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Mr. McCain wrote to Mark Lippert on Nov. 30 to pose very specific questions about whether Mr. Lippert was behind a series of press leaks that sought to undermine retired Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones when he was President Obama’s national security adviser.

Mr. McCain wrote that a 2010 book by journalist Bob Woodward discussed Mr. Lippert’s relations with Gen. Jones and “offers a disturbing portrayal of your actions that could be described as arrogant and disloyal.”

In the letter, Mr. McCain asked if Mr. Lippert and another National Security Council colleague, Denis McDonough, were known by Gen. Jones as “the Politburo,” “the Mafia” and “the water bugs” because they had become major obstacles to “deciding on coherent national security policy.”

Mr. Lippert also was asked whether he managed to “cut off” Gen. Jones from consulting with the president during a 2009 trip to Europe.

The letter also stated that Gen. Jones had talked to Mr. Obama about firing Mr. Lippert for “rank insubordination” and that the president had agreed to move Mr. Lippert out of the NSC.

Additionally, Mr. McCain asked Mr. Lippert to explain whether he “shut out” a top White House military adviser, Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, from key Iraq policy discussions because he distrusted him.

When asked about his clashes with Gen. Jones at a Nov. 17 committee hearing, Mr. Lippert responded, “I did not leak to the press about General Jones.”

But he would not answer questions from Mr. McCain about whether his departure from the NSC staff was the result of differences with Gen. Jones.

“Gen. Jones and I worked collaboratively on many issues, and I’m proud of what we accomplished, but there was also times we disagreed, but I knew General Jones was the boss,” Mr. Lippert said.

MRE VIDEO

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a new video on one of U.S. combat troops’ most significant tools: the prepackaged Meals Ready to Eat, or MRE.

The video shows USDA technicians in white lab coats standing around eating various concoctions that come in brown cardboard packages.

The video explains that the meals - including what appears to be spaghetti and meatballs, chicken, chili with macaroni, beans and various other products - are tested for “taste and quality” and have been tested by the agency for 31 years.

“We’re looking for the overall appearance of the product, its flavor, odor, color, mouth feel, texture, visual appearance, consistency,” said USDA official Richard Boy in discussing the less-than-appetizing-looking meals.

Mr. Boy said the military’s beef brisket MRE is “relatively new” to the military’s field menu.

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