Situation Report

A weekly digest of national security, defense, and cybersecurity news from Foreign Policy reporters Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer, formerly Security Brief. Delivered Thursday.

Hagel making big choices this week?; a new inspector general for the Pentagon; Where in the world is Snowden; The Brits are spying on US; Majority of sexual assault victims are men; Ron Paul on Afghanistan; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold Where in the world is Edward Snowden? For now, he’s in Moscow, after he left China. At least, we think so. He was allegedly accompanied there by WikiLeaks’ Sarah Harrison, a close adviser to WL’s Julian Assange, but his stay there will probably only be brief. He is believed to be headed ...

By Gordon Lubold

By Gordon Lubold

Where in the world is Edward Snowden? For now, he’s in Moscow, after he left China. At least, we think so. He was allegedly accompanied there by WikiLeaks’ Sarah Harrison, a close adviser to WL’s Julian Assange, but his stay there will probably only be brief. He is believed to be headed to Ecuador, where country officials there have confirmed that it was considering an asylum application for Snowden. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London for just over a year.

"Drama" at the airport in Moscow, per NBC News: "[Snowden] arrived in the Russian capital on Sunday. No direct flights were scheduled from Moscow to Ecuador’s capital Quito on Monday. However, Aeroflot personnel at Sheremetyevo airport’s gate 28 threatened to take journalists’ telephones and blocked the view of a plane ahead of a flight to Havana. The aircraft departed around 6:30 a.m. ET but it was not immediately clear whether Snowden was on board."  AP is reporting now that Snowden was not on the Cuba-bound flight from Moscow. 

This morning, Kerry said it would be "deeply troubling" if Russia or Hong Kong had advance notice of Snowden’s departure from China and still allowed his travel. Kerry: ‘‘It would be deeply troubling, obviously, if they had adequate notice, and notwithstanding that, they make the decision willfully to ignore that and not live by the standards of the law."

Want to make it an asylum seeker? Follow these five simple rules. Writing on FP, Brendan Koerner suggests some guidelines for those who may find themselves needing to seek asylum, like "staying quiet," finding "allies on the ground," and others. But rule No 1? Clearly define your political motive. Koerner: "Extradition treaties typically include exceptions for crimes of a "political character." In theory, these clauses are meant to protect political dissidents from being sent back home to face prosecution for acts such as organizing protests or penning anti-government tracts." Read rules no. 2-5, here.

Read more on the NSA, Snowden, etc., below.

Welcome to Monday’s edition of Situation Report. Sign up for Situation Report here or just e-mail us. And as always, if you have a report, piece of news, or a tidbit you want teased, send it to us early for maximum tease. Please follow us @glubold. And remember, if you see something, say something — to Situation Report.

At the Pentagon this week, it’s all SMCR, all the time. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will receive a number of briefings on the Strategic Choices and Management Review which will lay the way groundwork for massive cuts to the DOD budget. A senior defense official tells Situation Report that Hagel will receive a series of briefings and hold meetings on the review this week. The briefings are led by Christine Fox, director of the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, with DepSecDef Ash Carter and a representative from the Joint Staff. Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Sandy Winnefeld has been a regular at many of the meetings.

ICYMI, Paris Air Show edition: The coolest pics from the Paris Air Show in what FP’s headline writers called "Just Plane Amazing." See ‘em, here.

The White House will nominate Jon Rymer as the next DOD Inspector General. Officials announced Friday that the administration had given the nod to Jon Rymer, who has been an IG of the FDIC, interim IG of the SEC and now the chair of the CIGIE Audit Committee. Rymer has served more than 30 years in the active and Reserve components of the U.S. Army.

Former DOD IG Gordon Heddell, to Situation Report, over the weekend, by e-mail: "I’ve known Jon Rymer since 2006 when he assumed the role of Inspector General at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.  He was a professional colleague; and we served together as co-members on the Executive Council of the Council of Inspectors General for Integrity and Efficiency. Jon is known for his personal integrity and good judgment.  I am confident in his ability to lead one of the most important and challenging agencies in Government."

From the WSJ’s Notable & Quotable today, Gen. Curtis "Bombs Away" LeMay, in a 1945 speech to the Ohio Society: "It is beyond my powers of description to picture to you the difference between the bomb-blackened ruins and the desolation of our enemy’s cities and the peaceful Ohio cities and landscape, untouched and unmarred by war. I can only say to you, if you love America, do everything you can do to make sure that what happened in Germany and Japan will never happen to our country. Our preparedness for war should be the measure of our desire for peace. The last war was started by air power and finished by [air power]. America, if attacked, must be able to take the initiative immediately."

Fifty-three percent of sexual assault victims in the military are men. The NYT this morning has a story about sexual assault that counters conventional wisdom: most victims are men. The NYT’s James Dao: "In its latest report on sexual assault, the Pentagon estimated that 26,000 service members experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2012, up from 19,000 in 2010. Of those cases, the Pentagon says, 53 percent involved attacks on men, mostly by other men. Though women, who represent about 15 percent of the force, are significantly more likely to be sexually assaulted in the military than men, experts say assaults against men have been vastly underreported. For that reason, the majority of formal complaints of military sexual assault have been filed by women, even though the majority of victims are thought to be men."

And: "In interviews, nearly a dozen current and former service members who said they were sexually assaulted in the military described fearing that they would be punished, ignored or ridiculed if they reported the attacks. Most said that before 2011, when the ban on openly gay service members was repealed, they believed they would have been discharged if they admitted having sexual contact – even unwanted contact – with other men." Read the rest, here.

What Sen. Rand Paul thinks we learned from Afghanistan: Not much, according to a piece published this morning on Paul:  "The long US war in Afghanistan never made any sense in the first place. The Taliban did not attack the US on 9/11. The Authorization for the use of force that we passed after the attacks of 9/11 said nothing about a decade-long occupation of Afghanistan. But unfortunately two US presidents have taken it to mean that they could make war anywhere at any time they please. Congress, as usual, did nothing to rein in the president, although several Members tried to repeal the authorization. Afghanistan brought the Soviet Union to its knees. We learned nothing from it." Read the rest, here.

What Joe Dunford thinks the ANSF has learned: ISAF Commander Gen. Joe Dunford issued this statement over the weekend, noting June 18 as a milestone. "The ANSF have made tremendous progress and are now clearly ready to assume the lead.  In fact, they have been increasingly in the lead for the past several months.  The capability and credibility of the ANSF is tangible evidence that Afghanistan is on the path to peace and prosperity.  All Afghans should be proud and confident that their security will be provided by the sons and daughters of Afghanistan."  And: "Longer term, the United States and other members of the coalition remain committed to a strategic partnership that will benefit the Afghan people for many years to come.  We are committed to helping you build a better country; and we are committed to defeating those who threaten your future."

Snowden, et al, con’t.

"Irreversible and significant damage:" NSA’s Alexander, on Snowden. NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander spoke on ABC’s "This Week" Sunday, saying the system did not work to stop someone such as Snowden from leaking what he did. "The system did not work as it should have," Alexander told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. "What Snowden has revealed has caused irreversible and significant damage to our country and to our allies," Alexander, who has been in office SINCE 2005, has never before been on a Sunday news show. Alexander, on the "two-man rule" and other actions – "We are now putting in place actions that would give us the ability to track our system administrators, what they’re doing, what they’re taking, a two-man rule. We’ve changed the passwords. But at the end of the day, we have to trust that our people are going to do the right thing. This is an extremely important mission defending our country. When they betray that trust, well, then we have to push it over to the Department of Justice and others for the appropriate action." "This Week" transcript, here.

Fresh Leaks: The Brits are spying on us.  Killer Apps’ John Reed, from Friday: "…We’re learning that Brits are snooping on us, too — tapping the world’s telephone and Internet traffic, and sharing that info with the United States. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s version of the NSA, is allowed to tap more than 200 fiber-optic data cables running through British territory, giving the organization access massive amounts of telephone and Internet data, according to the Guardian, who revealed today that Snowden provided it with a document detailing the UK spy agencies efforts to collect phone and web data. GCHQ cable taps allow it to gather recordings of phone calls, email content, Facebook entries and any Internet users web browsing history — not exactly the anonymous metadata that we’ve been hearing about on the U.S. side of the Atlantic." Read the rest, here.

David Gregory asked Glenn Greenwald if he was an accomplice to Snowden’s crimes. On NBC’s "Meet the Press" yesterday, host David Gregory asked Greenwald, who did the heavy lifting in breaking the Snowden story: "To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?"

Greenwald: "If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information is a criminal, and it’s precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States."


Syria, Year Two

  • Al-Monitor: Syria in "free fall."
  • Al-Jazeera: Syria: peace talks not for transferring power.
  • NYT: (Bill Keller) Inching into Syria.
  • The Olive Branch: (Steve Heydemann) Syria negotiations: surprising hope after G-8 negotiations?

The Stans

  • CS Monitor: Pakistan: Militants kill 10 mountaineers in ‘well-planned’ attack.
  • Mother Jones: Subcontractors in Afghanistan do crazy things when they don’t get paid.
  • BBC: Will hope or fear triumph in "rollercoaster" Pakistan? 


  • AP: Mandela in critical condition. 
  • The New Yorker: Why China let Snowden go.
  • Defense News: Virginia is the center of U.S. shipbuilding industry.
  • Duffel Blog: Air Force implements "don’t be a dumbass" safety campaign.




Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children. Twitter: @glubold

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