The fall of King David; Austin wasn’t surprised about Tikrit; Dempsey leans forward on Ukraine; No ‘stache for Welsh; A reception for Turner; And a bit more.

David Petraeus lied to the FBI about those little black books but has agreed to a plea deal in which he’ll pay $40,000 and serve no jail time. The fall of the celebrity general sometimes known as “King David” is now over and the the next chapter, his Washington ressurection, can now continue in full force. Indeed, many in DC seem to be “all in” when it comes to helping Petreaus make a comeback.

It’s the little black books that tripped him up. He kept notes in a stack of the books that included both classified and unclassified information. He kept the books at home – initially in a rucksack somewhere upstairs, he told Broadwell – and later provided the books to her.

The WSJ’s Devlin Barrett: “…When the biography of Gen. Petraeus was published the following year, it contained no classified information from the books, according to the document.

“…The court documents show Gen. Petraeus has agreed to plead guilty to one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material, a lesser charge than he might have faced if he had fought the case, but one that will still make it difficult for him to return to a senior government position, as many of his supporters had hoped.” More here.

More on the books: (and were they Moleskines?) The NYT’s Michael Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo: “…During one of the interviews for that book, Ms. Broadwell asked about his ‘black books,’ the notebooks that contained handwritten classified notes about official meetings, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and the names of covert officers.

Petraeus, according to a taped interview in the court docs: “They are highly classified, some of them.”

Three weeks later, Mr. Petraeus emailed Ms. Broadwell and agreed to share the black books. He gave them to her the next day.

But when Petraeus was questioned by the FBI about providing Broadwell classified information, he denied it. According to court docs: “Defendant David Howell Petraeus then and there knew that he previously shared the black books with his biographer.” More here.

Petraeus got off easy, writes The Atlantic’s David Graham: “The Obama administration is against intelligence officials leaking classified information—but some conditions may apply. If you’re a CIA analyst who talks to reporters, you might end up serving 30 months in federal prison or facing more. Even a reporter could end up being named a co-conspirator by prosecutors.

“But if you’re a decorated general, a former CIA director, and a former member of the Cabinet, you might get off with a $40,000 fine and two years of probation. Just ask David Petraeus, the man who went from war hero to chief spy to disgraced adulterer in a few short years.Read the rest here.

There are plenty of folks in Washington who want to help the man also known as “P4” move on. Brookings’ Mike O’Hanlon on Petraeus to the NYT“The broader nation needs his advice, and I think it’s been evident that people still want to hear from him… People are forgiving and know he made a mistake. But he’s also a national hero and a national resource.”

Sen. John McCain: “With the Department of Justice investigation now complete, General Petraeus has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. He has apologized and expressed deep regret for this situation, and I believe it is time to consider this matter closed… At a time of grave security challenges around the world, I hope that General Petraeus will continue to provide his outstanding service and leadership to our nation, as he has throughout his distinguished career.”

Primary sources: The WaPo’s Dan Lamothe lays out the court docs used against Petraeus, here.

Welcome to Wednesday’s laden edition of The D Brief, Defense One’s first-read national security newsletter. If you’d like to subscribe to The D Brief, reply to this email and let us know, subscribe here or send us a holler at glubold@defenseone.com. Please send us your tips, your tidbits, your scoops and stories, your think tank reports and best of all your candy, but send it to us early for maximum tease. And whatever you do, we hope you’ll follow us @glubold and @natsecwatson.

Budget cutters point to the Pentagon’s bloated bureacracy - especially at a time when Congress is being asked to support a Pentagon budget above budget caps. Today, Sen. Bernie Sanders, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, will send a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter asking him to mind that bloat better. Sanders will tell Carter in the letter that he is concerned about waste fraud and inefficient spending and that it’s time to take a good look at it. Sanders will point to companies like Lockheed Martin, which has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines over the last two decades, or Northrop Grumman, which we’re told Sanders believes has paid about $850 million since 1995.

But all contractors are guilty, Sanders will say: “The bottom line is that almost every major defense contractor in this country has in one way or another been involved in fradulent dealings with the taxpayers of this country and the Department of Defense,” Sanders is expected to say in the letter.

Carter, meanwhile, is making a point of saying that he’ll work to save the Pentagon money and trim the inefficient far. Yesterday, at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing:  “We at the Pentagon can and must do better with getting value for the defense dollar. Taxpayers have trouble comprehending, let alone supporting the defense budget, when they hear about cost overruns, insufficient accounting and accountability, needless overhead, excess infrastructure, and the like.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will open debate on a bill that would give Congress a chance to review any U.S. deal with Iran, defying White House veto threats for fears legislation might undermine the nuclear talks. Defense One’s politics editor Molly O’Toole: “The bill would require President Obama to submit any agreement with Iran to Congress, and would bar the Obama administration from lifting sanctions for two months in order to give lawmakers the chance to debate the deal… Still, the Republican bill may not sail through. McConnell has several procedural hurdles to clear, the first of which will require 60 votes… “Sen. Bob Menendez, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the most outspoken Iran hawks in Congress, said on the floor Tuesday evening he was ‘outraged’ at McConnell’s move. ‘Now, putting any bipartisanship aside, we are back to politics as usual,’ he said. ‘I will have no choice but to use my voice and my vote against any motion to proceed.’” More here.

Shortly after Netanyahu’s address to Congress, State Secretary John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart resumed their nuclear discussions at a lakeside town in Switzerland. Their current deadline for hammering it all out is late March. Reuters this morning, here.

The cyber threat landscape is nearly as tense as potentially destructive as the Cold War, Adm. Mike Rogers will say today. Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio and Chris Strohm: “Potential adversaries may have intentionally left evidence that they’ve hacked into industrial control systems to send a message that America is at risk of a destructive attack if tensions escalate, said Navy Admiral Michael Rogers, head of both the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command.

Rogers will say today: “I liken our historical moment to the situation that confronted the U.S. early in the Cold War, when it became obvious that the Soviet Union and others could build hydrogen bombs and the superpower competition showed worrying signs of instability,’ Rogers said in his testimony… The assessment comes as the Obama administration and companies are struggling to counter hacking attacks, which Rogers has estimated cost the U.S. economy as much as $400 billion a year.” More here.

The FBI has a person in custody believed to have fired on an NSA building on Fort Meade. AP, here.

Dempsey said it’s time to “absolutely consider” arming Ukraine. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey said at the SASC hearing yesterday that it’s time to start thinking that way – much in the same way that SecDef Ash Carter has said that he is inclined to recommend arming the country in their fight against Russian separatists. Though Dempsey did not specifically say he wanted to arm the country, his remarks yesterday reflect him leaning forward far more so than he has publicly thus far.

Dempsey to the SASC: “I think we should absolutely consider providing lethal aid.”

Dempsey caveated his support Tuesday by saying any lethal assistance should flow “in a NATO context.” It wasn’t immediately clear what Dempsey meant, but it’s likely he sees the most effective way to arm Ukraine is by providing assistance along with NATO allies and not just by the U.S.” Read the rest on Defense One, here.

Who’s up to what today? Air Force Secretary Debbie James keynotes CNAS’ Women & Leadership in National Security at the Capital Hilton at 9 a.m. … VA Secretary Bob McDonald heads before a House appropriations subcommittee to talk the agency’s budget at 9:30 a.m. … the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense talks the Pentagon’s FY16 budget with Ash Carter, Gen. Dempsey and Comptroller Mike McCord at 10 a.m. … the House Armed Services Committee talks Afghanistan with Gen. John Campbell at 10 a.m., too… as does the House Foreign Affairs Committee to talk Ukraine with State’s Victoria Nuland…

 And also today: The Navy and Marine Corps talk their budget before a Senate appropriations subcommittee at 10:30 a.m. … HASC’s emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee talks cyber security at 3:30 p.m., the same time the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces covers U.S. nuclear posture and strategy with Frank Kendall, Adm. Cecil Haney and others (full line-up here). 

An explosion went off some 1,000 meters underground in a mine in rebel-held Donetsk early this morning, killing at least 1 miner and trapping more than 30 others.  AP, here.

Carter and Dempsey pleaded with Senators yesterday to get rid of sequester, though on the SASC, it’s largely preaching to the choir. Defense News’ John Bennett: “…The Obama administration last month sent Congress a 2016 budget request that seeks $561 billion in baseline national defense funds, $38 billion over existing federal spending caps. Unless Congress acts, the Pentagon would get just under $500 billion in fiscal 2016 after sequestration’s ax does its work.

“That amount of funding, Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee, means the military would be unable to carry out the current national defense strategy.” More of Defense News’ story here.

Irony alert! Carter also said yesterday that sequester can actually cost taxpayers more money, not save them any. In listing the problems with sequester, Carter said: “In fact, the nature of sequester frequently leads to waste, as, for example, when it forces a reduction in contract production rates, driving up unit costs.”

We’re not sure exactly what he means but it’s a safe bet that he’s referring to economies of scale. “In simplest terms unit costs decrease when production rates increase (ideal factory loading and efficiencies, workforce learning),” a Pentagon spokesperson emailed The D Brief.

“That’s why we have been putting enormous effort into ramping up production of the F-35. As production quantity increases, the price per jet decreases.”

ICYMI: Fox News quietly acknowledged that Bill O’Reilly lied about war reporting, but that probably won’t hurt him. The Christian Science Monitor’s Husna Haq, here.

Meantime: a fatal cover up of defective Army helicopter parts is alleged in a new lawsuit. The WaPo’s Dan Lamothe: “The families of two U.S. soldiers who were in a fatal helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2013 have filed a lawsuit against a company that makes a key piece of the aircraft involved, saying the aviation firm is responsible for the crash.” More here.

The majority of the ground forces trying to push ISIS out of Tikrit are Iranian-supported militias—but it’s too soon to freak out about inflaming sectarian tensions, Dempsey said. The Washington Examiner’s Tara Copp, here.

The U.S. saw the newest offensive on Tikrit coming days in advance thanks to aerial surveillance, Gen. Lloyd Austin said. But “absolute knowledge about what [Iran’s] intent is [in Iraq] is not always going to be there.” US News’ Paul Shinkman with more, here.

Syria’s Nusra Front leaders are floating the possibility of cutting ties with al-Qaeda, taking more money from Qatar, and pushing ahead with the goal of toppling Assad. Reuters’ Mariam Karouny from Beirut, here.

Will vets with more business savvy than ivory tower smarts be able to one day use their GiBill money as startup collateral? C. Lynn Lowder, a retired major who was a Force Reconnaissance Marine in Vietnam, and Marine Lt. Col. Joe Plenzler certainly hope so, as Military.com’s Richard Sisk explains: “Lowder and Plenzler estimated that the government currently was funding four years of college under the G.I. Bill that would be worth about $186,000… A veteran could access that funding for loan collateral under Lowder and Plenzler’s proposal. The two Marines also set up methods in which the veteran can receive mentorship and training to help the business succeed… ‘The way we look at it, if you can run a squad, you can run a business. The problem everyone runs into is access to capital…’” Read the rest, here.

It’s March, and yet Mark Welsh isn’t growing a mustache. Air Force Times’ Stephen Losey: “Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh was a high-profile booster of a forcewide Mustache March last year — even going so far as to grow his own soup strainer. But three days into this year’s annual Air Force tradition, it appears Welsh will not be taking part.

Welsh spokesman Lt. Col. Allen Herritage:  “I saw the general this morning and didn’t see any signs of a mustache, so I’ll assume he’s not participating in Mustache March this year… But he’s a huge fan of traditions, even ones that cause a lot of us to look awful during the month of March. So I imagine he’s supportive of those units and individuals who decide to participate this year.”

“…Mustache March is an Air Force tradition that dates back to the Vietnam War.” More here.

Last night the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. and the Atlantic Council held a reception to honor the newly elected prez of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

What’s the NATO Parliamentary Assembly? It plays a big role in bringing together parliemantarians from across the Atlantic to “discuss and influence decisions relevant to our shared security,” according to the GMF. Turner, according to a GMF press release, “has shown tremendous leadership in encouraging members of Congress to engage on NATO, and his new role as president will only strengthen his commitment.”

Noting: The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is independent of NATO itself.

Turner, on how he views his presidency: NATO, as you all know, was pursuing a false narrative. And that false narrative was that we had no adversaries and as you look at Ukraine, it really refocuses us on the security issues that NATO itself faces… where people before looked at Russia perhaps as part of the solution of international security, it is now a threat to international security and they have made their intentions very clear…we have to make certain we are that much more diligent to hold Russia at bay, but also enter back into the world of deterrence where we know there would be a cost—and a military cost—for Russia and Russia’s actions as we’re look to protect our NATO allies. ”

DC Seen at the event: Reps. Mike Turner, Daryl Issa, Don Beyer, Doug Lamborn; former Rep and President of the NATO PA John Tanner; GMF Pres. Karen Donfried; Atlantic Council Pres. And CEO Fred Kempe and a number of other ambassadors and diplomatic community folks.

We’re told that Donfried mentioned that Turner is only one of two members of congress who serves on the House Intelligence Comm. and chairs a sub-committee in the House Armed Services Committee.

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