Friday federal headlines – January 24, 2014

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Emily Kopp discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel orders a review of the nuclear force. Senior leaders will look for management and training problems. A second, independent group of former officials will look more broadly at the enterprise. Hagel says, “personnel failures within this force threaten to jeopardize the trust” Americans have in the military to keep nuclear weapons safe. The Air Force re-tested its missileers last week after a cheating scandal. An illegal drug investigation, security lapses and weak morale have raised more questions about the nation’s nuclear security. (Associated Press)
  • The U.S. military is ready to help Russia with Olympics security, if the request ever comes. Pentagon Spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby says the responsibility rests with Russia alone. But European Command is prepared. A couple of U.S. ships will be in the Black Sea during the Sochi games. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey spoke earlier with his Russian counterpart about the U.S. technology used to counter roadside bombs. Kirby says it was a brief, informal discussion. (Associated Press)
  • More than 5,300 veterans are at risk of identity theft because of a software glitch at the Veterans Affairs Department. The vets were using the VA and Defense Department’s joint eBenefits portal last Wednesday. The software defect exposed their private information. VA says it’s fixed the bug. It is offering free credit monitoring to the users affected. FedScoop first reported the glitch. It learned of the problem through a veteran who said he could see someone else’s name, date of birth, social security number, disabilities and payment information. (FedScoop)
  • The White House won’t end the NSA’s phone records spy program. A spokeswoman says the administration believes the program is lawful but can be changed, so people have more confidence in it. The words fly in the face of a government review panel. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board says the program is illegal and it should be abandoned. The NSA should destroy millions of phone records in its collection. After months of study, the board says it could not find a single example of the program’s effectiveness against terrorism. (Associated Press)
  • Edward Snowden says he won’t come back to the United States. He says there’s no chance he’d get a fair trial. He is accused of espionage after leaking details of NSA surveillance programs to numerous newspapers. Snowden spoke from his home in Russia via a web-chat put together by his legal defense team. Attorney General Eric Holder says the United States won’t consider clemency for the former NSA contractor. (Associated Press)
  • NASA launches a satellite it calls critical to a modern-day human space program. The communication satellite will support the International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope and other missions. It lets astronauts talk in real time with mission control on Earth. It provides global coverage all the time. It’s so vital it’s considered a national asset. This satellite will be called TDRS-12 once it’s in orbit a few months from now. It’s considered a spare, should any of the six now in orbit have problems. (NASA)
  • The Food and Drug Administration is making over nutrition fact labels. It has sent guidelines to the White House and is waiting for the response. We’ve learned a lot more about healthy eating since the 1990s, the last time the boxes changed. Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor says back then, people focused on fat, but not all fats are created equal. He says the box is in danger of becoming a relic. The number of calories is expected to be more prominent on the new label. (Associated Press)