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Two Pentagon officials said they suspect the dishing of dirt on Gen. Cartwright is coming from someone close Adm. Mullen, who is lobbying within the government against Gen. Cartwright’s potential nomination to be chairman.

Spokesmen for Adm. Mullen and Gen. Cartwright had no comment.

A military official said: “There does seem to be a very active effort to lobby against” Gen. Cartwright.

The official said he had heard that Gen. Cartwright’s view about the chairman’s job is that he is ready to retire but would continue to serve as the top military adviser to the president if asked. He also is not lobbying for the position.

A second national security official said: “It’s not a good thing for these two senior officers to be at odds.”

Adm. Mullen and Gen. Cartwright clashed in the past over U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan and more recently on how the military should respond to China’s military buildup, with Gen. Cartwright opposing a tougher posture toward Beijing.

Cyberspace strategy

The White House this week released its strategy report for securing cyberspace, which calls for defending against electronic attacks from terrorists, cybercriminals and foreign states.

“We will seek to encourage good actors and dissuade and deter those who threaten peace and stability through actions in cyberspace,” the report says. “We will do so with overlapping policies that combine national and international network resilience with vigilance and a range of credible response options.”

Most of the strategy report is focused on nonmilitary cybersecurity efforts, including diplomacy and legal action. But the report also sets out the use of force to protect U.S. networks and action in cyberspace against hostile actors.

“When warranted, the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would to any other threat to our country,” the strategy says. “All states possess an inherent right to self-defense, and we recognize that certain hostile acts conducted through cyberspace could compel actions under the commitments we have with our military treaty partners.”

The report says the United States will “exhaust all options before military force whenever we can.” The United States “will carefully weigh the costs and risks of action against the costs of inaction.”

Tauscher’s next treaty

Ellen “the Tausch” Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms-control international security, has her sights set on pushing ahead with another arms-control treaty after passage of the New START pact earlier this year.

Those efforts, however, are likely to be difficult because of opposition from a key Senate Republican.

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