The Night Beat: Kyrgyz Gov't Extorting the Pentagon?

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Good evening.

On the Night Beat:

There's a diplomatic showdown brewing that is threatening the war effort in Afghanistan. The new Kyrgyz government is essentially attempting to extort money from the U.S. government and the military is having none of it. The Pentagon has now shut down all airborne refueling operations at the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan, a vital logistical Hub for the Afghanistan war effort. The fleet of KC 135 tankers operating from Manas that refuel U.S. military aircraft operating over Afghanistan have been moved elsewhere. The standoff is drastically complicating the logistical challenge in supporting the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan. The Kyrgyz government, in violation of their basing agreement with the U.S., under which they agreed that there will be no taxes on fuel supplies to the Transit Center, suddenly demanded that the U.S. pay a value-added tax on all fuel supplies. More detail here.


President Obama will visit India in November, the White House said tonight. He also plans to host the next APEC summit in Honolulu next year. ... "If the sea lanes are open to the Gaza Strip, that's the end of us," Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren told AOL News's Andrea Stone.

Completely untrue rumor of the day: the White House has asked Gen. Colin Powell (ret.) to be DNI. Still Clapper, or maybe Vickers. ... The Army is planning a $100m special operations headquarters facility in Afghanistan, according to Noah Shachtman. (Aren't we ... you know ... supposed to be transitioning out of there starting soon?.) ... It seems that the Pentagon wants to use NFL instant replay technology to help fight its wars. There is a Jim Joyce joke in here somewhere, but I'm afraid I don't have it yet.

If you're an important person in D.C. and  missed this morning's speech by the Commander in Chief of USCYBERCOM, Gen. Keith Alexander, he probably knows because his Ft. Gordon collectors didn't hear you discussing it over the telephone. (I kid.) Here's a precis of the event from a seasoned observer of the cyber power scene:

"He gave clear description of the mission, and how it would merge offense, defense and intel. The command's primary function is military, as DOD now depends on the internet, but they would support DHS whenever asked.  He said (in answer to a question) that the US was ready to engage with other countries on rules for cyberspace and the Russian treaty was a starting point for discussion.  Sabotage is an new worry and some countries had prepared for this.  DOD has not worked out rules of engagement for offensive operations in peacetime.  Some of the themes sounded like the new national security strategy. There was a lot of discussion about privacy and civil liberties and he made clear that there are guidelines that are closely followed and that he consults regularly with Congress and the FISC to ensure what they are doing is legal and appropriate." CSIS's transcript is here.

Launching soon: Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact's 3rd state affiliate, in conjunction with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ... New jobs: Gideon Rose will be the new editor in chief of foreign affairs. And author/economist Bruce Bartlett will begin a gig next week as a columnist The Fiscal Times, in which he will call attention to academic research that bears upon current events.

Embargoed for 7:00 am ET tomorrow is a new study from the Center for Public Integrity entitled "Who Bankrolls Congress? Series Examines Big Money Behind Congressional Leaders." ... In the latest National Journal Insider's poll, 82% of Democratic insiders believe their party will benefit most from strongly supporting a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and 50% of Republican insiders believe their party will benefit best from downplaying the issue entirely.


The most important political story in Florida that you haven't heard about it: the bazillions of dollars that Dr. Rick Scott is putting into the Republican gubernatorial primary race against party-favorite Bill McCollum. According to one estimate, Scott spent more money from mid-April until the end of June than Jeb Bush did during his entire 1998 campaign. Scott has one major plus: he is an outsider; and he has one huge demerit: he's associated with the largest Medicare fraud fine in history. Scott has proactively attempted to address the fraud issue by claiming that it was beneath him -- that as CEO, he did not know about it, or participate in it. It is true that he was never directly implicated. The money advantage is what is beginning to panic Republicans who thought the genial Attorney General would win in a cakewalk. McCollum never anticipated a major primary challenger and budgeted for a $4-5 million campaign. As a pretext for his gubernatorial campaign, Scott financed a nationwide series of attacks on the Democratic health care initiative. NB: another wrinkle in this race: Lawton Chiles III, the son of the beloved late Democratic governor, is running as an independent. Democratic candidate Alexis Sink has less traction than a bobble-head at this point, but this race gets more interesting by the day. ... Three top GOP leaders made known their concerns about then-RPF chair Jim Greer directly to Gov. Charlie Crist, but he ignored them, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

Expect the 42nd President and probably the person who enjoys the highest approval rating in Arkansas (now or anytime in the past) to join the air war in the Senate run-off very soon.

We wanted to see this in 2008. Alas, Macaca. But it's on! George Allen strongly criticized Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health care plans in a speech today at the Heritage Foundation. He called it "costly and foolish." ... Tomorrow is the first hearing of Governor Bob McDonnell's "Government Reform Commission" chaired by Fred Malek. This is the first time Malek will have to publicly comment on the controversy that came to light in the Washington Post and has been the topic of discussion in the Virginia press corps throughout the day. That Malek played a role in Nixon's Jew purge has been long acknowledged, and Malek has called it the most disappointing episode of his life. But new audio tapes suggest he played a larger role than previously assumed.
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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