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Early Bird

Ukraine Pulls Military From Crimea, Tale of Two Wish Lists, Did Tech Firms Know NSA Collected Data?

March 20, 2014

By Sara Sorcher (@SaraSorcherNJ) and 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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Ukraine Orders Its Military Out of Crimea Held by Russia
(Bloomberg: Daryna Krasnolutska, Daria Marchak)
Ukraine said it would pull its military out of Crimea and fortify its eastern border with Russia as European leaders struggled to come up with a unified response to punish Vladimir Putin for annexing the breakaway Black Sea region.

Ukraine to Hold Military Exercises With U.S., U.K.
(Associated Press: Peter Leonard)
Ukraine's security chief says that the country will hold joint military exercises with the United States and Britain.

U.S. Tech Giants Knew of NSA Data Collection, Agency's Top Lawyer Insists
(The Guardian: Spencer Ackerman)
NSA general counsel Rajesh De contradicts months of angry denials from big companies like Yahoo and Google.

A Tale of Two Wish Lists
(National Journal: Sara Sorcher, Jordain Carney, Stacy Kaper)
National Journal has outlined some of the key defense programs the Pentagon and Congress have in their dueling wish lists for next year—and what they would cost.

RUSSIA/UKRAINE

Obama Rules Out 'Military Excursion' in Ukraine
(Reuters: Steve Holland, Mark Felsenthal)
President Barack Obama ruled out U.S. military involvement in Ukraine on Wednesday, emphasizing diplomacy in the U.S. standoff with Russia over Crimea.

U.S. Warship Extends Drills Across Black Sea From Crimea
(Reuters: Tsvetelia Tsolova)
A U.S. guided-missile destroyer carried out another round of navy drills in the Black Sea on Wednesday, the latest display of American military power just a few hundred miles away from Russian-annexed Crimea.

Biden to Russia: U.S. Will Defend Allies
(Associated Press: Josh Lederman)
Vice President Joe Biden declared Wednesday the United States will respond to any aggression against its NATO allies, as Russia's neighbors looked warily to the escalating crisis in nearby Ukraine.

Biden Signals Plans for More U.S. Drills in Baltics
(Stars and Stripes: John Vandiver)
The U.S. is crafting plans to deploy rotational ground troops and naval forces to the Baltics as part of an effort to bolster the capabilities of regional allies and reassure nations shaken by Russia's intervention in nearby Ukraine.

U.S. Defense Chief Praises Ukraine
(Reuters: Phil Stewart)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel praised the restraint of Ukraine's armed forces in the face of Moscow's takeover of the Crimean Peninsula during a phone call on Wednesday with his Ukrainian counterpart, the Pentagon said.

NATO Weighs Assistance for Ukraine to Dissuade Further Moves by Moscow
(The New York Times: Michael Gordon)
The secretary general of the alliance said that Ukraine had requested the aid, and that a decision on what to provide would be made at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in April.

U.S. Rations, Promised for Ukraine, Are Missing in Action
(The Daily Beast: Josh Rogin)
The only help Obama has offered the Ukrainian military are military rations, but those haven't even been sent yet, as Russian forces begin to attack Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea.

How Ukraine's Military Stacks Up Against Russia's
(The Atlantic: Charles Recknagel)
Russia has about four times as many soldiers as Ukraine does, twice as many tanks, and more than six times as many combat aircraft.

Ukraine's Crimea Base Taken, Commander Detained
(Associated Press: John-Thor Dahlburg)
Ukraine's military, which is heavily outnumbered in Crimea, has come under increased pressure since the region was nominally incorporated into Russia on Tuesday.

Ukraine to Leave Russia-Dominated Alliance
(Associated Press: Peter Leonard)
Ukraine's security chief says that the country has decided to leave Russia-dominated alliance of ex-Soviet nations.

Ukraine Crisis: E.U. Set to Extend Russia and Crimea Blacklist
(The Guardian: Ian Traynor, Dan Roberts)
An E.U. summit in Brussels today is likely to extend a blacklist of Russian and Crimean figures subject to travel bans and asset freezes, but is unlikely to embark on moves which could spiral into a full-blown trade war between Europe and Russia.

Is This the Mastermind Behind Russia's Crimea Grab?
(The Daily Beast: Anna Nemtsova, Eli Lake)
Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin's "gray cardinal," is at the top of the U.S. sanctions list. Is he pulling Putin's strings?

CONGRESS

In Defense Budget Hunger Games, What's on Congress's Wish List?
(National Journal: Sara Sorcher, Stacy Kaper)
Congress's pet priorities in the Defense budget don't always match Pentagon's. 

Congress Full of Ideas for Handling Russia, but Little Agreement
(Los Angeles Times: Lisa Mascaro)
Lawmakers are hammering President Obama for a stronger U.S. response to the crisis in Ukraine, but Congress has so far been unable to provide a unified course of action.

Sen. Robert Menendez: Europe Has 'Greatest Bite' in Responding to Russia
(The Hill: Rebecca Shabad)
Given Russia's economic ties with Europe, he said sanctions from European countries would have the greatest impact.

Begich: Military Presence in Arctic Is 'More Important Than Ever'
(The Hill: Ramsey Cox)
Sen. Mark Begich said tensions with Russia have made a strong military presence in the Arctic even more important to U.S. security.

INTELLIGENCE

Justice Dept. Is Cautious on Joining C.I.A. Fight
(The New York Times: Matt Apuzzo, Mark Mazzetti)
The Senate Intelligence Committee and the C.I.A. have been at loggerheads over the conclusions of a report on the intelligence agency's detention program.

Official: Sign-Off On NSA Queries Difficult
(The Washington Post: Ellen Nakashima)
A senior government lawyer said Wednesday that the high volume of searches that the National Security Agency makes of a database that holds Americans' and foreigners' communications would make court approval for queries involving Americans impractical.

CIA-Senate Spat Complicates Spying Oversight
(Associated Press: Eileen Sullivan)
The government's top intelligence lawyers on Wednesday renewed assurances that Congress is adequately monitoring U.S. surveillance programs.

Holder: No DOJ Decision Yet on CIA-Senate Flap Probe
(Politico: Josh Gerstein)
But the attorney general seemed to play down the significance of the referrals, and said it was not certain that a criminal probe would result.

Holder: We're on Track to Meet NSA Reform Deadline
(Politico: Josh Gerstein)
Holder confirmed that the White House has been receiving regular updates on the study.

What Did Snowden Tell Them?
(The Hill: Kristina Wong)
U.S. officials might not know for years whether former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden divulged war plans to China and Russia, intelligence experts say.

Snowden Makes Surprise TED Appearance, Called 'Hero' by Inventor of Web
(Fox News)
Edward Snowden said via video chat that "some of the most important reporting" on the National Security Agency has yet to come.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

Pentagon's Wish List Is All About Buildings, Training, and Aircraft
(National Journal: Jordain Carney
Army, Navy, and Air Force fight for different pieces of budget pie.

Hagel, CEOs Huddle Amid Sanctions Fears
(The Hill: Erik Wasson)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with leaders of major U.S. companies Wednesday as worry builds in the U.S. business community over sanctions on Russia in response to the Ukraine crisis.

Pentagon Withholds Internal Report About Flawed $2.7 Billion Intel Program
(Foreign Policy: Gordon Lubold, Shane Harris)
Why won't senior officials show Congress evidence of a cheaper, off-the-shelf alternative to the military's Afghan battlefield needs?

Force Development Adviser: Rep. McKeon's QDR Claims Are 'Debatable'
(Inside Defense)
One of the authors of the Pentagon's latest Quadrennial Defense Review has answered a number of criticisms leveled against the QDR by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon.

Security Clearance Reform Faces Hurdles
(Politico: Leigh Munsil)
Reforming the way the Pentagon manages its security clearances will be a daunting endeavor, industry advocates and government officials say.

FBI

FBI Joins Malaysia Jet Probe as Simulator Data Sought
(Bloomberg: David Fickling, Angus Whitley, Manirajan Ramasamy)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation joined Malaysia's inquiry into the missing jet as authorities sought to retrieve deleted data on a computer flight simulator belonging to the plane's pilot.

AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN

Will Afghanistan Security Take Backseat to Europe
(Associated Press: Lara Jakes)
With Russia pushing new hostilities to Europe's doorstep, U.S. and NATO officials are trying to gauge whether already dwindling resources and attention will be diverted from what, until now, has been a top security priority: Afghanistan.

IG: U.S. May Be Paying 'Ghost Workers' in Afghan Police Force
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
The U.S. military might be paying the salaries of "ghost workers" in the Afghanistan police force, the U.S. watchdog in Afghanistan said.

U.S. Hopes to Complete Ill-Fated Afghan Dam Project as Pullout Nears
(Stars and Stripes: Cid Standifer)
USAID is taking one more shot at finishing Kajaki Dam, a project that has thwarted American plans and drained its coffers for a decade.

Lawsuit: Karzai Tipped Taliban Off Before Attack
(The Hill: Jeremy Herb)
The families of three Navy SEALs who were killed in a 2011 helicopter crash claim Afghan forces informed the Taliban about the mission beforehand, disputing the Pentagon version of events.

What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden
(New York Times Magazine: Carlotta Gall)
It took more than three years before the depth of Pakistan's relationship with al-Qaida was thrust into the open and the world learned where Bin Laden had been hiding.

IRAN

Iran Ready to Remove Fears Over Arak Reactor
(Associated Press: George Jahn)
Iran's foreign minister said that Tehran is ready to eliminate fears that a reactor it is building could be used to make atomic arms.

Russian Diplomat: Moscow May Strike Back at the West by Changing Its Stance on Iran
(Associated Press)
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was by the Interfax news agency saying that Russia didn't want to use the Iranian nuclear talks to "raise stakes," but may have to do so in response to the actions by the United States and the European Union.

MIDDLE EAST

State Department Rips Israeli Defense Minister Comments
(Associated Press)
The Obama administration on Wednesday vented its anger at public insults and criticism of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry by Israel's defense minister.

Jailed Militant Key to Mideast Talks
(Associated Press: Mohammed Daraghmeh)
A prominent Palestinian uprising leader imprisoned by Israel could soon emerge as the key to keeping fragile U.S.-led peace efforts alive.

NAVY

Woman in Naval Academy Sex-Assault Case Testifies
(Associated Press: Jessica Gresko)
Attorneys for a former Naval Academy football player charged with sexual assault grilled his accuser on the witness stand Wednesday, questioning why she didn't initially cooperate with investigators.

ARMY

General Apologizes to Sexual-Misconduct Victims
(The New York Times: Richard Oppel Jr.)
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair offered his first apology to the victims of his sexual misconduct and to the Army, tearfully saying that he "felt a deep and abiding sense of shame and remorse."

Army Gen. Sinclair Breaks Down, Asks Judge to Not Punish Family
(Los Angeles Times: David Zucchino)
Sinclair broke down in tears at his sentencing hearing, asking the judge to allow him to retire at a reduced rank instead of dismissing him from the Army, which would deprive him of military benefits and "punish" his family for his adulterous affair with a captain.

Army General Could Learn Fate in Sex Case Thursday
(Associated Press: Michael Biesecker)
An Army general who admitted breaking military law during improper relationships with three subordinates was expected to learn his punishment Thursday.  

MARINE CORPS

Amos Reconsiders Renaming MARSOC After Raiders
(Military.com: Matthew Cox)
U.S. Marine special operators could soon be known as Raiders—the name the Corps' original commando battalions went by during World War II.

AIR FORCE

New Threats, New Technologies Push New USAF Radar Program
(Defense News: Aaron Mehta)
A timeline included in the budget notes a goal to get 3DELRR out for initial deployment by fiscal 2020.

90 Lieutenant Colonels, 131 Colonels Selected for Early Retirement
(Air Force Times: Markie Harwood)
The officers were notified of their selection Jan. 23 and are assigned a July 1 retirement date.

INDUSTRY

Pentagon Holds Back $231 Million From Lockheed for F-35 Fixes
(Bloomberg Tony Capaccio)
The money is being held back until Lockheed, the largest U.S. contractor, corrects "major variances" in at least five areas in which changes were deemed necessary after the fighters were handed over to the military.

DOD Expands LRASM Development, Rebuffs Alternate Bids From Raytheon, Kongsberg
(Inside Defense)
The Pentagon plans to award Lockheed Martin a major follow-on development contract to prepare the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile for production after rejecting bids from two other companies angling to supplant Lockheed's offering with alternative weapons.

POLITICS

Paul to Rebuke Obama on Spying, Citing '60s Abuses
(The New York Times: Jeremy Peters)
Sen. Rand Paul says President Obama should be particularly wary of domestic spying.

Hillary Clinton Warns of Russian Intimidation
(CBS News: Rebecca Kaplan)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Russia's "intimidation" may not stop with the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

VETERANS

More Veterans Taking Advantage of Post-9/11 GI Bill
(McClatchy: Lauren Kirkwood)
After the Post-9/11 GI Bill extended benefits to hundreds of thousands more veterans, benefit use skyrocketed in many places.

Feds Accused of Steering Funding to Anti-Pot Researchers
(McClatchy: Rob Hotakainen)
The situation may change: Federal officials last week approved a University of Arizona proposal that will let researchers try to determine whether smoking or vaporizing marijuana could help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

SYRIA

Russia, Syria Decry U.S. Closure of Syrian Embassy
(Reuters: Thomas Grove, Lesley Wroughton)
The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned the action as a violation of international diplomatic conventions in a statement carried by Syrian state television.

U.N. Stymied in Efforts to Take Aid to Syrians
(The New York Times: Somini Sengupta)
Despite a Security Council resolution ordering the unhindered flow of food and medicine into Syria, aid workers are struggling even to get across the border.

Chemical Watchdog: 45 Percent of Raw Materials for Chemical Weapons Removed From Syria
(Associated Press)
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons announced that two shipments were loaded onto cargo ships in recent days at Latakia port.

Syria Lags Surrendering Deadliest Chemical Arms
Global Security Newswire: Diane Barnes
Syria's regime recently handed over more of its chemical arms, but it has been slow to give up its deadliest substances, newly released figures indicate.

TERRORISM

Osama Bin Laden's Son-in-Law Recalls Terror Leader's 9/11 Boasts
(Time: Maya Rhodan)
The former al-Qaida spokesman testified during his trial that bin Laden proudly took responsibility during a conversation on the day of the attacks.

AFRICA

Army Team to Begin Libyan Training Prep
(Associated Press: Lolita Baldor)
A small team of soldiers will go into Libya in the coming weeks to begin preparations for a larger U.S. mission to train Libyan troops in Bulgaria, a senior Army official said.

The Mysterious Journey of the Libya Oil Tanker
(Reuters: Ulf Laessing, Jonathan Saul, Steve Stecklow, Lin Noueihed, David Sheppard)
What began late last year as a routine new assignment for Pakistani sea captain Mirza Noman Baig ended in a dramatic night-time rescue as U.S. special forces seized the ship his family said he was forced to operate by Libyan rebels.

EUROPE

Moscow Signals Concern for Russians in Estonia
(Reuters: Robert Evans)
Russia signaled concern on Wednesday at Estonia's treatment of its large ethnic Russian minority, comparing language policy in the Baltic state with what it said was a call in Ukraine to prevent the use of Russian.

ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

Obama Doesn't Understand Putin
(The Washington Post)
The Obama administration doesn't grasp the Russian leader's expansionist ambitions.

Making Putin Pay
(The Washington Post: Sen. Marco Rubio)
Moscow's actions demand a more forceful response from Obama and a united Congress.

It's Time to Award More Medals of Honor for Iraq Vets
(Defense One: Rep. Duncan Hunter)
For Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Defense Department, the fact that there has yet to be a living Medal of Honor recipient from the war in Iraq should sound alarm bells.

Bad Russia! The Limits of Shaming
(Time: Jeffrey Kluger)
Banishment and ostracism can be successful strategies—depending on who's being punished.

Security Insiders: Obama Has No Leverage Over Putin
(National Journal: Sara Sorcher)
When it comes to Crimea, experts say Obama can do little to dissuade Russia's leader.

Condi Rice: The U.S. Can't Step Back and Let Others Lead
(The Huffington Post: Nathan Gardels)
Rice said the United States should "lead from a position of strength and by example."

Obama Shouldn't Forget Our Man in Havana
(Bloomberg: Jeffrey Goldberg)
The dysfunctional U.S. relationship with Cuba is Washington's longest-running tragicomedy.

America's Internet Surrender
(The Wall Street Journal: L. Gordon Crovitz)
By unilaterally retreating from online oversight, the White House pleased regimes that want to control the Web.

For Air Force, Base-Closing Obstacles Are in Plane Sight
(The Washington Post: Walter Pincus)
Planes for where planes and their crews should move have changed repeatedly.

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