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National Security Brief: July 7, 2011

— Democratic lawmakers fed up with the war in Afghanistan launched a new challenge to President Obama’s troop withdrawal plan as debate resumed over the defense appropriations bill this week. House Democrats proposed a series of amendments to the bill calling for a faster withdrawal, by cutting funding if necessary.

— The planned drawdown of 33,000 troops in Afghanistan will pose a minimal security risk, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the outgoing deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan told reporters.

— Rodriguez also said the U.S. military is starting to redeploy troops to the eastern part of the country “as part of a broader effort to shift the main focus of the overall war effort from southern Afghanistan to the country’s violent eastern provinces.”

— The FBI and the Homeland Security Department distributed a memo to airlines warning that terrorists may seek to surgically implant bombs under their skin in order to get the explosives past airport security.

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— Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, claims that the North Korean government bribed top Pakistani military officials in the late 1990s to gain access to sensitive nuclear technical information and equipment.

— A federal court on Wednesday ordered the military to immediately lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military, catching the Defense Department by surprise and having an unclear effect on the Obama administration’s preparations to end the ban more gradually.  — The U.N.’s food price index rose to a near record high, up nearly 40 percent from this time last year.

— The White House will send a host of diplomats — including U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and former Secretary of State Colin Powell — to the independence ceremony for South Sudan this weekend.