National Security

Panetta orders investigation into all DoD childcare centers

Is Hagel getting swiftboated on Israel?; State takes a hit on Benghazi from independent panel; The Kagans under fire; Jim Amos asks Syrian rebels to move their fight to the Pacific, and more.

Panetta has ordered an immediate investigation into all Defense Department childcare centers. After the Army found problems with the security background checks of some 30 employees of childcare facilities at a major base in Virginia, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the investigation of all centers to ensure that the caregivers at each location have been properly vetted.

"The extraordinary move comes more than two months after two childcare employees at Fort Myer were arrested by military police for allegedly assaulting two children on September 26, a defense official told the E-Ring," Kevin Baron writes. "But court documents revealed in October by a local television station showed the caregivers are accused of far worse than slapping. Local television station WJLA first reported in October that federal court documents allege that Rebecca Smallwood-Briscoe, 57, ‘pulled a 2-year-old boy across the floor by one leg several times' and that she ‘hit the face/chin area of a 2-year-old boy with her fist.' Sharon Blakeney allegedly hit ‘another 2-year-old boy in the head' while Tonya Fagan-Clarke allegedly knocked a boy to the floor by grabbing his arm violently and ‘picked up an 18-month-old girl by the arm and proceeded to drop her on her stomach.'" The E-Ring:

Welcome to Wednesday's edition of Situation Report. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at And sign up for Situation Report here: or just send me an e-mail and I'll put you on the list. And if you have a report, piece of news, or tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease.

Jeff Sinclair is headed to court-martial for adultery, forcible sodomy, and fraud. The case of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair is headed to general court martial and he'll be arraigned Jan. 22. The list of charges against Sinclair are long, but they include having sexual intercourse with a captain and then threatening her if she told anyone about the relationship, wrongfully engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a major, and forcible sodomy of a captain in Afghanistan. He faces prison time and or expulsion from the Army. The charges span five years in incidents at Fort Bragg, N.C. and Army posts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, and Kuwait, as well as on military flights, writes the Fayetteville Observer:

Sinclair's wife, Rebecca Sinclair, wrote an op-ed in the Post last month on how the strains of war lead to infidelity that was seen as some as self-serving:

State takes a hit on Benghazi. An independent panel knocked State pretty hard for "grossly inadequate" security arrangements in Benghazi in an unclassified version of a report released last night. The Cable's Josh Rogin: "Poor coordination in Washington and an overwhelming neglect of security risks at the U.S. mission in Benghazi exacerbated the damage caused by a ‘series of terrorist attacks' there on Sept. 11," according to the independent panel, which included former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and was chaired by retired ambassador Tom Pickering.

From the report: "Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place." Rogin points out that the "two bureaus" are the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, headed by Eric Boswell and Beth Jones respectively -- though neither is mentioned by name in the report.

Security at the diplomatic installation was not a "shared responsibility" between agencies in Washington charged with supporting the installation, "resulting in stove-piped discussions and decisions on policy and security."

On the autonomy Washington gave Amb. Chris Stevens: "The ambassador did not see a direct threat of an attack of this nature and scale on the U.S. mission in the overall negative trend line of security incidents from spring to summer 2012. His status as the leading U.S. government advocate on Libya policy and his expertise on Benghazi in particular, caused Washington to give unusual deference to his judgments."

On Washington's view of the Benghazi mission: "Board members found a pervasive realization among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests, especially those relating to staffing," the report said. "In the weeks and months leading up to the attacks, the response from post, Embassy Tripoli and Washington to a deteriorating security situation was inadequate."


The report:

A special relationship: the Kagans are under fire. The WaPo's Rajiv Chandrasekaran, in a lengthy Page Oner today, looks at the cozy relationship between David Petraeus and Kim and Fred Kagan, two well-known Washington think tankers who were given special access by Petraeus in Afghanistan. Fred, who is with the American Enterprise Institute, and Kim, who leads the Institute for the Study of War, put their jobs on hold for nearly a year to work for Petraeus in Afghanistan, living in Kabul, visiting the battlefield, reading classified intelligence reports, and advising Petraeus on strategy, creating confusion among his staff. "Their compensation from the U.S. government for their efforts, which often involved 18-hour workdays, seven days a week and dangerous battlefield visits? Zero dollars." Chandrasekaran reports that the Kagans wanted to remain "completely independent," as Fred told him, but "the extraordinary arrangement raises new questions about the access and influence Petraeus accorded to civilian friends while he was running the Afghan war."

Choice Q&A from Panetta's remarks at the Press Club yesterday: Q:  "As the former head of the CIA, please explain why General Petraeus was forced to resign, rather than a lesser punishment." Panetta: [laughing]:  You've got to be kidding me. You've got to be kidding me.  You know, in this town, with that kind of e-mail, do you think he could have survived as director of the CIA?  I don't think so."  

Ben Affleck testifies this morning on the Congo. The actor, most recently of "Argo" fame, will sit before the House Armed Services Committee to discuss the "evolving security situation" in the Congo and "implications for U.S. national security." He'll appear on a second panel, alongside Heritage's Jim Carafano and Jendayi Frazer, from Carnegie Mellon. The Pentagon's Derek Chollet, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, and Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, will appear on the first panel. Info plus "watch it live" link:

Jim Amos wants the Syrian rebels to take the fight to the Pacific. JK! The Duffel Blog, the military's Onion, reports that the Corps' top general held a presser "to address the increasing violence in Syria and to request that the Syrians somehow move their conflict to the Pacific Ocean." The blog reports: "Speaking from the Marine Barracks, General James F. Amos said that the Marine Corps would be more than willing to intervene in Syria provided it was in an amphibious capacity and off the coast of China." Amos, according to the blog: "For the past two years we've been saying that the Marine Corps is not a second land army, but they obviously didn't get the message. After a decade in which the Marine Corps conducted combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, we're eager to get back to our roots as an amphibious force in the Pacific -- not another land campaign in the Middle East."

Is Hagel getting swift-boated on Israel? The White House may nominate Chuck Hagel for defense secretary any day now, but we're told there may be second thoughts -- and even a new round of vetting - at the White House because of the concerns that Hagel's stance on Israel is shakier than some conservatives would like. Dana Milbank's piece this morning in the WaPo looks at the right wing's concerns, including those of Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard. In a post last week, a Republican senate aide was quoted, anonymously, as saying: "Hagel has made clear he believes in the existence of a nefarious Jewish lobby that secretly controls U.S. foreign policy. This is the worst kind of anti-Semitism there is." Some of the criticism of Hagel stems from a voting record that suggests he is soft on groups like Hezbollah and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, voting against designating the Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, for example, according to the NYT, attributing that to analysts, as well as comments he made in a book on the Middle East process, "The Much Too Promised Land," in which he seemed to refer to groups like AIPAC as the "Jewish lobby." Other pro-Israel groups have raised concerns. But even some pro-Israel groups, albeit liberal in their views, think the attacks against Hagel are unfair:

Jeremy Ben-Ami exec director of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group that defends Hagel, as quoted in the NYT this morning: "It is simply beyond disturbing to think that somebody of chuck Hagel's stature and significant record of national service is being slandered in this way."

Milbank, this morning, on Hagel's record: "He voted for the Iran Nonproliferation Act, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act and the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act. He co-sponsored resolutions opposing any unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and praising Israel's efforts ‘in the face of terrorism, hostility and belligerence by many of her neighbors.' He also co-sponsored legislation urging the international community ‘to avoid contact with and refrain from supporting the terrorist organization Hamas until it agrees to recognize Israel, renounce violence, disarm and accept prior agreements.' Such gestures won't satisfy the neocon hard-liners, and Hagel's occasional criticism of the Israeli military's excesses doesn't help. But this isn't indicative of anti-Semitism, or even of anti-Israel sentiments." Weekly Standard blog:  Milbank:

If Bravo could talk. Panetta, at the Press Club, on his dog and the secrets he's kept: "Sylvia and I with Bravo, when I was at our institute, we used to bring Bravo to work with us.  And so, you know, when I came back to these jobs, you know, Sylvia continued to bring Bravo there, and I used to bring Bravo back with me.  And he used to come to the office when I was CIA director.  And Bravo sat in on almost all of the meetings involving the operation against bin Laden.  And, you know, to this day, he hasn't told a damn soul what happened."




National Security

Pentagon: not so fast on the Vickers story

The Army’s plan to create platoons of Jason Bournes; Panetta talks strategy and sequester today; NBC’s Engel released; Mini red velvet cupcakes at State’s party, and more.

The Vickers story: not so fast, defense officials say. Last night, McClatchy reported that Pentagon investigators fingered Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Mike Vickers as having leaked "restricted information" to the makers of the film on bin Laden, "Zero Dark Thirty," and referred the case to the Justice Department. It was an eyebrow-raising moment for a man widely well-regarded and thought to be going places -- maybe to head CIA. The Pentagon's inspector general's office, according to the story, by Marisa Taylor and Jonathan Landay, said Vickers had provided the filmmakers the name of a U.S. Special Operations Command officer who had helped plan the May 2, 2011, raid on bin Laden's home in Pakistan. The identities of certain personnel can be classified, the article said.

Pentagon press secretary George Little was quick to push back. George Little confirmed that there is a DOD inspector general investigation "on the question of whether Mr. Vickers provided classified information in an interview with the filmmakers," But in an e-mail Little said the Pentagon has no knowledge of a pending investigation by the Justice Department.

"The McClatchy story published this evening concerning Mike Vickers, the Undersecretary for Intelligence, is misleading and unfair," he told Situation Report in the e-mail. The case surrounds an interview between Vickers and the filmmakers, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, set up by the Pentagon, to provide "strategic context" on the raid that killed bin Laden. A transcript of the interview, obtained by the group Judicial Watch, shows that Vickers revealed the name of a special operations officer involved in the raid.

But the transcript was released to Judicial Watch only after a "thorough and rigorous classification review" in response to the group's Freedom of Information Act request. The Pentagon's Office of Security Review -- which reviewed Stan McChrystal's book and many others -- consulted with the Joint Staff, U.S. Special Operations Command, the National Security Agency, and other "relevant components" within the department. "The review concluded that the transcript was unclassified in its totality, including with respect to the names of individuals mentioned in the course of the interview," Little said. Some names were redacted for privacy reasons, not because they are considered classified information.
"The story unfortunately leaves the impression that Mr. Vickers engaged in the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, something the Department simply did not find," Little said.

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Situation Report, where we note that a year ago American troops crossed the border out of Iraq, thus formally concluding that long conflict. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at And sign up for Situation Report here: or just send me an e-mail and I'll put you on the list. And if you have a report, piece of news, or tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease.

NBC's Richard Engel and crew are freed safely after five days of being held in captivity in Syria and now safe in Turkey.

The Army has a plan to make super soldiers. Killer Apps' John Reed tells us that Army futurists are considering ways to recruit troops that can be turned into "super-empowered" or "enhanced" troops who could be better thinkers and fighters. Reed: "The Army is thinking about turning you into Jason Bourne to convince you to enlist -- and then to enable you to fight better." Reed's report is based on an interview of an 0-6 from the Future Warfare Division at the Army's TRADOC. Explaining this new breed of soldier, Col. Kevin Felix told Reed: "He's super empowered, either chemically or through his training. You can create cognitive enhancements for individuals and that may be a way to recruit them because they can come into the military and get that kind of enhancement."

Help FP make its list of the top 50 National Security folks something you'd be proud to put under the tree. We are soliciting your ideas for people in the national security community who are bright, innovative, or influential -- people who make a difference, had a big impact in the past year, or will have a big impact in the year ahead. Bonus points for people who are less well known, behind-the-scenes types who nonetheless make their mark strategically, academically, or operationally. We can't give you a T-shirt, but we will offer complete confidentiality if you send us your ideas, and soon, to, or, or

Special people. OK, so we weren't the only ones who thought of it. Defense News released their top 100 most influential people over the weekend, and Tom Donilon, No. 1, beats out Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, and Mike Vickers (Nos. 2,3,4 and 5). Number 100? David Petraeus.

Daniel Inouye passed away. The highly decorated World War II vet and second-longest serving senator in history died at Walter Reed in Bethesda yesterday after respiratory complications, a spokesman said.

From the WaPo: "A methodical behind-the-scenes operator who rarely sought the media spotlight, he was little known outside Hawaii and the halls of the Capitol. But his wartime record, for which he received the nation's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor - coupled with his reputation for a bipartisan approach to politics - helped him gain respect from and influence with colleagues of both parties." WaPo:

One soldier remembers another: Dempsey on Inouye - "Senator Inouye exemplified the role of servant-leader, both in and out of uniform, and served as a true role model for so many Americans," Dempsey said in a statement. "While serving in the U.S. Senate for the State of Hawaii since 1962, Senator Inouye has been not only a friend to the military, but more importantly a strong advocate for our Veterans and our families.  His tireless efforts on support for our Veterans, particularly in healthcare and education, will greatly benefit thousands of military servicemembers and our families for years to come. Deanie and I pass our deepest sympathies to his family and to the great state of Hawaii in the passing of this great Soldier.  He is missed."

"Deaf, blind, and mute": A U.S. official tells the E-Ring's Kevin Baron that the satellite from the North Korean launch is already failing and falling from orbit. "We haven't completed our final assessment, but it's a good chance whatever they put up there is deaf, blind, and mute."

The DOD IG released its newsletter detailing newly completed investigations. They include one on "logistics support" for the Army's Stryker vehicles; another about how Navy officials retaliated against a reserve lieutenant who made "protected communications" but who endured "multiple unfavorable personnel actions"; and another about the Defense Contract Management Agency and Defense Contract Audit Agency on what exactly triggers an audit. There are also bits about a former Army major sentenced in a contract bribery scheme and an Iranian national charged with attempting to export military aircraft parts to Iran: "According to the indictment, [Moazami Goudarzi] attempted to purchase aircraft parts from an undercover agent and offered to pay more than market value because of the embargo on sending these parts to Iran."

CSBA releases a report later today by Todd Harrison and John Speed Meyers on "lessons learned in wartime contracting and expeditionary economics."  From the report: "If the United States embarks on another attempt at nation building, it may again be found ill prepared without a more concerted research effort into the economic reconstruction aspects of warfare, often referred to as expeditionary economics."

Today marks the day the last troops left Iraq. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta goes to the Press Club to speak at 12:30 to talk troops, readiness, strategy and sequester. The speech builds on discussions Panetta has had with his leadership team, including combatant commanders, the Joint Chiefs, and others, "on the progress that's been made implementing the strategy and the challenges that lie ahead," a defense official told Situation Report. He'll highlight two major issues: the strain of deployments and the need to ensure readiness, as well as the lack of budgetary stability and the shadow of sequester.

As the U.N. Security Council mulls a resolution to approve a multinational African force to help stabilize Mali, there continues to be much concern about the impact that al Qaeda in the Maghreb is having on the country and on the region. Mali, some fear, could become the next Afghanistan -- a hotbed for terrorist organizations whose influence could spread. The Pentagon is poised to provide much support through training, equipping, and logistical support. The U.N. resolution may be passed in the next week or so. This morning, Susanna Wing, Michael Shurkin, Stephanie Pezard, and Andrew Lebovich will all appear on a panel on Mali at the United States Institute of Peace to talk "causes and options." The panel will be moderated by USIP's Jon Temin.

Viola Gienger, formerly Pentagon reporter for Bloomberg, has joined USIP as a senior writer.

The press corps partied on without Hillary Rodham Clinton. While the secretary of state recovers from a mild sickness and a related concussion after she took a fall, State's press corps enjoyed Maryland crabcakes, BBQ sliders, gourmet cheese and charcuterie, and jams and red velvet mini cupcakes, we're told. "A chamber trio played strings in an anteroom while the press mingled with public servants on a terrace overlooking the mist-shrouded Washington Monument," Kevin Baron told us.

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