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.

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 ...

By Gordon Lubold

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 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 th
e 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.




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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