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Taliban Video Shows POW's Release, Did Bergdahl Walk Off Base More Than Once? Taliban Video Shows POW's Release, Did Bergdahl Walk Off Base More Tha...

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Taliban Video Shows POW's Release, Did Bergdahl Walk Off Base More Than Once?

By Jordain Carney (@jordainc)

Welcome to NJ's Early Bird, today's best national security, defense, and foreign policy coverage. To contact us, email


Source: Bergdahl May Have Walked Off Base More Than Once
(Air Force Times: Andrew Tilghman)
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may have left and returned unharmed at least once before the night he disappeared.

Taliban Video Shows POW's Release
(The Wall Street Journal: Maria Abi-Habib)
The Afghan Taliban released a propaganda video showing the handover of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to U.S. Special Operations Forces in a remote part of eastern Khost province.

Durbin: Early July Is 'Goal' for Defense Spending Bill
(Defense News: John Bennett)
Senate appropriators are aiming to take up their 2015 Pentagon spending measure just after Independence Day.


Obama Administration to Revive Domestic Terror Task Force
It will include representatives of the FBI, the National Security Division of the Justice Department, and the Attorney General's Advisory Committee.

Obama: U.S. to Boost Military Presence in Europe
(Associated Press: Nedra Pickler)
The United States is preparing to boost its military presence in Europe at a cost of up to $1 billion.


VA Reform Could Face Senate Deadlock
(Politico: Burgess Everett, Jeremy Herb)
The Senate's fix to veterans health care problems might be headed down a familiar path: Right into the chamber's procedural chokehold.

Senators Back Funding for Criminal Probe of VA
(The Hill: Erik Wasson)
A Senate Appropriations subcommittee authorized the funding in a $51.2 billion spending bill that will get a full committee vote on Thursday.


Republicans Offer Alternative VA Health Care Bill
(Associated Press: Matthew Daly)
The measure is the latest response in Congress to a furor over patient delays and cover-ups at VA health facilities nationwide.

Shaheen Introduces VA Fix Bill
(The Hill: Ramsey Cox)
The New Hampshire Democrat introduced a bill that aims to address mismanagement within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Lawmaker Wants Vets to Be Able to Seek Private Care Without Pre-Approval
(Air Force Times: Patricia Kime)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's proposal is the latest of several bills that have been floated or are in the works.

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Is Obama's New Counterterror Program Merely 'A Political Talking Point'?
(Defense News: John Bennett)
Senators are questioning the need for a new $5 billion program proposed by President Barack Obama to fight al-Qaida and similar groups in North Africa.

HAC-D Chairman Seeks to Reclaim Post's Power
(Politico: Austin Wright)
The chairman of the House panel that oversees Pentagon spending is seeking to reclaim the power that once came with the gavel.

Poll: 51 Percent Say Probe Benghazi
(Politico: Jonathan Topaz)
A slim majority of Americans support a congressional committee on Benghazi.


Secret Videos Prompted Bergdahl Exchange
(The Wall Street Journal: Adam Entous, Dion Nissenbaum, Michael Crittenden)
Two secret videos that showed Bergdahl's health rapidly deteriorating prompted the prisoner swap for Taliban detainees, U.S. officials said.

White House Apologizes for No Notice on Bergdahl
(Associated Press: Jim Kuhnhenn)
The damage control comes as Republican lawmakers accused the White House of putting U.S. service men and women at risk.

Obama: Congress Consulted on Bergdahl Exchange
(Associated Press: Julie Pace)
Obama defended his decision to release five Afghan detainees from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for an American soldier's freedom.

Congress Knew the White House Had Considered a Prisoner Swap
(National Journal: Sara Sorcher)
The administration floated an exchange for Bergdahl in 2011, and lawmakers pushed back. This time, Obama opted to ask forgiveness instead of permission.

Hagel Called to Testify on Prisoner Swap
(The Hill: Martin Matishak)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will appear before the House Armed Services Committee on June 11.

Inside the Obama Team's Debate Over Bergdahl
(The Washington Post: Adam Goldman, Scott Wilson)
For years, the administration considered options including sharing intelligence with Pakistan, and deploying troops for a rescue operation that could risk angering the government.

White House Overrode Internal Objections to Taliban Prisoner Release
(Time: Massimo Calabresi)
Pentagon, intelligence officials used top-secret information to prevent previous release of Taliban Five.

Army Will Conduct 'Comprehensive' Review of Bergdahl Disappearance, Captivity
(Stars and Stripes: Jon Harper)
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said that an Article 15-6 investigation into Bergdahl's disappearance had been conducted.

Military Brass Wades Into POW Desertion Debate
(McClatchy: Hannah Allam)
Some military commentators say the Obama administration and U.S. commanders waited too long before addressing the desertion question.

Can Bowe Bergdahl Be Tied to 6 Lost Lives? Facts Are Murky
(The New York Times: Charlie Savage, Andrew Lehren)
Bergdahl was freed after years in captivity, a number of the men who served with him have called him a deserter. Some have gone further, blaming him for the deaths of six to eight soldiers.


Pentagon: Russian Fighter Intercepted U.S. Plane
(Associated Press)
DoD spokesman Warren said the Russian Su-27 fighter flew across the nose of a U.S. Air Force RC-135U aircraft, coming within about 100 feet.

Obama, in Warsaw, Pledges Solidarity With Eastern Europe
(The New York Times: Peter Baker)
The president tried to make a point of demonstrating solidarity with America's friends in the region as soon as he landed in Poland.

Hagel Prods Europeans to Pay Fair Share of NATO Expenses
(The Washington Post: Karen DeYoung)
The alliance, administration officials argue, needs to return to first principles of defending itself after two decades of operations far afield.

Obama: With Help, Democracy In Ukraine Can Thrive
(Associated Press: Nedra Pickler)
President Barack Obama said Ukraine can become a vibrant, thriving democracy if the world community stands behind it.

Romania, Wary of Russia, Seeks Embrace of West
(USA Today: Paul Singer)
Russia's recent land-grab in neighboring Ukraine has earned Romania the attention of Americans, which leaders here have long felt was lacking.

In Ukraine's Southeast, Dreams of a New Russia
(The Washington Post: Griff Witte)
The split between the region and the rest of the country widens as ties to Kiev disintegrate and rebel checkpoints grow.


Watchdog: New U.S.-Funded Prison in Afghanistan Overcrowded, Falling Apart
(Stars and Stripes: Josh Smith)
SIGAR released a report highlighting what it says are major safety and maintenance problems at the prison in Baghlan province.

Inspector General Makes Few Friends as He Roots Out Corruption in Afghanistan
(The Washington Post: Richard Leiby)
John Sopko constantly rattles the Pentagon, defense contractors, and U.S. assistance agencies, blasting out reports and media releases at the rate of roughly one a week.

The Three Other Americans Being Held in Afghanistan
(Foreign Policy: Gordon Lubold, John Hudson)
It was unclear from government officials this week what the status of these Americans was or if active discussions were taking place to secure their release.

Poll: Americans Back Afghan Pullout
(The Washington Post: Dan Balz, Scott Clement)
President Obama has widespread support for his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.


Last U.S. Personnel Leaving Transit Center at Manas
(Air Force Times: Jeff Schogol)
The Air Force held symbolic ceremonies transferring back the facilities to the Kyrgyz government.


July Deadline for Iran Nuclear Deal Appears in Jeopardy: Envoys
(Reuters: Louis Charbonneau, Parisa Hafezi)
It is increasingly unlikely that six world powers and Iran will meet their July 20 deadline to negotiate a long-term deal for Iran to curb its nuclear program.

Iran's Reactor-Fuel Demand Emerges as Sticking Point in Nuclear Talks
(Reuters: Justyna Pawlak, Fredrik Dahl)
Diplomats from the major powers negotiating with Tehran said Iranian negotiators expressed the demand at the latest talks in May.


U.S. Condemns Syrian Presidential Election as 'a Disgrace'
(Reuters: Will Dunham)
Syrians voted in an election expected to deliver an overwhelming victory for Bashar al-Assad but which his opponents have called a charade.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford: I Could No Longer 'Defend the American Policy'
(CNN: Mick Krever)
The Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria said he could no longer stand behind his government.

After Guantanamo, Freed Detainees Returned to Violence in Syria Battlefields
(The Wall Street Journal: Maria Abi-Habib)
Release of five senior Taliban figures from the U.S. detention center renews debate.


Obama Administration Seeks to Bridge Rift With Israel Over Palestinian Unity Government
(The Washington Post: Anne Gearan)
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf read a lengthy statement defending the U.S. position even before reporters could ask her about harsh criticism from Israeli officials.

Netanyahu Says He Is 'Troubled' by U.S. Decision
(Associated Press: Josef Federman)
Israel's prime minister said Tuesday he is "deeply troubled" by the United States' decision to maintain relations with the new Palestinian unity government.


Army Moving Recruiting Center From West Virginia to Virginia
(Associated Press)
The U.S. Army Recruiting Command's relocation to Richmond, Va., is scheduled to be completed by the end of June.


Ex-Blue Angels Chief Found Guilty of Failing to Stop Lewd Behavior
(The Washington Post: Craig Whitlock)
Pilots kept pornography in jets and even painted a phallus on a trailer roof that was visible from satellites.

First Lady Helps Lay Keel for New Submarine
(Associated Press)
Michelle Obama wrote her initials in chalk on a steel plate and a welder inscribed them, in Navy tradition.


Time in Grade, Service Commitment Waivers Announced
(Air Force Times: Stephen Losey)
Both waivers and two other incentives are intended to help the Air Force reduce its ranks as part of the force management program.


Lockheed Martin Wins 'Space Fence' Contract
(The Washington Post: Christian Davenport)
The company beat out Raytheon for the $915 million contract to build the radar system, which would be located in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Lockheed to Deliver First of 36 F-16s to Iraq This Week
(Reuters: Andrea Shalal)
Iraq has had no real air force since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that eventually toppled Saddam Hussein.

Avio Space Could Be Sold This Summer
(Defense News: Tom Kington)
The sale of Italian satellite-launcher builder Avio Space could get underway in July and form a key element in a predicted consolidation of the European launcher market.


Cleveland Clinic CEO Being Considered for VA Post
(The Washington Post: Juliet Eilperin)
No final decision has been made yet on the choice of Delos "Toby" Cosgrove, a Vietnam War veteran.

Texas VA Mails Incorrect Info, Potentially Delays Care
(KVUE-TV: Andy Pierrotti and Derek Rasor)
The VA isn't sure how many errant letters were sent, or for how long.

Acting VA Secretary Pledges Quick Solution for Scheduling Problems
(McClatchy: Renee Schoof)
Sloan Gibson said in his first statement as acting secretary that "systemic problems in scheduling processes have been exacerbated by leadership failures and ethical lapses."

Poll: Blame for VA Mess Not Obama's Alone
(The Hill: Mario Trujillo)
Nearly 8 in 10 poll respondents blame the Veterans Affairs scandal, at least in part, on President Obama.

Arizona Veterans Spared From Homelessness
(USA Today: Gregg Zoroya)
Operators of the housing where 56 veterans live were told by the Prescott VA hospital they had to leave by June 30.


Secret Service Wants Software That Detects Sarcasm on Social Media
(The Washington Post: Katie Zezima)
The agency wants to buy software that, among other things, has the ability to "detect sarcasm" and language that may mean something different than it appears on first glance.


NSA Chief: Snowden 'Probably Not' Foreign Agent
(Defense News: Paul McLeary)
Mike Rogers strongly defended his organization in the face of heavy criticism for partaking in massive data-mining efforts on foreign and American targets.


Automating Cybersecurity
(The New York Times: Kenneth Chang)
If only computers themselves were smart enough to fight off malevolent hackers.


Jihadist Groups' Threat to U.S. Grows, Report Says
(The Wall Street Journal: Siobhan Gorman)
The threat to the U.S. from global jihadist groups has escalated in the past three years, with the number of groups increasing by more than 50% and the estimated number of militants doubling.

Did FBI Dupe Boston Bombing Witness?
(USA Today: G. Jeffrey MacDonald)
A hearing provided insights into the lives of the college students who comprised bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's close circle of friends.


U.S. Charges Guantanamo Bay Prisoner With War Crimes
(Associated Press)
Pentagon legal authorities have approved five war-crimes charges against Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi. He is to be arraigned at the U.S. base in Cuba within 30 days under military rules.


U.S., Citing New Hope for Somalia, to Reopen Embassy
(Reuters: David Storey)
Wendy Sherman, undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, didn't specify exactly when the mission would reopen but said it would be "soon."

Obama Administration Holding up Apache Helicopters to Egypt
They remain in storage in the United States amid concerns they could be used against civilians.

Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi Officially Wins Egyptian Presidential Election
(Associated Press: Maggie Michael)
El-Sissi brings Egypt into a new phase in its tumultuous drama since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak after 29 years in power.


Obama's European Solidarity
(The Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. bucks up eastern NATO allies but more can be done.

Why Poland Wants a U.S. Military Base
(The Washington Post: Adam Taylor)
There are obvious benefits to having a U.S. military base on your land.

How the Bergdahl Story Went From Victory to Controversy for Obama
(Time: Michael Crowley)
Did the White House oversell the controversial deal for Bowe Bergdahl?

It's Time to Recognize That We Negotiate With Terrorists, Just Like Everyone Else Does
(Foreign Policy: Jim Gourley)
Best Defense department of getting real, people.

Beijing Moves Boldly, Calculates Carefully
(The Wall Street Journal: Andrew Browne)
Beijing's latest aggressive moves in the South China Sea that have so alarmed the U.S. and China's neighbors appear to be the result not of policy confusion but deliberate planning.

The Obama Doctrine & the Pivot to Asia
(Real Clear Defense: Ralph Cossa)
President Obama's commencement address appears to have been intended to send Americans and the international community a number of important messages.

From Small Unit Leaders to Rugged Diplomats
(Real Clear Defense: Steve Thomas)
Overcoming the tactical-strategic divide in U.S. foreign policy.

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Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Keeps me informed about national leadership concerns."

Senior Military Officer

The best!"

Mark, Compensation Analyst

Timely and informative."

Dave, HR specialist

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

AJ, US Army Officer

Sign up form for the newsletter