Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 23, 2014

July 22, 2014

Catching Up With ISIS

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Sako speaks at a news conference in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on Tuesday. (Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

The airliner-crash tragedy in Ukraine and the fighting in Gaza over the past week have nudged aside what had been the biggest foreign policy story of the summer — the rise of the Islamic State (aka ISIS aka ISIL) in Iraq. The insurgent force is still causing its share of turmoil, though.

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VA Secretary Hearing Won’t Be ‘Sexy’

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McDonald, left, meets with Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., on July 8 on Capitol Hill. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“I don’t think it’ll be particularly sexy,” says Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr of North Carolina about this afternoon’s confirmation hearing on Robert McDonald to be secretary of Veterans Affairs, according to CQ Roll Call’s Connor O’Brien.

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Treating PTSD in Military Dogs

WOAI in San Antonio has a piece on post-traumatic stress disorder in military dogs, highlighting the work of Walter Burghardt, a veterinarian and researcher at Lackland Air Force Base in the Texas city. Behavioral studies for pooches aren’t the same as for people, of course.
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By Joe Warminsky Posted at 9:34 a.m.
Personnel

July 21, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in ‘The Imitation Game’ — a Timely Film

Alan Turing is renowned for his work during World War II, but he could hardly be a more relevant figure in the national security world today. He cracked the “Enigma” code and was a pivotal figure in cryptanalysis, a subject at the heart of the current debate over the National Security Agency. He is considered the father of artificial intelligence, in a time when the autonomy of computers and robots is a topic of ongoing debate. (He’s also relevant to modern discussions about social issues.)

Above is the first trailer for the film “Imitation Game,” about his life, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. It will open the BFI London Film Festival in October.

New Lawsuit, Legislation to Aid Iraqis, Afghans Who Helped U.S. in Wars

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Shaheen arrives for the Senate Democrats’ policy lunch on Tuesday, Feb. 25. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There were two developments Monday meant to ensure visas for Afghans and Iraqis who helped the United States in wars in those countries: 1., the announcement of a lawsuit filed by an Iraqi who served as a translator but has been waiting more than two years on his visa; and 2. the introduction of a bipartisan bill to boost the number of Special Immigration Visas (SIVs) available to Afghan civilians who served in a similar role. Full story

Obama Adviser on Cybersecurity: Limit Cyber Capabilities, Regulate Sometimes

By the reckoning of a new report by the left-leaning Center for New American Security, we screwed it up from the start when designing the architecture of digital computing — security just wasn’t drawn into those original blueprints. Now we have to live with it. The report, helmed by Richard Danzig, a former Navy secretary who currently serves as a member of the Defense Policy Board and The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, makes recommendations on how. Full story

Kim Jong Un Now Mad About Video of Him (Mostly) Dancing Well

The supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, takes himself pretty seriously. But you would think he might be pleased by a video of his head super-imposed on a bunch of people who, for the most part, have some serious dance moves. Full story

Taxpayer Group Knocks Senate Defense Spending Bill

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Pilots in a EA-18G Growler complete a nighttime, touch-and-go landing during Field Carrier Landing Practice for the Carrier Air Wing 5 of U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan on May 14. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Taxpayers for Common Sense found fault with the House’s fiscal 2015 Defense spending bill, and the group now has its share of gripes with the Senate’s $549.7 billion version, too, for spending money on programs the Defense Department doesn’t want and adding money beyond what the Obama administration requested. Full story

Medal of Honor Recipient Ryan Pitts, 9/11 Commission, VA Secretary in the Week Ahead

Former Army Staff Sgt. Ryan J. Pitts will be at the White House on Monday to receive a Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama. His story is both heroic and a tale of missteps by superiors, as he fought to fend off a wave of insurgents in Afghanistan in a patrol base in the bloody Battle of Wanat, all while badly wounded by shrapnel himself. Obama is awarding more Medals of Honor to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans than his predecessor, but the process has become slower.

The week’s offerings also include a confirmation hearing for a new leader at the Department of Veterans Affairs, a review of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 Commission report and discussions on the cyber threat, the shape of U.S. Combatant Commands, Iraq and the Navy budget. Full story

July 18, 2014

After MH17, Senator Revives Commercial Airliner Anti-Missile Defense Idea

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Kirk talks with reporters Jan. 14. after the Republican Senate luncheon in the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., told the Washington Post Friday that, in the aftermath of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 disaster and with shoulder-fired missiles proliferating in places like Libya in Iraq, he would press the Federal Aviation Administration to install anti-missile defenses on commercial airliners.

It probably won’t be an easy sell. Right after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the idea had some real momentum. But it eventually suffered a long, slow death over cost, reliability and need. Full story

Russian RD-180 Not the Only Rocket Worry on Capitol Hill

Concerns over the Defense Department’s reliance on the Russian RD-180 rocket engine are just one aspect of the Senate’s worries about foreign-supplied rocket propulsion methods and instances where the Pentagon is counting on one vendor. In a report on the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill the Appropriations Committee approved Thursday, the panel expresses dismay about the overall state of the United States’ ability to produce rocket motors and the department’s tendency to award sole-source contracts. Full story

Energy Xtra, CQ Roll Call’s Latest Policy Blog

Another blog joins CQ Roll Call’s Policy Pulse roster: Energy Xtra, written by Randy Leonard, a longtime reporter on energy and environment issues. The blog will touch upon numerous topics of interest to Five by Five readers, especially where the two beats intersect on the energy supply and national security, like this post on former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen’s assessment of the role shale oil plays in U.S. energy independence.

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July 17, 2014

#ThrowbackThursday: Why the Pentagon Has Five Sides

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The Pentagon is seen from the air over Washington, D.C. on Aug. 25, 2013. The 6.5 million-square-foot building was built from 1941 to1943. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

For this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday, we turn to a 2007 book excerpt about how the Defense Department headquarters came to be a five-sided building. Full story

No U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Organization That Could Investigate Malaysia Airlines Crash (Video)

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A picture taken on July 17 shows a Malaysia Airlines closed counter at the Schiphol airport near Amsterdam after a Malaysian airliner crashed in rebel-held eastern Ukraine. The plane went missing with 239 passengers and crew on board.
(Olaf Kraak/AFP/Getty Images)

Updated 6:25 p.m. The United States has not sent an ambassador to the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization, which has, in the past, investigated air disasters like the one Thursday where a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet reportedly was shot down along the Ukraine/Russia border. The post is one of many nominations tied up on the Senate floor, with Republicans protesting a Democratic change to filibuster rules.

[Update: The nominee is now slated for a vote Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced on the floor late Thursday, via CQ Roll Call's Sarah Chacko.]

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By Tim Starks Posted at 1:25 p.m.
Foreign Policy

Gen. Dunford on What’s Different From Iraq to Afghanistan Withdrawal

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Dunford, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, testifies during a Senate Armed Services hearing in March on the situation in Afghanistan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A nomination hearing Thursday for Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. to take command of the Marine Corps spent most of its time focusing on his current job as commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan. He backed the Afghanistan withdrawal plan as different from what happened in Iraq, where the Obama administration is encountering a lot of second guessing based on the chaos there — but he also gave some fuel to critics of the president’s plan in Afghanistan. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 11:13 a.m.
Marines, War

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