- Debate in the full US senate about the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense should start today, following yesterday’s far from consensual approval (14-11 following party lines) in the Armed Services Committee. In all likelihood Hagel will be confirmed, threats of a Republican filibuster or not, but he will start his tenure with a wobbly image, in contrast with John Kerry’s shoo-in as Secretary of State. SASC | NYT.
- In his State of the Union speech, President Obama announced the withdrawal of 34,000 American troops from Afghanistan this year, or more than half of the current contingent. SOTU 2013 | DoD | Stars & Stripes.
- Donald Gene Garst, a former employee of a company contracted by the Pentagon at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and a $52K fine for smuggling kickbacks he obtained in return for favoring a construction subcontractor. As a clue in hindsight on the defendant’s character, Garst was told by the state of Kansas to stop shady brokering practices [PDF] a decade ago. US Department of Justice | Topeka Capital-Journal.
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