OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: VA nomination heads to Senate

THE TOPLINE: The Obama administration on Monday formally submitted its nomination of Robert McDonald for Veterans Affairs chief to the Senate, beginning what could be a challenging confirmation process.

President Obama has tapped the former Procter & Gamble executive to run an embattled agency plagued by a scandal over falsified patient wait times and other potentially criminal behavior.

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It remains unclear when the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will take up the nomination but Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will hold an informal meeting with McDonald on Tuesday afternoon.

Sanders plans to ask McDonald about his plans to boost transparency and accountability at the beleaguered agency.

It’s the first of many meetings as McDonald looks to convince lawmakers he has the managerial chops to reform the VA healthcare system.

 

SECOND SNOWDEN? Observers believe that someone new is leaking operational details about the National Security Agency, just over a year after former contractor Edward Snowden came forward.

Speculation is running rampant after German media outlets unveiled new documents that the NSA was tracking people searching for details about privacy software, but didn’t source the disclosures to Snowden.

The existence of a second leaker “seems clear at this point,” Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who first published Snowden’s revelations, said on Twitter.

A fresh leak could pose a significant problem for the NSA, which has worked over the last year to cauterize the damage caused by Snowden.

 

NUKE DEADLINE NEARS. Diplomats have less than two weeks left before a self-imposed deadline to reach an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program but negotiators have made little headway.

The biggest impediment to talks is Iran’s insistence that it needs 50,000 centrifuges to power its nuclear reactor, more than double the 20,000 centrifuges it now possesses, according to envoys familiar with the talks.

However, U.S. officials don’t want to see Tehran increase its enrichment capability for fear that the program could produce an atomic weapon.

The final round of negotiations began last week in Vienna. Negotiators have given themselves until July 20 to hammer out a deal.

 

TUESDAY, TUESDAY. National security looks to dominate Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey will give a classified briefing to the Senate Armed Services Committee on the latest developments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Look for post-July 4 fireworks after Dempsey last week left open the door to further U.S. military involvement in Iraq. There also likely will be fallout from the disputed election results roiling Kabul.

In addition to Sanders meeting with McDonald, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will convene for another prime-time hearing on the VA and its treatment of whistleblowers. The meeting comes less than a week after Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson announced the head of the agency’s medical inspector office stepped down. The director of the office had been accused of dismissing whistleblower concerns.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

-Blumenthal: VA waiting times going in ‘wrong direction’

-Report: Most tracked by NSA are not targets

-Security fears loom over CIA report

-Ex-CIA official: ISIS leader Baghdadi no closer to capture

-Germany warns US over more spying allegations

 

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