National Security Brief: October 19, 2011

— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a surprise visit to “free Libya,” offering encouragement and aid, preaching national reconciliation which she called, “the hard part.”

— With Congress applying pressure on the Obama administration, the U.S. delayed an arms sale to Bahrain to examine the tiny Gulf nation’s human rights record amid a crackdown on protesters there.

— Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s general counsel, warned against the “over militarization” of the U.S.’ counter-terrorism strategy, saying, “There is a risk in permitting and expecting the U.S. military to extend its powerful reach into areas traditionally reserved for civilian law enforcement in this country.”

— Marine Gen. John Allen says that the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan is initiating a new offensive against the Haqqani group, a Pakistan-based militant network with ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

— U.S. Army Major General Daniel Allyn told Reuters that NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan’s strife-stricken East will constitute part of the remaining troops to be drawn down this year.

— President Obama is expected to announce today an initiative to provide 25,000 jobs for veterans or their spouses and active-duty service members over the next two years.

— The VFW yesterday urged its 2 million members to lobby Congress to spare military and veterans’ benefits as it looks for ways to trim more than $1 trillion from the federal budget.

— Iran claims that one of the defendants in the failed plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington was a “key member” of the Mujahedeen Khalq, an outlawed and exiled Iranian opposition group, classified by the State Department as a terrorist organization.