OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Russia won’t cooperate with US Snowden request

Putin said that Russia would not act on the U.S. requests because it did not have an extradition treaty with the U.S. and Snowden had not broken Russian laws.

"Mr. Snowden is a free man, and the sooner he chooses his final destination the better it is for us and for him," Putin said, according to The Associated Press. "I hope it will not affect the business-like character of our relations with the U.S., and I hope that our partners will understand that."

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Republicans said that Moscow’s decision was the latest incident in which Putin has thumbed his nose at the United States, and there should be consequences for his refusal to help the U.S.

“I have to say that they know our president is weak,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “They’re playing on it, and they’re enjoying it very, very much — Putin in particular — and it irritates the heck out of me.”

“I’m just amazed that we don’t get what Putin is up to,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters. “He’s trying to recreate the old Soviet Union attitude and image.”

Even as it called on Russia to turn over Snowden “without delay,” the White House also made it clear Tuesday that the issue should not be allowed to poison the well.

“We agree with President Putin that we do not want this issue to negatively impact our bilateral relations,” Hayden said.

Troop cuts put US at risk: Defense lawmakers are concerned the Army is gambling with U.S. national security by cutting 80,000 soldiers from its total force. 

Phased out over the next several years, the cuts will bring the service's total force down to 490,000, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday. 

The cost savings from the troop cuts will go toward paying the Army's $170 billion share of the 10-year cut of $487 billion to the Pentagon's coffers under the 2011 Budget Control Act. 

One Republican critic said the move would put the United States at risk. 

"America learned the hard way that our pre-9/11 military was too small. Now ... we are reducing the force to that same size and foolishly expecting history to teach us a different lesson," House Armed Services Committee chief Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said Tuesday. 

"There is always risk when you make cuts. That is [just] what happens," Senate Armed Services Committee chief Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said of the Army's announcement. 

"There was no other way they could [get there]," Levin told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. 

One House Democrat blamed congressional efforts to block military base closures for the Army troop drawdown. 

Lawmakers blocked Army plans to shutter aging facilities, via the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission, to help pay for the budget cuts under the BCA. 

"Congress blocked each and every one of these attempts and has now forced the military to make a difficult choice: maintain a larger force that will hollow out over time or convert to a smaller force," House Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith (R-Wash.) said. 

"The Army chose the latter," he added. 

Taliban targets Kabul, tests Afghan forces: The Taliban is increasingly hammering targets inside Kabul, posing the biggest test of the country's security forces as American and allied troops prepare to end the 12-year Afghan war.

Tuesday's brazen attack against the Afghan presidential palace in downtown Kabul by Taliban gunmen was the fifth high-profile attack inside the capital in the past two months. 

It was also the second such strike against U.S. and Afghan targets in and around Kabul within a week, since American commanders officially handed over security operations in the country to local forces last Tuesday. 

Earlier this year, U.S. and coalition commanders warned that singular strikes on high-profile targets in Kabul would be the hallmark of this year's fighting season in Afghanistan. 

These types of strikes at the power base of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government will likely increase as the White House's 2014 withdrawal deadline for U.S. troops in country nears. 

In May, Taliban fighters began this year's fighting season in the country by blowing up an American convoy traveling through through the capital, killing 16 people, including six American military advisers. 

The bombing was the first major strike against U.S. and coalition targets inside Kabul since last February.

Since then, Taliban fighters have launched deadly attacks inside Kabul against the country's main airport, supreme court and most recently Karzai's presidential compound. 

Pentagon celebrates Gay Pride Month: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett joined a celebration of Gay Pride Month at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

The event also featured a speech from acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning, who is now the highest-ranking openly gay Pentagon official.

Tuesday’s event was the second at the Pentagon to celebrate gay pride month since the military implemented the repeal of its “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in 2011, allowing gay and lesbian service members to serve openly.

In the nearly two years since, the Pentagon has had few problems with the repeal of the ban, and its success was noted by the speakers on Tuesday.

Fanning talked about how far the Pentagon has come since he started working there in the 1990s, just as “Don’t ask” was being implemented.

“I knew we had come a long way when we certified repeal, when it seemed that most people's reaction in the building was, ‘Haven't we done this already?’ ” he said.

Fanning took over as acting secretary of the Air Force on Friday when former secretary Michael Donley retired.


In Case You Missed It: 

— Russia adopting 'Soviet' mentality 

— Moscow blocks Snowden extradition

— Pelosi demands Snowden's return 

— Taliban attacks Afghan presidential compound 


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