OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Defense heavy-hitters to weigh in on future threats

The latest leaks: The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Flame computer virus was connected to the same U.S.-Israeli program as the Stuxnet virus used in a cyberattack against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Disclosure of U.S. involvement in Stuxnet stoked broad, bipartisan criticism in Congress, but the second round of cyber reports hasn’t resulted in a second wave of leak outrage. Senators interviewed between rounds of farm bill votes said Wednesday that the latest leaks were concerning: Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl LevinCarl LevinPresident Trump, listen to candidate Trump and keep Volcker Rule Republicans can learn from John McCain’s heroism Trump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate MORE (D-Mich.) said it reinforced the problem, and Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRhode Island announces plan to pay DACA renewal fee for every 'Dreamer' in state Mich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead NAACP sues Trump for ending DACA MORE (R-Ala.) said he was surprised that a new leak of classified information came out so soon.

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) agreed it was yet another "very serious leak breach." One plausible explanation for the different level of congressional reaction: the Stuxnet story was the first to confirm the United States used cyber weapons against Iran, while the latest story reinforced, as Levin said, that there was a U.S. cyberattack on Iran.

Big-stick diplomacy: The United States's spending problem could prevent national security officials from buying a big enough stick to keep Iran's nuclear program at bay — at least, according to Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee. GOP panel members laid into the administration during a hearing on Iran's program on Wednesday. Republicans claim the Pentagon won't be able to afford the ships, planes and tanks needed to deter Iran due to the automatic defense budget cuts under sequestration.

"You can't have it both ways," Rep. Randy ForbesRandy ForbesTrump makes little headway filling out Pentagon jobs Why there's only one choice for Trump's Navy secretary Trump likely to tap business executive to head Navy: report MORE (R-Va.) said during the hearing.

But House Dems fired back, claiming Republicans were beating the same war drum on Iran that it used to go into Iraq. Being one of the cooler heads on the committee, ranking member Adam SmithAdam SmithCongress, authorize fresh base closures to strengthen our military GOP lawmaker drops effort to force vote to extend DACA protections Trump officials brief lawmakers on North Korea MORE (D-Wash.) pointed out that Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapon. To which Republican members replied: Not yet. 

Personnel hearing, take two: The Senate Armed Services Personnel subcommittee was supposed to have a hearing on supporting military families with special needs Wednesday, but the vote-a-rama on the Senate floor to wade through more than 70 amendments for the farm bill forced the committee to cancel the hearing. The witnesses won’t have to wait too long to testify: the committee rescheduled the hearing for 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Slap on the wrist: On Wednesday, news surfaced that the seven American service members involved in the Quran burnings earlier this year would not face military criminal charges for their actions. Details of the decision, reportedly recommended by Central Command chief Gen. James Mattis, stated the sailor and six soldiers would receive written reprimands and a cut in pay but they would not be brought before a military court martial and would retain their ranks. DOD has denied the reports, claiming that service leaders are still weighing their options on what to do with the seven service members. The burnings in Afghanistan earlier this year touched off a wave of violent protests and represented a low point for U.S-Afghan relations. 


—Al Qaeda bombing plot foiled in Yemen

—Military instructor suspended over anti-Islam teachings

—DOD to investigate Afghan taxing US contractors 

—US defense firms in a "fog" over sequestration

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