National Security

Germany, Brazil ask the U.N. for help re: spies; The last few minutes of Jofi Joseph’s fame; Troops in Afg cost $2.1 million a piece; How do you open up a halal sex shop?; The ‘girly hats’ story wasn’t exactly true, Marines say; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

Brazil and Germany press the U.N. for a resolution on the right to privacy - the first major effort to declaw the NSA. FP's Colum Lynch, Shane Harris and John Hudson: "The effort follows a German claim that the American spy agency may have tapped the private telephone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other world leaders. It also comes about one month after Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff denounced NSA espionage against her country as ‘a breach of international law' in a General Assembly speech and proposed that the U.N. establish legal guidelines to prevent ‘cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war.'

"Brazilian and German diplomats met in New York Thursday with a small group of Latin American and European governments to consider a draft resolution that calls for expanding privacy rights contained in the International Covenant Civil and Political Rights to the online world. The draft does not refer to a flurry of American spying revelations that have caused a political uproar around the world, particularly in Brazil and Germany. But it was clear that the revelation provided the political momentum to trigger today's move to the United Nations. The blowback from the NSA leaks continues to agonize U.S. diplomats and military officials concerned about America's image abroad." The rest here.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is scrambling to alert foreign intelligence services about docs that show their secret cooperation with the U.S. The WaPo's Ellen Nakashima: "...The process of informing officials in capital after capital about the risk of disclosure is delicate. In some cases, one part of the cooperating government may know about the collaboration while others - such as the foreign ministry - may not, the officials said. The documents, if disclosed, could compromise operations, officials said. The notifications come as the Obama administration is scrambling to placate allies after allegations that the NSA has spied on foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The reports have forced the administration to play down operations targeting friends while also attempting to preserve other programs that depend on provisional partners. In either case, trust in the United States may be compromised." The rest here.

Welcome to Friday'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, because if you see something, say something -- to Situation Report. That and please follow us @glubold on the Tweeter machine.

At USIS, the demand to process clearances boiled down to this: "get off your ass to make a buck." The WSJ's Dion Nissenbaum: "About seven months before his company gave Edward Snowden a clean background check, Bill Mixon was flogging his executives for not pushing security clearances through fast enough. Mr. Mixon, then chief executive of US Investigations Services LLC, warned managers at its Grove City, Pa., operations that USIS wasn't meeting targets for completing clearances, say former USIS officials. Federal agencies use those clearances to decide who gets access to America's secrets. ‘You better not have one f- case on your books,' one former company official says he was told by Mr. Mixon. USIS was approaching the end of its 2010 fiscal year in September.

"It was a demand, former USIS officials say, that Mr. Mixon made repeatedly that year: Do what it takes to finish background checks, even if they aren't thoroughly vetted. The stress on revenue was also a familiar refrain to managers who had been with USIS for years. Since the government spun USIS off in 1996, its management had gradually built a corporate culture that made revenue top priority. A previous CEO, in 2006, chided managers at a meeting to ‘get off your ass to make a buck.' The push to hurry out security checks reached a crescendo, former USIS officials say, in late 2010." The rest here.

Mike Hayden, as a WaPo writer wrote this morning, "should've taken the quiet car." The WaPo's piece on the much-tweeted bit about former NSA director Mike Hayden's eavesdropped convo on the Acela train Thursday by the WaPo's Brian Fung: "A passenger a few seats away couldn't help but be intrigued by the conversation, which included chatter about President Obama's 2008 BlackBerry, specially modified to block foreign eavesdropping. Could it be James Clapper? Tom Matzzie wondered, referring to the director of national intelligence. But why would a sitting official be talking so openly about CIA black sites and rendition? It took nearly half an hour, but then it clicked for Matzzie, a former Washington director of the political group He whipped out his phone and began tweeting."

@TomMatzzie - the handle of the guy who used to work in's Washington office who eavesdropped on Mike Hayden, who no doubt picked up some new followers yesterday.

Pirates nabbed two Americans from a ship off the Nigerian coast. NYT: "...The abductions appeared to be the first involving American hostages in that region in at least two years." More here.

A National Guardsmen opened fire at an armory near a Navy base in Millington, Tenn. The Guardsmen wounded two before he was taken into custody. AP: "Millington Police Chief Rita Stanback said the shooter was apprehended today by other National Guard members. Stanback said the two people shot were also National Guard members. The two people shot were taken to a hospital. Stanback said at a news conference that their conditions were not immediately known, though the Navy reported on its official Twitter account that neither had life-threatening injuries." More here.

John Allen and Mike O'Hanlon wrote a piece in the WaPo about how the U.S. and Afghanistan can get along. Their BLUF: "The hour is late for such a change of heart, messaging and spirit across our two nations. But it is not yet too late." Read it here.

A Turkish man opened up the first halal sex shop online. How did he do it? FP's Katelyn Fossett: "While rigid rules govern pre-marital sexual relations in Muslim culture, the Quran and hadith (a record of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions) make clear that sex within the confines of marriage is not purely for procreation, as it is in some Christian denominations. Muhammad told men not to leave their wives for more than six months so as to avoid sexual neglect, and there are even some well-known references to foreplay in the hadith. As Yusuf explains, ‘It's not a prudish culture ... but decorum is still very important.' For married Muslim couples, specific etiquette governs proper sexual relations, separating haram (forbidden) from halal. ‘Online sex shops usually have pornographic pictures, which makes Muslims uncomfortable,' Demirel, the Turkish shop owner, told Reuters. ‘We don't sell vibrators for example, because they are not approved by Islam.'" More here.

The average cost of each of the American troops in Afghanistan is $2.1 million, says Todd Harrison of CSBA. DefenseOne's Kevin Baron: "For the past five years, from fiscal 2008 through 2013, the average troop cost had held steady at roughly $1.3. million. But the Pentagon's 2014 war budget would dramatically increase that figure. The added cost, argue Defense Department officials, is a reflection of the price of sending troops and equipment back home in the drawdown. Not so, says Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis' Todd Harrison. He doesn't buy that excuse, and argued on Thursday that the U.S. has been moving far greater amounts of troops and equipment in those previous budget years. Instead, he said, as the number of U.S. troops decline, the overhead cost to support the war and the Afghan forces that the U.S. continues to underwrite remains relatively stable." More here.

This could be the last few minutes of Jofi Joseph's 15 of fame before he disappears. The NYT's Page Oner today (after the WaPo's yesterday about the sting operation that led to his downfall) looks at Joseph and who he is (or was) by Jennifer Steinhauer and Jackie Calmes: "Until his Twitter adventures under the handle @NatSecWonk ended his career this week, Jofi Joseph embodied all the elements of a Washington cliché, down to the security card around his neck. His degree in foreign service was earned at Georgetown, which propelled him to his first job as an analyst in the Congressional Budget Office, the ultimately anonymous D.C. gig... He liked cycling: check. He hiked. And like so many denizens of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Mr. Joseph, 40, took to Twitter to express all manner of things on the mind. In his case, it was musings on foreign policy, observations about the cognitive abilities of his colleagues and a not-so-minor fixation on the appearance of women, generally expressed ungenerously. Sample Twitter message: 'Admit it, when you heard Helen Thomas went out on a date with JFK back in the day, you asked yourself, ‘Wait, she was attractive once?'" That piece here.

Is a cigar just a cigar? Is NatSecWonk just a tool? FP's Rosa Brooks muses on the morals of the story - if there are any - or if this is just a sad tale about a bitter man. Brooks: One: "Washington is even nastier than you thought. If it's true that @NatSecWonk "unapologetically says what everyone else only thinks," then there are a lot of juvenile, misogynist creeps in the foreign policy world; Two: Washington is not as nasty as you thought -- because @NatSecWonk didn't generally say what "everyone else" thought. (An arrogant assumption, in any case: did the guy think he could read minds?) The ‘broken clocks are right twice a day' principle operates in the Twitterverse too, so @NatSecWonk probably did voice unspoken but widely shared sentiments from time to time, but the near-universal real-time response to his tweets seems to have been repulsion. Sure, people in Washington may stick a dagger in your back, but for the most part, Washington insults are strategic, not gratuitous. (It's nothing personal, it's just politics!) For @NatSecWonk, everything was weirdly personal, and even most hardened Washingtonians were, appropriately, grossed out by his disproportionate vitriol." There's more, but here's her closer: "But maybe it's not an allegory at all. As Sigmund Freud reminded us, sometimes a cigar is only a cigar -- and sometimes a story that seems to be about an unpleasant, insecure guy determined to cut everyone else down to size is just that, and nothing more. Goodbye, @NatSecWonk. Can't say I'll miss you." The rest of her bit here.

It's unclear if NatSecWonk will work in #This Town ever again. But plenty of former Pentagon officials find work here. Politico's Austin Wright: "Hundreds of Defense Department officials requested ethics opinions from the government over the past two years as they retired from the military and sought jobs with private companies or organizations. The ethics opinions are required for certain current and recently retired officials, including those involved in procurement decisions, before they're allowed to take new jobs with defense companies. The Defense Department released a database of the ethics opinions to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which had sued the department to get it. CREW provided an early copy of the database exclusively to Politico. It sheds new light on an ongoing arrangement in which defense companies dangle lucrative job opportunities in front of Pentagon officials who manage millions - sometimes billions - of dollars in government contracts. As a result, many officials leave the department with specific landing spots in mind." More here.

Women activists in Saudi try, try again on countering the ban on driving. NPR's Deborah Amos: "Activists in Saudi Arabia tried once, they tried again and now they're making a third challenge to the kingdom's long-standing ban on female drivers. Some women have recently made short drives, posting videos on social media sites, and many more are planning to get behind the wheel on Saturday. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that effectively prohibits women from driving, a ban supported by conservative clerics. While there is no law formally banning female drivers, the government does not give them licenses. Government authorities seem to be more lenient these days, however." More here.

The Texas philanthropist who didn't throw her weight around but played a unique role in the hunt for Africa's ultimate bad guy - Joseph Kony. The New Yorker's Elizabeth Rubin: "One night in July, 2010, Shannon Sedgwick Davis, a lawyer and activist from San Antonio, Texas, and the mother of two young boys, found herself seated across from the chief of the Ugandan Army, General Aronda Nyakairima, at his hilltop headquarters, in Kampala. ‘It was one of those out-of-body experiences,' Davis told me. Davis was on the verge of becoming deeply involved in the campaign to capture Joseph Kony. In the course of a quarter century, Kony abducted tens of thousands of people, mostly children, and conscripted them into the Lord's Resistance Army (L.R.A.), which was conceived as a Ugandan rebel force but whose primary target has been civilians in several African nations...The operations that Davis would help set in motion-which have remained under wraps for more than two years-have helped to transform the Ugandans' pursuit of Kony. He has been driven from his safe haven, in Sudan, and the Ugandan troops, aided by African Union forces and American advisers, are now close on his trail. Davis has played a unique role in the long war against Kony since 2006, when she first began to help fund advocacy groups and activists working on the issue." Said one high-ranking Ugandan officer of Davis:  "She is so down to earth...She never throws her weight around like most Americans.'" More here.

The ‘girly hats' story wasn't totally true, Marines say, but the Corps is thinking about changing women's "bucket cap." So there was this story in the New York Post yesterday that said President Barack Obama was pushing for Marines, who stand guard at the White House, to change their headgear. The NYPost, yesterday: "Thanks to a plan by President Obama to create a "unisex" look for the Corps, officials are on the verge of swapping out the Marines' iconic caps with a new hat that some have derided as so ‘girly' that they would make the French blush. ‘We don't even have enough funding to buy bullets, and the DoD is pushing to spend $8 million on covers that look like women's hats!' one senior Marine source fumed to The Post. ‘The Marines deserve better. It makes them look ridiculous.'" But Marines pushed back hard, saying under no way shape or form did Obama ask for a change to Marines' covers. But a change is possible - for women's covers only. ABC's Luis Martinez: "The Marine Corps is contemplating a uniform change that would create a unisex service cap. The Marines are also exploring whether to have women use a slightly modified version of the hat used by male Marines instead of the distinctive "bucket cap" they now wear.   If the unisex design is chosen it would be the first change to that part of the Marine uniform since 1922. A Marine official says that recently the Marine Corps Uniform Board, comprised of non-commissioned officers and officers, discussed a change in the headgear known as a "cover" as a means of streamlining uniform rules for men and women.   Since 1952 female Marines have worn distinctive service caps known as  ‘bucket cover.' About 6 percent of the 195,000 Marines in active duty are women." ABC story, here and the Post story, here.

National Security

An administration split over Geneva II for Syria; The U.S. and Pakistan’s deal on drones; Gates, looking for the adults in Congress; Lawmakers on Iran negotiations: Wendy Sherman done good so far; Do not call that Navy 0-6 ‘thickset;’ and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

There's a division within the State Department over plans for a high-profile peace conference next month on Syria. "Geneva II" would put negotiators from Syria's main opposition groups and government officials from the Assad regime in the same room for the first time. But despite Secretary of State John Kerry's insistence that the conference go ahead, there's a deep concern if anyone will show up. FP's Yochi Dreazen: "Kerry is strongly committed to holding the talks and has spent the past several days prodding key Syrian opposition figures to take part in the negotiations. But according to several senior State Department officials, some of Kerry's top advisors believe that the conference should be called off because the most important of those opposition leaders are unlikely to come. ‘The only person who wants the Geneva conference to happen is the secretary," a senior U.S. official told FP. ‘Who's going to show up? Will they actually represent anyone? If not, why take the risk?'"

"...The Obama administration and its top allies believe that the fighting in Syria is largely at a stalemate, with forces loyal to Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad unable to fully vanquish the country's insurgents and the rebels looking to unseat Assad unable to conquer Damascus or oust him by force. Peace talks, Kerry argues, offer the only realistic chance of ending a civil war that has already claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Syrians and forced millions of others from their homes. There's just one catch: a growing number of key Syrian opposition leaders say they won't attend the conference unless Assad promises to transfer power to a transitional government and then step aside... Top State Department officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, have told Kerry that it would be hard to cobble together a broad coalition of Syrians by mid-November, the scheduled start date for the talks, and cautioned that many prominent opposition figures were likely to sit out the negotiations altogether." A senior State Department official, to Dreazen: "It's possible we can get a delegation there... It's not impossible, but it will certainly require some work." The rest here.

Syria just released 61 female detainees in a three-way prison swap. The AP, in Beirut: "The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Thursday that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had freed the women over the past two days. There was no immediate comment from Syrian officials, nor details of who the women were or their current location. The SoHR said the release was part of a hostage swap brokered last week by Qatar and the Palestinian Authority (PA), in which Syrian rebels freed nine Lebanese Shia Muslims and Lebanese gunmen released two Turkish pilots as well." More here.

Could NATO play a role in the removal of Syria's chem weapons? The WSJ: "...Officials said the discussion was in an early phase and it wasn't clear whether-if military help was requested-it would be delivered under a NATO umbrella or bilaterally by those countries willing to help. At a news conference after the meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said: ‘It may well be that NATO will be asked for some assistance.'" More here.

A family lost in the darkness in Jordan. The UNHCR's rep in Jordan Tweeted this pic this morning after stumbling across a Syrian refugee family on night along the border in Jordan, here.

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, because if you see something, say something -- to Situation Report. That and please follow us @glubold on the Tweeter machine.

The "understanding" between U.S.-Pakistan over drones has finally been confirmed. The WaPo's Greg Miller and Bob Woodward obtained secret CIA documents that show, finally and in explicit detail, the degree to which Pakistan has endorsed the CIA's drone operations - even as it denounced it publicly. They write: "...Pakistan's tacit approval of the drone program has been one of the more poorly kept national security secrets in Washington and Islamabad. During the early years of the campaign, the CIA even used Pakistani airstrips for its Predator fleet. But the files expose the explicit nature of a secret arrangement struck between the two countries at a time when neither was willing to publicly acknowledge the existence of the drone program. The documents detailed at least 65 strikes in Pakistan and were described as "talking points" for CIA briefings, which occurred with such regularity that they became a matter of diplomatic routine. The documents are marked "top ­secret" but cleared for release to Pakistan."

"...The files serve as a detailed timeline of the CIA drone program, tracing its evolution from a campaign aimed at a relatively short list of senior al-Qaeda operatives into a broader aerial assault against militant groups with no connection to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The records also expose the distrust and dysfunction that has afflicted U.S.-Pakistani relations even amid the undeclared collaboration on drone strikes. Some files describe tense meetings in which senior U.S. officials, including then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, confront their Pakistani counterparts with U.S. intelligence purporting to show Pakistan's ties to militant groups involved in attacks on American forces, a charge that Islamabad has consistently denied." Read the rest here.

And yet this: Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in Washington this week, after speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace, is urging Obama to stop drone strikes. From the BBC:  "...Relations between Islamabad and Washington nosedived more than two years ago, when US special forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in a raid on his hideout in Abbottabad in north-eastern Pakistan without giving the Pakistani government advance warning. Their ties were further tested by the killing of 24 Pakistani troops in a US air strike along the Afghan border later in 2011. Following the meeting, Mr. Obama acknowledged that tensions and misunderstandings would persist between the two nations. ‘It's a challenge. It's not easy,' he said. ‘We are committed to working together and making sure that rather than this being a source of tension between our two countries, it can be a source of strength.' More here.

Gates is looking for a few good adults in Congress. In a speech last night at AUSA, the Army's big trade show in Washington, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a pitch for the U.S. to remain a strong presence across the globe. But that's only possible if Congress figures its way out of the paper bag. Gates: "My hope - and it is a faint hope - is that the remaining adults in the two political parties will make the compromises necessary to put this country's finances back in order, end the sequestration of defense dollars, and protect military capabilities that are as necessary today as they have been through the last century.

"Because, for all of our hopes and prayers, we have not seen the end of war. If history - and religion - teach us anything, it is that there will always be evil in the world, people bent on aggression, oppression, satisfying their lust for wealth and power and territory, or determined to impose an ideology based on the subjugation of others and the denial of liberty to men and women.  I have steadfastly supported "soft" power diplomacy and development, but we must never forget the ultimate guarantee against the success of aggressors, dictators, and terrorists in the 21st Century, as in the 20th, is hard power - the size, strength, and global reach of the United States Military."

And: "Since I entered government nearly a half century ago, I've shifted my views and changed my mind on a good many things as circumstances, new information or logic dictated. But I have yet to see evidence that would dissuade me from this fundamental belief: that America does have a special position and set of responsibilities on this planet."

Also, this: Gates is giving $1.5 million and his personal papers to his alma mater, William & Mary. From the school's internal publication, this morning: "...Gates '65, L.H.D. '98 will donate his personal papers to his undergraduate alma mater, the university announced today. Gates and his wife, Rebecca, have also committed from their estate a gift currently estimated at $1.5 million, which would include a $1.45 million bequest to help attract and support international relations and global studies undergraduates of outstanding academic distinction by providing them scholarships. The remaining $50,000 has been designated for the cataloging and digitization of Secretary Gates' papers." More here.

American spying, jumping the shark? Germany says the U.S. listened in on Merkel's cell phone. Germany believes that U.S. intelligence agencies may be spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cellphone in what would be a remarkably intrusive policy to surveillance of allies overseas. The White House yesterday said it wasn't listening in on her phone - nor would it - but press declined to say if it had happened in the past. The WSJ's Anton Troianovski and Siobhan Gorman: The uproar in Berlin is the latest sign that the National Security Agency scandal has the potential to continue to inflict damage on Washington's relationships with overseas partners. Earlier this week, Mr. Obama called French President Francois Hollande, who expressed his ‘deep disapproval' over reports that the NSA was collecting data on tens of millions of French phone calls and messages. Reports of U.S. spying on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as well as Mexico's Enrique Peña Nieto during his successful presidential campaign have already strained the U.S. relationship with Latin America.

"The German government's sharply worded statement came after it looked into an inquiry from the weekly Der Spiegel, the magazine reported. Der Spiegel said U.S. spies may have specifically targeted Ms. Merkel's cellphone-as opposed to having just intercepted her communications as part of a broader dragnet. More here.

And regarding the Europeans' overall concern about spying, the WSJ's editors write under "The French Collection," today: "...The real danger is the Greenwald-Snowden view that portrays America as the greatest threat to world freedom. Yet for all of their stolen secrets, they haven't turned up a single example of law-breaking or misuse of the collected metadata. The greatest threat to American, and for that matter French, liberty would be if their revelations lead to the end of the NSA's intelligence gathering in an increasingly dangerous world." More here.

Yesterday, the Obama administration held its first classified briefing with Congress over its high-stakes nuclear talks with Iran. FP's John Hudson: "Despite deep skepticism of White House engagement with Iran -- and despite a fresh lobbying effort by AIPAC -- exiting lawmakers appeared mollified by the State Department's chief nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman, who led this month's talks with Iran in Geneva. The talks between Iran and six world powers this month offer the Obama administration the chance to solve a key foreign policy goal: Preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon without the use of military force. But many in Congress fear Iran's newly-elected President Hassan Rouhani could be using the talks as a stalling tactic to reach breakout nuclear capacity. Despite those concerns, lawmakers expressed a willingness to give the administration's diplomatic efforts a chance."

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, Dem from Maryland, to Hudson, on sanctions: "All I know is that sanctions seem to be working and that's a positive... If they weren't working, Iran would not be reaching out at this point." Read the rest here.

Yesterday in Situation Report we referred to Jofi Joseph as "Josi," which of course is wrong. We knew better but it didn't show. Rookie mistake, our apologies for the stupidity of the typo - and the confusion it caused.

FP's David Rothkopf on @NatSecWonk: "...The fall of @NatSecWonk should serve as a cautionary tale to others who find that logging on to their Twitter and Facebook accounts offers as reliable a source of false courage as a couple of stiff drinks did for their parents. Hopefully, it will also lead his supervisors at the NSC to ask where they went wrong in their own messaging and management to allow such a dumbass misstep to occur. But in terms of long-term impact, it doesn't hold a candle to the posturing of the other NatSecWonks out there whom I have encountered on Twitter and in real life who have become the faux-knowing, world-weary apologists for the administration's National Security Agency (NSA) fiasco."

One of the Tweets Rothkopf sent @NatSecWonk at one point in August 2012: "Just because we have the technology to express every feeling we have in real time doesn't mean we should." Rothkopf's piece on FP, "False Fronts," here.

The wonk he knew. Time's Mike Crowley knew Jofi Joseph as did a lot of other people. Crowley: "On Twitter, Joseph railed against the humorless stiffs of the foreign policy establishment. About a Council on Foreign Relations event he once tweeted: ‘Is the Guiness World Record for largest density of tools in one room about to be broken?' That was a bit like the wrench calling the hammer a tool: [italics ours]. Joseph was a deeply-rooted denizen of that CFR world, a foreign policy professional who specialized in the technical realm of nuclear nonproliferation... Over lunch or coffee he was less interested in trashing colleagues than in diving deep on Iranian centrifuge capacity or deterrence theory in a post-Soviet world."

Jofi Joseph, in an e-mail to Crowley about something he'd written: "Picking up on your last post, Ken Waltz, a noted [international relations] academic, made the exact same argument in a seminal 1981 paper - the spread of nuclear weapons can deter conventional armed conflict.  It has invited considerable controversy - surely, more nukes is a bad thing, not a good thing - but the historical record offers considerable evidence in support of his argument. The situation in South Asia and the Cold War are just the two most notable examples."

Crowley: "It's hard to reconcile that dry academic voice with the one behind infantile, sometimes outright hateful tweets about Liz Cheney's weight, how a former senior Bush aide is a ‘dumb blonde airhead,' and the alleged venality of various Washingtonians-including some of his close colleagues-even if he did occasionally offer useful observations." More here.

What UP with the Early Bird? Military Times' Andrew Tilghman: "The Early Bird, the Defense Department's widely read summary of daily news reports, has been suspended pending an internal review...The Defense Department's public affairs directorate is ‘assessing the information products we provide to the department's senior leadership,' said Army Col. Steven Warren, a Pentagon spokesman... DoD's public affairs division is facing the same across-the-board budget cuts that are affecting all aspects of military operations. For years, news organizations have complained that the Early Bird was distributing content in violation of copyright laws and depriving publishers of potentially thousands of paid readers and website visitors." More here.

You've read by now that the WaPo corrected a ghastly mistake yesterday. It read: "An Oct. 14 Style article about access to the prison camp for terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, incorrectly referred to Navy Capt. Robert Durand as ‘thickset.' He should have been described as muscular." We have no idea who demanded the correction. Of course we do: it was Durand himself, who apparently sent a correction request, with photos, and copying the writer's editors.

Here's what a friend of Situation Report told us, speaking of Durand: "...he is genetically incapable of realizing that the change WaPo affected is actually making fun of him. It really is incredible.  I mean - really?!?  Who demands a correx over that?  Holy shit. Communicators across the National Capital Region are collectively, professionally embarrassed."