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The VA's Ticking Time Bomb? Inside the Squabble to Sink the LCS, False Report Forces Base Lockdown The VA's Ticking Time Bomb? Inside the Squabble to Sink the LCS, False...

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The VA's Ticking Time Bomb? Inside the Squabble to Sink the LCS, False Report Forces Base Lockdown

By Jordain Carney ( @jordainc)

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

 

Does the VA Have More Secret, Deadly Wait Lists?
(The Daily Beast: Jacob Siegel)
A single, secret wait list contributed to the deaths of dozens of veterans in a single VA hospital. Insiders say there could be many, many more such lists.

Shinseki Orders Audit of VA Clinics; House Committee Subpoenas Him for Emails on Phoenix VA
(Associated Press: Pauline Jelinek)
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki will testify May 15 before the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Behind-the-Scenes Squabble to Sink the LCS
(Politico: Austin Wright)
The provision pitted two familiar foes against each other: Boeing and rival aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, which builds the LCS along with Austal USA.

 

Report That Triggered Lockdown at Dover AFB 'False'
(The Delaware News Journal: Esteban Parra, Jeff Montgomery)
A nearly four-hour lockdown at Dover Air Force Base caused by a report of a suspicious person spotted on the premises turned out to be based on a false report.

Obama Policy Bans Employee Use of Leaked Material
(The New York Times: Charlie Savage)
Current and former intelligence officials may not cite in their speeches or writings any news reports based on unauthorized disclosures.

CONGRESS

HASC OKs $600B in 2015 DOD Spending
(Army Times: John Bennett)
That includes a $495.8 billion base Pentagon budget level and $79.4 billion more for an overseas contingency operations budget.

What Stays—and What Goes—in NDAA
(Politico: Philip Ewing, Jeremy Herb, Austin Wright)
The House's largest committee has finished its work, but the annual defense policy bill typically undergoes a major transformation all the way up to the point it actually passes.

 

House Votes to Open New Benghazi Investigation
(Associated Press)
A bitterly divided House voted 232 to 186 to approve a measure opening a new investigation of the deadly assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.

Democrats to Meet Friday on Benghazi Committee Appointments
(Roll Call: Emma Dumain)
Democrats have been grappling among themselves over whether the best move politically would be to boycott the committee entirely.

INTELLIGENCE

House Panel Advances Bill on NSA Collection of Phone Data
(The New York Times: Charlie Savage)
The panel decided to abandon its own version of legislation to replace the program and instead embrace a bill developed by the House Judiciary Committee.

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Report Takes Closer Look at Security Clearances
(Politico: Leigh Munsil)
Under pressure to keep a closer eye on security clearances, the government is taking a new approach to reporting that data, focusing on the difference between "cleared" and "in access."

German Lawmakers Want to Interview Snowden
(Associated Press: Kirsten Grieshaber)
Snowden has reportedly indicated he is willing to testify, but it is not yet clear whether the committee will invite him to Germany or interview him via video conference.

Ex-NSA Chief Keith Alexander Seeks Post-Snowden Second Act
(Politico: Darren Samuelsohn, Joseph Marks)
Former National Security Agency chief Gen. Keith Alexander is launching a consulting firm for financial institutions looking to address cybersecurity threats.

UKRAINE/RUSSIA

Further Sanctions Against Russia Are Outlined, Tied to Ukraine's Presidential Election
(The Washington Post: Anne Gearan)
These sectoral sanctions would be tailored to address particular areas of Russian trade vulnerability.

Congress Panel Says U.S. Must Push Harder in Ukraine
(USA Today: Oren Dorell)
Members of Congress urged that Russia be hit with stronger economic sanctions to ease a worsening situation in Ukraine.

Separatists in Ukraine Vow to Proceed With Autonomy Vote
(The New York Times: C. J. Chivers, David Herszenhorn)
Leaders of pro-Russian groups in eastern Ukraine said they would go ahead with a vote seeking autonomy on May 11, despite a plea from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to postpone the referendum.

Putin Oversees Russian Nuclear Exercise Amid Ukraine Tensions
(CBS News/Associated Press)
Russian news wires said that the exercises simulated dealing a massive retaliatory nuclear strike in response to an enemy attack.

Russia Test-Fires 'Several' Ballistic Missiles
(Agence France-Presse)
Putin stressed in televised comments that the war games had been planned in November.

Lawmakers Mull Biological-Weapons Threat From Russia
(Time: Alex Rogers)
A House subcommittee heard from an array of experts on the potential threat of Russian biological weapons.

Putin to Face Western Leaders at D-Day Anniversary
(Associated Press: Julie Pace)
The June 6 commemoration would mark the first time Putin and Western leaders have come face-to-face since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine.

EUROPE

U.S. Commandos Head to Baltics, Europe for Training
(Associated Press: Lolita Baldor)
About 200 U.S. special operations forces and support staff will be participating in training exercises across Europe and the three Baltic nations in the coming months.

U.S. Army Sends Its Best Tanks to European War Game
(War Is Boring: Joe Trevithick)
Armor troops practice full-scale fighting in Germany.

U.S. Frigate Visits Georgia Amid Regional Tensions
(Stars and Stripes)
The USS Taylor will host ship tours and a reception for Georgian officials.

MIDDLE EAST

U.S. Sanctions Russian Bank Over Syria Conflict
(The Wall Street Journal: Jay Solomon)
The U.S. Treasury is targeting Russia's Tempbank and a senior executive at the firm for allegedly helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his efforts to put down a rebellion against his rule.

Official: 16 Containers of Dangerous Syrian Chemicals Are in Contested, Inaccessible Area
(Associated Press)
It's not possible to arrange a cease-fire so authorities can get to the site where 8 percent of Syria's declared stockpile is awaiting removal.

Obama Addresses the Limits of Using Power in Syria and Nigeria
(The New York Times: Michael Schmidt)
On a fund-raising trip to California this week, the president offered a candid assessment of the powers of the presidency and its limits.

Iraq's Greatest Test Since U.S. Exit Is Resurgent Conflict in Anbar Province
(The Washington Post: Loveday Morris)
The Iraqi army is plagued by mass defections and a steady flow of militants crossing the Syrian border

AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN

Afghan Taliban Promises to Strike NATO Troops, Western Contractors in Coming Days
(The Washington Post: Sayed Salahuddin)
The Taliban said the attacks would begin Monday and continue into the summer as part of a final push to "completely cleanse" Afghanistan of foreign influence.

CIA's Plan to Retrench in Afghanistan Worries U.S. Military
(Los Angeles Times: David Cloud)
U.S. military officials are upset by a CIA plan to retrench its operations in Afghanistan.

Pakistan Frees FBI Agent Detained at Airport
(Associated Press: Adil Jawad)
The arrest had threatened to open a new chapter in troubled relations between Pakistan and the U.S.

ASIA/PACIFIC

China Blames U.S. for Stoking Tensions in South China Sea
(Reuters: Ben Blanchard)
The United States has called China's deployment of the rig "provocative and unhelpful" to security in the region, urging restraint on all sides.

White House Criticizes North Korea Over Racist Screed Against Obama
(The Washington Post: Chico Harlan, Zachary Goldfarb)
The rant, published in Korean, calls Obama "a crossbreed with unclear blood," among other epithets.

Seoul: North Korea Preparing for Fourth Nuclear Test
(Associated Press: Hyung-Jin Kim)
But South Korea's defense minister added that it could be a bluff

Report: Downed Drones Were North Korean Spy Effort
(Stars and Stripes: Ashley Rowland)
The drones were trying to gain visual intelligence of South Korea and test whether its air defense system could detect small objects.

STATE DEPARTMENT

Career Diplomats: Collateral Damage From 'Nuclear Option'
(The Washington Post: Al Kamen)
Career nominees at the Senate have waited about 250 days so far on average, even though they are nonpartisan and their hostage value is thus pretty close to nil.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

Joint Chiefs Divide Over Cuts to Commissary Savings
(Stars and Stripes: Tom Philpott)
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos called the proposal to cut commissary appropriations "a sore point for me."

Report: Pentagon Paid $150 Per Gallon for Green Jet Fuel
(Washington Free Beacon: Lachlan Markay)
GAO's report examined the financial challenges facing increased purchases and use of alternative jet fuels by federal agencies. 

ARMY

Army Hairstyle Regulations Could Be Trimmed Over Race Concerns
(The Guardian: Amanda Holpuch)
Lawmakers are working to block the Army's new hairstyle standards from being enforced.

NAVY

Former Truman Sailor Charged in Massive Hacking Case
(The Virginian-Pilot: Tim McGlone)
A former sailor led an antigovernment hacking group that breached computer systems and then posted personal details of thousands of service members and citizens for the public to see.

AIR FORCE

Kadena Air Base: We Could Take Godzilla
(Air& Space Magazine: Rebecca Maksel)
The Air Force's largest combat wing is ready to master the mayhem.

Air Force Officer Gets Jail Time, Dismissal in Drugs Case
(Stars and Stripes: Adam Mathis)
First Lt. Stephanie Frick pleaded guilty to charges of using and distributing Ecstasy and mushrooms containing psilocybin.

INDUSTRY

Northrop Grumman, Yamaha Motor USA Collaborate on Unmanned Helicopter System
(Seapower Magazine)
The Rotary-Bat can be used for rapid-deployment search and rescue.

VETERANS

Boehner Won't Join Calls for Shinseki to Resign
(The Hill: Russell Berman)
Although he stopped short of calling for Shinseki's resignation, the speaker didn't give him a vote of confidence, either.

Texas Whistle-Blower Speaks to VA Investigators on Vet Wait-Time Claims
(Austin American-Statesman: Jeremy Schwartz)
The clerk said he was told to change records indicating a 29-day wait for an appointment to make it appear that the wait time fell within the VA's goal of 14 days.

Study: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Struggle With Access to Food
(Minneapolis Star Tribune: Mark Brunswick)
More than one-fourth of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans don't have consistent access to sufficient food.

FLOTUS Will Meet Veterans With Landrieu
(The Hill: Justin Sink)
The first lady and Landrieu will meet with the spouses of veterans to hear their firsthand accounts "of the transition of families from active duty military to veteran status."

TERRORISM

The Terror Camp That Wasn't
(Politico: Phil Hirschkorn)
Were these 160 acres of Oregon farmland a jihadist training ground, or an elaborate scam?

Lawyers Call to Rule Out Boston Marathon Bomb Suspect's Hospital Statements
(Associated Press)
He was questioned for 36 hours in a hospital room while suffering from gunshot wounds and without being told his rights.

AFRICA

Crimes Against Humanity by Both Sides in South Sudan Conflict: U.N.
(Reuters: Michelle Nichols)
The 62-page report called for further investigations after finding reasonable grounds to believe both parties in the conflict had violated international human rights and humanitarian law.

Nigerian Abductions Put Scrutiny on U.S. Terrorism Strategy
(The New York Times: Michael Gordon)
The abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria has led to new scrutiny of the United States' counterterrorism strategy toward Boko Haram during Hillary Rodham Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.

Hillary's State Department Refused to Brand Boko Haram as Terrorists
(The Daily Beast: Josh Rogin)
Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department repeatedly declined to fully go after the terror group claiming responsibility for kidnapping hundreds of girls.

AMERICAS

Congress, White House Spar Over Venezuela Sanctions for Human-Rights Violations
(Reuters: Patricia Zengerle)
A State Department official said it was too soon, just a month into the talks, to impose targeted sanctions, such as visa restrictions or freezing assets of individuals.

Official: Canada Revisiting Ballistic-Missile Defense
(Agence France-Presse)
Canada is revisiting a decade-old decision not to join the U.S. ballistic-missile defense program.

ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

Obama's Foreign Policy 'Failures': A Word for the Defense
(The New Yorker: John Cassidy)
If you examine what Obama has done rather than what he has said, most of it fits the realist rubric.

Obama's Lack of Heart
(The Washington Post: Fareed Zakaria)
The president has been too restrained on foreign policy.

China Answers Obama
(The Wall Street Journal)
An 80-ship flotilla plants a Chinese oil rig in Vietnamese waters.

Benghazi Needs Deeper Scrutiny
(USA Today: Rep. Trey Gowdy)
Benghazi matters because four of our fellow citizens were murdered under terrifying circumstances.

How Ukraine Will Get Crimea Back
(The New Republic: Myroslav Marynovych)
Russia's imperial ambitions stand on nothing but gas money and propaganda, and those ambitions are becoming increasingly anachronistic.

Syria's Jigsaw as Complicated as Ever
(The Guardian: Ian Black)
Will diplomatic initiatives change the status quo amid recent advances by both government forces and the armed opposition?

Former Israeli Nuclear Head: No Iran Bomb for 10 Years—If They Even Want It
(The National Interest: Trita Parsi)
A statement highlights the Netanyahu government's tenuous position.

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Senior Military Officer

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