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.

FP’s Situation Report: The U.S. explores a detention facility in Yemen; Whatever happened to Bill Caldwell?; 100k more jobs goal for vets; Naval officer: “Yummy… daddy like;” and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold  The Obama White House is in talks with Yemeni officials about opening up a detention facility near Sana’a to hold dozens of terrorism suspects from Gitmo and Afghanistan. The Los Angeles Times’ David Cloud, citing U.S. and Yemeni officials, with this exclusive new wrinkle: "The plan affects only Yemeni prisoners but is ...

By Gordon Lubold 

By Gordon Lubold 

The Obama White House is in talks with Yemeni officials about opening up a detention facility near Sana’a to hold dozens of terrorism suspects from Gitmo and Afghanistan. The Los Angeles Times’ David Cloud, citing U.S. and Yemeni officials, with this exclusive new wrinkle: "The plan affects only Yemeni prisoners but is considered key to a renewed push by President Obama to close the prison camp built at the U.S. naval base in Cuba after the 2001 terrorist attacks, a vow he repeated this week. More than half of the 164 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are from Yemen.There’s a definite recognition that this needs to happen but if it’s not done right, the risks are very high,’ said a U.S. official familiar with the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans are classified. Yemeni officials have drawn up preliminary plans for the facility outside the capital, Sana, but final agreement may be months away. Deep disagreements remain on funding, and about whether it would function as another prison or as a halfway house for detainees to reenter society after years of confinement and isolation." Read the rest here.

The Gitmo judge orders the Pentagon to turn over all correspondence from the Red Cross about the treatment of the alleged 9/11 conspirators in detention. The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg, who characterized the move as "a blow to Pentagon arguments that the contracts are confidential." That bit, here.

If you wondered what Pakistan, Syria and Saudi Arabia had in common and guessed "Saudi Arabia’s shadow war," you’d be right. FP’s David Kenner tells us this morning about how Saudi is turning to Pakistan to train Syria’s rebels. It’s not crazy, of course, since that partnership existed before in Afghanistan, but it went wrong then. Kenner: "…Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, along with the CIA, also supported the Afghan rebels against the Soviet-backed government during the 1980s. That collaboration contains a cautionary note for the current day: The fractured Afghan rebels were unable to govern after the old regime fell, paving the way for chaos and the rise of the Taliban. Some of the insurgents, meanwhile, transformed into al Qaeda and eventually turned their weapons against their former patrons." Read the rest here.

Welcome to Thursday’s edition of Situation Report. If you’d like to sign up for Situation Report, send us a note at and we’ll just stick you on. And if you like this whole thing, tell a friend. Register free for Situation Report and other FP products here. And 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.

Kerry’s path steepens for Israeli-Palestinian talks, by the NYT’s Mark Landler and Jodi Rudoren, here.

US weighs ending dual-hatted role for NSA, Cyber Command, in the WaPo by Ellen Nakashima, here.  

CIA is said to pay AT&T for call data, by the NYT’s Charlie Savage, here.

Thaw between U.S. and Iran grew from years of behind-the-scenes talks, by WSJ’s Jay Solomon and Carol Lee, here.

Navy Cmdr Jose Luis Sanchez, upon seeing pictures of women allegedly provided by a Malaysian businessman suspected of bribing Sanchez: "Yummy… daddy like." FP’s Dan Lamothe: "It was October 2009 when Navy Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez and Malaysian CEO Leonard Francis exchanged messages online about a trip Sanchez was planning to Malaysia and Singapore with his Navy buddies. The two men discussed the number of prostitutes Sanchez and his military friends — nicknamed the ‘Wolf Pack’ — would encounter. Sanchez asked Francis to send pictures of the women. The CEO promised to hook the men up with a ‘nest’ and some ‘birds,’ exciting the Navy officer. ‘Yummy … daddy like,’ Sanchez replied in an Oct. 19, 2009 message on Facebook. Those accusations are at the heart of the case against Sanchez, 41, who became the fifth man to face charges in the widening scandal involving Francis’s company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, and the military officers he allegedly bribed in exchange for classified information about the Navy." More here.

This is a story you wouldn’t have read about in the Early Bird – (if the Early Bird was still flying, that is): Bill Caldwell has moved on, without a slap on the wrist. Army Times’ Joe Gould: "[Lt. Gen. Bill Caldwell] has retired and kept his rank even after an inspector general found he tried to block his subordinates from communicating with inspectors about patient abuse and corruption at a large Afghan hospital. [He] began work Nov. 1 as the president of Georgia Military College, a junior college and preparatory school based in Milledgeville, Ga. He was named to the post in February. In September, the 59-year-old Caldwell relinquished command of the U.S. Army North/Fifth Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, after a 37-year career. The Defense Department Inspector General had recommended Army Secretary John McHugh ‘take appropriate action against’ Caldwell and his then-deputy Maj. Gen. Gary S. Patton."

And this: "Patton, who now heads the Pentagon’s sexual assault and prevention office, through a DoD spokesperson declined to comment while his case is pending. Caldwell declined to comment through a college spokesperson. Army officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment." Note: When Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio first broke this story in September about the investigation on Caldwell, the Bird never ran it. (Situation Report did). Capaccio’s story here. Army Times’ story here.

Just out: Stripes’ Leo Shane’s new e-book about the divide between the military and the civilian world. The e-book (Stars and Stripes’ first) is a compilation of Shane’s stories about the divide and how vets are bridging it. From the little teaser on the site: "America’s veterans are skilled, highly trained professionals. Yet many of them find getting hired very difficult as they trade in their uniforms for civilian attire. Read … first-hand reports on the challenges facing the military men and women who are coming home and leaving the military." Check it out here.

Speaking of which: JP Morgan Chase just announced this morning that it had another, new goal of hiring 100,000 veterans. As we first reported late last month, the 100,000 Jobs Mission, founded by JPMC but which includes 10 other companies, announced it had hired 92,000 veterans – far earlier than its goal – and announced just this morning that the Jobs Mission’s new mission is to hire another 100,000 – that’s 200,000 by 2020. Executives from the group spoke with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week while he was in New York "about how the public and private sectors can collaborate to help returning service members transition to – and succeed in – civilian jobs," according to a company statement. In all, there are 123 companies who have committed to hiring veterans as part of the Jobs Mission. The new Web site is

Watch the video of Hagel at CSIS earlier this week giving a major speech, here. And, the transcript of Hagel’s remarks here.

Read "The A-Team Killings" in Rolling Stone, out yesterday, by Matthieu Aikens, here. The sub-hed: "Last spring, the remains of 10 missing Afghan villagers were dug up outside a U.S. Special Forces base – was it a war crime or just another episode in a very dirty war?"

Eritrea is a key country in Africa right now, especially as Somalia re-emerges on the national security map. Yet that country has never had an election. Writing on FP, Tiffany Lynch explains why we should care about the country’s human rights record here.

There are five ways Obama can fix the drone issue, write Sarah Holewinski and Larry Lewis on DefenseOne. Among other things, they argue the CIA should be out of the drone business: "The CIA will always have a supporting role in drone operations, but the military appears better suited for the command role. The drone program would benefit from long-established doctrine and recently improved processes for targeting and reducing civilian harm. And the military has a history of openly debating the ethical use of force…Staffers on the Hill tell us that the process is slow going due to worries about DOD’s capacity to handle the entire drone program, and worry that special operations forces often act as a mini-CIA within the military without proper oversight. These are valid concerns, but they can be addressed." Read the rest here.

ICYMI: Our piece yesterday on that very issue, about how the CIA will, for now, retain drone ops instead of migrating them anytime soon to the Pentagon. Read our piece, with FP’s Shane Harris, here.

Meanwhile, in the Air Force, drone pilots are getting promoted at higher rates. Air Force Times’ Jeff Schogol: "The disparity in the promotion rate between pilots of manned and unmanned aircraft has narrowed considerably. Some recent promotion boards have selected more unmanned aircraft pilots to advance than mobility pilots, according to figures provided by the Air Force Personnel Center. Last year, 89 percent of eligible unmanned aircraft pilots were promoted to major, compared with 87.4 percent of mobility pilots, 90.7 percent of bomber pilots and 94.1 percent of fighter pilots, the figures show. That’s up considerably from 2011, when only 78 percent of eligible unmanned aircraft pilots were selected to advance to major, compared with 90.3 percent of mobility pilots, 92.2 percent of bomber pilots and 92.7 percent of fighter pilots." Read his bit here.

This is good: six myths to drone warfare you probably believe, on The first one? "It’s as traumatizing as being a pilot." The walk-off? Under a picture of inside a Conex box, typically what has been used for the cockpits for drone pilots at Creech Air Force Base and others, the cutline reads: "This is what the ‘cockpit’ of a drone really looks like. If you’d like to know what it smells like, visit the last day of Comic-Con and start sniffing chairs." More here.

A critic of Jim Amos’ involvement in the Taliban urination scandal has accused him of urging subordinates to publicly oppose legal testimony offered by Southcomm commander and fellow Marine, John Kelly. Marine Corps Times’ Andy deGrandpre: "In a complaint submitted this week to the Defense Department inspector general, civilian attorney John Dowd alleges Gen. Jim Amos, the commandant, ‘in an unlawful act of reprisal … urged his subordinate colonels and generals to push back against one of the expert witnesses’ Dowd brought to Quantico, Va., during administrative proceedings for Capt. James Clement. The document does not identify the witness by name, but Dowd told Marine Corps Times it is Gen. John Kelly, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, who suggested during last month’s hearing that Clement was unfairly targeted and owed an apology. Calling the matter extremely sensitive, Dowd declined to address additional questions about his complaint."

Read (or listen to) NPR’s Tom Bowman’s piece on the Taliban urination issue, here.

The intelligence community’s Inspector General says he lacks the capacity to conduct a review of NSA’s surveillance authorities. Politico’s Tony Romm: "The inspector general who oversees the sprawling U.S. intelligence community said he lacks the resources to conduct a review of NSA’s surveillance authorities, rebuffing a request from a bipartisan group of senators seeking answers about the agency’s work. Led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), 10 lawmakers in September had urged the watchdog, I. Charles McCullough III, to investigate the NSA’s programs to collect phone call logs and Internet data and publish its findings by the end of next year – but McCullough, replying Tuesday, said such a review just isn’t possible. ‘At present, we are not resourced to conduct the requested review within the requested timeframe,’ wrote McCullough, before adding he and other agency inspectors general are weighing now whether they can combine forces on a larger probe." More here.

Some love for FP’s own John Hudson. 60 Minutes is taking flack (and aggressively defending its reporting) for its recent piece about Benghazi, including details provided by its main interview subject, security officer Morgan Jones, whose real name is Dylan Davies, because various publications have said what he said in the interview (and in his new book) are at odds with evidence that suggests he wasn’t there that night and other details. 60 Minutes is also under fire for failing to disclose that Jones/Davies’ book is published by a CBS subsidiary. FP’s John Hudson wrote about the link between the book’s pu
blisher that Friday before the piece ran. Hudson’s lede, Nov. 1, in The Cable: "A new 60 Minutes report on the attack on U.S. officials in Benghazi has reignited GOP outrage over the Obama administration’s handling of the September 2012 incident. But new information about the report’s central witness and his desire to profit off his story raises doubts about the accuracy of his scathing narrative." His story here.

A new poll from the Onion: do you approve of the NSA spying on its citizens? A state-by-state, color-coded map shows reflections according to color: The best one: "I like knowing there’s an audience for my little show." That, here.

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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