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West Close to Iran Nuke Deal, Hagel Weighs Realigned Budget, NSA/Cyber Command L... West Close to Iran Nuke Deal, Hagel Weighs Realigned Budget, NSA/... West Close to Iran Nuke Deal, Hagel Weighs Realigned Budget, NSA/Cyber... West Close to Iran Nuke D...

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Early Bird

West Close to Iran Nuke Deal, Hagel Weighs Realigned Budget, NSA/Cyber Command Leadership Split?

November 7, 2013

By Sara Sorcher (@SaraSorcherNJ) and Dustin Volz (@dnvolz)

EDITOR'S NOTE: 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.

WEST CLOSE TO TEMPORARY NUCLEAR DEAL WITH IRAN, OFFICIAL SAYS
(The New York Times; Michael Gordon)
A senior Obama administration official said Wednesday that the United States was prepared to offer Iran limited relief from economic sanctions if Tehran agreed to halt its nuclear program and reversed part of it.

U.S.-IRAN THAW GREW FROM YEARS OF BEHIND-THE-SCENES TALKS
(The Wall Street Journal; Jay Solomon, Carol Lee) 
President Obama's phone call with Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani earlier this fall was more intricately choreographed than previously disclosed.

 

INSPECTORS SAY SYRIA CHEMICAL SITE ABANDONED
(Associated Press; Mike Corder)
Chemical weapons inspectors say Syria has provided video and photographic evidence that shows a chemical weapons site near war-torn Aleppo has been dismantled and abandoned.

CUTS HAVE HAGEL WEIGHING REALIGNED MILITARY BUDGET
(The New York Times; Thom Shanker)
Under pressure from the threat of nearly $1 trillion in forced spending reductions, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the days of automatic, equitable allotment to the Army, Air Force and Navy may be over.

U.S. WEIGHS PROPOSAL TO END DUAL LEADERSHIP ROLE AT NSA, CYBER COMMAND
(The Washington Post; Ellen Nakashima)
The Obama administration is considering ending a controversial policy that has placed one military official at the head of both the nation's largest spy agency and its cyber-operations command.

KERRY TO STAY EXTRA DAY IN MIDEAST, MEET NETANYAHU
(Associated Press)
Secretary of State John Kerry has decided to stay an extra day in the Mideast on his latest trip to salvage Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

IRAN

U.S. SEEKING FREEZE IN IRAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM DURING NEGOTIATIONS
(Los Angeles Times; Paul Richter)
Negotiations on Iran's nuclear capabilities this week will focus on reaching an interim deal that halts the program during the months it may take for a comprehensive agreement to be worked out.

IRAN, U.S. NUKE TALKS PLOW AHEAD AS JEWISH GROUPS PAUSE ON SANCTIONS
(Breaking Defense; Michael Adler)
The United States has apparently won a two-month pause on demanding new sanctions from four U.S. groups it met with last week, including the powerful AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League.

IRAN'S EBADI CRITICIZES ROUHANI'S RIGHTS RECORD
(Associated Press; Edith Lederer)
The Nobel Peace laureate strongly criticized the human rights record of President Hassan Rouhani, citing a dramatic increase in executions since he took office this year.

CONGRESS

GILLIBRAND ANTICIPATES FILIBUSTER THREAT OVER MILITARY SEXUAL-ASSAULT AMENDMENT
(National Journal; Stacy Kaper)
Gillibrand is asking to only have to meet a simple majority of 51 votes, arguing her amendment to the defense-authorization bill is germane.

SEN. BOB CORKER MOVES TO STOP OBAMA FROM LIFTING IRAN SANCTIONS
(The Daily Beast; Josh Rogin)
Emerging legislation from Republican Sen. Bob Corker could block Obama from easing sanctions on Iran and create tougher conditions for reaching an interim deal with Tehran.

NAVY NOMINEE ENSNARED IN FIGHT ON MILITARY POLICY
(Associated Press; Donna Cassata)
President Barack Obama's nominee for a top civilian job in the Navy is in the crosshairs of female senators determined to overhaul the military justice system to stanch the increasing number of sexual assaults.

CIA CONTRACTOR TESTIMONY COULD UNDERMINE OBAMA ON BENGHAZI
(The Daily Beast; Eli Lake)
A House committee this week will hear from the CIA contractors who rescued Americans on the 9/11 anniversary attack, and their testimony could challenge a key administration timeline.

SENATOR PUSHES FOR PROTECTION FROM DRONES' PRYING EYES
(National Journal; Dustin Volz)
Sen. Edward Markey introduced a bill this week that would require law-enforcement agencies to earn a warrant before conducting any surveillance via any unmanned aircraft.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

REPORTS OF MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT RISE SHARPLY
(The New York Times; Jennifer Steinhauer) 
Reports of sexual assault in the military increased sharply during the last fiscal year, new Pentagon figures showed Wednesday, just weeks before a defense bill with provisions to tackle the problem is expected to reach the Senate floor.

'SIGNIFICANT CHANGE' AHEAD FOR DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
(Politico; Philip Ewing)
Hagel said that after battling for three years, military commanders should prepare the Defense Department to live for the next decade under sequestration.

A BREAKDOWN OF THE PENTAGON'S TOP 6 PRIORITIES
(Politico; Philip Ewing)
Hagel has given six "priorities" to service secretaries and chiefs as well as combatant commanders as the Pentagon prepares to try to move ahead under sequestration.

MIDDLE EAST

KERRY TRIES TO REKINDLE ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN TALKS
(The Wall Street Journal; Joshua Mitnick)
Kerry devoted a day of shuttle diplomacy between Israelis and Palestinians in an effort to defuse a crisis in peace talks exacerbated by recent Israeli plans to expand settlements in disputed territory.

OBAMA PICKS AMBASSADORS TO SAUDI ARABIA, HUNGARY
(Associated Press)
Obama says he intends to nominate Joseph William Westphal, undersecretary of the Army since 2009, to fill the critical Middle Eastern diplomatic post.

SAUDI NUCLEAR WEAPONS 'ON ORDER' FROM PAKISTAN
(BBC; Mark Urban)
Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, according to BBC Newsnight.

SAUDI ARABIA'S SHADOW WAR
(Foreign Policy; David Kenner)
The Kingdom is turning to Pakistan to train Syria's rebels. It's a partnership that once went very wrong in Afghanistan.

YASSER ARAFAT MAY HAVE BEEN POISONED WITH POLONIUM, TESTS SHOW
(The Guardian; Angelique Chrisafis, Harriet Sherwood)
The first forensic tests on samples taken from Yasser Arafat's corpse have shown unexpectedly high levels of radioactive polonium-210, suggesting the Palestinian leader could have been poisoned with the rare and lethal substance.

SYRIA

CHEMICAL WEAPONS WATCHDOG VERIFIES PREVIOUSLY INACCESSIBLE SYRIAN SITE: DOCUMENT
(Reuters; Anthony Deutsch)
Global chemical weapons watchdog inspectors using footage from sealed cameras have verified one of two remaining sites declared by Syria.

RUSSIANS MEET WITH AN UNCLE OF ASSAD TO JUMP-START PEACE TALKS
(The New York Times; Anne Barnard)
As American diplomacy on the war in Syria flounders, unable to deliver the main exile opposition group to proposed peace talks, Russian officials on Wednesday stepped up their efforts to promote alternate opposition figures.

INTELLIGENCE

CIA IS SAID TO PAY AT&T FOR CALL DATA 
(The New York Times; Charlie Savage)
The CIA is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company's vast database of phone records, which includes Americans' international calls, according to government officials.

UK SPY CHIEFS TO BE QUIZZED IN PUBLIC FOR FIRST TIME ON SNOWDEN
(Reuters; Andrew Osborn)
Britain's intelligence chiefs will give their first-ever public testimony on Thursday when they are cross-examined together in parliament about the Snowden case.

WORLD WIDE WEB INVENTOR CONDEMNS ENCRYPTION CRACKING BY SPY AGENCIES
(The Guardian; Ed Pilkington)
Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist who created the world wide web, has called for a "full and frank public debate" over internet surveillance by the National Security Agency and its British counterpart, GCHQ.

AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN

EXPERTS: MISSILE TEST FIRING SHOWS DEVELOPMENT COMPLETE
(Defense News; Usman Ansari)
The October test of Pakistan's 'Nasr' missile shows its development has been completed and the command-and-control systems are in place, allowing it to be deployed.

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF IS FREED FROM HOUSE ARREST IN PAKISTAN
(Wall Street Journal; Saeed Shah) 
Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf was freed from house arrest after posting bail Wednesday, though he remains banned from leaving the country.

U.S. TRASHES, SELLS ITS UNWANTED GEAR IN AFGHANISTAN
(Associated Press; Kathy Gannon)
The withdrawing U.S. military is destroying most of the equipment it is leaving behind in Afghanistan after 13 years of war, selling the scrap for millions of dollars to those willing to buy it.

INDUSTRY

MEADS COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL TEST; POLAND CONSIDERING BUYING IN
(Defense News; Paul McLeary)
Officials from the Polish government were on hand Wednesday for a test of the Medium Extended Air Defense System as it successfully intercepted and destroyed two targets simultaneously at the White Sands Missile range in New Mexico.

BAE TO CLOSE PORTSMOUTH NAVAL YARD AS UK RESTRUCTURES SHIPBUILDING
(Defense News; Andrew Chuter)
BAE Systems will end naval shipbuilding at its Portsmouth yard in England, as part of a restructuring of Britain's maritime capabilities.

AIR FORCE

MORE UNMANNED AIRCRAFT PILOTS BEING PROMOTED
(Air Force Times; Jeff Schogol)
Some recent promotion boards have selected more unmanned aircraft pilots to advance than mobility pilots, according to figures provided by the Air Force Personnel Center.

BILLBOARD URGES ACADEMY TO DROP 'GOD' LANGUAGE
(Air Force Times; Stephen Losey)
A new billboard near the Air Force Academy is urging the academy to drop the words "so help me God" completely from its honor oath.

KC-46 CAME WITHIN 24 HOURS OF CONTRACT BREACH DURING SHUTDOWN
(Air Force Times; Aaron Mehta)
During the shutdown, the Pentagon came within 24 hours of breaching its contract on the KC-46 tanker replacement.

ARMY

3-STAR SEEN AS TRYING TO BLOCK AFGHAN HOSPITAL PROBE RETIRES AT RANK
(Army Times; Joe Gould)
Three-star general Lt. Gen William B. Caldwell IV has retired and kept his rank even after an inspector general found he tried to block his subordinates from communicating with inspectors about patient abuse and corruption at a large Afghan hospital.

THREE-YEAR CAMO SEARCH STALLS - FOR NOW
(Army Times; Lance Bacon)
To identify a new camouflage pattern the Army has invested three years, an estimated $10 million and a detailed evaluation by nearly a thousand soldiers. The result as of now? Nothing.

NAVY

WOMEN HEADED TO NAVY RIVERINE COMBAT JOBS
(Associated Press; Lolita Baldor)
By year's end, Anna Schnatzmeyer and five others are expected to become the first women formally assigned to a Riverine combat company, a battlefront Navy job that is just now opening up to women.

THIRD NAVY OFFICIAL ARRESTED IN BRIBERY PROBE
(The Washington Post; Craig Whitlock)
Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, 41, allegedly delivered classified and other sensitive information to a major defense contractor in exchange for prostitutes, luxury travel and more than $100,000 in cash.

NEW NCIS LEADER CREATING SWAT TEAMS TO COUNTER MASS SHOOTERS
(Navy Times; Sam Fellman)
Andrew Traver said the creation of the units must be a top priority, as he expects more mass shooting attempts will occur.

AMPHIB NEW YORK TO VISIT NAMESAKE CITY FRIDAY
(Navy Times)
The amphibious transport dock New York will bring its sailors and Marines to its namesake city this weekend, in time to celebrate Veterans Week.

HOMELAND SECURITY

SHOULD TSA OFFICERS HAVE GUNS?
(Government Executive; Eric Katz)
Federal officials will investigate airport security policies in light of last week's shooting at Los Angeles International Airport, including whether Transportation Security Administration officers should carry guns.

AMERICAN HIJACKER IN CUBA RETURNS HOME TO FACE U.S. AUTHORITIES AFTER NEARLY 30 YEARS
(Associated Press)
An American who hijacked an airliner to Cuba nearly 30 years ago as a self-described revolutionary flew back home Wednesday to face U.S. justice.

DETAINEES

U.S. MUST TURN OVER GUANTANAMO REPORTS
(Associated Press)
A U.S. military judge on Wednesday ordered the U.S. government to turn over confidential reports compiled by the International Committee of the Red Cross on conditions at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

VETERANS

STARBUCKS AIMS TO HIRE 10,000 VETS, ACTIVE-DUTY SPOUSES OVER 5 YEARS
(Seattle Times; Amy Martinez)
The coffee company also says its store near Joint Base Lewis-McChord will share revenue with a nonprofit program aiding vets.

VA MEETS GOAL OF HIRING 800 MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS
(Army Times; Patricia Kime)
The Veterans Affairs Department has met a goal mandated by President Obama to hire 800 veteran peer-to-peer counselors.

ANALYSIS/COMMENTARY

WHY THE U.S. SHOULD GO FOR A GRAND BARGAIN WITH IRAN
(National Journal; Michael Hirsh)
It's all but impossible and will take years, but it must be tried: Tehran holds the key to the whole region.

THE U.S., NOT IRAN, HAS THE UPPER HAND IN NUCLEAR NEGOTIATIONS
(The Washington Post; Ray Takeyh)
It is important to have a proper estimation of the Islamic Republic — a second-rate power with a third-rate nuclear program.

LAWMAKERS MUST UNDERSTAND THEIR LIMITS WHEN IT COMES TO REFORMING THE NSA
(The Washington Post; Walter Pincus)
As Congress considers reforms in the NSA's collection of electronic intelligence, the focus should be on legislation protecting the privacy of U.S. citizens, not foreigners overseas, no matter who the foreigners are or what positions they hold.

THE A-TEAM KILLINGS
(Rolling Stone; Matthieu Aikins)
Last spring, the remains of 10 missing Afghan villagers were dug up outside a U.S. Special Forces base – was it a war crime or just another episode in a very dirty war?

U.S, TURKEY STILL SPLIT ON SYRIA
(National Interest; Morton Abramowitz, Omer Zarpli)
Syria has become Turkish prime minister Erdogan's albatross. It also continues to undermine American-Turkish relations.


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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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