National Security

FP's Situation Report: Obama admin goes after former SEAL and No Easy Day author for book profits; Afg. election results out today; Are neocons returning as neoneocons? Shin Shoji's worst moment in 'this town'; And a bit more.

 

By Gordon Lubold

Hamas vows to avenge the deaths of its fighters. There was a new, deeper cycle of violence in the Middle East this morning that darkened the prospect of peace anytime soon. The NYT's Isabel Kershner this morning: "Hamas's military wing said on Monday that seven of its fighters from Rafah in southern Gaza had been killed in Israeli airstrikes, its heaviest losses in months, and vowed to avenge their deaths, warning on its website that 'the Zionist enemy will pay a heavy price.' More than 20 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel late Sunday and early Monday. One reached deep into Israeli territory, crashing into open ground near Beersheba, about 25 miles from the border with Gaza. The cycle of violence has continued in the wake of the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last month and the grisly revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem last week." More here.

Al Jazeera: "Israeli airstrikes killed at least nine Palestinian fighters Sunday in the deadliest exchange of fire since the latest round of attacks began weeks ago. Seven fighters from the Al Qassam brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were killed when an air strike hit a tunnel at Rafah, in the south of Gaza. Two of the men from the Al Hussinin brigade, a military group belonging to Fatah, were targeted by drone strikes east of the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza on Sunday, witnesses said. Four civilians were wounded when Israeli jets fired a rocket at a field near their house in the northern Gaza Strip in Beit Hanon." More here.

The U.S. chides Israel for the treatment of the American teen. FP's Kate Brannen, this morning: "The State Department said Sunday that it was 'profoundly troubled' by Israel's treatment of a Palestinian-American who was detained and allegedly beaten by Israeli security personnel, unusually harsh words from the Obama administration that point to a growing divide between the American and Israeli governments. Tariq Khdeir, a high school sophomore visiting Jerusalem from Tampa, Fla., was arrested Thursday and held for three nights in Israeli before being released Sunday under house arrest after his family posted bail.

"A video posted online appears to show Israeli police officers hitting and kicking him before the arrest. In addition to the video, there are photos of Khdeir's face, disfigured with a black eye and swollen lip. It sparked outrage among Palestinians, who are already up in arms over the killing of Khdeir's 16-year-old cousin, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, whose body was found beaten and burned in a Jerusalem forest on Wednesday.

"...Combined, these events have thrown Israel into a new cycle of violence that threatens to further unravel any chance of restarting the peace talks that collapsed in April. 'The focus of diplomacy now needs to be crisis management and a prevention of a further deterioration of conditions of the ground,' said Robert Danin, a senior fellow at the Center on Foreign Relations. 'There is no real prospect of bringing the parties back to the negotiating table for the foreseeable future.'" More here.

Meantime, an Iraqi general is killed during an operation west of Baghdad, AP reports this morning. AP: ..."Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan Ibrahim said Iraqi army Sixth Division commander Maj. Gen. Najim Abdullah Ali was overseeing a raid Monday outside the village of Karma when a mortar round exploded nearby, killing him. The Sixth Division is deployed in the Sunni-dominated areas west of Baghdad, which is one of the most active fronts in the government's fight against militants led by the Islamic State extremist group. The Sunni militants seized control of the city of Fallujah, near Karma, and parts of the provincial capital of Ramadi earlier this year." More here.

Airstrikes slam into Mosul the day after ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdad made that big speech over the weekend. The WaPo's Abigail Hauslohner: "Warplanes carried out multiple bombing raids in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Sunday, a day after the leader of a powerful al-Qaeda-inspired militant group appeared online in a video from the city's main mosque. Residents of the city, reached by phone, said airstrikes shook the city at least three times Sunday, starting at dawn. It remains unclear what force carried out the airstrikes. The U.S. Defense Department said that it had no knowledge of the airstrikes and that U.S. forces were not involved. An Iraqi government official in Baghdad said he had no information about any airstrikes near Mosul." More here.

On Thursday at the Pentagon, Hagel and Dempsey talked Iraq and left open the door that U.S. troops could fight there. FP's Kate Brannen, here.

Welcome to Monday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to be one of our subscribers, we'd love to have you. Sign up for Situation Report by just sending us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. Like what you see? Tell a friend.  And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, you, send it to us early for maximum tease. And the more shovel-ready, the better. And hey! Follow us: @glubold and @njsobe4.

The Obama administration is finally going after the former Navy SEAL who wrote the bestseller No Easy Day about the bin Laden raid. Lubold exclusive: "...The Justice Department and the Pentagon are in settlement talks, which have not previously been reported, with No Easy Day author Matt Bissonnette, who wrote the book in 2012 under the pseudonym Mark Owen. The book bumped Fifty Shades of Grey from the top of the USA Today best-seller list when it was first published and has gone on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies. The book infuriated many at the Pentagon and in the secretive Special Operations community because Bissonnette didn't submit it for a pre-publication review designed to prevent the disclosure of any top-secret information about the raid.

A Pentagon spokesman: "The department continues to assert forcefully that Mark Owen breached his legal obligations by publishing the book without pre-publication review and clearance... Settlement negotiations continue with an intent to pursue litigation if talks break down."

"The Pentagon has long said that 'all options are on the table' when it came to the book. But defense officials have only hinted that the government would go after the proceeds of the book if Bissonnette didn't participate meaningfully in settlement negotiations.

Pentagon officials hadn't said, until now, that the administration was actively seeking to seize the funds from the book and would pursue charges against the author if those negotiations failed."

Bob Luskin, the attorney for Owen/Bissonnette: "We are indeed in discussions with the DOD about a possible resolution of this matter and I'm optimistic that they will be successful... Beyond that, I really don't want to comment." Read more here.

Clashes in Yemen between rebels and tribesman kill 35. AP's Ahmed Al-Haj, on some of the worst fighting there in months, here.

And Yemeni air force bombs Houthi rebels after ceasefire collapses, in Asharq al-Awsat over the weekend, here.

Today in Afghanistan, election authorities are expected to unveil preliminary results of the presidential run-off. Bloomberg's Eltaf Najafizada early this morning: "...Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister who won the first round of voting in April, is boycotting the results after accusing the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan of stuffing ballot boxes in favor of Ghani, a former World Bank economist. His camp wants today's announcement delayed again. 'We will not accept the preliminary results until clean votes are separated from fraudulent votes,' Abdullah told reporters in Kabul yesterday. 'The international community wants a government based on legitimate votes.'" More here.

Germany wants answers from the U.S. on the spy. The whole U.S. monitoring Merkel's calls thing was bad enough for German citizens. But then, on Friday, there emerged the story of the German citizen accused of spying for the U.S. Countries spy on each other all the time. Yet this one was troubling for many in German. The NYT's Alison Smale: "With mystery enveloping a German intelligence service employee accused of spying - reportedly for the United States - German officials and commentators on Sunday angrily demanded a response from Washington, warning that an already troubled relationship was at risk of deteriorating to a new low. The demands for a statement from the United States were nevertheless couched in cautious terms, suggesting that the scandal, which exploded on Friday when Germany's federal prosecutor reported the arrest of the 31-year-old employee of the Federal Intelligence Service, might not be as bad as initially feared." More here.

How it's seen over there: "Enough!" say Germans over spying, from Germany's The Local, here.

And, Merkel of course takes it all very seriously. Deutche Welle: "...German-US relations have been on the rocks since revelations of mass surveillance not only on German citizens, but also on Chancellor Angela Merkel and other politicians made headlines last year. Chancellor Merkel's spokesperson, Steffen Seibert... described [the situation] as 'very serious.' Espionage is 'not something we take lightly,' Seibert told reporters in Berlin." More here.

For Ukrainian forces battling Russian separatists, a feeling of accomplishment. The NYT's David Herszenhorn on Page One: "When pro-Russian rebels first fanned out across eastern Ukraine in April, seizing public buildings, ousting local officials and blockading streets and highways, the government's security forces - a ragtag lot of poorly equipped and understaffed military and police units - were largely paralyzed by dysfunction and defection... In the past week, however, after President Petro O. Poroshenko called off a cease-fire and ordered his troops to end the rebellion by force, an entirely different Ukrainian military appeared to arrive at the front.

"Soldiers retook an important checkpoint at the Russian border, routed insurgents from the long-occupied city of Slovyansk, and, on Sunday, began to tighten a noose around the regional capital of Donetsk ahead of a potentially decisive showdown... the recent success, however tentative, reflects what officials and analysts described as a remarkable, urgent transformation of the military and security apparatus in recent months." More here.

What's on your summer reading list? Here's what David Petraeus, chairman of KKR Global Institute and visiting professor of public policy at the City University of New York's Macaulay Honors College told Politico magazine: "I recommend the just-published Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman, by Robert O'Connell-a superb examination of the many facets of the iconic Union general who emerged as Ulysses S. Grant's most trusted battlefield commander. O'Connell's biography of Sherman brings to life an enigmatic, fascinating figure who emerged a brilliant strategist and a master of maneuver, and whose victories in 1864 helped to ensure Abraham Lincoln's re-election and ultimately turned the tide of the Civil War." 31 more folks tell Politico magazine what they're reading this summer, here.

Speaking of Politico and retired senior officers, Denny Blair's take on Japan's military-muscle flexing in Politico, here.

Stepping back: Shin Shoji, a Washington-based producer with NJK, Japan's Broadcasting Corporation, is returning to Japan. But we asked him what his best and worst moments were during his experience here over the last few years being a reporter in Washington. His best moment in DC reporting:  "As an international affairs professional, it is a huge dream come true for anyone to be in the frontlines where global events develop and evolve on a daily basis. To be able to witness huge policy developments and to develop relationships with real people who are hands-on on those issues is a huge privilege that people outside of Washington will not get so easily. Washington is in a league of its own, well above any cities in that regard, including New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Beijing."

His worst moment in DC reporting, and he even uses the term "this town": "Information asymmetry at its worst. People in this town are assessed on being at the right place at the right time, with the right person for a particular information significantly more often than knowing the significance or long-term implication of that information as an analyst. If anyone complains about a bell curve grading in undergraduate exams as being unfair, information asymmetry in Washington reporting makes pre-med science exams a cakewalk." It was good to get to know Shin and we wish him well.

A Native American veteran's battle with PTSD; Read that bit in Al Jazeera, here.

The neo-neocons: Are the they courting HRC? Good Monday reading ICYMI on Sunday in the Times' Sunday Review section by Jacob Heilbrunn: "...Even as they castigate Mr. Obama, the neocons may be preparing a more brazen feat: aligning themselves with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her nascent presidential campaign, in a bid to return to the driver's seat of American foreign policy. To be sure, the careers and reputations of the older generation of neocons... and not all of them are eager to switch parties... But others appear to envisage a different direction - one that might allow them to restore the neocon brand, at a time when their erstwhile home in the Republican Party is turning away from its traditional interventionist foreign policy." More here.

Larry Summers, the former treasury economic adviser to Obama, writes today about the erosion of U.S. leadership, in the WaPo's op-ed pages today, here.

And this morning, the story of how Hillary is moving away from Obama pre-2016. The WSJ's Peter Nicholas on Page One, here.

Hey, can you pass a U.S. citizenship test? Might be a good question. Take it here.

A little help here... Southern Command's John Kelly urgently needs Congress' help to stem the flow of illegal drugs, weapons and people from Central America. Defense One's Molly O'Toole: "... [Kelly] has asked Congress this year for more money, drones and ships for his mission - a request unlikely to be met. Since October, an influx of nearly 100,000 migrants has made the dangerous journey north from Latin America to the United States border. Most are children, and three-quarters of the unaccompanied minors have traveled thousands of miles from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras."

Kelly to O'Toole: "In comparison to other global threats, the near collapse of societies in the hemisphere with the associated drug and [undocumented immigrant] flow are frequently viewed to be of low importance... Many argue these threats are not existential and do not challenge our national security. I disagree." More here.

In the Daily Caller, total recall of the Greatest Generation by 9/11 era Army Rangers. Contributor Alex Quade, here.

 

National Security

FP's Situation Report: Heightened security for jets; Secret troops in Somalia; How Iraq could flood; Hunter wants to put the band back together; Hagel, Dempsey to brief; What does MRFF's Mikey Weinstein make?; and a bit more.

 

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson is imposing new aviation security measures based on intel that suggests al-Qaeda is looking to get creative against Western targets. A new warning from the Department of Homeland Security's Jeh Johnson on aviation travel didn't make any Page Ones this morning that we saw, but the concern that al-Qaida militants may be newly targeting Westerners is an animating factor for the White House as it deliberates just what to do in Iraq - and Syria. Militants with American passports have long been a concern but as the region's stability gets shakier, that small number of U.S.-passport holding militants grows ever more concerning. While the White House can't ignore the violence there, it's also quietly alarmed by the number of militants who could access the U.S. legally.

Reuters' Mark Hosenball: "The United States said on Wednesday it would increase security at overseas airports with nonstop flights to the country and U.S. officials cited concerns al Qaeda operatives in Syria and Yemen were developing bombs that could be smuggled onto planes. The new security measures would be required at airports in Europe, Africa and the Middle East that have direct flights, the U.S. officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The Department of Homeland Security said 'enhanced security measures' would be implemented in the next few days at 'certain overseas airports with direct flights into the United States.'"

"...Bombmakers from the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, are believed to be working together to try to develop explosives that could avoid detection by current airport screening systems, U.S. national security sources said. The main concern is that militant groups could try to blow up U.S.- or Europe-bound planes by concealing bombs on foreign fighters carrying Western passports who spent time with Islamist rebel factions in the region, the sources said.

"...A U.S. official told Reuters some of the new measures would involve additional inspections of passengers' shoes and property."

What Johnson said in part in a statement: "... We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry. These communications are an important part of our commitment to providing our security partners with situational awareness about the current environment and protecting the traveling public. Aviation security includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, informed by an evolving environment."

Read how DHS awarded a contract to the security firm that vetted Ed Snowden, below.

Meantime, the violence is widening between Israelis and Palestinians. The dueling abductions of teenagers have wreaked havoc and the violence is widening there as Israeli troops and Palestinians clash in eastern Jerusalem. The WaPo's Ruth Eglash this hour: "The abduction ... [raised] the specter of wider violence two days after three kidnapped Israeli teenagers were found dead in the occupied West Bank. Israeli police said late Wednesday that they had yet to confirm the circumstances of 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khieder's disappearance or the identity of a badly burned body found in a forested area of Jerusalem, but Israeli news media, citing anonymous security officials, said authorities had determined that Khieder was probably killed by Jews in a 'nationalistic crime.'

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for restraint as he convened his security cabinet for the third straight night to discuss a response to the kidnappings and killings. Israel has blamed the slaying of the Israeli teens on the militant Islamist group Hamas, and on Wednesday, Palestinian leaders accused extremist Jewish settlers of killing Khieder." More here.

Herald Standard: Palestinians say Israeli extremists killed the teen. Read that here.

Haaretz: In teen's death, Palestinian public opinion does not wait for the coroner; Read that here.

And from Aspen, our own Shane Harris reports that Martin Indyk, the former peace envoy to the Middle East, believes that the trust between Israeli and Palestinian leaders has completely dissolved. FP's Harris says Indyk is "exceptionally pessimistic about the prospects of restoring negotiations over a lasting peace settlement between their two peoples."

"'There is a deep loathing of each leader for the other that has built up over the years,' Martin Indyk told an audience of several hundred people at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado in his first public remarks since stepping down as the U.S. special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations on June 30. The distance between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he said, seems unbridgeable. 'There is no trust between them. Neither believes that the other is serious,' Indyk said." Read that bit right here.

Welcome to Thursday's edition of Situation Report. We're going dark tomorrow but Happy Fourth and see you come Monday. If you'd like to be one of our subscribers, we'd love to have you. Sign up for Situation Report by just sending us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. Like what you see? Tell a friend.  And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, you, send it to us early for maximum tease. And the more shovel-ready, the better. And hey! Follow us: @glubold and @njsobe4.

The U.S. has quietly maintained a number of troops in Somalia and it's planning to up its role. Reuters' Phil Stewart with this exclusive scoop: "U.S. military advisors have secretly operated in Somalia since around 2007 and Washington plans to deepen its security assistance to help the country fend off threats by Islamist militant group al Shabaab, U.S. officials said. The comments are the first detailed public acknowledgement of a U.S. military presence in Somalia dating back since the U.S. administration of George W. Bush and add to other signs of a deepening U.S. commitment to Somalia's government, which the Obama administration recognized last year.

"The deployments, consisting of up to 120 troops on the ground, go beyond the Pentagon's January announcement that it had sent a handful of advisors in October. That was seen at the time as the first assignment of U.S. troops to Somalia since 1993 when two U.S. helicopters were shot down and 18 American troops killed in the "Black Hawk Down" disaster." More here.

"The plans to further expand U.S. military assistance coincide with increasing efforts by the Somali government and African Union peacekeepers to counter a bloody seven-year insurgent campaign by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab to impose strict Islamic law inside Somalia.

Irony alert? Peacekeepers in Africa like drones, too. The NYT's Somini Sengupta: "...In an age of ubiquitous surveillance, even rebels in the bush can expect to be tracked, as United Nations troops cautiously deploy a tool familiar to most modern militaries around the world: the drone. The United Nations insists on calling the aircraft unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicles, the term drone having acquired a bad reputation because of the armed versions that American forces use against targets in Pakistan and elsewhere.

"United Nations officials insist that they do not plan to use drones to kill anyone, only to get a picture of trouble and grief on the ground, to protect civilians and their own troops. More and more, drones are flying over some of the toughest peacekeeping missions in the world, improving the United Nations' intelligence-gathering capability, but also raising new issues about what to do with so much important data." More here.

Nigeria launched a "safe schools initiative." More on that below.

Who's Where When today - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hosts an honor cordon to welcome Latvian Minister of Defense Raimonds Vejonis at 1 p.m. at the Pentagon... Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey is back in town after a first-ever "tri-CHOD" meeting with the chiefs of defense of South Korea, Japan and the U.S. in Honolulu.

Also today: For the first time since F-b-r-u-a-r-y, and amid the flow of troops into Iraq, a decision on Afghanistan post 2014, Ukraine, the VA and a host of other issues, Hagel and Dempsey are expected to appear together in the briefing room for a presser sometime this morning It's a peculiar time - just as everyone rushes to get out of town, including reporters - but it is what it is. Watch it here.

How two dams in Iraq threaten security big time. FP's Keith Johnson on their vulnerabilities: " The turmoil in Iraq already has the world worried about the safety of the country's mammoth oil fields. Now Iraqis must imagine massive waves of water crashing downriver from the country's shaky dams, which are smack in the terrorists' crosshairs. On Monday, Islamist insurgents in the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, renewed their offensive in Iraq's Anbar province, moving toward the key hydroelectric dam of Haditha.

"The dam's security has concerned U.S. officials for years and protecting the country's second-biggest dam was a priority objective during the 2003 invasion. Meanwhile, Iraq's biggest dam, the Mosul dam, is right next to a hotbed of Islamic State activity and poses catastrophic risk even if the terrorists don't open the floodgates or blow it up. If the dam fails, scientists say Mosul could be completely flooded within hours and a 15-foot wall of water could crash into Baghdad." More here.

John Brennan is neither a Republican nor a Democrat - he's what he calls himself an equal opportunity offender. The WSJ's Siobhan Gorman, in her profile-ish piece on CIA Director Brennan on Page One today: "... Partly as a result, relations between the CIA and Congress are more fraught than at any point in the past decade. The source of the tension is the Senate intelligence committee's classified report on the CIA's controversial post-9/11 interrogation program-and the agency's response to it. The bad blood could get worse in coming weeks, when portions of the report and CIA response are expected to be declassified. Mr. Brennan made it clear he had no plans to back down in the face of congressional criticism." More here.

Pentagon Pressec Rear Adm. John Kirby on the completion of the transfer of Syrian chems to the ship the Cape Ray: "...Cape Ray departed the Italian port of Gioia Tauro this afternoon for international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, where neutralization operations will soon begin..."

Hagel talked to U.S. Men's National Team Keeper Howard, you know, the guy who could be Defense Secretary. Politico's Phil Ewing: "...Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel phoned Howard on Wednesday, the Pentagon said, to congratulate him and the rest of the U.S. men's soccer team on their run in the World Cup, which ended with a 2-1 loss to Belgium in extra time.

"...Howard's performance in Tuesday's game prompted users of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to edit his entry to describe him as "Secretary of Defense," and Hagel acknowledged Howard has shown he has what it takes to become a potential successor.

"He told Howard that with some training, he could someday become the real secretary of Defense," Kirby said. More here.

Hagel talking to Howard, soccer ball in hand, here.

Howard made the most saves by any keeper in a World Cup since 1966. The NYT does a little image reconstruction overlay of his handy work, here.

DHS just issued a lucrative contract to USIS, the security firm that vetted Edward Snowden.  In Washington you can be up, you can be down, you can be really down - then you can be up again, all Phoenix-like. Such is the case apparently with U.S. Investigations Services, or USIS, the vetting firm that helped bring you Snowden, and who just got a lucrative contract - worth $190 million - from the Department of Homeland Security. The WSJ's Dion Nissenbaum on Page One: "...USIS was able to win the contract because regulations require agencies to follow strict procurement procedures unless a bidder has been suspended or barred by the government from contracts. Despite questions about its work on background checks, USIS was never blocked from federal work.

"Unless a company is suspended or barred, 'by law and policy, we have to go with the lowest bidder,' said an official with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Department of Homeland Security said it takes 'allegations of wrongdoing against its workforce and contractors extremely seriously,' but 'at this time there is no conduct that has resulted in suspension or debarment of USIS.'" Read the rest here.

The NYT editorial board on Japan's military muscle-flexing: "...It is difficult to overstate the significance of what Mr. Abe has done. Since 1947, Japan's Constitution, written and imposed by the American Army, has permitted the military, known as the Self-Defense Forces, to engage only in self-defense. That meant the large and technologically advanced armed forces was barred from 'collective self-defense' - aiding friendly countries under attack - and thus was far more constrained than those of other nations.

"With the reinterpretation, Japan's military would still face restrictions on what it could do, but it would be allowed for the first time, for example, to help defend an American ship under attack, destroy a North Korean missile heading toward the United States or play a larger role in United Nations peacekeeping operations. More here.

A suicide bomber killed eight members of the Afghan air force. The Globe and Mail's pickup of AP: "...The Defence Ministry confirmed the number of casualties in a statement updating a previous toll. Army Gen. Kadamshah Shahim said the bomber was stopped before he could enter the bus, likely limiting the number of casualties. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, with a spokesman for the insurgents, Zabihullah Mujahid, confirming that the air force bus was the target." More here.

Pakistan passes sweeping anti-terrorism bill, raising concerns among human rights groups; the NYT's Salman Masood and Saba Imtiaz, here.

Pakistan's Dawn: "We're dying from apathy, not terrorism." Read that bit here.  

Another official steps down from the VA; The NYT's Richard Oppel on the medical investigator who's out, here.

Duncan Hunter wants to put the band back together. We missed this earlier but it's notable so we're picking it up today. California Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter wants Chuck Hagel to assemble a bunch of the usual suspects - David Petraeus, H.R. McMaster, Sean MacFarland, Jim Mattis and others, like Dale Alford, William Jurney to begin advising on the crisis in Iraq. The WaPo's Dan Lamothe, earlier this week: "...Hunter says Petraeus should serve as a liaison to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But he also focuses on lower levels of command, highlighting individuals who aren't nearly as famous as Petraeus or Marine Gen. James Mattis, who retired last year as perhaps the most popular general of his generation." More here.

Military Religious Freedom Foundation founder Mikey Weinstein made $273,355 in 2012 - that's nearly half the amount of money the non-profit brought in that year, according to an Air Force Times investigation. AFT's Stephen Losey: "Over the last decade, Military Religious Freedom Foundation founder and president Mikey Weinstein has become one of the most persistent and vocal activists in the military community, ferociously arguing for the separation of church and state in the military.

"...Weinstein founded MRFF out of his own pocket in 2005, around the same time other prominent military-related nonprofits such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Wounded Warrior Project began. But as the size and bank accounts of all those charities grew, Weinstein, an attorney, quickly became one of the best-compensated nonprofit executives in the country - taking a percentage of his group's receipts that is unheard of in the military community."

"...Weinstein's compensation is well more than double the typical compensation for nonprofit CEOs, according to the most recent study by the watchdog group Charity Navigator, released in October. Charity Navigator found the typical charity CEO nationwide received a median $125,942 in compensation in 2011.

By comparison, Losey wrote: "[Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America]... paid its founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff $145,000 in 2012, or a little more than 2 percent of the $6.1 million IAVA raised that year. Wounded Warrior Project CEO Steven Nardizzi received $311,538 in 2012, or 0.2 percent of the nearly $155 million that charity raised that year. Nardizzi was paid more than Weinstein in actual dollars, but Wounded Warrior Project's revenues far exceed the $584,351 MRFF brought in during 2012." More here.

Voice of America's journalists are concerned the VOA will become a mouthpiece of the government - and they're fighting their own union on it. The NYT's Ron Nixon, here.

Yesterday, Nigeria's Finance Minister addressed the U.K. Parliament and announced enhanced counter-terrorism efforts. From a press release sent us before Nigeria's Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala addressed U.K.'s Parliament yesterday, on the recently launched Safe Schools Initiative: "The Safe Schools Initiative aims to prevent future attacks on schools by installing modern alarm systems and proper fencing, facilitating community participation in protecting the schools, and training security guards. The Initiative will also fund the reconstruction of schools that have been damaged or destroyed by terror attacks. Lighting for renovated schools is planned to include the introduction of modern and environmentally friendly sustainable systems such as solar power. To ensure program success, the Federal Government of Nigeria will work closely with state governments, local communities and the international community -- led by the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown.

"Funding for the Safe Schools Initiative is provided by the Government of Nigeria's contribution of $10 million, with a matching contribution of $10 million from the Nigerian private sector. Additional financial support is expected from the African Development Bank, the Government of Norway, the World Bank and UK Department for International Development..."