Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, a morning assembly of the best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage from around the Web.
Navy Probing Alleged Cheating on Nuclear Reactor Work
(Associated Press: Robert Burns)
The reactors at Charleston, S.C., are of the kind used in propulsion systems for Navy submarines and aircraft carriers.
Wide-Reaching Army Recruiting Fraud Described by Investigators
(The New York Times: Helene Cooper)
An army program meant to increase the number of recruits during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars devolved into an illegal free-for-all that could cost taxpayers close to $100 million.
Robert Work to Be Nominated Deputy Secretary of Defense
(Real Clear Defense: Dustin Walker, Adam O'Neal)
Obama will tap former Navy Undersecretary Robert Work as deputy secretary of defense, the Pentagon's No. 2 position. The announcement is expected as soon as Tuesday night.
Republicans Readying Alternative Veterans Bill
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
Senate Republicans are preparing an alternative to Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders's massive veterans bill that would repeal the $6 billion cut to military pensions as part of a larger package.
U.S. Is Said to Curb Pakistan Drone Strikes
(The Washington Post: Karen DeYoung, Greg Miller)
Officials say the U.S. has sharply curtailed drone strikes after Pakistan asked for a pause while it pursues peace talks with the Taliban.
U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford to Retire: Sources
Ford, a career foreign service officer and a fluent Arabic speaker, was instrumental in negotiating with Syrian opposition groups to join talks in Switzerland last month to try to end Syria's nearly three-year-old civil war.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Stepping Down
(Associated Press: Lynn Berry)
Michael McFaul, the architect of President Obama's effort to reset relations with Russia, announced Tuesday that he is stepping down after two turbulent years in Moscow.
German Paper Says U.S. Kept Tabs on Leader
(The New York Times: Alison Smale)
The newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, reported that American intelligence services began monitoring Chancellor Gerhard Schröder after he opposed the Bush administration's plan to go to war in Iraq.
States Look to Rein in Government Surveillance
(Associated Press: Nigel Duara)
State lawmakers around the nation are proposing bills to curtail the powers of law enforcement to monitor and track citizens.
Feds: NSA 'Probably' Spies on Members of Congress
(National Journal: Dustin Volz)
The admission is hardly surprising, but expect lawmakers to feign outrage anyway.
U.S. Doesn't Rule Out Possibility Snowden Secretly Talking to Russians
(CNN: Bill Mears)
U.S. intelligence officials would not rule out the possibility that admitted NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been meeting secretly with Russian authorities.
Clapper Would Be Shocked If Russia Wasn't Trying Hard to Coopt Snowden
(National Journal: Sara Sorcher)
Intel chair: Would you expect the Russian intelligence services to have had conversations with this individual already? Clapper: I would find it incredulous if they didn't.
FBI Director Comey Discusses Legality of Reporters, Stolen Snowden Documents
(The Washington Post)
Rep. Mike Rogers questioned James Comey about documents taken by Snowden.
Intelligence Chairman Accuses Glenn Greenwald of Illegally Selling Stolen Material
(Politico: Josh Gerstein)
A top lawmaker argued Tuesday that the journalist is illegally selling stolen material by asking news organizations to pay for access to U.S. intelligence secrets taken from the NSA.
DARPA Publishes All Its Open-Source Code in One Place
(The Verge: Adrianne Jeffries)
The catalog launched with more than 60 projects, many of which have an emphasis on organizing large sets of data.
The Man Who Would Be King of Cyber
(Defense News: Zachary Fryer-Biggs)
Vice Adm. Michael Rogers is slated to be the most powerful man in the world, at least as far as the cyberdomain is concerned.
Brazilian Senator Nominates NSA Leaker Edward Snowden for Nobel Peace Prize
Sen. Vanessa Grazziotin heads the Senate panel investigating U.S. espionage in Brazil.
In the Trenches of Cyberwarfare
(Air Force Magazine: June Kim)
The most dangerous threat to the United States may no longer come from a physical attack, but a cyber one.
Business Trip to Iran "Not Helpful", Kerry Tells France
(Reuters: Yara Bayoumy, Alexandria Sage)
Secretary of State John Kerry has told his French counterpart a trip to Iran by French business executives was "not helpful" and gave the wrong impression that Tehran was open for business as usual, a U.S. official said.
U.S. Officials: Iran Is Not Open for Business Yet
(Associated Press: Deb Riechmann)
U.S. officials say an interim deal with Iran that curbs its nuclear program in exchange for some relief from economic sanctions that have crippled its economy does not mean that Tehran is open for business.
Iran Nuclear Deal 'Not Perfect' but Buys Time: U.S. Official
(Reuters: Patricia Zengerle, Arshad Mohammed)
Major world powers struck an interim deal with Iran on Nov. 24.
U.S. Senators Question State of Iranian Nuclear-Centrifuge Development
(Defense News: John Bennett)
The influential heads of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took the Obama administration to task for an interim deal they said is bad for U.S. interests.
White House Iran Policy Gaining Ground With Dems
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
More than 70 House Democrats have signed a letter to Obama supporting the administration's diplomatic efforts to weaken Iran's nuclear program.
Now, the WHOLE Story of That One Time an Iranian Patrol Plane Buzzed an American Flattop
(War Is Boring: David Cenciotti, David Axe)
Sometime probably in the summer of 2012, a P-3F patrol plane belonging to the Iranian air force flew real close to the Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
Official: Snowden Leaks Lead to Pentagon Change
(Associated Press: Kimberly Dozier, Stephen Braun)
A top U.S. military intelligence official said the Pentagon will have to make costly changes to programs and personnel.
IG: DOD Still Struggles With Ethical Issues
(Politico: Philip Ewing)
The Defense Department's internal watchdog found misconduct by senior officials in about 38 percent of the cases it investigated in its most recent reporting period.
Joint Chiefs' 2020 Vision for Missile Defense Focused on Interoperability
As the Defense Department's projected resources shrink, its Integrated Air and Missile Defense system must become more joint and interoperable and take advantage of partner nation capabilities.
Russia Says Syria government Will Be at Next Round of Peace Talks
(Reuters: Gabriela Baczynska)
The Syrian government will attend the next round of peace talks with the opposition, set to begin on February 10 in Geneva, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Tuesday.
West Wants U.N. to Press Syria on Allowing Aid Flow
(The Wall Street Journal: Sam Dagher, Joe Lauria)
Top U.N. official warns it could backfire.
Syria: At Least 50 Americans Have Joined Extremist Units, U.S. Says
(Los Angeles Times: Ken Dilanian)
At least 50 Americans have joined the mix of extremist groups that are fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia Says Syria Will Export Chemicals by March 1
(The New York Times: Rick Gladstone)
Russia's deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, defended the Syrian government's explanations for the missed deadlines.
U.N. Report Details Abuse of Children in Syrian War
(The New York Times: Somini Sengupta)
The document, quietly presented to the Security Council last week, details torture, abduction and grave abuse of children by both sides in the conflict
Chemical-Weapons Deal Strengthened Assad: U.S. Intelligence Chief
(Reuters: Lesley Wroughton)
Clapper, testifying at a House Intelligence Committee hearing, did not specify why the September agreement on chemical arms had boosted Assad's position.
U.S. Intel Community Sour on Syria Outlook
(Defense News: Paul McLeary)
The chiefs are also concerned over al-Qaida's growing strength.
Experts: Public Needs More Details on Syria Chemical Destruction
(Global Security Newswire: Diane Barnes)
Arms-control experts pressed the Obama administration to release troves of data on plans to destroy Syria's deadliest chemical arms at sea.
Sanders Urges Quick Passage of Bill Repealing Military Pension Cuts
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
Senate Veterans' Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders urged quick Senate passage of his veterans legislation that would repeal the $6 billion in military pension cuts.
In Fraud Case, McCaskill Presses for Accountability
(Politico: Austin Wright)
Sen. Claire McCaskill pressed Army commanders to punish senior leaders accused of defrauding the Army National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program.
Congressman: Obama's Drone War Rules Let Terrorists Go Free
(Daily Beast: Eli Lake)
The president's restrictions on U.S. drone strikes are just cutting down on unmanned attacks. They're also endangering American troops, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee charges.
Patriot Act Architect: No More Spying Unless My NSA Reform Bill Passes
(National Journal: Dustin Volz)
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner warned government officials that they risk losing all spying authorization next year if his Freedom Act doesn't pass Congress.
Old Tensions Resurface in Debate Over U.S. Role in Post-2014 Afghanistan
(The New York Times: Peter Baker, Matthew Rosenberg)
President Obama is trying to figure out what form a residual force might take after the bulk of American troops leave, or what would happen if no Americans stayed behind.
White House: No Decision on U.S. Presence in Afghanistan
(The Hill: Justin Sink)
White House press secretary Jay Carney described the meeting with Gen. Joseph Dunford as "an important opportunity for President Obama to hear directly, in person, from his commander on the ground and other senior defense officials."
Talks With Pakistani Taliban Fail to Begin
(The Washington Post: Tim Craig)
Pakistan-Taliban talks fail to begin amid questions about legitimacy, fresh violence.
In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Taliban Seem to Be Winning
(The Guardian: Simon Tisdall)
Hamid Karzai and Nawaz Sharif share an interest in peace talks with the Taliban but both appear to have drawn a blank.
Study: Asia Fuels Rise in World Defense Spending
World defense spending will rise in 2014 for the first time in five years, a key study found Tuesday, driven by arms races in Asia and the Middle East, as well as a resurgent Russia.
U.S. Intel: Sense of Destiny Drives China Aggression
(Associated Press: Matthew Pennington)
The chief of U.S. intelligence said Tuesday that China's aggressive pursuit of territorial claims in the seas of East Asia is driven by a sense of historical destiny.
U.S.: Sri Lanka Refuses Visa for State Dept. Official After War-Crime Accusations
(Reuters: Shihar Aneez, Ranga Sirilal)
Sri Lanka has refused a visa request for a U.S. State Department official, the U.S. Embassy said.
North and South Korea Set Dates for Family Reunions
(The New York Times: Choe Sang-Hun)
The plans for reunions between families separated by a tense border suggest that ties could be improving between the two countries.
White House Urges Egypt to Release Imprisoned Journalists
(Huffington Post: Michael Calderone)
The White House remains "deeply concerned" about freedom of expression in Egypt following the government's decision to charge 20 Al Jazeera journalists on allegations related to terrorism.
New VA Tool Lets Troops, Vets Customize GI Bill Benefits
(USA Today: Gregg Zoroya)
The Department of Veterans Affairs unveiled a new online tool Tuesday allowing current and former service members or their dependents to compare colleges and universities.
Senators Want Answers on Veterans Records Breach
Both U.S. senators from Missouri are seeking answers about the potential fallout for veterans and their families.
John Kerry Gets His Twitter Account Back, Immediately Invents His Own Hashtag
(National Journal: Sara Sorcher)
Guantanamo Detainee Cites POW Stipulation in Suit
(McClatchy/Tribune: Richard Serrano)
A Kuwaiti detainee at Guantanamo Bay is mounting a novel legal challenge to win his release, arguing in a federal lawsuit that he should be freed when U.S. combat troops pull out of Afghanistan because international law stipulates that prisoners of war be returned home once a conflict is over.
Lockheed to Sell Special-Ops C-130s to Civilians
(Military.com: Matthew Cox)
Lockheed Martin is planning to offer a civilian version of the C-130J Super Hercules, an aircraft designed for Special Operations Command.
Lockheed Martin Fires Most Powerful Portable Laser Weapon It Has Ever Created
(Daily Mail: Mark Priggs)
It is a weapon that could mean the end of traditional missiles.
Future of F-35 Unclear as Costs Mount in Japan
(Defense News: Paul Kallender-Umezu)
Under a June 2013 foreign military sales agreement with the U.S., Japan committed to purchase the first four F-35As.
Government Officials Prioritize Satellites, Electronics in Export-Control Reform
Federal agencies involved in export-control reform are prioritizing the release of new rules governing the export of satellites, spacecraft, and military electronics.
Administration Officials Tout Progress in Streamlining Control Policies for High-Tech Exports
(Seapower Magazine: Otto Kreisher)
Progress comes after decades of complaints from industry that restrictive export control policies were hurting America's ability to sell high-tech goods overseas, but strong resistance from congressional conservatives to any loosening of controls.
Navy Decertifies Nuclear Reactor Operators for Possible Cheating
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
The Navy announced about a dozen nuclear-reactor operators at a Charleston, S.C., training command have been decertified, due to possible cheating on qualification tests.
Robotic Turrets: Corps' Next-Gen Vehicles Could Feature Remote Weapons Systems
(Marine Corps Times: James Sanborn)
Futuristic technology would save Marines' lives, logistician argues.
FBI: Marine Intel Officer Nabbed in $235K Sting
(United Press International)
A U.S. Marine intelligence officer was arrested in a $235,000 sting in Florida, picked up in a parking lot with a cash-stuffed duffel bag, the FBI says.
U.S., French Navies Conclude Combined Operations
The two strike groups began conducting integrated operations Dec. 26 in the Gulf of Oman.
(The New York Times)
The United States and Europe may finally be ready to put some real emergency aid on the table.
Budget Deal Needs Real Pentagon Reforms
(USA Today: Rep. Duncan Hunter, Pete Hegseth)
The Ryan-Murray agreement shouldn't target veterans' cost-of-living adjustments.
For Air Force Officers, the Long Wait for a Nuclear Attack Can Be a Bore
(The Washington Post: Walter Pincus)
It's not stress, drugs, or cheating on proficiency tests that's the problem for about 550 Air Force officers who serve 24-hour shifts in capsules 60 feet underground.
The Wars Robert Gates Got Wrong
(The New Yorker: Jonathan Alter)
Gates was not a kiss-ass but one of the shrewdest public servants of his generation—which helps to explain why his many failures and missed calls have been all but air-brushed out of accounts of his career.
(Foreign Policy: Phillip Carter)
Did the military violate its own rules by getting in bed with Budweiser during the Super Bowl?
American Recounts Arrest in Egypt
(Huffington Post: Brian Dooley)
Jeremy Hodge, a 25-year-old American from Los Angeles, was, until a few weeks ago, working as a translator in Cairo.
Isolationism's High Price
(The Washington Post: Richard Cohen)
This being the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, I have plunged into several books on the subject, most of them relating to what started it, and I have come up with the following conclusion: mustaches.
Time: Air Power's Great Nemesis
(The Diplomat: James Holmes)
Cumulative strategic bombing campaigns are rarely strategically decisive in themselves.
Will Syrian Civil War Mark End to American Militarism?
(Breaking Defense: James Kitfield)
Presidents feel constant pressure from political factions, interest groups, and close allies alike to right the world's myriad wrongs using our unmatched military.
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.