnibus bill that reverses cuts to disabled veterans cost-of-living adjustments falls short of what most military advocacy groups seek.

AMERICAS

Kerry Asks Vatican to Help Win Release of American Jailed in Cuba
(Reuters: Warren Strobel)
Kerry stopped at the Vatican on his way to Kuwait to hold talks with Pope Francis's top aide, Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin.

EUROPE

U.S. Will Keep Cutting Bases in Europe, Top General Says
(Foreign Policy: Gordon Lubold)
But U.S. troops should remain on the continent in about the same numbers they are today.

Germany Dismisses Report 'No-Spy' Talks With U.S. Close to Collapse
(Reuters)
Chancellor Angela Merkel's government on Tuesday brushed aside a report that talks with Washington to prevent further U.S. spying on German ministers faced collapse.

MEDIA ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

Congress: Give Diplomacy a Chance
(The Washington Post)
Nuclear negotiations with Iran should play out before Congress decides to impose new sanctions.

Thomas Victor Jones
(The Wall Street Journal)
The aviation pioneer who built Northrop and the B-2 bomber.

India-America Relations on Edge
(The New York Times)
Devyani Khobragade's case and the issues it raised are not resolved and will not likely dissipate soon.

Does America Owe Foreigners Any Privacy?
(The Atlantic: Conor Friedersdorf)
Force need never be used to harm a person's livelihood, reputation, marriage, or dignity.

Gates Memoirs Illustrate How Militaristic the U.S. Has Become
(Huffington Post: Ivan Eland)
All the hoopla in the media over Bob Gates's scathing criticism of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in his new memoir has missed the mark.

Baghdad on the Brink
(National Interest: Daniel DePetris)
The past year has demonstrated that ISIS remains determined to continue its track record as one of the most capable jihadist affiliates in the region.

The Highly Competent NSA
(The National Interest: Paul Pillar)
Two basic ways of berating something or somebody are to make charges of ineptitude or charges of ill intentions.

America Must Keep Her Word on Iran
(Roll Call: Rudy Giulian)
When Americans say we are going to do something, we do it. When we make a promise, we keep it. Our word is our bond.

An Iran Hawk's Case Against New Iran Sanctions
(Bloomberg: Jeff Goldberg)
At least in the short term, negotiations remain the best way to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.

Iran's Leaders Need to Forgive the 'Great Satan' to Move Forward: Analysis
(The Guardian)
The prospect of improved relations with the U.S. provides a litmus test of just how far the Islamic republic is prepared to go to transform itself.

National Journal's Early Bird is not produced by or officially sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Defense. It was created to serve the defense community upon U.S. DoD's announcement, on Nov 1, 2013, of its decision to discontinue the much-beloved Early Bird news report.

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Keeps me informed about national leadership concerns."

Senior Military Officer

I can browse over breakfast or while on the metro."

AJ, US Army Officer

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