OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Pentagon furloughs begin

Of course, if sequestration is not dealt with in 2014, civilian workers could be staring down another round of furloughs — or even layoffs — because the Pentagon’s currently budget proposal is $52 billion above the sequester caps.

Military personnel accounts are exempt from the sequester, so active-duty troops aren’t subject to furloughs.

The furloughs are going to be one of the most visible signs of sequestration across the country — roughly 80 percent of the civilians affected are outside the Washington metro area — and both the military and defense industry are hopeful they can start to move the status quo on Capitol Hill over sequestration.

The next step will be the Pentagon’s sequestration report requested by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is asking the department to lay out how it would cut $52 billion under sequestration.

Committee leaders have made no qualms about the fact that they hope the report will be used to move political wills, rather than money in budget accounts.

In the meantime, the Pentagon’s local civilians appear to be attempting to make the most of their forced time off.

A Facebook group titled “How I Spent My Furlough Day” had more than 250 members as of Monday. The group organized a “federal furlough five mile fun run for freedom” taking place Monday evening, shared furlough drink specials and talked about the ways they are spending the newly found time off. 

White House doesn’t call it a coup — yet: The White House said Monday that it isn’t in the best interest of the United States to cut off more than $1 billion in aid to Egypt.

White House press secretary Jay Carney was barraged with questions on Monday over whether the U.S. believed a coup occurred in Egypt, which would bar the U.S. from providing aid.

U.S. law prohibits aid to countries where an elected leader is removed from power by the military in a coup d’état.

Carney noted popular support for the Egyptian army's ouster of the country's democratically elected president, and refused to label it a military coup, offering the clearest indication yet of the administration’s reluctance to reduce the $1.5 billion in mostly military aid given annually to Egypt.

“Tens of millions” of Egyptians with “legitimate grievances” against the “undemocratic form of governance” supported the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government, Carney said, who added it was important to consider American “national security interests.”

“This is a complex and difficult issue with significant consequences,” Carney said, adding that an immediate change to Egyptian aid was “not the best interest of the United States.”

In the wake of Morsi’s removal last week, some lawmakers have been calling for the U.S. to cut off aid to Egypt.

The question does not fall along party lines, as Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) were among the first to push for stopping aid.

Judge presses Obama on Gitmo force-feedings: A federal court judge ruled against a Guantánamo detainee’s request for an injunction against force-feedings, but the judge also pressed President Obama on allowing them to continue.

In her U.S. District Court ruling, Judge Gladys Kessler said that it was up to Obama to “directly address” the force-feedings as commander in chief.

“Even though this Court is obligated to dismiss the Application for lack of jurisdiction, and therefore lacks any authority to rule on Petitioner's request, there is an individual who does have the authority to address the issue,” Kessler wrote.

“The President of the United States, as Commander-in-Chief, has the authority — and power — to directly address the issue of force-feeding of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.”

The judge suggested that the force-feedings violated international law and wrote that it was perfectly clear based on statements from the detainees, medical groups and human rights advocates that “force-feeding is a painful, humiliating, and degrading process.”

The judge even cited a speech from Obama in which he criticized the practice.

Kessler ruled in favor of the federal government, however, finding the court did not have jurisdiction in the case.

Pompeo to talk Gitmo: The force-feedings at Guantánamo, where more than 100 of the 166 detainees are on a hunger strike, are likely to be a prime topic for Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) at a Tuesday forum.

Pompeo, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, is speaking at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on Tuesday to discuss “the need for the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.”

Republicans — and some Democrats — have rebuffed Obama’s efforts to close the prison, calling it a necessary tool in the war on terror.

Pompeo, one of the president’s critics on Guantánamo, recently visited the facility.

In Case You Missed It:

— White House lobbies Venezuela, Nicaragua on Snowden

— Report: bin Laden in Pakistan for 9 years

— Rapper Mos Def protests force-feedings

— Missile interceptor test fails

— Defense industry tries again to kill sequester

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