National Security

A loss of confidence: HP fires The Experts; Vickers, Olson lead shooting panels; Hagel lunches with Bloomberg; JSF: hundreds of deficiencies; Amos, taking names; Josh Rogin, not laughing; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

A loss of confidence: The Experts just got so fired. With apparently no nudging from the Navy, the Hewlitt-Packard Company, with which the Navy is contracted, severed its ties with The Experts, with which it HP had contracted (a sub-contractor to the Navy) to perform information technology work on Navy bases. The Experts, of course, was the company for which Navy Yard shooter Alexis Aaron worked. The Experts' President, Thomas Hoshko had probably done the wrong thing by e-mailing Navy Secretary Ray Mabus just hours after the shooting, offering the company's expertise on security and other issues. It was seen as completely inappropriate. HP, in turn, decided it would be best to drop The Experts. HP released this statement late yesterday: "HP has strict policies in place that require contractors and their employees to adhere to the highest standards of business practices and ethics.  Based on what we now know about The Experts' conduct, including its failure to respond appropriately to Aaron Alexis' mental health issues and certain incidents recently reported in the press, HP has terminated its relationship with The Experts."

The WSJ's Dion Nissenbaum and Devlin Barrett: "In a statement, the Experts said it was "disappointed" with H-P's decision. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company said it had "no greater insight into Alexis' mental health than H-P," and that an H-P site manager had closely supervised him in Rhode Island. Valerie Parlave, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's assistant director in charge in Washington, said Wednesday there were "multiple indications" that Mr. Alexis "held a delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced" by low-frequency electromagnetic waves. ‘To be perfectly honest, that is what has driven me to this,' Mr. Alexis wrote in one document recovered by federal agents, speaking of the purported electromagnetic waves and the attack." The rest here.

Ash Carter announced who will head the new panels looking into issues in the aftermath of the Navy Yard shooting. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter spoke at a briefing at the Pentagon yesterday about the three panels looking at security issues after last week's shooting. Carter said that the OSD-level review will be led by Mike Vickers, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. His job will be to assess the physical security, access procedures, and emergency response plans at DOD installations and "identify vulnerabilities," Carter said at a briefing yesterday. "And the second [task] is to identify shortcomings in the security clearance and reinvestigation process and what steps we can take to tighten the standards and procedures for granting and renewing security clearances for DOD employees and contract personnel."

Carter also announced that Hagel has directed an independent panel to conduct its own assessment of the same two issues. Carter: "And today, on behalf of the secretary, I'm pleased to announce that former assistant secretary of defense for homeland security Dr. Paul Stockton and former Commander of Special Operations, Admiral Eric Olson, have agreed to lead the independent review." And, he continued: "Throughout this process, DOD's work will be coordinated with the White House's government-wide review, being led by the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Our findings will complement and support these government-wide efforts. As Secretary Hagel said last week, where there are gaps, we'll close them. Where there are inadequacies, we will address them. And where there are failures, we will correct them. That process is underway. We owe nothing less to the victims, their families, and every member of the Department of Defense community."

Welcome to Thursday's edition of Situation Report. Sign up for Situation Report here or just e-mail us at and we'll stick you on. And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease. And remember, if you see something, say something -- to Situation Report. That and please follow us @glubold.

The video of Aaron Alexis scurrying through Building 197 is chilling. Stripes' Chris Carroll: "Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis was on the loose for about an hour during his Sept. 16 rampage, engaging law enforcement officials in a series of gun battles inside the headquarters of Naval Sea Systems Command before he was killed, officials revealed Wednesday. Chilling photos and videos newly released by the FBI showed Alexis arriving at the installation, and later stalking through the halls of Building 197 armed with a sawed-off shotgun as he sought victims. Documents on Alexis's electronic devices, including a laptop, cellphone and flash drives, indicated that the former sailor who had recently begun working as a contractor at the Navy yard had no plans to leave the scene alive, said Valerie Parlave, FBI assistant director in charge of the Washington field office. ‘There are indicators that Alexis was prepared to die during the attack, and that he accepted death as the inevitable consequence of his actions,' she said." Read the rest here.

Scratched into the side of his shotgun, a reflection of Alexis' mental state: "End for the torment!"

A former public affairs bubba for the VA writes that the "angry vet narrative" has to stop. Alex Horton, writing on Defense One: "A shallow discussion on mental health and the veteran experience has led to media shorthand for violence linked to former troops. Exposure to profound trauma mixed with weapons training invokes a strong image of downtrodden veterans, and news outlets drew tenuous lines from that idea to the Navy Yard shooter. Alexis, a Navy reservist, never saw combat and maintained electrical instruments during his service. He was honorably discharged despite the Navy's pursuit of a general discharge following a stream of bad conduct. Yet headlines that mentioned his service carried an unsettling subtext-his military training helped in the crime, and since he was a veteran, he had been struggled with post-traumatic stress. Veteran advocates immediately protested the media's portrayal, calling it inaccurate, damaging and untrue. The latest (and most prominent) comes from CNN's Peter Bergen: ‘It's a deadly combination: men who have military backgrounds -- together with personal grievances, political agendas or mental problems -- and who also have easy access to weapons and are trained to use them.'

"Bergen links Alexis and Nidal Hasan, the radicalized Fort Hood shooter, by virtue of their service. One issue noted by Bergen is access to weapons and military training. He makes an extraordinary leap here." Read the rest here.

Today, Chuck Hagel has lunch with old friend Michael Bloomberg at a New York restaurant, Gabriel's. Hagel will later meet with Secretary of State John Kerry and meet with the Gulf Cooperation Council. This, we're told, is the third iteration of a meeting where the U.S. meets with Gulf partners in an effort to provide a way to discuss how the U.S. can work better with Gulf allies and aids them in working better together - including on things like Syria and Iran.

Yesterday, we wrote a screwy headline that suggested the military was moving drones from Djibouti in Africa - we meant within. The WaPo story yesterday was about the need to move drones from Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti to another location within the country due to safety concerns flying the drones near where commercial planes fly. Apologies for the confusion.

Also yesterday, the link to our own story about James "Hoss" Cartwright was broken. The working link, here.

When it comes to restoring discipline within the Marine Corps, Jim Amos is getting serious. Within hours of a brass briefing at Quantico this week in which Marine Commandant Gen. Jim Amos outlined a variety of measures to bring discipline back to a Corps that has been deployed for more than a decade, Marine Corps Times got a hold of the briefing slides. MCT's Dan Lamothe: "[The plan] calls for a variety of new initiatives, including the installation of security cameras in each barracks, the incorporation of more staff noncommissioned officers and officers on duty, and the arming of all Marines on duty at all times, according to briefing slides from the commandant's address... The plan stretches well beyond improving safety, however. Amos' briefing slides say that while the Corps has been successful fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ‘we are now seeing signs that are our institutional fabric is fraying.' He cites sexual assault, hazing, drunken driving, fraternization and failure to maintain personal appearance standards among his concerns. ‘We have a behavioral problem within the Corps - a small, but not insignificant, number of our Marines are not living up to our ethos and core values," one of Amos' slides says. "They are hurting themselves, their fellow Marines, civilians, and damaging our reputation.' The commandant's plan calls for a number of ‘immediate' changes, some of which are unlikely to be popular with Marines."

But 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy told Situation Report this morning that Amos' push to re-instill discipline in the Corps is the right response to a growing concern. "The Commandant was reacting to the demand signal from the operating forces that we needed to get the Marine Corps back to its historical roots of a disciplined force," Kennedy said in a phone interview. "Just because we're combat veterans, we haven't ceded authority in garrison to the least experienced members of the Marine Corps, i.e., privates and lance corporals." There has been a concerning growth of fights, sexual assaults, alcohol abuse and other bad behavior as Marines transition from the battlefield. Amos, Kennedy said, is trying to nip it in the bud. Although Amos has been talking about these issues for awhile, the plan unveiled this week gets into particulars. The problem, Kennedy said, can't be ignored. "It is ubiquitous, it is across the entire force," Kennedy said, adding that there is a direct relationship between discipline "in garrison" - at home bases and stations as opposed to deployment zones - and discipline and performance in battle. "People made false assumptions about performance in combat and that that was the only thing that counted." Kennedy cited three cases this week in which a more senior Marine within his command intervened among individuals to avert a bigger problem. "If we are more present in the lives of our junior guys, then we can probably help lead them, guide them, intervene and prevent them from making bad decisions," Kennedy said. Marine Corps Times' story - and the list of Amos' initiatives, here.

Whoa: The NSA spied on senators. Writing on FP, Matthew Aid and William Burr: As Vietnam War protests grew, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) tapped the overseas communications of prominent American critics of the war -- including a pair of sitting U.S. senators. That's according to a recently declassified NSA history, which called the effort "disreputable if not outright illegal.' For years the names of the surveillance targets were kept secret. But after a decision by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, in response to an appeal by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, the NSA has declassified them for the first time. The names of the NSA's targets are eye-popping. Civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Whitney Young were on the watch list, as were the boxer Muhammad Ali, New York Times journalist Tom Wicker, and veteran Washington Post humor columnist Art Buchwald. But perhaps the most startling fact in the declassified document is that the NSA was tasked with monitoring the overseas telephone calls and cable traffic of two prominent members of Congress, Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) and Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.). As shocking as the recent revelations about the NSA's domestic eavesdropping have been, there has been no evidence so far of today's signal intelligence corps taking a step like this, to monitor the White House's political enemies." More here.

The DOD Inspector General did a report on the JSF: not good. Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio: "The Pentagon's inspector general has flagged hundreds of deficiencies and corrective actions needed for Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 fighter, the military's costliest program. The watchdog office's ‘quality assessment' outlines what it calls ineffective management by Pentagon oversight personnel and insufficient attention to quality assurance in the design and manufacturing phases of the $391.2 billion F-35 program, according to a summary obtained by Bloomberg News. The full report may be issued as soon as Sept. 30. Since May 2012, the inspector general has been reviewing adherence to quality assurance standards by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed and five subcontractors: Northrop Grumman Corp., BAE Systems Plc, L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., Honeywell International Inc. and United Technologies Corp. The inspector general's audit said the F-35 program office should modify its contracts to "include a quality escape clause, to ensure the government does not pay for nonconforming product," according to the summary. Lockheed and the subcontractors are taking specific steps to respond to 343 findings and recommended corrective actions, the summary said, without disclosing the nature of the failings found." More here.

Eric Fanning, don't go anywhere: Ayotte placed a hold on Deborah Lee James' nomination to be Air Force Secretary. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the Republican from New Hampshire, is blocking the confirmation of James until Ayotte gets her questions answered regarding potential cuts to the A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft. That means Under Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning - now in the Acting role as Secretary - will have to stay in that dual-hatted role a bit longer. Defense News' Aaron Mehta and John Bennett, quoting an Ayotte aide: "She (as ranking member of the readiness subcommittee) views this as a readiness issue. Until we have a replacement for the A-10, why would the [Air Force] try to eliminate it? She isn't necessarily saying we must retain the A-10, but wants to ensure there isn't a capability gap that could result in lost American lives."

Ayotte's husband Joe is a former A-10 pilot: "What makes me concerned is that there already has been a decision made on the A-10 and as you and I talked about in our meeting, the A-10 has a very important function in terms of close-air support and in fact, most recently in July, 60 soldiers were saved in Afghanistan because of the important close-air support provided by the A-10," DN quoted Ayotte as saying. More of that story here.

Laaate? Will Chuck Hagel's sexual assault panel be effective? Politico's Darren Samuelsohn: "Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is soliciting advice on what else he can do to stop sexual assault in the ranks by turning to a panel of experts from outside the Pentagon.

"But there's a big catch: The nine-person committee he has chartered to study the issue doesn't plan to release any recommendations until several months after the Senate votes on the key question of whether to remove the chain of command from major criminal prosecutions... Holly O'Grady Cook, a retired Army colonel picked for the panel by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), said she won't be "distracted by the Congress's timeline and our timeline."

"It's just a question of getting the information we need," O'Grady Cook told POLITICO... and [Pentagon spokesman] Todd Breasseale also downplayed the scheduling gap. ‘Any time an independent panel is empowered in the public light to contemplate issues the department faces and then offer unvarnished recommendations to the secretary, it's a good thing,' he said. ‘No one believes the work of these panels is for naught, regardless of the issue or timing.'" Read it here.

How are civ-mil relations going? Not so well: FP's Micah Zenko: "Every administration has its share of disputes with the Pentagon, but when it comes to where and how U.S. armed forces will be used, civil-military relations have not been this tense and precarious since the end of the Cold War. Military officers are increasingly willing to express their personal opinions about interventions, while civilian policymakers are increasingly willing to disregard professional military advice. Worse, a growing number of individuals from both "sides" seem unaware of the appropriate civilian and military roles and relationships, and their conflicts play out in public more prominently and immediately than ever before." Read the rest here.

So this happened: Josh Rogin got socked. Somehow, former The Cable boss Josh Rogin of FP, now of the Daily Beast, got punched by a comedian after making fun of his set at D.C.'s Funniest Celebrity contest. Rogin attended the event and was Tweeting about professional comedian Dan Nainan's act. U.S. News' Washington Whispers: "'Dan Nainan was funny until he dusted off his 2005 Katrina jokes in a gratingly bad [George W. Bush] impression,' Rogin wrote. ‘Dan Nainan makes his umpteenth joke about how Asians [can't] distinguish between letters ‘L' and ‘R.' Election, erection we get it,' Rogin added. Nainan then approached Rogin, who was sitting at the back of the DC Improv comedy club and punched him. ‘Dan Nainan comes over to me and says, ‘Are you Josh Rogin,' and I said yes and then he punched me in the jaw, then he pushed me, then he walked away and about 10 seconds later he came over and punched me again,' Rogin told Whispers directly after the fight. (Whispers was also an eyewitness to the incident.)...Nainan was unavailable for comment about what provoked the incident, as he was being led out of the venue by D.C. Police in handcuffs." More here.

National Security

“Furloughs: “A new day for federal service!” Cartwright loses his security clearance; Drones moved in Djibouti; Is Bill Caldwell in trouble?; Carter to announce Navy Yard panel; Syria solution came from an all-night bender (JK!); and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

As the Pentagon braces for the possibility of a shutdown, a defense official told CNN's Barbara Starr: "We're incensed at the prospect of a government shutdown. We've just gotten over civilian furloughs, are posturing for potential military action in Syria, have our guard up elsewhere, and are dealing with the continuing effects of sequestration. Making matters worse, think about Afghanistan and troops who might not be paid on time--and their families. It's totally irresponsible."

And, directly from the Salt in the Wound Department - At OPM, furlough planning means it's "a new day for federal service!" Yesterday the government's Office of Personnel Management issued guidance on furloughs and a possible government shutdown called, simply enough, "Guidance for Shutdown Furloughs." It's the Plan B plan in case the government is shut down, if Congress fails to cut a deal, starting Oct. 1. The only thing is, it looks like someone forgot to redesign the little cover sheet for the top of the new guidance. The cover sheet, from "December 2011," says, cheerfully at the bottom in old-style cursive: "A New Day for Federal Service." It was taken, by some at least, as a stick in the eye about the same time there is a real threat of more furloughs. Is this the new normal? 

And this just in: Deputy Secretary Ash Carter will today at 12:30 at the Pentagon announce the names of the individuals who will serve on the panels the Defense Department is convening to look at issues surrounding the Navy Yard shooting last week.

Welcome to Wednesday's edition of Situation. Sign up for Situation Report here or just e-mail us at and we'll stick you on. And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease. And remember, if you see something, say something -- to Situation Report. That and please follow us @glubold.

Hoss Cartwright, Obama's "favorite general," has lost his security clearance, making serving on a QDR panel a challenge. The Defense Department has stripped Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright of his security clearance, depriving the man once known as "Obama's favorite general" access to classified data as the investigation into leaks of national security secrets continues. Multiple current and former administration sources told FP that Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lost his clearance earlier this year. It was an indicator that that government officials might, in some way, consider his ongoing access to secrets a national security risk while he was under investigation by the Department of Justice for possibly leaking sensitive information about the Stuxnet computer virus. And, it presents challenges for a man who has been working to shore up his image since retiring in 2011. It was also a further indignity for Cartwright, who turned 64 this week, and who was once an Obama administration darling. Cartwright enjoyed privileged access "across the river" at the White House when he was the number two senior officer on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon from 2007 to 2011. He had adopted contrarian views on issues like the troop surge in Afghanistan, which alienated him from senior brass at the Pentagon but in many ways helped catapult his reputation within the White House. He quickly fell from grace, however, after being linked to leaks about a highly classified cyber-weapon created by the U.S. and Israelis called Stuxnet.

That Cartwright's security clearance has been revoked may come as little surprise for a high-profile investigation into leaks surrounding a highly classified program... But Cartwright serves on at least one panel that requires a security clearance. Cartwright is a member of the National Defense Panel, an independent board reviewing the Pentagon's upcoming grand strategy report, known as the Quadrennial Defense Review. But Cartwright was unable to attend the panel's first Aug. 20 meeting, at the Pentagon, raising questions about the status of his security clearance. Asked about the matter, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said he would not comment on Cartwright's security clearance status. Neither Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee who appointed Cartwright, or the Pentagon's Press Secretary, George Little, would comment. And attempts to get a response from Cartwright or his reps were unanswered. Read the rest of our story here.

You won't find this story in the Early Bird today: Is Bill Caldwell in trouble for obstructing whistleblowers over issues at a medical facility in Afghanistan? Bloomberg's Tony Capaccio: "The top U.S. general responsible for training the Afghan military and his deputy tried to impede their staff from contacting investigators about patient abuse at the largest military hospital in the war-torn country, according to the Pentagon's inspector general. The two generals sought in 2011 to restrict contact with a team of investigators probing allegations of corruption and substandard patient care -- including the starving of Afghan military patients and filthy conditions -- at Dawood National Military Hospital, according to an inspector general's report obtained by Bloomberg News. Army Secretary John McHugh should ‘take appropriate action against' Lieutenant General William Caldwell, who remains on active duty and his deputy, Army Major General Gary Patton, who now heads the Pentagon's sexual-assault prevention office, the inspector general said in the Aug. 13 report. The generals "attempted to limit" contacts and "required all communications" with the inspector general "be approved prior to release," the report found. They acted after the training command's own inspector general submitted a seven-page assessment in February 2011 documenting substandard patient care to the investigating team without the general's knowledge.

Is Dawood hospital a potential recruiting poster for the Taliban? Grassley, to Hagel, in a letter obtained by Bloomberg, on Sept. 5: "The reports... clearly indicate that generals Caldwell and Patton engaged in a pattern of misconduct designed to effectively ‘restrict' five officers and a civilian deputy to the Commander from reporting fraud and theft to the Defense Department's (DoD) Inspector General's Office. The whistleblowers had become ‘increasingly concerned about the level of corruption and felt it was beyond their ability to evaluate and fix.' They wanted to ask the DoD OIG ‘to help root out the corruption.' Generals Caldwell and Patton attempted unsuccessfully to keep that from happening."

And, Grassley wrote: "If the goal of U.S. policy in Afghanistan is to win the ‘hearts and minds' of the people, then taking care of wounded soldiers is a good place to start. By allowing wounded soldiers to rot and die in this hospital, we and the Afghan government are providing the Taliban with a golden recruiting opportunity. Dawood has the makings of an effective Taliban recruiting poster."

What does Iran really want? FP's Yochi Dreazen: "We know what Iran would want out of any agreement: freedom from the Western sanctions that have decimated its economy and international recognition that it is entitled to have a civilian nuclear program. More specifically, Iran would want the United States and its allies to lift the measures that have led foreign countries to significantly cut their purchases of Iranian oil, reducing Iran's monthly oil revenues by nearly 60 percent over the past two years, and that have forced overseas financial institutions to freeze their ties with Iran's central bank, driving the value of its currency down to historic lows and effectively cutting Iran off from the global financial system. We also know the broad terms of what the United States would want: clear evidence that Iran had dropped its pursuit of nuclear weapons and would no longer have the equipment or radioactive material necessary to start it up again." More here.

Where is the Middle East's "bad boy," Quassim Soleimani? From an informed American diplomat, to Situation Report: "The Persians invented chess. I would term this the "Troy Gambit."  Curious to see if we and allies take the proffered pawn, and we wake up one morning next year to news that the Iranians have a nuclear weapon. And how will the Israelis react to this?  Would love to believe this is all for real, driven by sanctions and economics, but experience suggests that when something seems too good to be true, it usually is.  I think this is misdirection (read option, except with agile, fleet of foot quarterbacks, unlike the Deadskins), because Iran has too much on its plate, and needs to calm down some of the fronts it is operating on -- Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and beyond. In the meantime, where is the bad boy of the Middle East, Quassim Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force?  The man responsible for hundreds of American deaths in Iraq, and coordinating the Iranian intervention in Syria, when he is not planning the killings of Israelis in Bulgaria or Cyprus?"

NYT's David Sanger, on Obama and "evolving forpol." Read it here.

The U.S. military is having to move its fleet of drones in Djibouti because of the risk that they would collide with commercial aircraft. The WaPo's Craig Whitlock and Greg Miller: "The Pentagon has temporarily moved the unmanned aircraft from the U.S. base in Djibouti's capital to a makeshift airstrip in a more remote part of the country. U.S. military officials said the disruption has not affected their overall ability to launch drone strikes in the region, but they declined to say whether it has forced them to curtail the frequency of drone missions or hindered their surveillance of al-Shabab camps and fighters. The Djiboutian government's growing unease over drone flights casts doubt on its commitment to host the aircraft over the long term. It is unclear whether the temporary drone base can be transformed into a permanent home or whether the U.S. military will have to hunt for another site in the region, according to previously undisclosed correspondence between the Defense Department and Congress."

Why is this a problem? "That uncertainty raises fresh questions about the Pentagon's plan to invest more than $1 billion to upgrade Camp Lemonnier into a major regional base, supporting operations throughout Africa, as well as in parts of the Arabian Peninsula and Indian Ocean. Those plans include a $228 million compound to house up to 700 personnel from the highly secretive Joint Special Operations Command. More broadly, however, the concerns about drone safety present a strategic challenge for the Pentagon as it begins to shift more of the robot planes to new frontiers, where they must share congest airspace with commercial aircraft." The WaPo's Page Oner, here. WaPo's map of the "drone network," here.

Does the Nairobi terrorist attack mean a return not only of the Shabab - but al-Qaida? U.S. News' Paul Shinkman: "Al-Shabab's attack on an upscale mall in Kenya could be a bitter taste of future violence from a surging international coalition of al-Qaida fighters, says a former top U.S. official for Africa. This latest strike, which left more than 60 dead and hundreds wounded, could further destabilize the region, says former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson. It could allow for a resurgence of al-Qaida in East Africa, he says, and for Somalia to descend into an ‘international arms bazaar.' It requires a strong response from international supporters of the fledgling government in Somalia, which is still trying to rise above its ‘Black Hawk Down' history. Veteran Foreign Service Officer Johnnie Carson (and former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs), to Shinkman: "This is not something the new Somali government will be able to do on its own... "We must do everything we can to continue the progress into the future. Much remains to be done there," says Carson, who retired earlier this year. "One should not look at the incidents over the weekend - as terrible and horrific as they are - as indicators of backsliding." More here.

A Reuters photographer's memory of Nairobi, here.

JIEDDO's Tyler Hague is going to be an astronaut. NASA selected its 2013 Astronaut Candidate Class, and Tyler Hague, currently with the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, or JIEDDO, may soon see stars. From NASA: "Tyler N. Hague (Nick), 37, Lt. Colonel, U.S. Air Force, calls Hoxie, Kan., home. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards, Calif. Hague currently is supporting the Department of Defense as Deputy Chief of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization." More here.

Who's where when. Today, Gen. Keith Alexander, Cyber Command Commander and National Security Agency director, delivers remarks at the 4th Annual Billington Cybersecurity Summit at 8 a.m. EDT, at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.; And CNO Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert talks about the status of the Navy around the world, the ways the Navy is rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific and some of the challenges facing the Navy at 8:30 p.m. EDT, at the Marine Memorial Club in San Francisco.

John Kerry expected to sign Arms Trade Treaty today. The WaPo's Karen DeYoung: "The United States will sign the international Arms Trade Treaty on Wednesday, agreeing to the accord to stem the flow of weapons to human rights violators and conflict zones, over the strong opposition of the U.S. gun lobby, according to a senior State Department official." More here.

Amnesty International USA today announces that Steven Hawkins is taking over as the head of Amnesty International USA. The organization is welcoming its new leader, Hawkins, who will begin the day in New York just as John Kerry is expected to sign the new Arms Trade Treaty, which Amnesty has worked for for two decades. Hawkins: "The human rights movement has no borders, and there are no limits to what we can accomplish. Though our accomplishments are many, our challenge today is to use the extraordinary power of our digital world to open the eyes of young people who are concerned about rights here to fight alongside those who are waging similar struggles around the world. We must harness the passion and commitment we see at home and connect these voices to millions more demanding respect for the same rights in distant places."

The Pentagon could cut 50k employees, 60k troops, and save $50 billion. As a follow up to our squib yesterday about Stimson's report detailing 27 ways to cut $50 billion, the AP's Pauline Jelinek: The Defense Department could shed 60,000 more troops than planned and 50,000 civilian employees without hurting U.S. fighting power, four former members of the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a new report on military strategy and spending... The biggest proposed saving - $22.4 billion in the fiscal year starting October next year- would come in cutting overhead such as civilian employees, headquarters staff and contractors as well as reforming pension and health programs, the report said. Barry Blechman: "The Defense Department is not a jobs program." That story, here.

Turns out, the solution to the Syria problem came as a result of an all-night bender with Chuck Hagel and John Kerry. JK! From the Duffel Blog: "According to sources, Hagel texted Kerry stating that he felt overworked and needed a ‘wingman to blow off steam and bitch about my boss.' Fellow veteran Kerry agreed, stating that he had some ‘righteous weed and a few pills left over from Theresa's accident. ‘By night's end, a peaceful political solution to Syria's use of chemical weapons against its own people was devised after hours of drinking, marijuana use and free flowing conversation. ‘Yeah those two bums were down here,' said Mike O'Leary, bartender at The Velvet Lounge, a D.C. dive bar. ‘They came in looking like they had been at it for a bit. Reeked of reefer and whiskey. But they were paying with cash and kept downing the beers on a Sunday night, so what do I care?'... Pentagon officials are working feverishly to locate Hagel, who did not report to formation before the Senate Armed Services Committee on time. His aide made an unverified claim that he was at a dental appointment and totally not passed out in his quarters." Read the whole bit, here.