Mike Mullen

 A rumor of a possible military coup against Pakistan’s sitting though often invisible president, Asif Ali Zardari, made big headlines in the country this Christmas weekend. Leading newspapers claimed that a selection of top army brass had met in early December with leaders from the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), a party led by two-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

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[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] On the same day that Rick Perry displayed a complete inability to answer a hypothetical question about Pakistan, Admiral Mike Mullen accused the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) of aiding and abetting the so-called "Haqqani network," which is believed to be responsible for a recent attack on the American Embassy in Kabul.

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From Iraq, I boarded an “Angel Flight”—a cargo plane that ferried the dead—back to Kuwait in 2006. As the C-130 taxied away into the night, there was the consolation that the bodies of the American soldiers would be washed, well-tended, buried with honors, and, eventually, memorialized along parade routes. The living, too, would surely be greeted with floats and hurrahs when they left behind Iraq’s rotten, sand-blown landscape. But, in fact, the parade routes have stayed quiet. Iraq veterans, apparently, merit neither bunting nor ticker tape. This is not as it should be.

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Pencils Down

On February 2, at the first Senate hearings on gays in the military since 1993, Admiral Mike Mullen became the only sitting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to support allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. He said the “institutional integrity” of the armed forces demands that they stop forcing gay service members to lie in order to serve their country.

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McCain Flips Again

The Washington Post has him nailed: "The day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy,' then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it because those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to," McCain told an audience of college students during the "Hardball" college tour on MSNBC. That day arrived Tuesday, with Defense Secretary Robert M.

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Turf Warrior

In the shadow of the intelligence failure that culminated with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab lighting an explosive aboard a Detroit-bound flight, the titular head of the U.S. intelligence community was busy fighting another war. For months, in fact, Admiral Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence (DNI), had been waging an epic bureaucratic offensive. His job had been created in the wake of September 11 to foster cooperation and accountability among the 16 agencies sifting through the mounds of inbound data about threats to U.S. interests.

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Jews usually go out to the movies on Christmas ... and then they go out to eat "Chinese." I've spent it writing. Below is my harvest. I wish you all good cheer. Here are the motifs of my writing day. Alas, none of them cheery. 1. THE REAL GRIM REAPER: HOLY DAY VICTIMS IN IRAQ AND PAKISTAN 2. COLD COMMON SENSE ABOUT IRAN FROM, MIRABILI DICTU, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" 3. A WISE EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTER: "WE SHOULD SHUT UP ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST" 4. A SOBER "TIMES" PIECE ON ISRAELI MILITARY DOCTRINE 5.

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Islamabad, Pakistan The US Embassy in Islamabad is a tense and embattled place. The embassy complex is fortress-like, sequestered in a secure area to the east of the city known as the "diplomatic enclave," whose approaches are guarded by multiple security checkpoints. The compound's outer perimeter is festooned with barbed wire and towering walls. Arriving vehicles are stopped for bomb-checks, sealed into a quarantined area with high walls on either side and heavy iron doors at front and back.

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The NYT reports that Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and Mike Mullen are supporting a big troop increase for Afghanistan. This actually isn't terribly newsy: We've had a pretty good idea while that those three have been leaning towards a McChrystal-ian position. The Times describes Obama as undecided. But the tenor of recent leaks on this subject clearly suggests that the president himself is closing in on this position.

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A friend following Joint Chiefs chairman Mike Mullen's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee sends over this exchange between Mullen and John McCain, who asked the general about Carl Levin's proposal to prioritize training of Afghan security forces over U.S.

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