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U.S. President Barack Obama during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photograph in the Oval Office on December 6th, 2012.

President Obama disclosed in Berlin on June 19 that he has ordered the Pentagon to revise its plan for targeting America’s arsenal of nuclear weapons in wartime, a decision that opens the door to negotiated reductions in all three categories of these devastating weapons: strategic or long-range; tactical — meaning those deployed in Europe; and the large U.S. inventory of bombs and warheads held in reserve. Read more»

After meeting with senators and the secretary of Veterans Affairs, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that officials have 'got a lot to do' to clean up the backlog of veterans’ benefits claims.

A veteran’s benefits claim filed today with the Phoenix office of the Department of Veterans Affairs might not be closed until well after Memorial Day. Of 2014. In fact, it would be well past Labor Day and almost Columbus Day of next year before the average claim was completed in the Phoenix office, one of the slowest in the nation for closing such claims. Read more»

Syria, February 23, 2012

For the past month, in increasing tones even if not on-the-record, Israeli military intelligence officers have claimed there is evidence that Bashar al-Assad is using chemical weapons, specifically Sarin, a nerve gas, against rebel forces. Read more»

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

If anyone thought Chuck Hagel wants to be a caretaker defense secretary, he worked hard to disabuse them of the idea in an April 3 speech to a roomful of generals and other senior officers at Washington’s National Defense University, an elite school chartered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Read more»

The U.S. delivered a very expensive message last week in dispatching a couple of its $3 billion, B-2 stealth bombers from Missouri to drop dummy bombs during training exercises in South Korea. By some estimates the planes cost $135,000 per hour to fly — nearly double that of any other military aircraft. And their hefty price tag in today’s dollars makes them too expensive to put at serious risk in all but the direst circumstances. Read more»

Karzai was greeted in Washington, D.C., by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in early January.

Analysis: As Karzai insinuates Washington-Taliban collusion, fault lines deepen in an already troubled relationship. Read more»

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services haven’t had a Senate-confirmed administrator since 2006. The Federal Labor Relations Authority has had only a single member since January and can’t issue decisions. And the Election Assistance Commission hasn’t had any commissioners at all since 2011. Read more»

As his wife Lilibet holds a bible, Chuck Hagel is sworn into office as the 24th Secretary of Defense by Michael L. Rhodes, DOD Director of Administration and Management.

Analysis: Chuck Hagel is now secretary of defense, but with a world of trouble awaiting him, he may wonder whether he really wants the job. Read more»

Women may hold up half the sky, but they don't look likely to feature heavily in the president's next cabinet. Read more»

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