National Security

A new drone strike in Yemen kills six; On the hard-to-do list: monitoring Yemen assistance; The many gifts of Lt. Gen. Fil; Was it really a “conference call?”; An administration, torn over secrets; No hoorays for White House transcribers; A blue pill aler

By Gordon Lubold

Six alleged al-Qaida militants killed today in a new drone strike in Yemen. AP: "The strike - the sixth by a U.S. drone over the past 10 days - came as Yemen remained on high alert following threats of a terror attack targeting Western and Yemeni government interests.

So far, about 29 suspected militants have been killed by unmanned U.S. aircraft in an apparent stepped-up drone war in Yemen. While the United States acknowledges its drone program in Yemen, it does not confirm individual strikes or release information on how many have been carried out." Read it here.

Doubts about the initial reports that the Yemenis had foiled the big attack. The WSJ's Maria Abi-Habib, Margaret Coker and Siobhan Gorman: "Yemeni officials said Wednesday that the country's security forces had broken up several plots by al Qaeda militants but the government distanced itself from those reports later in the day, illustrating Washington's challenges as it tries to work with Yemen's government to combat al Qaeda's branch there.

And, the U.S.-Yemeni relationship on counter-terrorism is "checkered," they report: "The relationship between Washington and the government in San'a is under scrutiny now, as the U.S. says Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is behind a new terror alert that has led the State Department to stop work at embassies and issue world-wide travel alerts. The history of U.S.-Yemeni counterterrorism relations has been checkered with missteps and mistakes, even before this latest terror alert. Mr. Hadi-who came to power in large part due to America's diplomatic intervention-has tried to strengthen military and economic ties with the U.S. Some officials in San'a, however, worry that President Hadi's credibility has been undercut by reports issued by government spokesmen earlier in the day that the country's security forces had uncovered and foiled a variety of terrorist plots-including, the spokesmen said, planned attacks against a major Yemeni oil facility, military installations and Western embassies." Read the rest here.

Welcome to Thursday's edition of Situation Report. Sign up for Situation Report here or just e-mail us. And as always, if you have a report, piece of news, or a tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease. Please follow us @glubold. And remember, if you see something, say something -- to Situation Report.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has spent hundreds of millions in Yemen - but what does it buy? Since November of 2011, the United States has pledged nearly $600 million to Yemen for everything from spy drones to opinion polls to pickup trucks as part of a shadow war to fight terrorism there. But we, along with FP's own Noah Shachtman wondered just how much Washington is getting for its money. It is an open question, even within U.S. government circles... Only a portion of the $600 million committed since late 2011 goes directly to fight terrorism -- about $250 million, according to State Department officials. The rest goes towards ‘helping to strengthen governance and institutions on which Yemen's long-term progress depends,' as then-White House counterterrorism czar (and unofficial envoy to Yemen) John Brennan explained last year. That includes cash to ‘empower women,' ‘combat corruption,' and provide ‘food vouchers, safe drinking water, and basic health services' Brennan added.

But: Those assistance programs come with criticisms, however, even from within the U.S. government. The primary concern: that the U.S. lacks the capacity to oversee objectives in Yemen. The Government Accountability Office recently faulted American assistance to Yemen, saying that ‘Yemen's unstable security situation constrains U.S. training of Yemeni security forces, restricts oversight of civilian assistance projects, and endangers Yemeni nationals who work for the United States.' GAO investigators cited the threats to Yemenis working for the Americans, including a Yemeni employee of the American embassy in Sanaa who was murdered in 2012. "Because of leadership and coordination challenges within the Yemeni government, key recipients of U.S. security assistance made limited use of this assistance until recently to combat [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] in support of the U.S. strategic goal of improving Yemen's security," the March 2013 report found. In that way, Yemen isn't unlike other countries -- Iraq and Afghanistan to name but two -- in which the United States has struggled to keep pace with the influx of billions of dollars of assistance over the years only to come up short in terms of accounting for it all. And in both cases, the United States had thousands of military and civilian personnel working in the country. Not so in Yemen.

Monitoring all these programs are tough, and the capacity to do it is harder. "We need to remember that we have done at least as badly in planning and managing aid as the worst recipient country has done in using it," Tony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington told us.

A Gallup poll, pickup trucks and drones: just some of the counter-terrorism programs in Yemen.  During 2012, for instance, the Pentagon spent about $14 million on a single U.S. Special Operations Forces counterterrorism enhancement program in which a limited number of American military personnel provided training and equipment -- from small arms and ammo to radios to rigid hull inflatable boats to night vision goggles to navigational systems -- to Yemen's counterterrorists.  Another program, referred to in Pentagon briefing papers as the "Fixed-Wing Capability Program," spends about $23 million "by providing equipment and training to improve the operational reach and reaction time of Yemen's CT forces," including two short take-off and landing aircraft. The United States spends another $75 million on building the counterterrorism unit of Yemen's Central Security Forces. During 2013, the Pentagon spent nearly $50 million on what's called an "integrated border and maritime security" program to help the Yemenis be more effective with aerial surveillance and ground mobility, according to a defense official. That helped the Yemenis build up the capacity to monitor threats along the country's nearly 1,200 mile coastline. The program includes 12 short take-off and landing aircraft, each with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, as well as flight and maintenance crews. The United States has spent other money on Yemen, including $24 million the Coast Guard spent to build two 87-foot coastal patrol boats, and another $11 million for about 340 F-350 Ford pickup trucks, according to publicly-available contracting data. Another $27 million was spent for a contract with Bell Helicopter for four Huey II helicopters within the last three years.

Two years ago, the polling firm Gallup, Inc. was paid more than $280,000 for a "Yemen Assessment Survey." Around the same time, Yemen was part of a major contract to provide crew-served weapons, gun mounts, and stands for .50 caliber weapons. Last year, the Army paid $3 million to Harris Corporation for radios for the Yemenis, and the Navy paid $5.4 million for aircraft engines and spare parts for CASA 235 transport planes. Also last year, the Army paid $1.9 million for tactical UAVs in both Kenya and in Yemen.

Whatever the long-term solution is for Yemen, the Center for National Policy's Scott Bates the events of the last week highlight the need to stay engaged in the region. Bates said he wouldn't second-guess the decision to shut down the embassies this week, but generally speaking that kind of across-the-board action should be avoided. "What this means is that Capitol Hill should work with the White House to figure out a long term strategy of engagement in the Middle East that does not require us to take these measures in the future," he told us. Read the rest of our report here.

Was there a call-in code for the "conference call?" Yesterday, citing three U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence, the Daily Beast's Eli Lake and Josh Rogin wrote that the intercepted communications between Ayman al-Zawahiri and AQAP's Nasser al-Wuhayshi was actually a "conference call" between a larger number of al-Qaida representatives in a number of locations. "All told, said one U.S. intelligence official, more than 20 al Qaeda operatives were on the call," they wrote. But other journalists covering national security  who sought to stand up the same story tell us us they had trouble doing that. Will Bunch: "Within hours of publication, however, a bevy of national security journalists began casting doubts on the leaked information contained within the Beast's report. Two theories were quickly born. Adam Goldman of the Associated Press wondered if the leak was manufactured to protect human intelligence (that is, a leaker within al Qaeda), while Ken Delanian [sic] of the Los Angeles Times suggested that it was intended to glorify the NSA's signals intelligence capabilities at a politically vulnerable moment. Barton Gellman of the Washington Post, meanwhile, failed to see how the entire story - the leak, the method of intercept, and the contents of the call - added up. Bunch's post here. Gellman, on the Tweeterers: "Something's very wrong with the tale sources tell @EliLake about a 24-party Legion of Doom ‘conference call.'" Gellman tweeted a few times about the story, later clarifying: "Eli Lake does great work. I assume his sourcing is good. I still can't make the USG account add up."

Sisi may not be an Islamist, but a Mubarak clone. The Egyptian leader, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is less an Islamist, but, as his work at the U.S. Army War College suggests, might be more like Hosni Mubarak, according to Eric Trager, writing on FP. "What does Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi really think about democracy in the Middle East? From the moment President Mohamed Morsy promoted Sisi as Egypt's defense minister in August 2012, rumors have swirled about his supposed Islamist leanings. The army chief was said to be particularly devout, and the fact that Morsy passed over more senior generals in selecting him fueled claims that Sisi was a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. Even after he deposed Morsy, observers of Egyptian politics have wondered whether he hopes to use his newfound power to implement an Islamist agenda. A 2006 paper Sisi wrote while studying at the U.S. Army War College, titled ‘Democracy in the Middle East,' has garnered much attention in this regard. Naval Postgraduate School professor Robert Springborg contended in Foreign Affairs that the document ‘reads like a tract produced by the Muslim Brotherhood,' and ‘embraces a more radical view of the proper place of religion in an Islamic democracy.'" Read it all here.

Ethics questions surround another general. The WaPo's Craig Whitlock reports today on an Inspector General investigation - apparently buried until now - that shows that Lt. Gen. Joseph Fil, the former commander of American forces in South Korea.

WaPo's Whitlock: "Joseph F. Fil Jr., the former commander of the U.S. Eighth Army in South Korea, also failed to report a $3,000 cash gift to a member of his family from the unnamed South Korean benefactor, according to a confidential investigative report by the Pentagon's Office of Inspector General. The undated report was completed more than a year ago, but the inspector general and the Army kept the details secret until this week, when The Washington Post obtained a redacted version under the Freedom of Information Act. The case adds to a long list of personal misconduct scandals that have ensnared senior U.S. military commanders in the past year. The nature of the transgressions range from embarrassing ethical lapses to serious criminal charges, but they have combined to shake an institution that prides itself on the highest standards of honor and integrity."

"Ironically, Fil had been officially tapped in November 2010 to become the Army's inspector general - responsible for overseeing investigations into fraud, waste, abuse and senior leader misconduct. Although the Army publicly announced his new position, he never actually took the job."

The deets on the Fil case: "Pentagon investigators concluded that [Fil] improperly accepted a $1,500 gift of Montblanc Meisterstueck Classique roller-ball and ballpoint pens - with "gold-plated furnishings" - along with the $2,000 briefcase. The name of the South Korean donor was redacted from the report, but he was described as someone whom Fil met in his official capacity as a U.S. commander. Investigators also determined that Fil ‘allowed' a family member to accept a $3,000 cash gift from the South Korean donor. The relative's name was also redacted from the report. Fil told investigators that he accepted the gifts in ‘good conscience,' believing that they were legal because the giver was a longtime personal friend. Investigators cast doubt on that explanation, however, noting that the South Korean did not speak English and that Fil had to communicate with him by ‘using hand and arm signals.' The report states that Fil "surrendered the briefcase and pen set to investigators" and that he ultimately repaid the $3,000 to the South Korean with a cashier's check."

Army Maj. Gen. Gregg Martin, president of NDU, at the trial yesterday of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, at Fort Bragg: "The trust in the fabric of our military profession is just being destroyed."

Martin was later excused from the jury in the Sinclair court-martial because he is leading an effort to re-emphasize ethics among senior officers, Whitlock reported. Read the rest of Whitlock's report here.

A White House, torn over secrets. Killer Apps' John Reed writes about a tale of two White Houses: the one that wants to declassify secrets, and the one that wants to go after leakers. Reed: "The White House is promising to find new ways to declassify cybersecurity secrets -- even as the Obama administration continues to go after leakers with a vengeance. ‘There is absolutely a shift toward doing that and we're working quite hard at that,' said Andy Ozment, senior director for cybersecurity at the White House told Killer Apps today. ‘We have to change our culture and accept more risk to our [cyber intelligence] information in order to share it more aggressively.' While the administration has made a seemingly aggressive push for secrecy, prosecuting record numbers of alleged secret-spillers, the opposite is true when it comes to fighting cyber attacks on networks largely owned and operated by the private sector." Read his post here.

Jim Amos on the future of the Marine Corps, COIN and owning sequester. Defense One's Stephanie Gaskell interviewed Marine Commandant Jim Amos: "Having fought in the streets of Fallujah and the fields in Sangin in the past decade, the Marine Corps is adapting to the new landscape of warfare -- and the counter-insurgency training used in Iraq and Afghanistan is still very much a part of it, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos tells Defense One. Amos, many forget, coauthored the Army/Marine Counterinsurgency Field Manual with then Army Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Col. John Nagl. It was released on the Fourth of July in 2007, at the height of the Iraq War with the hope of giving U.S. troops a better understanding of irregular warfare. And the term COIN was coined. Since then, its success on the battlefield has been greatly debated." Read the rest here.

Speaking of da Marines: No hooray for White House transcribers. Marine Corps Times' Dan Lamothe noted that White House transcribers might want a little PME on military culture, after President Barack Obama addressed a crowed of about 3,000 Marines at Camp Pendleton, Calif., yesterday. Obama's remarks were pretty good and there were no real gaffes, he said. "There's a problem, however," Lamothe writes, citing the White House transcript of the event. The transcript: "THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Marines! (Hoorah!) Hello, Camp Pendleton! (Hoorah!) It is great to be here, at the home of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force - (hoorah!) - and one of our nation's oldest and most decorated military units, the legendary 1st Marine Division. (Hoorah!) And I think I see some proud Navy folks here, too. (Applause.)"

What's wrong here? That's right, it's Oorah. Lamothe: "Marines, of course, would never say "Hoorah!" They also wouldn't say "Hooah!", which is an Army term. Marines say "Oorah!" and are quick to point it out to anyone who gets it wrong. You can't blame the president for this one, but a little professional military education never hurt anyone." Read the rest here.

The Pentagon may extend health care, housing and other bennies to same-sex spouses of military members by the end of the month. But, the AP's Lita Baldor reports, the Pentagon "may reverse earlier plans to provide benefits to gay partners who are not married. According to a draft Defense Department memo obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, the department instead may provide up to 10 days of leave to military personnel in same-sex relationships so they can travel to states where they can marry legally. While no final decisions have been made, the memo from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to top defense leaders would reverse an earlier plan that would allow the same-sex partners of military members to sign a declaration form in order to receive limited benefits, such as access to military stores and some health and welfare programs." Read all about it here.

A Blue Pill alert from NY Post's Page 6: Wes Clark, 68, is dating 30-year-old fashion entrepreneur Shauna Mei. "Clark, who was married to Gertrude Kingston Clark for 45 years before filing for divorce last year, is spending time with the young New York-based entrepreneur, who graduated from MIT and worked at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker before launching her luxury e-commerce site. Clark and Mei were spotted together recently in the Hamptons, prompting rumors of a relationship. We're told that despite the 38-year age difference, they ‘looked very affectionate, it was clear they were a couple. They were holding hands, they were not trying to hide their relationship.' Society spies say the couple look great together, with one female admirer gushing, ‘He is in tremendous shape.'"


National Security

Yemeni plot foiled?; CIA’s Morell: Syrian war number one issue for U.S.; New images show Syrian devastation; Furloughs, reduced; The Navy: paying the Army’s bills? “Defense Official #1:” Don’t blame the milk!; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

New this hour: Yemeni authorities may have foiled a maritime plot. Security officials said that authorities in Yemen had foiled an "audacious plot" by al-Qaida to seize a port using militants in Army uniforms and kidnap and kill foreigners there, according to the NYT and other outlets. And a new round of drone strikes in the southeast region of the country killed seven people. The NYT's Nasser Arrabyee and Alan Cowell: "The depiction of the foiled plot was the first indication of the reasons behind the growing Western concerns for the safety of their nationals. Intercepts of a secret correspondence between Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of Al Qaeda, and Nasir ul-Wuhayshi, the leader of the Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, inspired deep concern inside the American government about a possible terrorist plot by the group.

"Yemeni security officials said part of the militant operation included a plan to take control of the Canadian-run Mina al-Dhaba oil terminal in the Mukallah region on the Arabian Sea in the southeast of the country. The officials did not say how the plot had been disrupted. The plan would have involved many Qaeda operatives wearing Yemeni Army uniforms to seize the port and then attack, kill or kidnap foreigners working there, the officials said. It was not clear if the disruption of the purported plan was linked to a spate of recent American drone strikes. The security officials said the latest attack hit members of a Bedouin tribe some 40 miles west of Attaq in the south-eastern Shabwah area. It was the fifth known American strike in the last two weeks, part of an intensified campaign to disrupt the suspected plots that led to the embassy closings." Read the NYT story here.

But has the U.S. lost Yemen? Princeton's Gregory Johnsen, writing on FP, says so. Despite American drones firing missiles into Yemen - at least 75 in all that have brought the death toll to at least 600 - al-Qaida's franchise on the Arabian Peninsula - AQAP - continues to recruit more members, growing from about 300 in 2009 to "well over a thousand" today. Johnsen: "Part of the U.S. approach to fighting AQAP is based on what worked for the United States in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where drone strikes have decimated what is often called al Qaeda's core (though as al Qaeda's strength moves back toward the Arab world, analysts will need to start rethinking old categories). Unfortunately, not all lessons are transportable. This means that the United States is fighting the al Qaeda that was, instead of the al Qaeda that is." Read the rest here.

No, al-Qaida is not about to blow up your blouse. Noah Shachtman and Shane Harris, on FP: "The panic over an alleged al Qaeda plot went into overdrive Monday night, when ABC News reported that terrorists in Yemen were experimenting with a new and virtually undetectable bomb-making technique: dipping their clothes into liquid explosive that then dries and can be ignited. The cries of doom began almost immediately after the story went online. But people shouldn't have been so quick to scream. A clothing bomb would almost certainly never work, explosive experts tell Foreign Policy." Read the rest here.  

Welcome to Wednesday's edition of Situation Report. Sign up for Situation Report here or just e-mail us. And as always, if you have a report, piece of news, or a tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease. Please follow us @glubold. And remember, if you see something, say something -- to Situation Report.

Outgoing CIA's No. 2 says Syria poses the greatest threat to the U.S. The WSJ's Siobhan Gorman sat with Michael Morell as he prepares to leave CIA after 33 years there. He told her that the risk is that the Syrian government will collapse and al-Qaeda establishes a new safe haven there and obtain the chemical and other advanced weapons that now belong to the Assad regime. "It's not so much that al Qaeda has fallen as a threat," Morell told Gorman, but that the threat from Syria has escalated. Gorman: "Mr. Morell's stark assessment shows how much the U.S. has at stake as it reluctantly prepares to arm Syrian rebels in the coming weeks while continuing to confront an al Qaeda that has dispersed across the globe. His forecast is all the more worrisome because it comes from a top official who other officials say is skeptical of current administration plans to arm the rebels." Morell: "I don't remember a time when there have been so many national-security issues on the front burner as there are today." Read the rest here.

There are more signs that Al-Qaeda is dominating anti-Assad forces. Opposition forces in Syria took control Tuesday of a military airport in the northern area of the country that McClatchy reported opened a vital supply line between the rebels in the north and Turkey. McClatchy's Mitchell Prothero reported that the end of the siege, that had clamped down the airport since last fall began Monday when two non-Syrian nationals drove an explosive-laden vehicle onto the airport, devastating the Assad troops defending it, and allowing rebels to overrun the air base in Idlib province. But here's what's significant about it: "Those rebels included multiple units affiliated with the Syrian Military Council, an umbrella group with U.S. backing. That poses an uncomfortable pairing of a group supported by U.S. resources with Islamist organizations Washington has labeled as terrorist. The Syrian Opposition Coalition, the political component of the SMC, announced that the airbase had been ‘liberated' by a mixture of nine rebel groups. They included the al Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS, and its Syrian sister organization, the Nusra Front."

Satellite images show the devastation in Syria's Aleppo. Amnesty International released this morning new images that show the impact ballistic missile strikes and other violence have had on Syria. It's a year after AI released a batch of images warning of an impending humanitarian crisis. "That prediction of mass civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis has come true, as reporting from the ground by Amnesty and the newest satellite images show," according to AI. The images include a "before/after" toggle button to see the destruction.  Click here for the images.

The Pentagon found a way to trim furlough days from 11 to 6 days.  The Pentagon announced yesterday that it had found a way to reduce the number of days that DOD civilians will be furloughed, from 11 to 6. As we first reported July 12, the Pentagon was considering a third reduction in the number of days of furloughs, to as few as eight days. But the Pentagon found a way to trim it back to six in this, the fifth week of furloughs. The reduction is thanks in part to finding money in other areas and transferring them to the appropriate accounts. And during a briefing at the Pentagon yesterday, senior defense officials said it included a $300 million payment the Navy made on behalf of the Army.

Army to the Navy: "THANKS for the $300 million." Well not exactly. But at Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's request, the Navy and Marine Corps did pay a $300 million bill on behalf of the Army, for logistics, according to the defense official briefing reporters yesterday. The official said that the Navy had the authority to do it. Asked if it was a normal thing, the senior defense official said no, not necessarily. "I wouldn't say it's routine, but these are not routine times.  And we've had to look across the department and try to make some shifts in order to get through this year."

Random analogy used to explain where the Pentagon found the money to reduce the number of furlough days that we're not quite sure we understand but somehow it works, from a senior defense official during yesterday's briefing: "I mean, you know, we did a lot of different things.  It reminds me of pouring water and milk in the glass at some time and when it overflows blaming the milk.  I mean, I can't pick one thing."

Full briefing of furlough situation from yesterday here.

Dempsey is headed to Israel and Jordan. From the Joint Staff, this morning: "Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, will be departing this weekend for visits in Israel and Jordan.  The focus of the Chairman's visits will be discussing issues of mutual interest with his counterparts and continuing to build on these important defense relationships.  In Israel, the Chairman expects to discuss the United States' unwavering commitment to Israel's security, including potential threats from Iran, the ongoing civil war in Syria, and uncertainty in the Sinai.  While in Jordan, he plans to visit U.S. troops and to gain a richer understanding of the impact on how the conflict in Syria is impacting Jordan and the region.  The general last visited Israel in October and Jordan in April of 2012."

Good read: David Bax helped save 35 aid workers in a Mogadishu firefight. So why did they turn against him? Read Colum Lynch's piece on FP about what happened to Bax in Somalia: "The tip came early in the day on June 19. Islamist militants had breached the inner sanctum of the United Nations' humanitarian compound in downtown Mogadishu -- and they were trying to slaughter the relief workers inside. It wasn't David Bax's job to respond to such an attack; the former South African soldier was hired by the U.N. simply to defuse explosives in and around the restive city." Read the rest here.

Cover up, pull ‘em up, and straighten up: Fort Irwin bans sexy, vulgar and "disparaging" clothes. Army Times' Joe Gould: "It's time for saggy pants-ed and suggestively attired soldiers, civilians and family members at Fort Irwin, Calif., to straighten up. Baggy pants, do-rags, belly shirts, pajamas, ripped jeans and visible thong underwear are forbidden attire in public, according to the post's new dress code for off-duty troops, which was posted to the garrison Facebook page on Monday. The new policy directs managers of post facilities, like gyms and shops, to deny service to anyone wearing the offending gear. ‘Clothing with obscene, slanderous, drug paraphernalia or related statements, vulgar words or drawings, sexually suggestive [clothes] or clothing which makes disparaging comments concerning the military and the United states government is prohibited," the notice reads. ‘By order of the commander.'" Read the rest here.

Obama won't meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 summit in Russia over the Snowden affair, various news outlets reported this morning. 

What would happen if Edward Snowden magically disappeared from Russia and appeared in an American prison? "Hactivists" would have a field day, speculated Mike Hayden, the ex-CIA and NSA chief. Hayden, to reporters yesterday, on the group Anonymous: "If, and when, our government grabs Edward Snowden and brings him back her to the United States for trial, what does this group do?... They may not go after the U.S. government because frankly, the dot mil stuff is one of the hardest targets in the United States. If they can't go after dot mil, who are they going after? Who, for them, are the [digital] World Trade Centers?" Killer Apps' John Reed: That's right. The former head of the CIA just compared Anonymous - a group best-known for defacing some websites - to the world's most notorious terrorists. And that's not the only insult he hurled. Hayden also labeled such groups as "nihilists, anarchists, activists, Lulzsec, Anonymous, twentysomethings who haven't talked to the opposite sex in five or six years." Read the rest here.

When embassies shut down, there is constant evaluation of the situation. The Cable's John Hudson interviewed a foreign service officer about what it's like when embassies shut down - there are currently at least 19 closed now, due to the security situation in the Middle East. Hudson asked the officer what it's like, about the backlog of work that exists, and how they decide what the situation is at their post. A portion of his Q&A: Hudson Q: What are all the diplomats doing during the closings? A: "What's important to keep in mind is the difference between a temporary closing and an evacuation. When it's a closure, like what we have this week, you're not talking about moving people out of the country. The building is not opened to the public. But people are staying home, and in some cases, people continue to work at the embassy." Hudson: And for evacuations? A: "That's a different extreme. When I was in Munich in 2006, the conflict in Lebanon caused us to pull a number of people out of Lebanon and facilitate an evacuation. We had diplomatic personnel all over the place that were deployed to assist American citizens getting out of the place. Obviously, it requires a lot more activity than a closing." Read Hudson's Q&A with an foreign service officer (who remained anonymous) here.

Chris Castelli wins an important award. Inside Defense's Editor-at-Large Chris Castelli won the National Press Club's Newsletter Journalism Award for a series of stories based on internal documents for which Inside Defense is famous (or notorious, depending) for getting. What the judges said about Castelli: "He won for his riveting series of exclusive stories on strategic administration discussions of U.S. policy on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan. In the best traditions of journalism, and newsletter journalism in particular, Chris cultivated sources who repeatedly shared internal national security documents. His stories were picked up and his reporting credited by multiple national news outlets as his work informed greater public understanding of vital national defense issues." Read all about it, including the five stories he wrote, here.