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Early Bird

Senate to Debate Budget, Defense Bill Before Holiday, Iran Nuke Talks Derailed but Not Dead

December 16, 2013

By Sara Sorcher ( @SaraSorcherNJ) 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. Get this by forward? Click here to sign up directly.

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U.S. Offers New Assistance to Vietnam to Patrol Seas
(Reuters: Lesley Wroughton)
On his first visit to Vietnam as secretary of State, John Kerry denied the new assistance had anything to do with China. 

NSA Speaks Out on Snowden, Spying
(CBS News: John Miller)
The NSA gives unprecedented access to the agency's HQ and, for the first time, explains what it does and what it says it doesn't do.  

Reid Files Cloture on Budget Deal
(The Hill: Ramsey Cox)
The process allows debate on budget and the defense authorization bill before the holiday.

Nuclear Talks Are "Derailed," Not Dead, Iranian Official Says
(CBS News: Rebecca Kaplan)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview aired Sunday that negotiations over its nuclear program are not dead even though Iran is angry about a fresh round of sanctions from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Sens. McCain, Murphy Address Protesters In Ukraine
(The Washington Post: Will Englund)
A showdown between Russia, on one side, and the United States and the European Union, on the other, drew closer as two American senators told a crowd of hundreds of thousands of protesters that Ukraine's future lies to the west, not the east.

Army vs. Navy: Midshipmen Rout Cadets for 12th Consecutive Victory in Series
(The Washington Post: Gene Wang)
The Navy football team got another virtuoso performance from quarterback Keenan Reynolds.


Defense Bill, Budget Plan Face Uncertain Fate in Senate
(Defense News: John Bennett)
McCain: Cooperation difficult in 'poisonous' atmosphere.

Inhofe Joins With Democrats on Quick Defense Authorization Bill Passage
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
Doing so places Inhofe at odds with some of his GOP colleagues, including Mitch McConnell.

Congress Targets Littoral Combat Ship Survivability In NDAA
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
Buried amidst the hundreds of pages of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2014 is an unusually sharp rebuke to a high-profile program, the Navy's controversial Littoral Combat Ship.

Defense Bill Would Enable 171K Retirees to Get Back TRICARE Prime
The House version of the 2014 NDAA has a provision to allow the 171,000 military retirees who were kicked off TRICARE Prime last October, a onetime shot at reenrolling.


Republican Senators Battle Budget Cuts Targeting Military Retirees
(National Journal: Jordain Carney)
A group of Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee is pressing for the COLA cuts to be swapped out.

Armed Services Panel to Review Retirement Changes in Budget Deal
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said his committee would review the changes to military retirement benefits included in the budget deal before they fully take effect.

Feinstein: Vote Soon on Releasing Parts of Secret CIA Detention Report
The Senate Intelligence Committee will soon vote on releasing parts of a report that alleges that the CIA misled lawmakers and U.S. officials about the value of the information produced by the agency's post-9/11 secret detention and harsh interrogation program.

Seal Team Six Will Get Congressional Hearing
(Foreign Policy: Dan Lamothe)
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing to probe Extortion 17's demise early next year.

John McCain: CIA Deceptive on Levinson
(Associated Press)
The Arizona Republican chides the administration for not being more forthcoming with information about the missing American.


Iran: Nuclear Talks Interrupted
(The New York Times: Thomas Erdbrink)
Iranian diplomats interrupted nuclear talks after the United States announced an expanded list of companies and individuals whose trading activities it would try to block for evading sanctions against Iran.

Advocates of New Iran Sanctions Fail to Advance Key Legislation
(Los Angeles Times: Paul Richter)
Despite intense lobbying, advocates of imposing new sanctions on Iran failed to advance key legislation in Congress.

Iran Reports Successfully Sending Another Monkey Into Space
(Associated Press)
Iran's state television said the country used liquid fuel for the first time to launch the rocket, named Pajohesh, meaning "research" in Farsi.


Hagel: All States Complying With Same-Sex Benefits Order
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
All states are now complying with a Pentagon order to allow same-sex spouses to obtain ID cards after some had resisted it, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday.

The Pentagon's Invisible Man
(Foreign Policy: Gordon Lubold)
Even the Defense secretary admits, "It's Not a Hagel Era."  

Pentagon Names New Press Secretary
(The Hill: Carlo Muñoz)
The Defense Department has named Rear Adm. John Kirby as the Pentagon's press secretary, officially replacing former spokesman George Little, who left the department in December.


Afghan President Says U.S. Indulging In Brinkmanship Over Security Deal
(Reuters: Sanjeev Miglani)
Hamid Karzai said the United States would have to stop the practice of raiding Afghan homes and help restart a peace process with the Taliban.

U.S Army Overcharged on Afghan Radio Parts, Audit Finds
(Bloomberg News: Tony Capaccio)
The biggest supplier of combat radios for Afghan security forces overcharged the U.S. Army for parts such as transceivers and battery chargers because the service didn't challenge the pricing.  

How Bin Laden Escaped
(The Daily Beast: Yaniv Barzilai)
In 2001, a small U.S. special operations force had won extraordinary victories in Afghanistan and closed in on Bin Laden before high-level blunders allowed him to escape into Pakistan.


China Paper Says U.S. Ship Harassed Chinese Fleet
(Associated Press)
An official Chinese newspaper on Monday accused the U.S. Navy of harassing a Chinese squadron earlier this month.  

American and Chinese Navy Ships Nearly Collided in South China Sea
(The New York Times: Jane Perlez)
The encounter this month was a sign of the increased tensions in the South China Sea as China tries to enforce its territorial claims.

Asian Nations Call for Freedom Of Air, Seas as U.S.-China Maritime Near-Collision Revealed
(Reuters: Elaine Lies, David Alexander)
Japan and Southeast Asian countries called for freedom of the air and sea on Saturday

U.S. Boosts Maritime Security Aid to Vietnam
(Associated Press: Matthew Lee)
The United States will boost maritime security assistance to China's smaller neighbors amid rising tensions over disputed territories in the South China Sea. 

Kim's Aunt Appears Safe After Husband's Execution
(Associated Press: Hyung-Jin Kim)
The aunt of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been named to an ad-hoc state committee, the country's official media reported.


U.N. Chief Responds to Syria Report
(The New York Times)
The United Nations secretary general on Friday said that those who used chemical weapons in Syria should be brought to justice.

U.N. Syria Report Inconclusive on Chemical Weapons
(The Wall Street Journal: Joe Lauria)
The final U.N. investigation into alleged chemical weapons use in Syria has found that chemical weapons were conclusively used in one incident and were likely used in four other alleged attack.

Syrian Islamist Rebels to Meet U.S. Officials: Opposition Sources
(Reuters: Mariam Karouny, Dasha Afanasieva)
Syrian rebel commanders from the Islamic Front which seized control of bases belonging to Western-backed rebels last week are due to hold talks with U.S. officials in Turkey.

Task Force Gathers for Syria Chemical Weapons Pickup
(Reuters: Michele Kambas)
A Danish-led task force was being readied in Cyprus on Saturday to remove the first part of Syria's deadly chemical stockpile, due before the end of this year.

U.S., Britain Have Not Helped Syrian Rebels Enough, Saudi Prince Says
(Reuters: John Irish)
Opponents of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad have been at an impossible disadvantage since the start of the Syrian conflict because the United States and Britain refused to help them, an influential Saudi Arabian prince said on Saturday.


Snow in Mideast Snarls Kerry's Shuttle Diplomacy
(The New York Times: Isabel Kershner)
The winter storm threw a new obstacle into Secretary of State John Kerry's peace efforts in the region.

Kerry: U.S. Seeks 'Proof Of Life' for American Who Vanished in Iran
(Los Angeles Times: Christi Parsons)
Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that the U.S. is looking for "proof of life" regarding a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran seven years ago during a visit that.

Our Red Lines and Theirs
(Foreign Policy: Benjamin Buch, Scott Sagan)
New information reveals why Saddam Hussein never used chemical weapons in the Gulf War.

Egypt to Vote Next Month on New Constitution
(The New York Times: David Kirkpatrick)
It will be the first gauge of support for the military's ouster of Egypt's first fairly elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Bahrain Expansion Latest Signal Of Continued U.S. Presence
(Stars and Stripes: Hendrick Simoes)
The $580 million expansion now underway at the U.S. Navy base will nearly double its size.

Israeli Soldier Killed In Lebanese Sniper Attack -Military
A U.N. peacekeeping force said it was working with both sides to keep the incident from escalating.

Yemeni Parliament In Non-Binding Vote Against Drone Attacks
Yemen's parliament on Sunday called for a stop to drone attacks in a symbolic vote that reflected growing public anxiety about Washington's use of the unmanned aircraft.


White House Gets NSA Fix Recommendation Report
(McClatchy: Lesley Clark)
The White House said Friday its received a report from the group President Obama created to review and recommend changes to the NSA.

Officials Say U.S. May Never Know Extent of Snowden's Leaks
(The New York Times: Mark Mazzetti, Michael Schmidt)
Investigators remain in the dark partly because the facility where the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden worked was not equipped with software to monitor employees.

CIA Torture Report Poised for Release — At Least Some Of It
(Foreign Policy: Shane Harris, John Hudson)
Feinstein said the CIA and the Obama administration have agreed that portions of her committee's exhaustive, 6,000-page report should be shared with the public.

Obama to Keep Security Agency and Cyberwarfare Under a Single Commander
(The New York Times: David Sanger, Thom Shanker)
The president made his choice despite concerns that it concentrates too much power in the hands of a single military official.

NSA Deputy Director Steps Down
(The Hill: Brendan Sasso)
Chris Inglis, the deputy director of the National Security Agency and its top civilian official, stepped down this week, according to an agency spokeswoman.

CIA Benghazi Team Clash Led to 'Stand Down' Report
(Associated Press: Kimberly Dozier)
CIA officers revealed a clash over how quickly they should go help the besieged U.S. ambassador during the 2012 attack on an outpost in Libya

(Foreign Policy: David Kenner)
Five CIA operations that went south -- spectacularly.


James Confirmed as Next Secretary of the Air Force
(Associated Press: Henry Jackson)
The Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama's pick to serve as Secretary of the Air Force,

Strategy, not Just Sequester, Drives A-10 Cut: Air Force Chief Gen. Welsh
(Breaking Defense: Sydney Freedberg Jr.)
Budget cuts won't make the Air Force give up any of its current missions, the service's Chief of Staff promised on Friday.


Guess What Could Fuel the Battleships of the Future?
(National Journal: Marina Koren)
The world's supply of petroleum is finite. The U.S. Navy, which runs on it, is not.

Navy to Expand Sonar Testing Despite Resistance From Environmentalists
(Associated Press)
Scientists think the sounds scare animals into shallow waters where they can become disoriented and wash ashore.

Navy Veterans Charity Scammer Faces 41 Years In Prison
(Associated Press)
A mysterious figure convicted of masterminding a $100 million, cross-country Navy veterans charity fraud could spend the rest of his life in prison.


Army: Combat Schools Closed to Women Until Moss Open
(Military Times: Antonieta Rico)
The Army is not yielding to any pressure to open its own infantry basic training to women.

Army Announces Deployments for 8,300 Soldiers
(Army Times: Michelle Tan)
The deployments are part of the regular rotation of forces, the Defense Department announced Friday.


EU, U.S. Senators Press Ukrainian President
(The Wall Street Journal: Paul Sonne, James Marson, Laurence Norman)
The EU tightened the screws on Ukrainian President Yanukovych by saying his government isn't serious about integration, as U.S. senators took to the stage in Kiev to rally protesters.

Ukraine Braces for Protests as West Steps Up Pressure
(Bloomberg: Kateryna Choursina, Daryna Krasnolutska, Olga Tanas)
Competing demonstrations took place in Kiev on Sunday as the U.S. and the European Union ratcheted up pressure on the administration.

Biden Backs Ukrainian Protesters
(The Daily Beast: Josh Rogin)
Vice President Joe Biden expressed his sympathy for the pro-European street protests in the Ukraine.


The Black Hole of Terrorism Watch Lists
(The New York Times)
Congress should make it easier for people to challenge their inclusion on the list.

The Syrian Abyss
(The Washington Post)
The U.S. stands by as a dictator starves his people.

Leading From the Front in Ukraine
(The Wall Street Journal)
A welcome exception to Obama's foreign policy. 

Surveillance: Cozy or Chilling?
(The New York Times: Noam Cohen)
Some see a small-town atmosphere, some see Big Brother.

Moonwalking in Syria
(Los Angeles Times: Doyle McManus)
U.S. efforts there may be giving only the illusion of forward motion.

The Myth of the American Mullah
(The Daily Beast: James Kirchick)
American opponents of a nuclear deal with Iran have nothing in common with the misogynistic, homophobic clerics of Tehran.

Budget Deal Proves Congress Can Take on Military Pay and Benefits Costs
(Breaking Defense: Russell Rumbaugh)
As bitter as the budget battle has become, there's no topic more toxic than pay and benefits for military personnel.

Reengaging Ukraine
(The Washington Post: Paula Dobriansky)
The West must push back against Russia.

Obama's Syria Policy in Disarray, Is Counterterrorism Next?
(Defense One: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon)
What Syria policy America had is now in disarray.

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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