OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Hagel gets a boost from Schumer

There is also the possibility that Republicans could try to filibuster the nomination, which would require Hagel to win over at least five GOP senators. So far, no Republicans have come out in support of Hagel, and about a half-dozen have said they’re opposed. But no one has threatened a filibuster yet.

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The pace of Hagel’s face-to-face meetings, like the one he had with Schumer Monday, are likely to pick up next week when the Senate returns, although he had at least three more Tuesday with Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). He’s reached out to every senator for a one-on-one meeting.

Helping hands: In the highly partisan environment of Capitol Hill, there's nothing like a little counterterrorism operation to bring Republicans and Democrats together. On Monday, a number of top GOP lawmakers expressed their support for the White House's decision to provide support for French forces battling al Qaeda fighters in Africa. 

President Obama's decision to grant intelligence and military logistics support to French forces fighting in northern Mali has generated rave reviews from several top Republicans. House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said the U.S. should take whatever action necessary to "beat this threat back" in West Africa. 

So far, the Pentagon has agreed to provide intelligence and military logistical support to Paris, in an attempt to sweep out members of al Qaeda's West African cell, known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb, from northern Mali. 

French warplanes have been pounding al Qaeda positions inside northern Mali since Sunday. On Monday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said it was Washington's "responsibility" to back the French offensive in Africa. 

However, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), head of the House Intelligence Committee, expressed concern as to whether the United States was doing enough to curtail al Qaeda's influence on the continent. 

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb could be "a bigger problem in the future if we don't deal with it," Rogers added. "I am very worried about us not getting it right."

Stolen Valor bill re-introduced: The “Stolen Valor Act” was re-introduced in the House by Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) Tuesday, as he makes a second attempt to get the legislation passed.

The bill would make it a crime to lie about military honors for profit, after the Supreme Court struck down a 2006 version of the law that made lying about military awards a crime outright.

There were several lawmakers who introduced legislation last year to replace the struck-down Stolen Valor law. Bills came from both Democrats and Republicans, but none could become law despite the bipartisan support. Heck’s bill passed the House 410-3 in September, but was never taken up in the Senate. 

The Senate adopted an amendment from former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) to include his version of the legislation in the Defense authorization bill that passed in December, but that was stripped out during conference committee.   

Arraignment set for Afghan shooter: Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier accused of massacring 17 Afghan civilians in March during an unprovoked shooting rampage last March, will be officially arraigned on murder and attempted murder charges on Thursday, according to recent reports. 

The 38-year-old Iraqi war veteran, who was on his fourth combat tour in 10 years at the time of the shooting, is facing the death penalty of found guilty by a military court on  on 17 counts of murder. He is currently being housed in the military’s maximum-security facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Bales was also charged with six counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault in the wounding of six other villagers during the incident, as well as dereliction of duty.

Bales’s attorney, John Henry Browne, claims his client suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, suffered during his multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Late last year, an Afghan police investigator raised the possibility Bales did not act alone during the massacre, telling the court the distances between the two villages where Bales allegedly carried out the shootings was too far for one person to have traveled in the amount of time the attacks reportedly took place.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: 

— Hagel support split along party lines 

— DOD nominee offers apology for anti-Semitic comments 

— Sen. Boxer backs White House pick for DOD 

— Rep. Sherman loses committee leadership battle


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