In Brief: Obama Snubs Putin; Judge’s Ruling on Manning; Hagel Cuts Furloughs

Mike O'Brien
Posted: 08/07/2013

President Obama has canceled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin following Russia's decision to grant asylum to former U.S. contractor Edward Snowden, the White House said on Wednesday.

U.S.-Russian relations have been strained over Moscow's handling of the National Security Agency leaker, who was granted asylum in Russia last week.

The one-on-one meeting with Mr. Putin was due to be held next month in Moscow ahead of the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg.

In an interview on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on Tuesday night, Mr. Obama said of Russia: "There are times when they slip back into Cold War thinking and Cold War mentality. What I continually say to them and to President Putin, that's the past."

Mr. Obama says he plans to attend the G-20 summit scheduled for early September, which Russia is hosting, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning's possible sentence for disclosing classified information through WikiLeaks has been trimmed from 136 years to 90 years by a military judge, who said some of his offenses were closely related.

The ruling on Tuesday was largely a victory for defense attorneys, who had argued for an 80-year maximum. The 25-year-old soldier could spend most, if not all, of his remaining years inside a prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The sentencing phase of Manning's court-martial is in its second week. Last week he was convicted of 20 counts, including six Espionage Act violations, five federal theft counts and a federal computer fraud charge for leaking more than 700,000 documents from a classified government computer network while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010.

Manning says he leaked the material to expose wrongdoing by the military and U.S. diplomats, Fox News reports.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on Tuesday that the Pentagon is cutting the number of planned furlough days for department civilian employees this year from 11 to six.

Mr. Hagel also said that, because savings had been achieved elsewhere, some key squadrons are flying again and that the Navy has restarted some deployments that had been on hold due to the mandated budget cuts.

The furlough days had been ordered in May in the wake of mandated budget cuts called sequestration. The department faced shortfalls of more than $30 billion for regular operating costs, Mr. Hagel said in a statement.

He added that the department was able to make up the shortfall thanks to congressional permission to move funds among accounts and some costs that came in lower than expected, USA Today reports.

Mike O'Brien
Posted: 08/07/2013