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Obama to Brief Senators, Face Guantanamo Votes: Early Bird-Brought to You by United Technologies

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

EDITOR'S NOTE: Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, a morning assembly of the best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage from around the Web. Get this by forward? Click here to sign up directly.


Congress and Courts Weigh Restraints on NSA Spying
(The New York Times: Adam Liptak, Jeremy Peters)
As the Supreme Court rejected one challenge, congressional critics of the spy agency's vast data collection efforts stepped up pressure to force more disclosure about the scope of the surveillance.

Official Releasing What Appears to be Original Court File Authorizing NSA to Conduct Sweeps
(The Washington Post: Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller)
The director of national intelligence on Monday night released what appeared to be the original court document authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct sweeping collections of Americans' communications records for counterterrorism purposes.

Obama to Update Top Senators on Iran
(The Hill: Justin Sink)
President Obama will meet with top senators today to discuss progress in negotiations over Iran's nuclear weapons program, according to a White House official.


Obama Faces Crucial Guantanamo Votes
(CNN: Evan Perez)
Obama's efforts to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay are expected to face some crucial Senate votes this week, and for the first time in four years, he stands a chance to win some.

Thousands of Afghan Elders to Decide if U.S. Troops Stay or Go
(Reuters: Hamid Shalizi)
Thousands of Afghan tribal and political leaders will gather in the Afghan capital this week to decide whether to allow U.S. troops to stay after the 2014 drawdown of foreign forces.

Iranian Cultural Attache Killed in Beirut Blasts
(Associated Press: Bassem Mroue)
Iran's ambassador to Lebanon says his country's cultural attaché has died from wounds sustained in twin explosions that struck near the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, killing 23 people.


Kerry Presses Iran to Prove Its Nuclear Program Peaceful
(Reuters: Lesley Wroughton)
Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday pressed Iran to finalize an agreement that can prove to the world its nuclear program is peaceful.


Kerry: Netanyahu Has Right to Oppose Iran Deal
(Associated Press: Matthew Lee)
But Kerry said that his fear that a deal would leave Israel vulnerable is unfounded.

Iran Has Developed a New Nuclear Site, Dissidents Say
(USA Today: Oren Dorell)
An Iranian dissident group says that Iran should grant United Nations inspectors immediate access to a site it alleged Monday is a newly discovered undeclared site for Iran's nuclear work.

White House Derides Report of 'Secret' Iran Talks
(The Hill: Julian Pecquet)
The White House on Monday strongly denied an Israeli media report that the administration has been in secret talks with Iran for more than a year.

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Iran State Gas Company Faces Collapse, Hit by Sanctions
(The Wall Street Journal: Farnaz Fassihi)
Iran's national gas company said it is facing collapse, the latest sign of deepening economic distress from international sanctions as Tehran seeks urgent relief in talks with world powers.

Iran Unveils Its 'Biggest' Drone
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
Iran on Monday unveiled a new drone that it said has a flight range of 1,250 miles, which would cover most of the Middle East, including Israel.

American Imprisoned in Iran Gets U.N.'s Attention
(The New York Times: Rick Gladstone)
The family of Amir Hekmati, a former American Marine who has been incarcerated in Iran for more than two years even though his espionage conviction was overturned, has been contacted by the United Nations for details on his case.


Twin Blasts Strike Near Iran's Embassy in Beirut
(Associated Press: Bassem Mroue)
Lebanon's news agency says 20 people have been killed and 95 wounded in two explosions that struck near the Iranian Embassy in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

Split on Accord on Iran Strains U.S.-Israel Ties
(The New York Times: David Sanger, Jodi Rudoren)
The fundamental disagreement has deeply politicized the question of whether the accord that the United States and its European allies are considering should be termed a good deal or a bad one.

Hollande Urges Israelis, Palestinians to Compromise
(The Wall Street Journal: Joshua Mitnick, Stacy Meichtry)
With little apparent progress in U.S.-backed peace talks after three months of negotiations, Hollande used his first visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories to offer France as an additional mediator. 

U.S. to Keep Patriot Missiles in Turkey for Another Year
(Associated Press: Lolita Baldor)
The United States will keep two Patriot missile batteries in Turkey for another year to help bolster the country's air defenses against threats from Syria's civil war, the Pentagon said Monday.

Kerry Defies the White House on Egypt Policy
(The Daily Beast: Josh Rogin)
The turf battles and internal confusion are hampering the administration's approach to Egypt, say lawmakers, experts, and officials inside both governments.

Official: Internal GCC Partnerships Key to Pentagon Gulf Strategy
(Defense News: Aaron Mehta)
The Defense Department views increased partnerships between Arabian Gulf state allies as key to expanding security in the region, according to the Pentagon's top international security adviser.


Destruction of Syrian Chemical Stockpile is 'On Schedule,' Kerry Says
(The Washington Post: Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung)
The secretary of State said Monday that the effort to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons is “on target,” even though no nation has yet agreed to host the destruction.

Syria Envoy Says Funding Problems, Militants Hamper Chemical Disarmament
Syria's ambassador to Russia said insufficient funding and unspecified actions by militants fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad are hindering the government's compliance with a deal to abandon chemical weapons.

Death of Rebel Leader Seen as Key Loss to Syria's Anti-Assad Forces
(McClatchy: Mitchell Prothero)
Saleh's death was seen as a massive setback for the future of moderate Islamist rebel factions, which have suffered a series of defeats recently at the hands of the Assad government and al-Qaida-affiliated rebel groups with which they've clashed.

Syrian Rebels, Al-Qaida Factions Reach Peace Deal
(The Hill: Carlo Muñoz)
Leaders of Syria's largest rebel faction and top commanders for al-Qaida's Iraqi and Syrian factions have reached a peace deal, agreeing to come together to battle the growing Iranian presence in the country.


SCOTUS Allows NSA Telephone Surveillance to Continue
(CNN: Bill Mears)
The justices without comment Monday rejected an appeal from a privacy rights group, which claimed a secret federal court improperly authorized the government to collect the electronic records.

Post, Others Back Suit over NSA Call Tracking
(The Washington Post: Craig Timberg)
The NSA's bulk collection of telephone calling records undermines the freedom of the press by chilling potential sources of information from co­operating with reporters, more than a dozen journalistic organizations argued in a legal brief filed Monday in federal court.


Disagreements Emerge Ahead of Debate on U.S. Security Pact
(The Wall Street Journal: Nathan Hodge, Yaroslav Trofimov)
Fresh disagreements emerged in last-minute negotiations with the U.S. ahead of an Afghan assembly scheduled to begin Thursday that would decide upon America's future military presence here.

Aides: U.S.-Afghan Deal Offers Concessions for Each Side
(Associated Press: Bradley Klapper)
Congressional aides say the U.S. will maintain exclusive jurisdiction over American soldiers and contractors in Afghanistan after 2014 as part of a draft U.S.-Afghan security agreement.

Russian Chopper Dispute Hits Kabul
(Politico: Leigh Munsil)
The aircraft were destined for Afghanistan but are under fire in Congress.

What's at Stake This Week for U.S. in Afghanistan
(ABC News: Muhammad Lila)
America's future in Afghanistan will be decided this week in a rare assembly of Afghan tribal elders.


White House Pushes to Loosen Transfer Rules
(Associated Press: Nedra Pickler)
President Obama is pushing to overcome obstacles to closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, setting the White House on a collision course with Congress in its bid to loosen restrictions for moving out detainees.

Fight Over Guantanamo Detainees Looms in Defense Bill
(National Journal: Stacy Kaper)
Proponents of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility hold some unusual advantages as the Senate heads into a debate on the annual defense authorization bill.

Guantanamo Detainee Reviews Closed to Public
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
The Pentagon notified those who requested to observe this week's first hearing for the Guantanamo Bay Periodic Review Board that it would not be open to the public.


GOP Chairman Predicts Backing for Pentagon Reforms
(The Hill: Carlo Muñoz)
Congressional defense lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are lining up behind the Pentagon's plan to revamp its business model, according to one House Republican.

Reid Clears Way for Defense Authorization Bill
(Roll Call: Meredith Shiner)
The Senate passed a compound drug bill by voice vote Monday afternoon, clearing a path to debate the National Defense Authorization Act this week.

Mac Thornberry on Acquisition Reform: Congress, Heal Thyself
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
It's time to stop layering one Band-Aid atop another and look at the system as a (dysfunctional) whole, said Rep. Mac Thornberry—and part of that dysfunction comes from Congress itself.


Angela Merkel Says Spy Scandal Is Testing E.U.-U.S. Trade Talks
(Financial Times: Stefan Wagstyl)
Chancellor appears to harden stance in comments to parliament.

German Opposition Demands Snowden Be Let In to Testify
(The Wall Street Journal: Anton Troianovski)
German opposition parties demanded rogue U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden be granted safe passage to testify in Germany about U.S. surveillance programs, in the latest sign that foreign outrage over the spying programs has yet to fade.

NSA vs. Stasi? Germans Say It's Not Even Close
(The Washington Post: Michael Birnbaum)
Decades after the fearsome secret police were disbanded, victims say Stasi did far more damage to lives.

Solder Ties Minnesota Man to Nazi Civilian Massacre
(Associated Press: David Rising)
On Monday, the prosecutor leading Germany's probe said that he has decided to recommend that state prosecutors pursue murder charges against 94-year-old Michael Karkoc.


Behind the Pentagon's Doctored Ledgers, a Running Tally of Epic Waste
(Reuters: Scot Paltrow)
For two decades, the U.S. military has been unable to submit to an audit, flouting federal law and concealing waste and fraud totaling billions of dollars.

Amos and Dempsey: Don't Just Stop Sequester, Save the Ground Forces
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
Both generals warned against slashing old-fashioned ground forces in the hope that high-tech air- and seapower will win us the next war.


Amphibious Ships to Replace Carrier Helping With Philippines Disaster
(Stars and Stripes: Ashley Rowland)
The USS George Washington will likely leave the Philippines in about three days, after the arrival of two amphibious ships that are better equipped to deal with a disaster such as Typhoon Haiyan, Navy officials said Monday.

Dramatic U.S. Humanitarian Effort in Philippines Aids Asia 'Pivot'
(Reuters: Manuel Mogato, Aubrey Belford)
The U.S. military's response to the devastation wrought by one of the world's most powerful typhoons has been breathtaking.

Chinese Military Mimics U.S., Looks to Disaster Relief to Change Perceptions
(Defense One: Stephanie Gaskell)
China is learning what U.S. military leaders have known for some time, which is that disaster relief and humanitarian aid are among of the most effective tools in the national security toolbox.


Littoral Ship-to-Shore Communications Seen Deficient, GAO Says
(Bloomberg News; Tony Capaccio)
The U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship lacks the robust communications systems needed to transmit critical data to support facilities ashore, according to an unreleased congressional audit.

Defense Contracts Look Overseas as Pentagon Trims Spending
(Bloomberg News: David Lerman, Robert Wall)
To make up for at least some of the U.S. defense pullback, American defense contractors are looking overseas more aggressively.

Despite Diplomatic Spats, U.S. Arms Firms Trust in Mideast
(Reuters: Peter Apps, Andrea Shalal-Esa)
Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and other big companies are expanding in the Gulf, with executives openly pinning their hopes on the region.

Boeing Unveils New Maritime Surveillance Aircraft
(Defense News: Andrew Chuter)
Boeing let everybody in on one of its worst-kept secrets at the Dubai Airshow on Monday, naming the Bombardier Challenger 605 business jet as the platform for a new maritime surveillance aircraft program.


Navy Chief Impatient to Avoid Being Outsticked
(Real Clear Defense: Dustin Walker)
In an interview, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert said he is “impatient” to field systems in the near-term that can bolster U.S. anti-ship capabilities.

Navy Prepares Fleet for More Arctic Missions
( Kris Osborn)
Navy leaders had been preparing to increase the services' Arctic presence by the mid-2030s, but they are now accelerating the timetable to the mid-2020s due to the warming of the waters and the rapid pace of melting ice.


Air Force Plan Would Delay Purchase of 24 F-35s Beyond FYDP
(Inside Defense)
The Air Force would defer the purchase of up to 24 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft over five years if one of its fiscal 2015 acquisition plans, which accounts for full sequestration in each year, is enacted, the service's acting secretary said Monday.

Lawmakers: Hold Off on A-10 Cuts
(Air Force Times: Brian Everstine)
A bipartisan group of lawmakers urged Defense Department leaders to hold off on any plans to cut the A-10 and provide more scrutiny to the Air Force's budget plans.


The Fight Against Libyan Extremists Goes Through Bulgaria?
(Foreign Policy: Dan Lamothe)
The Pentagon is considering the deployment of U.S. forces to the Eastern European country to train Libyan troops, possibly as soon as next year, said Adm. William McRaven, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command.

U.S. Military Prepares to Train Libyan Security Forces
(Stars and Stripes: John Vandiver)
The Pentagon said on Monday it is drawing up plans to train up to 8,000 Libyan troops as that country's government struggles to deal with rising violence by heavily armed militia units.


U.S., Israel Need to Agree on an Iran Deal
(The Washington Post)
Rather than argue in public, U.S. and Israeli officials should be working to forge a consensus on the terms of an acceptable final settlement with Iran.

Sanctions on Iran Won't Be Cranked Back Up
(The Wall Street Journal: Douglas Feith)
Obama insists that relaxing sanctions is reversible, but peace and arms-control agreements have a long history that warns against such assurances

At Gettysburg and Today, No One Who Dies in Service Dies in Vain
(The Washington Post: Mike Mullen)
No American who sheds blood to preserve that which his ancestors fought to establish can ever be said to have made that sacrifice without meaning.

Take Commanders Off Sexual Assault Cases
(USA Today: Kimberly Hanks)
As a victim of sexual assault in the military, I know firsthand that things need to change.

The V.A. and Sexual Trauma
(The New York Times: Lawrence Downes)
Survivors of sexual trauma are far less likely than other veterans to have their disability benefits approved.

A Moment of Truth Looms for Syria
(The Wall Street Journal: Ahmad Jarba)
Next month, negotiations on the future of Syria are expected to take place in Geneva. We, the Syrian National Coalition, made a commitment last week to attend the negotiations.

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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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Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Keeps me informed about national leadership concerns."

Senior Military Officer

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Mark, Compensation Analyst

Timely and informative."

Dave, HR specialist

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

AJ, US Army Officer

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