National Security

FP’s Situation Report: Anxiety grows in the Philippines; U.S.-Chinese mil ties deepen; Inhofe’s son killed in crash; Did a former soldier break bad in Mexico?; Is U.S. funding paying the Taliban?; And a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

Anxiety grows in the Philippines as the carrier USS George Washington sails that way and as 10,000 are feared dead, the official death toll is raised to 1,774, and tens of thousands of people are homeless. The NYT's Austin Ramzy and Gerry Mullany reporting from Cebu: "...Philippine officials found themselves on the defensive Tuesday over the pace of relief efforts as Manila struggled to get supplies to the airport in the city of Tacloban, where as many as 10,000 people were feared dead and most of its residents were struggling to get basic foodstuffs and water four days after Typhoon Haiyan struck on Friday."

Said Ricky Carandang, a spokesman for the Philippine president: "There are lots of remote areas that haven't received aid... The priority is to get food and water supplied. With communications partially functioning, with ports and roads blocked, we need to get that clear first. We need to get the roads clear before you can get the aid to them."

The Times: "The Philippine government expressed gratitude for the assistance, but it also appeared anxious to retain basic strategic controls, which may have had the unintended consequence of hampering some relief efforts. The Tacloban airport control tower was destroyed, for example, but the government did not ask the United States military to help manage air traffic control with a temporary replacement setup, as it has sometimes done elsewhere. Without a tower, all pilots flying into Tacloban were forced to land by sight, slowing deliveries." More here.

Everyone hates U.S. bases in Asia - until disaster strikes. FP's Dan Lamothe: "The American response - which includes the cruisers Antietam and Cowpens, the destroyers Mustin and Lassen, and the supply ship Charles Drew --  could become the latest example of the U.S. winning both good will and political points with an eastern Asian country while responding to natural disaster. In each case, the U.S. military's positioning of forces in the region allowed it to provide robust assistance more quickly and effectively than any other nation. That underscored the America's ability to respond to crisis when other countries -- especially China, a growing power -- was unwilling or unable to do so. That, despite opposition at worst and mixed feelings at best in some of those nations to the U.S. moving to increase the amount of forces it circulates through the Pacific." Read the rest here.

No Calm After the Storm - an FP Slideshow of the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. See that here.

Chinese troops drill with the U.S. military in Hawaii as ties deepen. Bloomberg: "People's Liberation Army soldiers will take part in humanitarian assistance drills in Hawaii until Nov. 14 with their U.S. counterparts, simulating relief operations after an earthquake hits a third country, according to a report on the website of the Communist Party's People's Daily newspaper. The drills, which follow a series of naval exercises off Hawaii in September, reflect deepened military ties between the U.S. and China even as they square off over allegations of Chinese military hacking and China's territorial disputes with U.S. allies Japan and the Philippines. Chinese ships are set to take part next year in the RIMPAC war games off the Hawaiian coast, multinational exercises that bring together militaries from across the Pacific Rim. While China has observed RIMPAC before, 2014 will mark the first time it's ever joined the drills." More here.

Just the facts? The WaPo's Fact Checker in Chief looks at Sarah Palin's comments on China, here. What Palin said Nov. 9: "Our free stuff [government programs] today is being paid for by taking money from our children and borrowing from China. When that money comes due - and this isn't racist, but it'll be like slavery when that note is due. We are going to beholden to the foreign master."

Welcome to Tuesday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to sign up for Situation Report, send us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. And if you like what you see, tell a friend. Register free for Situation Report and other FP products here.

As always, 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.

U.S. money to the tune of $150m is reportedly financing the Taliban and other networks. ABC's Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz and Megan Chuchmach: "The United States has paid more than $150 million to companies in Afghanistan that are accused of helping to finance terrorist attacks on American soldiers and facilities, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. ‘It's like the United States government subsidizing the Taliban, al Qaeda, the Haqqani network, those groups that are trying to shoot and kill our soldiers," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., a member of the Senate's Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, in an interview with ABC. A list of 43 companies in Afghanistan was compiled by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) using data from both classified Pentagon investigative reports and Commerce Department lists of terror-connected companies. Among them is a road construction company the U.S. says is partly owned by a leader of the brutal Haqqani network, which was blamed for an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that claimed 16 lives in 2011. The cover letter of a classified investigation by the U.S. Army said there was evidence of a direct role of both the company and its owners ‘in the facilitation and operation of the Haqqani Network' and that ‘approximately $1-2 million per month flow[s] to Haqqani Network to finance its activities.'" More here.

The militant Nasiruddin Haqqani - son of the founder of the Haqqani network - is gunned down in Pakistan. The NYT's Declan Walsh and Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud: "Nasiruddin Haqqani... was gunned down outside a bread store on Sunday night by a man riding a motorcycle, witnesses told Pakistani news media outlets.

Intelligence officials believe that he was a chief fund-raiser for the Haqqani network, one of the most lethal elements of the insurgency in Afghanistan, and he was designated as a ‘global terrorist' by the United States in 2010. Two commanders for the group confirmed his death on Monday. The killing added to an impression of increased turbulence for the militant groups harbored in Pakistan's tribal belt, including Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani network. Over just two months, one major leader has been arrested, two have been killed in a drone strike, and now a major financier - Mr. Haqqani - has died." More here.

The Taliban is threatening Afghanistan's Loya Jirga, which will determine U.S. presence there, by the WSJ's Nathan Hodge and Habib Khan Totakhil, here. 

Jim Inhofe's son was killed in a plane crash near Tulsa. Perry Inhofe, son of Sen. James Inhofe, Ranking member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, was killed Sunday in a plane crash near Tulsa when the plane he was piloting went down. Tulsa World's Jarrel Wade, Dylan Goforth and Kendrick Marshall: "...The plane that crashed Sunday is a Mitsubishi MU-2B-25 twin turboprop that was built in 1974, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. A National Transportation Safety Board briefing Monday evening confirmed that one person was on board and died in the wreck.

Officials said the post-crash fire has slowed the state Medical Examiner's Office's attempts to positively identify the pilot...Justin Allison of Tulsa was flying a plane minutes behind the one that crashed and said he heard air traffic controllers report that a plane in front of him had experienced engine failure. Allison said he, his wife and their baby were 90 seconds from landing when officials directed them to elevate from 2,500 feet to 5,000 feet and remain in a holding pattern. ‘I couldn't hear the pilot, but I heard the tower declare an emergency for him, which is a red-flag raiser, because usually the pilot will declare the emergency,' Allison said. ‘It makes you wonder what was going on in that cabin.' General Aviation News, a Wisconsin-based publication, reported in September that three generations of Inhofes, Jim Inhofe, Perry Inhofe, and Cole Inhofe, were pilots." More here.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, on Perry Inhofe's death: "My thoughts and prayers are with Jim and Kay and their family as they mourn this terrible loss.  The entire DoD community stands with the Inhofe's at this tragic time, with enduring appreciation for all they do on behalf of our military."

Suicide rates decline in the U.S. military, by AP's Lita Baldor, here.  

The Navy probes ties between Malaysian contractor, officers, by WSJ's Julian Barnes, here.

Is Snowden a Chinese spy or is Kurt Eichenwald, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, a conspiracy theorist? Kevin Gosztola, on Salon: "...There is no proof or evidence that Snowden has been working on behalf of China to expose U.S. state secrets that the country could use specifically to aid in its hacking against industrialized democracies around the world. Yet, in addition to this [Vanity Fair] feature story on Snowden, Eichenwald has spent hours upon hours on Twitter pushing a wild theory that what Snowden did makes him a spy. Being a Newsweek writer and Vanity Fair editor gives Eichenwald a level of credibility that leads people, who come into contact with his views, to take what he says seriously. He has put himself forward as an 'expert' on the Snowden story. He often acts like a serious person, who expects to be taken seriously. That is why it is worth examining some of what he has said and argued about Snowden." More here.

Did former American soldier Luis Ricardo Gonzalez (a.k.a. Javier Aguirre Cardenas) break bad in Mexico? AFP: "Authorities have detained a former US soldier accused of leading a gang of kidnappers in northern Mexico, officials said Monday. The 32-year-old suspect spearheaded a band of 16 people who operated in the states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Tamaulipas in the past four years, said Nuevo Leon security spokesman Jorge Domene. He carried two identities -- Luis Ricardo Gonzalez Garcia and Javier Aguirre Cardenas -- and moved to Nuevo Leon's industrial city of Monterrey from the United States in 2009, Domene said. He served in the US military between 1998-2002 before working as a police officer in Texas between 2002-2009, the spokesman said. The suspected gang leader is accused of ordering the September 25 kidnapping of Jorge Luis Martinez Martinez, the 70-year-old father of the mayor of the town of Zuazua, a suburb of Monterrey. More here.

Adam Kinzinger to The Cable on John Kerry's story of how the U.S.-Iran talks broke down: "I'm not buying it for a second." The Cable's Colum Lynch and John Hudson: "The U.S. and Iran blamed one another for imperiling political talks aimed at ending the West's nuclear standoff with Tehran, leaving allies and U.S. lawmakers with a choice: believe Washington's version of the story, or put their faith in Tehran's. Back in D.C., a number of U.S. members of Congress weren't sure who to trust, with some openly doubting the American account. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that France and the other members of the so-called "P5+1" powers were united in their offer to Iran -- and that it was Tehran that "couldn't take" the deal. But Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Cable he's skeptical. ‘I'm not buying it for a second," he said. Kinzinger found the initial reports that France torpedoed the deal despite American support for it ‘more credible.'" And, Kinzinger continued: "This looks like administration face-saving in wake of the French showing more spine than they had," he said. "And when the French are showing more spine than the Americans, that's scary." The rest here.

ICYMI: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei oversees a vast financial empire worth way more than anyone thought, Reuters reports in Part I of a series. Reuters' Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Yeganeh Torbati: "...Setad has become one of the most powerful organizations in Iran, though many Iranians, and the wider world, know very little about it. In the past six years, it has morphed into a business juggernaut that now holds stakes in nearly every sector of Iranian industry, including finance, oil, telecommunications, the production of birth-control pills and even ostrich farming. The organization's total worth is difficult to pinpoint because of the secrecy of its accounts. But Setad's holdings of real estate, corporate stakes and other assets total about $95 billion, Reuters has calculated. That estimate is based on an analysis of statements by Setad officials, data from the Tehran Stock Exchange and company websites, and information from the U.S. Treasury Department. Just one person controls that economic empire - Khamenei." More here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Security

Did the French scuttle the deal? Kerry says no, Western diplos say yes; What do you say to a vet?; The Navy suspends clearances for two intel guys; Tom Cruise didn’t compare his hardships to those deployed to Afg after all; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

The French signed off on the proposed deal with Iran, Kerry insists. "The French signed off on it, we signed off on it," Kerry told the AP, adding: "There was unity but Iran couldn't take it."

But Western diplomats tell a different story to FP's Colum Lynch and Yochi Dreazen: "Western and Iranian negotiators were putting the finishing touches on a far-reaching nuclear deal. Then, at virtually the last minute, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius joined in the talks. It didn't take long for the negotiations to unravel -- and for Fabius to publicly declare this round of the talks to be over. It wasn't the answer U.S., European or Iranian teams had been expecting. One Western official said Paris hadn't been particularly involved in the painstaking negotiations that had taken place in the run-up to this weekend's talks in Geneva. ‘The French were barely involved in this,' one Western diplomat said. ‘They didn't get looped in until a few days ago.' Yet the French response shouldn't have been a total surprise. The socialist government of French President François Hollande has adopted a muscular foreign policy that has put it to the right of the Obama administration on Libya, Mali, Syria and now Iran. Along the way, it has also become Israel's primary European ally and -- after the U.S. -- arguably its closest friend in the world." More here.

The Iranian deputy industry minister - shot dead. Reuters: "An unidentified attacker shot dead an Iranian deputy minister of industry in Tehran on Sunday, the state news agency IRNA reported, in what appeared the first reported killing of a senior central government official in years. Safdar Rahmat Abadi was shot in the head and chest as he got into his car in the east of the capital, IRNA said, quoting witnesses as saying the attack occurred at about 7:50 p.m. ‘Investigations show that two shots were fired from inside the vehicle,' the agency quoted a police official as saying." More here.

Earlier this fall, an alleged Iranian cyber commander was killed earlier; from The Telegraph, Oct. 2: "Mojtaba Ahmadi, who served as commander of the Cyber War Headquarters, was found dead in a wooded area near the town of Karaj, north-west of the capital, Tehran. Five Iranian nuclear scientists and the head of the country's ballistic missile programme have been killed since 2007. The regime has accused Israel's external intelligence agency, the Mossad, of carrying out these assassinations."

Welcome to Monday's Veterans Day edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to sign up for Situation Report, send us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. And if you like what you see, tell a friend. Register free for Situation Report and other FP products here.

As always, 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.

Not sure what to say to a veteran today or any day? "You're welcome." Army veteran Chris Marvin explains in this WaPo op-ed:

"...Many civilians may genuinely wish to have played a larger role in America's recent conflicts - if only from the home front. In lieu of participation, they offer thanks. Society has normalized this practice, with the result that some Americans consider uttering thanks to be a fulfillment of their patriotic duties... This Veterans Day, on behalf of my fellow Afghanistan and Iraq veterans, I say to the country: There's no need to thank us. You're welcome for our service. But take a minute to talk with us. Ask us where we served, learn about what we did in the military and find out what's next in our lives." Marvin founded Got Your 6, described as a campaign to bridge the civilian military divide. Click for that here.

Chuck Hagel today, along with top DOD officials and POTUS and others will attend the 60th Annual National Veterans Day Observance ceremony at 11 am. at Arlington.

Transitions: This broke veteran is doing just fine, a former Marine writes. Ethan Rocke, writing on Business Insider: "After marking the second anniversary of my exit from military service a couple weeks ago, a Marine buddy asked me to write a short essay about successfully transitioning to civilian life. I was a bit surprised by the request because I don't exactly fit the American ideal of success, at least not by the most common measurement - personal wealth." More here.

Take a moment to say "whoa": At 107, Richard Overton is believed to be the oldest living veteran. The Houston Chronicle's Kolten Parker: "Richard Overton, believed to be the oldest living United States veteran at 107, accepted a box of cigars and a standing ovation Thursday with a humble demeanor and a beaming smile. More than 100 people packed a conference room at the Stephen F. Austin building in downtown Austin to attend a pre-Veterans Day ceremony in Austin honoring Overton and Ken Wallingford, who spent 10 months in a tiger cage as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. "I've gotten so many letters and so many thank yous and I enjoy every bit of it, but I'm still going to enjoy some more," said Overton, who is planning a visit with President Barack Obama [this] week in Washington, D.C." More here. Click bait: Watch Homeless veteran Jim Wolf, who served in the Army, be transformed from down and out street guy to looking like a CEO, here.

Boots to Business: How vets are getting trained up, as they say, to work in business: a program that includes MGM in Vegas has hired 40 vets so far. From the Review-Journal's Richard Lake: "...[Brian Tierney] joined the Reserves to get some income. He got married. Had another son and named him after the man who had been his mentor in the Marines and died after stepping on a land mine. He moved his family to California for more military training. Had a daughter. He did some coaching and some charity work, which is where everything changed. He went to MGM Springfield, a planned, $800 million resort and casino in Massachusetts, looking for a donation. He got to talking to the people there. His status as a war veteran came up. Someone mentioned a new program the company had just started, Boots to Business. MGM executive Michelle DiTondo started the program last year. She is, in effect, in charge of the company's 62,000 employees, including the 50,000 in Las Vegas. She is the company's vice president for human resources." More here.

How transition for veterans is helping the nursing shortage. Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg: "...So this Veterans Day, Arvizu, 38, is winding up his career with a Florida National Guard unit and getting ready to embark on a transition that's a sign of the times: Starting in January he will leave his day job and use the post-9/11 G.I. Bill to plunge into a new program at Florida International University - with a study plan to become a registered nurse in just one year. The program seeks to tap the talent that has come home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and help likely mostly male, battle-tested medics fine-tune their skills for civilian life. And help stem the national nursing shortage, too." Read the rest here.

Friday night dump: The Navy just benched two intel admirals over the corruption scandal that is rocking the service. FP's Dan Lamothe with a minor assist from Situation Report: "The U.S. Navy's widening scandal involving prostitutes, cash bribes and the fat-cat defense contractor who allegedly supplied them for sensitive military information just expanded to colossal proportions. The Navy announced Friday night that it has suspended access to classified information for two senior intelligence officers, effectively relieving them from duty. It's all part of the ongoing investigation into global defense Glenn Defense Marine Asia. And the Pentagon is warning that more officers are likely to be implicated in this scandal, the Navy's biggest in decades. Vice Adm. Ted Branch, pictured above, and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless -- the service's director of naval intelligence and director of intelligence operations, respectively -- have not been charged with any crimes. But the suspension ‘was deemed prudent given the sensitive nature [of] their current duties and to protect and support the integrity of the investigative process,' said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Navy's top spokesman, in a statement." More here.

60 Minutes apologized for its Benghazi story last night. But the HuffPo's Michael Calderone says CBS should stop saying its sorry and start explaining - what happened. Calderone: "...Still, Sunday's brief acknowledgment didn't resemble a news program seriously trying to get to the bottom of how it got duped. Logan didn't address during the show how Davies came to be a source for "60 Minutes," the vetting process of his account, whether the FBI was contacted during the original reporting or after doubts were raised, and the connection between the television booking on Oct. 27 and publication by a CBS subsidiary on Oct. 29." More here.

Is this from the Department of Conspiracy Theories? We're not yet sure. But... Rolling Stone's Mike Hastings (of Stan McChrystal fame) wasn't killed - was he? New York magazine has this big piece on the question, here.

Does Tom Cruise think being a movie star is as tough if not tougher than serving in Afghanistan? Actually, no. The Atlantic Wire: "...TMZ first accused Cruise of comparing filming a movie to a tour in Afghanistan on Saturday. The quotes came from legal documents related to a $50 million libel suit against a publishing company over accusations Cruise abandoned his daughter Suri after his divorce from Katie Holmes. ‘That's what it feels like,' Cruise said, referring to the Afghanistan comparison. ‘And certainly on this last movie, it was brutal. It was brutal.' But we now know the truth behind this ridiculous rumor thanks to CNN's Jake Tapper. The accusations originate from a deposition in the libel suit." What Cruise really said in the exchange during the deposition:  "Now your counsel has publicly equated your absence from Suri for these extended periods of time as being analogous to someone fighting in Afghanistan," opposing counsel asks him. ‘Are you aware of that?' ‘I didn't hear the Afghanistan,' Cruise replies. ‘That's what it feels like and certainly on this last movie it was brutal. it was brutal.' ‘Do you believe that the situations are the same?' Cruise is asked. ‘Oh come on,' Cruise says, 'you know, we're making a movie.' More here.