Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 25, 2014

October 23, 2014

#ThrowbackThursday: Battleship Musashi Triggers a Tsunami

That video of a Littoral Combat Ship launch (h/t) from the weekend feels like it should cause more of a splash, literally. Once upon a time, there was a ship that caused much more than a splash — the subject of this week’s Throwback Thursday. Full story

New Things We Know About the Senate Intelligence Interrogation Report

 

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Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on April 1. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Thanks to some dandy behind-the-scenes reporting from the Huffington Post and McClatchy, we’re learning a great deal about the long-delayed, much-disputed Senate Intelligence Committee report on the interrogation and detention practices under President George W. Bush. It’s a good thing, because with the way things are going, the public probably won’t see the report itself anytime soon. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 9:53 a.m.
Intelligence

October 22, 2014

Globalization and ‘The End of the Military-Industrial Complex’

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Lynn, as deputy secretary of Defense, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in an undated photo. (Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly)

William J. Lynn III, the former No. 2 at the Department of Defense, has published a piece in Foreign Affairs headlined “The End of the Military-Industrial Complex.” It is not that his case should be ignored or otherwise discounted; it’s well worth reading. But it does require a caveat, which is mentioned at the end of this post. Full story

Americans Support ISIS Fight, Just Don’t Think It’s Doing Anything

A majority of Americans polled by the Pew Research Center back the U.S. campaign against ISIS. However, they don’t really think the campaign is working.

The new poll, released Wednesday, finds that a majority of both Democrats and Republicans approve of the campaign — 57 percent in all. Only a third, however, think it’s going well.

The poll also finds that there are real doubts about the goals of the United States and its allies, and that 73 percent of those Americans polled don’t think U.S. allies are doing enough.

The two parties are very split on whether they are worried about the level of U.S. involvement in going after ISIS — 57 percent of Democrats are worried about going overboard, and 63 percent of Republicans are worried that the United States won’t go far enough. In particular, Democrats oppose sending ground troops into Iraq and Syria (66 percent), while Republicans favor it (57 percent). Independents align more closely with Democrats on both counts.

 

By Tim Starks Posted at 12:48 p.m.
Terrorism, War

Coburn Wastebook: Iron Man Suit, FEMA Golf Courses, Navy Magazines

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Sen. Tom Coburn on Jan. 14. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (@tomcoburn) is out with his final edition of his annual Wastebook of government spending, and besides the massages for rabbits and money to watch grass grow, a variety of Defense Department projects and other national security-related programs get the Oklahoma Republican’s sardonic smack. Full story

October 21, 2014

Reading the Tea Leaves on North Korea After U.S. Prisoner Release

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday confirmed that North Korea has released one of the three U.S. citizens it has been holding prisoner.

Jeffrey Fowle, an American tourist and father of three, was arrested in May on accusations of leaving a Bible behind in a hotel. He was allowed to depart North Korea on a U.S. military transport plane, according to a department press release that did not say when he was released into U.S. custody. The department did not provide many details about how the prisoner release came to transpire other than thanking the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang for its “tireless efforts” as the United States’ “Protecting Power in the DPRK.”

The Kim Jong Un regime continues to hold two other Americans, Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller.

Since North Korea never makes a good-faith gesture without an ulterior motive, it can be an interesting exercise to try to predict what Pyongyang has up its sleeve this time.

“We know they grab people to trade them,” said Jeffrey Lewis, who directs the East Asia nonproliferation program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “They clearly think they’re going to get something in exchange for this release. It’s very doubtful that it is a purely humanitarian gesture.”

Lewis emphasized how difficult it is to accurately guess at the intentions of the famously closed-off Kim regime. Still, he said Pyongyang could have freed Fowle in order to give its chief benefactor, China, a “deliverable” ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Beijing next month. The North might also be seeking to build-up some goodwill ahead of its next potential provocation, Lewis said.

A number of arms control observers have speculated that the next provocation could involve the launch of another satellite. Earlier this month, 38 North, an expert website that uses satellite image analysis to track weapons development in North Korea, reported that the Stalinist state had evidently completed a key construction effort to expand its Sohae Satellite Launching Station, which was the site of a successful space launch in December 2012. Pyongyang’s development of a satellite launch program is a serious concern to the international community as rocket technology can also be used to build intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“North Korea is now ready to move forward with another rocket launch,” reads the analysis by 38 North image expert Nick Hansen. “Should a decision be made soon to do so in Pyongyang – and we have no evidence that one has – a rocket could be launched by the end of 2014.”

Iran Nuclear Deal and Congressional Politics

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in New York on Sept. 26. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

This week, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration planned to bypass Congress on sanctions relief resulting from multi-party talks to strike an Iran nuclear deal. Suffice it to say hardly anyone thinks that’s going to go well, if he tries it. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 2:33 p.m.
Foreign Policy

Backlash Against Leon Panetta, Robert Gates Over Memoirs

President Obama’s former Defense secretaries are coming under fire in light of their memoirs that criticize the commander-in-chief while he’s still in office. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 8:33 a.m.
Personnel

October 20, 2014

Video: John Oliver Shreds U.S. Over Afghan Translators on ‘Last Week Tonight’

On HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” Sunday, John Oliver ripped into the backlog of Afghan translators awaiting special U.S. visas. The deadly threats against those translators were the subject of what has become the defining trait of Oliver’s show: a 15-minute plus segment where he lays waste to one particular problem. Full story

Transgender Military Service, Ebola, China’s Navy in the Week Ahead

It’s another slow-ish week in Washington, D.C., with elections nearing, but one House committee is back in town for a hearing, and some other hot topics — including the subjects in the headline and cybersecurity — are on the agenda.

Full story

October 17, 2014

Weekly Recap: Elections, Interrogations, Revolts

The holiday made it a shorter week at Five By Five, so this weekly recap won’t hit as many highlights as usual — and will spend a little more time on what others were up to. Full story

Five By Five Friday Q&A: Mark Gunzinger, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

mgunzinger 105x147 Five By Five Friday Q&A: Mark Gunzinger, Center for Strategic and Budgetary AssessmentsMark Gunzinger is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. This week, he co-wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed with another CSBA senior fellow, John Stilton, entitled “The Unserious Air War Against ISIS.” The piece argues that the United States has been too “timorous” in its number of air strikes compared to other campaigns. He answered questions from Five By Five Friday about the piece, and about the campaign against ISIS in general. Full story

October 16, 2014

Shake-Ups Due on Congressional Defense Panels

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Shaheen in September. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Just like autumn leaves, the congressional defense panels are in for change. Megan Scully has an item today for CQ.com’s subscribers on the CQ on Defense blog about how the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Democratic leadership is due for a shake-up of potentially monumental proportions. And they’re not the only faction. Full story

National Security (and James Foley) Making a Prominent Appearance in GOP Ads

Just a few months ago, the only time national security or foreign policy came up in political ads was in relation to things like the economy — a candidate hyping his role in keeping a military base open, say. Now, the subjects have become a prominent part of the GOP’s midterm ads in their own right. Full story

October 15, 2014

Twitter Reviews of ISIS War Name ‘Inherent Resolve’: Mainly Funny and/or Mean

After weeks of consideration, the name for the Pentagon’s operation against ISIS is now officially “Inherent Resolve,” a moniker that had initially been rejected within the Pentagon for being too “bleh.” Naming wars is a bit of an art, but it seems that most of Twitter — to be sure, often an outlet for snark — isn’t impressed. Consider these highlights from Twitter reviews, and you’re welcome to come up with your own war names in the comments section. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 2:59 p.m.
Terrorism, War

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