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Russia Removes Some Troops From Border, Will Obama Give Up Israeli Spy, CIA Misled on Interrogations

By 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.


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Russia Pulls Back a Battalion From Ukraine Border
(Associated Press: Laura Mills, Vladimir Isachenkov)
Russia said it was pulling a battalion of several hundred troops away from the Ukrainian border but kept tens of thousands in place.


Obama Admin Confirms: We May Free Israeli Spy to Save Peace Talks
(The Daily Beast: Josh Rogin)
With its peace process on the verge of collapse the White House is taking a second look at releasing Israel's most notorious spy.

Senate Report: CIA Misled on Interrogations
(The Washington Post: Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Ellen Nakashima)
Senate investigators say the agency concealed details about the severity of its methods, overstated the significance of plots and prisoners, and took credit where it wasn't due.

NSA Infiltrated RSA Security More Deeply Than Thought
(Reuters: Joseph Menn)
Security industry pioneer RSA adopted not just one but two encryption tools developed by the NSA greatly increasing the spy agency's ability to eavesdrop on some Internet communications.

VA Hails New Low in Backlogged Claims
(Army Times: Leo Shane III)
The backlog—the number of disability claims pending for more than 125 days—dropped below that 350,000 mark this week for the first time since February 2011.



White House: Kerry to Speak to Lavrov Again About Ukraine
(Reuters: Jeff Mason, Roberta Rampton)
But no date for such a conversation had been set.

Russia to Pour Funds Into Crimea, Prime Minister Says
(Associated Press)
Dmitry Medvedev pledged that Russia will quickly boost salaries and pensions there.

NATO to Discuss Ukraine as Russia Pulls Some Troops Back
(Bloomberg: Ilya Arkhipov, Henry Meyer, Kateryna Choursina)
NATO foreign ministers are meeting to discuss their next steps after Russian President Vladimir Putin began withdrawing forces stationed on Ukraine's border.

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NATO to Strengthen East in Face of Resurgent Russia
(Agence France-Presse)
NATO foreign ministers will gather in Brussels as the defense alliance seeks to reinforce its eastern frontier against a resurgent Russia emboldened by the annexation of Crimea.

Russia Hikes Gas Price For Ukraine
(Associated Press: Vladimir Isachenkov, Peter Leonard)
Russia sharply hiked the price for natural gas to Ukraine and threatened to reclaim billions previous discounts, raising the heat on its cash-strapped government.

Darth Vader Is Running for President of Ukraine
(The Huffington Post: Nick Robins-Early)
Ukraine will hold presidential elections on May 25, and among the field of candidates hoping to lead the country out of turmoil, there is Darth Vader.

Putin's 'Test' in Crimea Gives Russian Army a Rare Chance to Gloat
(Time: Simon Shuster)
The annexation of Crimea did not exactly put Russia's military through the races, but it gave the Russian Defense Ministry a neat recruitment tool while pleasing its commander in chief.


Dianne Feinstein Set to Move on CIA Report
(Politico: Burgess Everett, Josh Gerstein)
The Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman said that she plans to hold a committee vote Thursday to make public the key findings and summary of the full 6,300-page report.

Graham: Putin Must 'Pay a Heavy Price' for Annexing Disputed Crimea
(Fox News: Christopher Snyder)
Graham suggests boosting U.S. energy exports to Europe as a way to counteract their dependence on Russian resources.

Boeing Backers Launch Growler Gambit
(Politico: Austin Wright)
Boeing's backers in Congress are kicking off a campaign to save one of the company's fighter jet programs.

Congress Targets Leading Spy for Benghazi Spin
(The Daily Beast: Eli Lake)
One of the most celebrated members of America's intelligence community is under fire for his alleged role.

GOP Senators Renew Call for Special Committee to Investigate Benghazi
(The Huffington Post: Shadee Ashtari)
Three senators announced a renewed push for a special committee to investigate the incident.


Report Shows DOD Increased Buying Power in 51 Programs
(Defense News: Marcus Weisgerber)
The Pentagon improved its buying power on 51 of its 80 programs in 2013.

Hagel Announces Restructuring of POW/MIA Remains Offices
(Stars and Stripes: Chris Carroll)
A single Pentagon office will now be in charge of the troubled effort to identify and recover the remains of missing U.S. war dead.

Hagel Supports Review of On-Base Tobacco Sales
(Military Times: Andrew Tilghman)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that he supports a force-wide review of tobacco use and sales on military installations


33,000 Troops to Go: 1-Star Outlines Afghanistan Drawdown
(Army Times: Michelle Tan)
The goal is to reduce the number of American troops in Afghanistan by about 15 percent by Aug. 1 and by another 20 percent by Oct. 31.

U.S. Seeking Buyers for Old Military Equipment in Afghanistan
(Associated Press:  Kathy Gannon)
The United States is trying to sell or dispose of billions of dollars in military hardware as it packs up to leave Afghanistan after 13 years of war.

Pakistan's Former Leader Musharraf Indicted on Treason Charges
(Los Angeles Times: Aoun Sahi, Shashank Bengali)
It's a bold assertion of authority by Pakistan's civilian government, which has historically been marginalized by the nation's powerful military.


Al-Qaida Says Security Steps Show Saudi Rulers Controlled by U.S.
(Reuters: William Maclean)
Al-Qaida's Yemen branch has mocked tough new counter-terrorism measures adopted by neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Israel Minister: Pollard Opposes Release for Talks
(Associated Press: Tia Goldenberg)
A hard-line Israeli Cabinet minister says convicted spy Jonathan Pollard opposes being freed from a U.S. jail in exchange for Palestinians prisoners.

Kerry Meets Netanyahu Again in Effort to Prolong Peace Talks
(Reuters: Lesley Wroughton)
Kerry met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the second time in less than 12 hours.

U.S. Talks With Israel on Pollard Release
(Associated Press: Matthew Lee, Josef Federman)
The United States is talking with Israel about the possibility of releasing convicted spy Jonathan Pollard early from his life sentence as an incentive in the troubled Mideast peace negotiations.

Martin Dempsey: Israel, Arab Governments Share Security Fears
(USA Today: Jim Michaels)
The balance of power has shifted dramatically in the region over recent years, raising the prospect of opportunities for security cooperation among former rivals.

Former U.S. Hostages Angry About New Iran U.N. Envoy Appointee
(Reuters: Louis Charbonneau)
The fact that Hamid Abutalebi has been selected by President Hassan Rouhani as Iran's new ambassador to the United Nations has been well known among U.N. delegations for months.


North Korea Sending Message to U.S. With Missile Barrage
(USA Today: Donna Leinwand Leger)
A barrage of artillery fire between North and South Korea marked an annual show of force by North Korea intent on sending a message to the U.S. as it conducts military exercises nearby.

After Trading Fire, North and South Korea Trade Insults
(The New York Times: Choe Sang-Hun)
The North rejected an ambitious overture from the South's president, Park Geun-hye.

Years After Obama Hailed Warming Ties With India, the Temperature Has Fallen
(The New York Times: Gardiner Harris)
The United States and India have found themselves on opposite sides of the world's most important diplomatic issues.

U.S. Ambassador to India Resigns After Diplomatic Row
(Associated Press)
Nancy Powell gave no reason for her decision, saying she had planned it for some time.

Defense Officials Say Asia Pivot Still On
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
The Obama administration is fully committed to the rebalance to Asia despite questions over whether it can be implemented given cuts to the Pentagon's budget.

China Sees 'Imbalance' in Japan's Plutonium Plans, Despite Upcoming Cuts
(Global Security Newswire: Sebastian Sprenger)
China is wary of Japan's plutonium-stockpiling plans, despite new efforts to ship some of the material to the United States.


Watchdog: U.S. Struggles to Track Nuclear-Arms Design Records
(Global Security Newswire: Diane Barnes)
A U.S. Energy Department investigator has lashed nuclear-arms offices for failing to keep a detailed paper trail of how they build and care for each bomb.


Caregivers for Veterans Face Hurdles, Report Finds
(USA Today: Gregg Zoroya)
An estimated 1.1 million Americans provide care for ailing or disabled veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.


NSA Chief's Legacy Is Shaped by Big Data, for Better and Worse
(Los Angeles Times: Ken Dilanian)
Gen. Keith Alexander, who just retired as NSA director, achieved "absolutely invaluable" results with digital spying but failed to anticipate how the public would feel about privacy.


Secret Service Scandal Poses New Test for Director, Who Has Tried to Implement Reforms
(The Washington Post: David Nakamura)
The head of the agency will have an informal meeting with the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Tuesday.


Navy Sets $7.2B Price Tag for Littoral Combat Ship Mission Modules
(Inside Defense)
The Defense Department has established a new baseline for the Navy's effort to develop and acquire mission packages for the Littoral Combat Ship.

Navy Fights to Stay Ready With Fewer Dollars
( Ward Carroll)
The 2015 Pentagon budget submission dealt a $15 billion blow to the U.S. Navy relative to the planners' forecast.

Navy Increases Base-Access Screening After Shootings
(The Virginian-Pilot: Lauren King)
Additional screening has been added for all delivery drivers presenting a Transportation Worker Identification Credential.

Sailor Training Falls Short
(Navy Times: Mark Faram)
Thousands advanced without mandatory course.

Former Navy Workers Sentenced in Fraud Scheme
(Colorado Springs Gazette)
Two former Navy workers have been ordered to make restitution for their roles in a false-travel-claim scheme that federal prosecutors said involved tens of thousands of dollars.

Report: 'Feces March' on Destroyer Crossed Line
(Navy Times: David Larter)
Investigators said the chief on the destroyer Jason Dunham crossed the line into humiliation and hazing should have been stopped.


FBI, U.S. Military in Hunt for Onetime Recruit Planning 'Fort Hood-Style Jihad'
(Fox News: Jana Winter)
The FBI is searching for a recent Army recruit believed to be planning a "Fort Hood-inspired jihad against U.S. soldiers."

Army Seeks Lasers for Chemical-Weapon Detection
(Defense News: Michael Peck)
The U.S. Army wants high-powered, rapidly tunable infrared lasers to detect chemical weapons.

It's Official: Army's New Appearance Reg Takes Effect
(Army Times)
The new regulations tightens up body ink and allows male soldiers to use an umbrella.


The U.S. Should Not Shut Out Ukraine
(The Washington Post)
Diplomatic talks are appropriate only if Ukraine is at the table.

Putin's Holy Grail
(USA Today)
For now, at least, the threat that Russia will invade eastern Ukraine appears to be easing.

Improve Nuclear Weapons, Missiles, Bombers to Deter Putin's Russia
(Breaking Defense: Adam Lowther)
If President Obama ever had a rationale for moving away from his personal belief in nuclear disarmament, Vladimir Putin has provided one in Crimea.

War of Words
(Foreign Policy: Christian Caryl)
The European Union has leveled sanctions against Russia's chief propagandist. Is this the right way to fight back against Putin's information monopoly?

The Chocolate King Who Could Be Ukraine's Next President
(The Atlantic: Robert Coalson)
Can the shadowy Petro Poroshenko pull off an upset win against Yulia Tymoshenko?

The Naivete of Distance
(Foreign Policy: Aaron David Miller)
The befuddled response to Russia's Crimea takeover shows that America needs a refresher on how the rest of the world actually thinks and works.

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