National Security Brief: Obama May Announce Top State, Defense Nominees This Week

The Washington Post reports that President Obama would like to announce his new national security cabinet picks on Friday, but administration officials said that plan would be dictated by the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Former Republican senator Chuck Hagel (NE) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) are reportedly the frontrunners to become Secretary of Defense and State, respectively.

In other news:

  • The campaign to smear Hagel as an anti-Semite rolled on today, with an op-ed by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal titled “Chuck Hagel’s Jewish Problem.” Stephens throws out the tired charge that if Obama nominates Hagel, that means he “is not a friend of Israel.” Sigh. We won’t be linking to this piece as a matter of principle.
  • The Daily Beast’s Ali Gharib continues to poke holes in the neocon smear campaign of Hagel, reporting that there really wasn’t much negative “buzz” about Hagel’s potential nomination at a recent White House Chanukah party.
  • Reuters reports: Israel approved plans to build 1,500 more Jewish settler homes in east Jerusalem on Monday, an official said, days after provoking international protests against a project for another 3,000 such homes on land it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.Washington had condemned the latest plans, for ultra-Orthodox neighborhood Ramat Shlomo, when they were published during a 2010 visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
  • The five-member Accountability Review Board turned over its report on Monday on the terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11. Congressional panels are expected to hear from the group’s leading members on Thursday.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports: The Obama administration has failed to re-evaluate the threat posed by dozens of prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, putting it at increasing odds with political allies who are angry with the president’s lack of action on the U.S. terrorism-detention system.
  • And finally, AOL Defense reports: The intelligence community is developing a single cloud computing network to allow all its analysts to access and rapidly sift through massive volumes of data. When fully complete, this effort will create a pan-agency cloud, with organizations sharing many of the same computing resources and information. More importantly, the hope is the system will break down existing boundaries between agencies and change their insular cultures.