National Security Brief: Top Democrat Says Hagel Confirmation Moving Forward

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) said on Thursday that Chuck Hagel’s bid to become the next Secretary of Defense is on track despite endless queries from Republicans hoping to derail the nomination. The GOP requests are “things no prior candidate has ever been asked for, way beyond what the rules of the committee are,” Levin told reporters. “He has provided all of the financial information that was required.” Seeming exasperated at the delay, Levin added: “We can’t not vote because there’s dissatisfaction. That would be endless. We’re going to schedule a vote.”

In other news:

  • McClatchy reports: Senior Obama administration officials have agreed that the number of nuclear warheads the U.S. military deploys could be cut by at least a third without harming national security, according to those involved in the deliberations.
  • The New York Times reports: Clashes between Syrian insurgents and loyalist troops in Damascus raged for a second day on Thursday and spread to the suburbs and other areas, activist groups reported.
  • Los Angeles Times reports: Afghans paid bribes totaling about $3.9 billion last year — twice the country’s domestic revenue — and two-thirds of the population says it’s acceptable for civil servants to take kickbacks for providing basic services, according to a U.N. survey released Thursday.