Shorter Question Everything
• Statement by Secretary Hagel on DOMA Ruling: The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act. The department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies. The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses — regardless of sexual orientation — as soon as possible. That is now the law and it is the right thing to do. Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment. All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country, and their qualifications to do so. Today’s ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve.
• Retired Marine Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright: The four-star general who is the target of a leak investigation suddenly resigned from his Pentagon advisory job in January for “health reasons” – just as FBI investigators were focusing on him, according to legal sources. Cartwright was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s second-highest-ranking military official, when he retired from the military in August 2011. He continued to serve after retirement as a member of the Defense Policy Board, an elite Pentagon advisory panel with top-secret national security clearance. In January, he resigned from the board “out of the blue,” a board member told NBC News, due to health reasons and the “press of business.”
• Ecuador Cools on Snowden Asylum: President Correa revokes Snowden’s temporary travel document amid concerns WikiLeaks founder is ‘running the show’. The plan to spirit the surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden to sanctuary in Latin America appears to be unravelling amid tension between Ecuador’s government and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. President Rafael Correa halted an effort to help Snowden leave Russia amid concern Assange was usurping the role of the Ecuadoran government, according to leaked diplomatic correspondence published on Friday. Amid signs Quito was cooling with Snowden and irritated with Assange, Correa declared invalid a temporary travel document which could have helped extract Snowden from his reported location in Moscow.
• In other Ecuadorian news, the Correa government is acting to suppress information about Ecuador’s domestic spying: Under Pressure, Scribd Yanks Ecuadorian Spy Documents.
• While Edward J. Snowden has remained mysteriously hidden from sight during his visit to Russia this week, Russian television has been making him a hero. On programs that were hastily arranged and broadcast on the two largest federal channels, he was compared to the dissident Andrei Sakharov, to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and to Max Otto von Stirlitz, a dashing fictional double agent from Soviet television. He was described as “the man who declared war on Big Brother and got stuck in the transit zone,” and as “a soldier in the information war, who fights, of course, on the side of Russia, or maybe the side of China.”
• The Royal Canadian Mounted Police should return hundreds of guns they confiscated from flood victims’ homes in Alberta, the prime minister’s office said Friday. The office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement saying the Mounties should focus on “more important” matters than seizing guns they said they found improperly stored while searching for people in the flood evacuation zone, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. “If any firearms were taken, we expect they will be returned to their owners as soon as possible,” the statement from Harper’s office said. “We believe the RCMP should focus on more important tasks such as protecting lives and private property.”
• Laval, Que., interim mayor resigns amid hooker scandal. The mayor of an embattled Montreal suburb resigned Friday amid salacious allegations of a cross-dressing tryst with an escort. Alexandre Duplessis, interim mayor of Laval, Que., insisted earlier Friday he’s an extortion victim and told a news conference that he called police after two women targeted him earlier this month. He denies he solicited hookers, but provincial police told QMI Agency that they’re investigating “extortion involving an individual who used an escort service,” adding that there was “a dispute over payment.”
• Egypt violence builds, American among dead. Two people, one an American, were killed when protesters stormed an office of Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood in Alexandria, adding to growing tension ahead of mass rallies aimed at unseating the Islamist president.
• At least three people, including a U.S. citizen, died in fighting during protests against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, officials said. The latest violence between Morsi’s supporters and those calling for his resignation led the U.S. State Department to issue a travel warning for Egypt and order non-emergency diplomatic staff to leave the country. A large protest is planned for Sunday, the first anniversary of Morsi taking office. He was elected in the wake of “Arab Spring” protests that ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
In other news
• Minot AFB hijacking scenario: Airmen at Minot Air Force Base got some real-world training for a worst-case scenario. The airmen simulated a hijacking scenario. “The potential for disasters tragedies to happen is always there, so we have to be as best prepared as we can be,” explains MAFB Tech Sergeant Mark Bell. To better prepare for incidents, Minot Air Force Base held a hijacking exercise to review and practice emergency procedures. “We’re conducting an exercise with a high jacked passenger plane with a potential unspecified chemical agent released,” says Bell.
• Rand Paul thinks the US is going to war with Russia and needs Congressional approval. Just one of the many reasons he’s not fit to be president.
• U.S. House Republicans said an Internal Revenue Service official waived her Fifth Amendment rights last month in testimony about alleged political targeting. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voted 22-17 Friday to adopt a resolution stating Lois Lerner waived her constitutional right against self-incrimination when she asserted during an opening statement — before she invoked her Fifth Amendment rights — that she had done nothing wrong.