By Charles Hoskinson
JOHN KIRIAKOU, a former CIA officer and aide to Sen. John Kerry, was charged Monday with disclosing the identity of a covert CIA officer and with telling journalists the name an agency officer involved with the interrogation of alleged Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah. POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein has the story here: http://politi.co/y7zyjh
HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN PETER KING meanwhile wants the Justice Department to identify the journalists who got leaks from Kiriakou and the lawyers who used leaked information to give suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay photos of their interrogators. http://politi.co/z4t2tt
THE STATE OF THE UNION – The White House says Obama’s 9 p.m. speech will focus on a blueprint for an “America Built to Last,” emphasizing themes the president laid out in a speech in Kansas last month. Meanwhile, Republicans are reminding Americans that today is the 1,000th day since the Senate last passed a budget resolution laying out plans for federal spending.\
THE SPEECH IS LIKELY TO SET THE STAGE for a year of small, interlocking partisan battles leading up to the Big Bang of the November elections and a bloody lame-duck session, POLITICO’s David Rogers reports. His story is here: http://politi.co/yfoqU6
ONE OF THOSE BATTLES will be over the threat of $500 billion in additional cuts to defense spending triggered by the failure of the debt-reduction supercommittee. In a new video to be released today, HASC Republicans appeal to Obama to embrace in his speech their legislation to trim the federal workforce and use the savings to offset all the planned $1.2 billion in automatic cuts. You can see the video here: http://bit.ly/xxAoJ0
DOD STILL PLANS A ROLLOUT of details for the initial round of $487 billion in cuts to planned spending later this week, a defense official tells us, even though the White House has pushed back the full budget release to Feb. 13.
WORRIES ABOUT WHAT’S GOING TO BE CUT are making lawmakers impatient. In separate letters to Panetta and national security adviser Tom Donilon, HASC Readiness Subcommittee Chairman Randy Forbes called for a formal report on the administration’s national security strategy to accompany the budget release. The letter to Panetta is here: http://1.usa.gov/nLaAw3. The letter to Donilon is here: http://1.usa.gov/ydmq9J
FORBES TOLD US the administration isn’t fulfilling its legal responsibilities to keep Congress informed on its strategic plans. He said the strategy laid out by Obama in a Jan. 5 visit to the Pentagon wasn’t detailed enough to allow Congress – or the American people – a chance to evaluate the risks of DOD budget cuts and whether planned spending matches what the military is supposed to do. “There was no specificity there, no looking at the true risk,” he said.
A NEW POLL from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press shows that Americans are divided on whether a smaller military would be effective in facing future challenges, with 45 percent saying it would be and 44 percent saying it wouldn’t.
THE POLL ALSO SHOWED THAT IRAN has moved to the top of the list of countries Americans see as the greatest danger to the United States, with 28 percent volunteering that answer when asked. But there’s a wide partisan gap over what to do with that threat: 72 percent of Republicans want to take a firm stand, but only 45 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents. The poll results are here: http://bit.ly/xWC32N
ON THE HOUSE FLOOR TODAY is a bill to allow the inclusion of religious symbols in military memorials. The bill is set for consideration under suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds vote for passage and is a sign that House leaders see it as likely to reach that goal.
SPONSOR REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-Calif.) tells us the bill is a reaction to a recent federal appeals court ruling declaring a California memorial unconstitutional because it includes a prominent cross. “Any war memorial on federal property deserves protection, regardless of the religious symbol that’s displayed. What’s important is paying tribute to America’s veterans and fallen heroes, who have given and sacrificed so much to protect the freedoms and rights of others,” he said.
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