National Security

FP’s Situation Report: Bombers play chicken in China’s “ADIZ;” A workaround for Afg.?; The NSA tracked radicals’ porn; Logan suspended from 60 Minutes; Mike Morell goes to Beacon; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

The U.S. may try to bypass the recalcitrant Karzai. The Los Angeles Times' David Cloud and David Zucchino: "U.S. officials seeking to resolve a tense standoff with Afghan President Hamid Karzai were exploring on Tuesday whether they could bypass him and get other senior officials to sign a security deal authorizing American troops to remain in the country after 2014.?A day after Karzai abruptly said he would not sign unless Washington agreed to additional conditions, the Obama administration was pushing for Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani or another official to endorse the agreement on behalf of the government in Kabul, several U.S. officials said. The Pentagon has been saying for months that it needs the security pact in place by the end of the year to give planners time to draft deployment schedules and secure funding for post-2014 operations." More here.

Checkers or chess? Karzai seems to be playing poker while the U.S. claims it is playing for keeps. The NYT's Rod Nordland and Alissa Rubin: "In the face of a warning delivered in person on Monday by the national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, that the United States would consider leaving no troops at all in Afghanistan past 2014 if Mr. Karzai did not promptly sign a long-term security agreement, he has made it clear that he considers it a bluff. Not only did he refuse to sign, he added conditions, including the release of all inmates from the Guantánamo Bay prison camp. He is, in effect, betting billions of dollars in international assistance that the United States does not want to go. His close aides have echoed that assessment through the recent days of diplomatic crisis. (‘We don't believe there's any zero option,' his spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said recently.)

"But their optimism was not widely shared in Afghanistan on Tuesday, as Ms. Rice flew back to Washington with no promise of the follow-up talks Mr. Karzai said he wanted to pursue. Even many of Mr. Karzai's friends were criticizing his refusal to conclude a deal." More here.

Welcome to Wednesday's pre-hiatus edition of Situation Report. We wish you a great Thanksgiving, we thank you for reading and we'll see you first thing Monday. 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, you gotta say something -- to Situation Report. One more thing: please follow us @glubold.

The U.S. sends two B-52 bombers through China's new air zone to show Beijing what's what. WSJ's Julian Barnes and Jeremy Page: "The U.S. moved forcefully to try to counter China's bid for influence over increasingly jittery Asian neighbors by sending a pair of B-52 bombers over disputed islands in the East China Sea, U.S. officials said Tuesday. The B-52s took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and flew more than 1,500 miles northwest, crossing into what China has declared as its new air-defense identification zone, at about 7 p.m. ET Monday. The U.S. deliberately violated rules set by China by refusing to inform Beijing about the flight, officials said. China had warned of military action against aircraft entering the zone without notification, but didn't respond to the B-52s, which weren't armed and were part of a long-planned military exercise. A U.S. official said there was no attempt by the Chinese military to contact the B-52s... Wednesday morning, in Beijing's first public comment on the flight, the Ministry of National Defense said in a faxed response to the Wall Street Journal that the Chinese military monitored and identified the U.S. aircraft." WSJ story, including helpful map, here.  China responded to the B-52 flight - WSJ online post here.

It's not a coincidence that China's national defense posture looks a lot like America's. FP's own Issac Stone Fish: "...China's publication of the [ADIZ] is undeniably a provocation (so, too, the U.S. response). But it is also, in Chinese eyes at least, in line with international norms of airspace and transparency. The United States has a clearly defined ADIZ; the website of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warns of ‘use of force' in the ‘case of non-compliance.' (Secretary of State John Kerry said in a Nov. 23 statement that the United States ‘does not apply its ADIZ procedures to foreign aircraft not intending to enter U.S. national airspace.') On Nov. 25, Yang Yujun, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense, responded to a question about the U.S. government ‘concern' about China's decision. ‘Since the 1950s the United States and more than 20 other countries,' including Japan, have set up ADIZs, he said. For the United States to oppose this is ‘utterly unreasonable.'" More here.

Flournoy, who may have a Pentagon in the future weighs in on all of this. Defense News' John Bennett: "Michèle Flournoy... provided some comments about the future of the U.S.-China relationship just minutes after news broke that the U.S. flew two B-52 bombers over a massive swath of ocean China now says it owns - and claims the right to defend with force, if necessary - without notifying Beijing. During an Aspen Institute-sponsored luncheon in Washington, Flournoy offered "two lessons" from past U.S. defense drawdowns that followed American wars she believes should drive the current one. Flournoy called the relationship with Beijing ‘the most important strategic question we will face in coming decades.' What's more, Flournoy hopes U.S. officials (her former colleagues) will soon finalize "a vision" for U.S.-Sino relations ‘beyond 2014.' Washington must ‘support China' in becoming ‘a more responsible stakeholder globally,' she said." Read the rest on DN's "Intercepts" blog here.

Air Force up-and-comer Gen. Hawk Carlisle of "PAC-AF" talks about the role of engaging Asian partners as part of the Pivot. Breaking Defense's Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake: "Both in his presentation as well as during the interview, the general highlighted the importance of practical steps to enhance allied collaboration. He highlighted in the public presentation the growing role of collaboration among the Pacific allies and the importance of that for U.S. policy as well... he noted that the U.S.-Japanese relationship is undergoing a fundamental transformation. The Japanese are clearly rethinking their defense posture and he argued that the U.S. was working much more deeply and comprehensively with the Japanese defense forces than even two years ago." More here.

Did the NSA spy on porn habits of radicals? Apparently so. On HuffPo, Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Grimm and Ryan Gallagher: "The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as ‘exemplars' of how 'personal vulnerabilities' can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target's credibility, reputation and authority. The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. ‘A previous SIGINT' -- or signals intelligence, the interception of communications -- "assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent," the document argues. Among the vulnerabilities listed by the NSA that can be effectively exploited are ‘viewing sexually explicit material online' and ‘using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.' More here.

Who's really running the NSA? FP's Shane Harris tell us it's Fran Fleisch, the NSA's executive director. Harris: "Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director, and his deputy, Chris Inglis, along with a number of other senior-level staff are frequently out of the office as the agency grapples with the public and political fallout of the unprecedented series of leaks by former contractor Edward Snowden. They spend much of their time in meetings at the White House; answering questions for lawmakers and congressional staff; giving public speeches and press interviews; and responding to voluminous official requests for information about the agency's programs amid ongoing investigations and reviews. Fleisch is almost never with them when they leave the agency's headquarters at Ft. Meade, Maryland -- the recent day on the Hill was a rare exception. It's her job to stay behind and keep the United States' biggest intelligence agency online while its leaders are putting out fires." Read the rest of that bit here.

Rosa Brooks on the Iran deal: "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the slightly less crummy of the realistic alternatives." Brooks: "...The choice we truly face is less appealing:  Do we want a bellicose Iran that has the ability to produce nuclear weapons within a matter of months and is unremittingly hostile to U.S. interests? Or do we want an Iran that has the ability to produce nuclear weapons within a matter of months, but is no longer as unremittingly hostile to U.S. interests? I'll take the latter, thanks very much. It's not perfect. It's not even good. But it's a whole lot better than the alternative." More here.

Lara Logan and her producer are suspended from '60 Minutes' for the discredited Benghazi report. CNN's Brian Stelter: "...Logan's longtime producer, Max McClellan, is also taking time off. CBS suggested that the leaves of absence were punitive measures for the shortcomings in the Benghazi report, which has stung the reputations of both Logan and the program that televised her report, ‘60 Minutes.' With the staff announcements on Tuesday and the release of an internal review, CBS tried to demonstrate that it has figured out what went wrong with its Benghazi report and taken steps to stop similar mistakes in the future...But the network declined to comment further on what changes were being implemented or on when Logan might return to work. Logan has not talked publicly about the Benghazi report since she apologized for it on November 10, and it looks unlikely that she will talk anytime soon... [Al Ortiz, the head of standards and practices for CBS] also faulted the ‘60 Minutes' staff with keeping its interview to itself - something that outside critics said weeks ago when questions about the report were first raised. ‘The fact that the FBI and the State Department had information that differed from the account Davies gave to '60 Minutes' was knowable before the piece aired," Ortiz wrote. "But the wider reporting resources of CBS News were not employed in an effort to confirm his account. It's possible that reporters and producers with better access to inside FBI sources could have found out that Davies had given varying and conflicting accounts of his story.' Full story here.

Ash Carter moves on. DepSecDef Ash Carter is headed out of the Pentagon Dec. 4. The NYT's Thom Shanker: "Amid the awards and decorations on display in the Pentagon office of Ashton B. Carter, the departing deputy secretary of defense, is a metal bearing, larger than a golf ball, which wears the scars of battle. If the signature weapon of tenacious insurgents over the past decade-plus of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was the improvised roadway explosive, then the signature weapon of the American response was the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle, or MRAP. The ball bearing so prized by Mr. Carter came from one of the vehicles, easily recognizable by their angular shape, to deflect blast, and outsize outside armor. First as the Pentagon's under secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, and then as the department's deputy, Mr. Carter played a central role in the initiative to rush MRAPs to Afghanistan for the troop surge, circumventing the calcified procurement system that traditionally takes years to move a weapon from idea to the front lines.

Carter: "I very much hope we can retain that agility...Rapid fielding - not on a Cold War schedule of years and decades, because that's how slowly the Soviet Union changed, but on weeks and months, because that's how fast the battlefield has changed in Iraq and Afghanistan." The rest here.

Urination video saga: Duncan Hunter asks Mabus to review the case of Capt. James Clement. Marine Corps' Times Hope Hodge Seck: "A California congressman has reached out to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on behalf of a Marine captain facing discharge for his role in the scout sniper urination scandal. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., wrote Mabus Nov. 26 asking that he consider the appeal of Capt. James Clement, the former executive officer of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines. Clement, who was not present for the urination incident, served as the radio operator on the 2011 patrol in which scout snipers were filmed urinating on enemy corpses and engaging in other questionable battlefield behavior. During a board of inquiry at Quantico, Va., on mid-October, a panel of three colonels determined that Clement failed to demonstrate leadership required of an officer of his grade and failed to properly discharge the duties expected of his grade and experience. They recommended that he be honorably discharged." The rest here. The letter Hunter sent to Mabus, provided to Situation Report, here.

What former official isn't working for Bash, Reines, Allen and Shapiro, right? Beacon Global Strategies, home to a slew of former administration officials, including from State, DoD and the White House, has hired former Deputy Director of the CIA Mike Morell as counselor. Beacon, a "strategic advisory firm" works on international policy, defense, cyber, intel and homeland security issues. "Mr. Morell will be an invaluable resource to the firm's clients, particularly those working to strengthen our nation's cyber security." Last week, the firm announced it had hired Julianne Smith and Josh Kirshner and had brought on Brian Hook as the firm's first advisory board member. Press release here.

Did a former Marine-waitress in New Jersey pretend customers slighted her because she was gay? Unclear. But it seems possible at this point. More here.

 

 

 

National Security

FP’s Situation Report: Demands and more demands in Afg; IG takes a pass on Amos; On Iran deal, why doves should worry; Obama’s move to diplomacy over military might; Penty could cut Stripes; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

More and more demands: Karzai meets with Rice in Kabul. The WaPo's Tim Craig and Karen DeYoung: "Efforts by the United States and Afghanistan to finalize a long-term security arrangement appeared on the brink of collapse Monday as Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a new set of demands, and the Obama administration said it would be forced to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of 2014. In a two-hour meeting here, Susan E. Rice, President Obama's top national security adviser, told Karzai that if he failed to sign the bilateral security agreement by the end of this year, the United States would have "no choice" but to prepare for withdrawal, according to a statement by the National Security Council in Washington." More here.

The White House readout on Rice's visit: "...Ambassador Rice stressed that we have concluded negotiations and that deferring the signature of the agreement until after next year's elections is not viable, as it would not provide the United States and NATO allies the clarity necessary to plan for a potential post-2014 military presence. Nor would it provide Afghans with the certainty they deserve regarding their future, in the critical months preceding elections." More here.

Rand's Seth Jones: forget Karzai and move on. Jones, author of "In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan" and also a former special adviser to U.S. special operations forces, argues in the WSJ today that the U.S. should resist temptation to let Karzai's latest games force it out of a long-term relationship with the country. His BLUF: "As whimsical as Mr. Karzai can be, it would be imprudent to let a lame duck Afghan president undermine U.S. national security interests. And the stalled bilateral security agreement may not be the most significant problem. The administration hasn't yet made a forceful, public case for keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan past 2014, with specifics of what a U.S. commitment would look like. It needs to do that now." More here.

Lessons from the Taliban: Afghanistan looks at returning to stoning as punishment for adulterers, Aljazeera here.

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, you gotta say something -- to Situation Report. One more thing: please follow us @glubold.

Major muscle movements: Obama says "tough talk and bluster" may be easier, "but it's not the right thing for our security." The NYT's Mark Landler on the White House's big shift after two wars: "...But it also reflects a broader scaling-back of the use of American muscle, not least in the Middle East, as well as a willingness to deal with foreign governments as they are rather than to push for new leaders that better embody American values. "Regime change," in Iran or even Syria, is out; cutting deals with former adversaries is in. For Mr. Obama, the shift to diplomacy fulfills a campaign pledge from 2008 that he would stretch out a hand to America's enemies and speak to any foreign leader without preconditions. But it will also subject him to considerable political risks, as the protests about the Iran deal from Capitol Hill and allies in the Middle East attest." Read the rest here.

Chuck Hagel praises Iran deal, worries aloud about Afghanistan. USA Today's Tom Vanden Brook: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in his first public statements about the high-stakes talks with Iran, said Monday that the deal to slow the country's nuclear ambitions poses "minimal" risks for the United States. ‘Yes, there's risk in this, of course,' Hagel said in an interview with USA TODAY. ‘Nothing worthwhile ever comes without some risk. But I think the risk is very minimal for us in this.' At his office at the Pentagon, Hagel also talked about the troubled negotiations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to reach a deal that would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 and discussed the military's sexual assault crisis." More here.

The Pentagon's watchdog takes a pass on allegations against Jim Amos. FP's Dan Lamothe: "When a Marine Corps lawyer accused the service's top general and his staff of misconduct in their handling of legal cases tied to an embarrassing war-zone video, it created a firestorm on Capitol Hill, in the active-duty ranks, and in national media. But eight months later, it's now clear the Pentagon's watchdog agency took a pass on investigating the whistle-blower's most serious allegations -- that senior Marine officials deliberately and unlawfully interfered in the legal cases of Marines accused of war crimes and classified information to cover up their manipulation of the military justice system." More here.

No love: The WaPo put on its Page One today a story about how the CIA will likely retain most drone operations instead of relinquishing them to the Defense Department. But the story in the WaPo, which can be notoriously bad at giving credit when it's due, never mentioned one fact: Foreign Policy broke that bit fair-and-square three weeks ago. The WaPo piece here. Our story with Shane Harris Nov. 5, "The CIA, not the Pentagon, Will Keep Running Obama's Drone War," here. 

Ted Cruz on FP: the dangerous, wrongheaded deal with Iran and his BLUF: "The administration has gotten it backwards and it is time to reverse course before any further damage is done." More here.

FP's David Rothkopf on why hawks should love the deal with Iran - and why doves should worry. Rothkopf: "The reflexive reaction of Iran hawks to condemn the interim accord struck in Geneva this weekend is as wrongheaded as the triumphal assessments of those suggesting it ushers in a new, more hopeful era in the region's history. This deal, hard-won as it has been, is just a tentative if hopeful step down a long and twisting road fraught with dangers. For the hawks to suggest that the deal freezing Iranian uranium-enrichment efforts above the 5 percent level, halting work on the heavy-water reactor near Arak, and granting daily inspections to Iran's centrifuge-laden facilities at Natanz and Fordow makes matters more dangerous in the short term is just indefensible on its face. Absent such a deal, all enrichment and technological advancement efforts would continue unabated and without inspections. Iran would almost certainly move more quickly toward having a bomb without this deal than with it." More here.

FP's Colum Lynch on how Iran could be the cause - or the solution - to Syria's humanitarian crisis: "The United States and Iran, having clinched a landmark interim deal suspending some aspects of Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, turned their attention this week to addressing the humanitarian crisis in Syria. The long-standing adversaries were scheduled to attend a dinner tonight hosted by Britain's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and participate tomorrow in U.N.-sponsored conference at the Palais de Nations aimed at persuading Syria's combatants to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid. The conference -- which will bring key regional and international powers together -- will provide the first major test of whether progress on the nuclear front can be converted into political progress and an improvement in living conditions for millions of needy civilians in Syria." More here.

The Marines beef up embassy security post Benghazi, Politico's Kate Brannen, here.

Asian airlines to acknowledge China's new "air defense identification zone." Reuters: "...An official at the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau said Japanese airlines flying through the region to non-mainland Chinese destinations would likely need to inform China of their plans. "Airlines have been advised to take greater care in the area," said another bureau official. Singapore Airlines and Qantas Airways Ltd said they would keep Chinese authorities informed of their flights through the area. Korean Air said its flight plans would be delivered to Chinese authorities but the routes its pilots took would not be affected. Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings also said the zone had not affected their flights." More here.

An Air Force one star goes to three. Air Force Times' Jeff Schogol: "...Yes, you're reading that right: Air Force Brig. Gen. Christopher Burne has been nominated to catapult over his second star and get his third star as the next judge advocate general of the Air Force. If confirmed by the Senate, Burne would start his new job in February, replacing Lt. Gen. Richard Harding, whose retirement is expected but the date has not been announced, according to the Air Force. ‘Though uncommon, it's not unheard of for senior leaders to be selected in this manner,' Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Allen Herritage said. ‘Our sister services have done this on occasion as well.' More here.

An American sailor will appear in an Australian court in January after being arrested for an alleged aggravated sexual assault on a woman in Darwin. Stripes: "The unidentified sailor, who was stationed aboard the USS Denver, was arrested by Australian police Sept. 11 on suspicion of assaulting the woman but was released to the Navy two days later. The case was reported by Australian media for the first time this week."

Speaking of Stripes newspaper, the Pentagon may de-fund them. Stripes: "The Pentagon, under intense pressure to maintain American military might in an era of sequestration and falling budgets, is considering the elimination of Stars and Stripes and the Pentagon Channel as well as programming cuts to American Forces Network. The Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, which answers to the secretary of Defense, has been tasked with reviewing spending on all such media products. The Pentagon typically refuses comment on budget studies while in process, and when asked for information on the scope and intent of the review, officials would only say all of DOD is currently the subject of a top-to-bottom spending review ordered by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. ‘In this budget environment, we're looking at everything,' said Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban, spokesman for the cost assessment office." More here.

Our story about the Pentagon thinking about defunding the Pentagon Channel, Sept. 20, here.