By Barbara Starr
The Pentagon may announce as soon as this weekend a plan to bring up to 400,000 furloughed civilian employees back to work, according to two Defense Department officials.
CNN has learned the plan is in the final stages of being written and approved.
If all are returned to work, it would represent about half the number of government civilian and contract employees at risk of furloughs during the government shutdown that began on Tuesday.
The partisan congressional stalemate over spending for the current fiscal year shows no sign of ending anytime soon.
By Jessica Yellin
President Barack Obama has spent large chunks of the last six months dealing with matters of foreign policy, from Benghazi to Afghanistan to drones.
But the topic won’t be the centerpiece of his State of the Union address Tuesday. Administration officials say he’ll focus instead on jobs and the economy, the topics that still rank as the most important for Americans, according to polls.
While Obama won't spend as much time on foreign policy Tuesday as he does on the economy, that isn't unusual. In his last four addresses to Congress, this president spent an average of seven minutes on foreign policy and an average 22 minutes on the economy, according to analyses from the Washington Post and National Journal.
He will address the ongoing drawdown of the American military presence in Afghanistan, and last week Vice President Joe Biden indicated at a security conference in Munich that Obama could talk about his commitment to reducing the stockpile of nuclear weapons around the world.
By Pam Benson
An additional six countries and Taiwan have significantly reduced their imports of Iranian crude oil and will not face tough sanctions from the United States, according to a statement released Monday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
India, Malaysia, South Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan now join 11 other countries that have met requirements set by U.S. law to reduce oil purchases from Iran to avoid a cutoff in access to the U.S. financial system.
Japan and 10 countries from the European Union secured waivers from U.S. sanctions in March.
"By reducing Iran's oil sales, we are sending a decisive message to Iran's leaders: until they take concrete actions to satisfy the concerns of the international community, they will continue to face increasing isolation and pressure," Clinton said in a statement.
By Mike Mount, Senior National Security Producer
In what is shaping up to be a classic congressional right vs. left fight over defense and war funding, both the House and Senate are gearing up to battle over some expected and not-so-expected items in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the bill, showing its hand to members of the House of Representatives on what it felt should be authorized for military spending.
The act authorizes spending limits and sets defense policy, but it does not actually appropriate the funds.
The committee version must still pass a full Senate vote. The House signed off on its bill this month. While a date has yet to be announced, both the final House and Senate versions will go through extensive negotiations to hammer out a final version of the legislation, expected in the fall.
Both bills have numerous amendments that will be debated and fought over in the coming months. Keep an eye on these five if you like political fireworks.
By National Security Producer Jamie Crawford
As the United States completes its withdrawal of all military forces from Iraq by the end of the month, Iraq's prime minister made a pitch to leaders of American commerce and industry Tuesday - Iraq is open for business.
In an address to American executives at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said his country offers "limitless" opportunities for American companies.
Al-Maliki said his country is trying to diversify from an energy-dominated economy, to one that focuses on financial, medical, agricultural, educational and infrastructure services as well.
By Senior National Security Producer Charley Keyes
In the budget clash over national defense, the money is in the billions but the rhetoric soars even higher.
And the gloom-and-doom forecasts of possible military cuts seem to get more alarming by the day.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that additional cuts would erode national security and even lead to war, encouraging America's enemies to attack.
"In effect, it invites aggression," he said at the end of last week.
"Devastating," is how he described the potential impact of forced cuts, in a letter to senators.
But one of the sharpest critics of the Pentagon, master phrase-maker, Winslow Wheeler, dismisses this as over-excited talk designed to disguise management failure.
"Panetta, (House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck") McKeon , the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been babbling the worst strains of hysteria," Wheeler told CNN. "Now they are saying it will encourage other countries to attack. It's pure babble." FULL POST
Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.
The political debate over China seems familiar because they’ve been on the political table for years. Is China taking American jobs? How cooperative is the People's Republic of China (PRC) on issues like nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran? China rises; America frets, and Presidential candidates talk about roughly the same things every four years.
But what if China is about to change? FULL POST