By Dana Bash and Tom Cohen
Bomb plots targeting the New York Stock Exchange and the city's subway were among more than 50 worldwide thwarted by top-secret surveillance programs since the 2011 al Qaeda attacks on the United States, authorities said on Tuesday.
Gen. Keith Alexander, National Security Agency director, FBI and other officials revealed startling details at a House Intelligence Committee hearing aimed at finding out more about the telephone and e-mail surveillance initiatives that came to light this month through leaks of classified information to newspapers.
It was the most comprehensive and specific defense of those methods that have come under ferocious criticism from civil liberties groups, some members of Congress and others concerned about the reach of government into the private lives of citizens in the interest of national security.
National security and law enforcement officials asserted that the leaks were egregious and carry huge consequences for national security.FULL STORY
By Kyle Almond, Elise Labott and Joe Sterling
Hope flickered in war-torn Afghanistan on Tuesday as national security forces formally took over security leadership and peace talks with the Taliban are now in the works.
NATO-led troops transferred security responsibility to Afghan forces. The United States and an Afghan government group dedicated to peace and reconciliation will hold talks with the Taliban militant group in Qatar.
"I wish a long-term peace in Afghanistan," Afghan President Harmid Karzai told his troops at a handover ceremony in Kabul.
But a senior U.S. official said reconciliation is likely to be "long, complex and messy" because trust between Afghans and the Taliban is extremely low.
The latest moves could portend a hopeful chapter in the long and costly Afghan conflict. What do these developments mean for Afghanistan and the United States?FULL STORY
By Bruce Schneier, Special to CNN
Today, the United States is conducting offensive cyberwar actions around the world.
More than passively eavesdropping, we're penetrating and damaging foreign networks for both espionage and to ready them for attack. We're creating custom-designed Internet weapons, pre-targeted and ready to be "fired" against some piece of another country's electronic infrastructure on a moment's notice.
This is much worse than what we're accusing China of doing to us. We're pursuing policies that are both expensive and destabilizing and aren't making the Internet any safer. We're reacting from fear, and causing other countries to counter-react from fear. We're ignoring resilience in favor of offense.
Welcome to the cyberwar arms race, an arms race that will define the Internet in the 21st century.
Editor's note: Bruce Schneier is a security technologist and author of "Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust Society Needs to Survive."FULL STORY
By Jill Dougherty
Direct mail between the United States and Cuba was suspended 50 years ago.
Now the two countries have agreed to hold talks on reestablishing that service, but U.S. officials caution the discussions "are technical in nature" and do not indicate any change in policy toward Cuba.
Representatives from the State Department and the U.S. Postal Service will meet with Cuban officials in Washington this week to discuss the matter.
"The reason we're doing this is because it's of course good for the Cuban people," she said. "This is something we feel is good for us, but it's not meant to be a signal of anything or indicate a change in policy," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
By Kevin Liptak
The names of dozens of detainees held at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were released for the first time on Monday after a newspaper sued the federal government for the information.
The list identifies 46 inmates being held for “continued detention” at the facility, which President Barack Obama has vowed to close. The report was made public after a lawsuit from the Miami Herald. The Obama administration first acknowledged that detainees were being held indefinitely in Guantanamo in 2010, but didn't make their identities public until now.
Recently, more than half of the 166 current Guantanamo detainees have staged a hunger strike. They are protesting their treatment and indefinite detention, resulting in force feedings of more than 20.FULL STORY
By Jill Dougherty
The U.S. State Department said Monday it wasn't surprised that Iran's newly elected president, Hassan Rouhani, said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should stay in power until 2014.
"We have a number of differences with Iran, and the leadership there, over Syria and the path forward," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. "We've expressed on a number of occasions our concerns about their recent aid to the regime and the influx of foreign fighters, and specifically Hezbollah."
The United States and other Western nations are working on how to help the rebels in Syria's brutal, two-year civil war as the al-Assad government receives backing from Iran and Russia.
By Barbara Starr
It may be another two years before women can start training for jobs in Army Ranger and Navy SEAL units under plans to be announced by the Pentagon on Tuesday, a Defense Department official familiar with the matter said.
The official declined to be named because the plans are not yet announced.
It is part of the next step in a longstanding effort to open as many combat jobs as possible to women.
The plan now is for jobs in special operations to be available to women possibly in mid-2015.
By Barbara Starr
Up to three U.S. Naval Academy football players could in coming days face charges relating to an alleged sex assault of a fellow midshipman, a Navy official told CNN.
Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael Miller has ordered an Article 32 proceeding in which evidence is presented during a hearing to a military legal officer, who decides whether to proceed with a court-martial, the official said.
The official, who declined to be named, would not say if all three athletes could face charges.
The case comes with concern mounting about sex abuse reports in the armed forces.
By Kevin Liptak
Even as President Barack Obama seeks to rally support for his plan to further assist Syrian rebels at this week's Group of Eight conference in Northern Ireland, polls show Americans back home casting a wary eye on providing arms to opposition forces in the conflict-torn nation.
In a Gallup survey conducted over the weekend, 54% of adults said they disapproved of the Obama administration's decision to provide military aid to rebel fighters in Syria, compared to 37% who said they approved of the move.
The announcement of the new lethal aid to Syria came on Thursday, when the White House said it had confirmed that chemical weapons were used by President Bashar al-Assad against rebels and his own people, and thereby crossed a "red line." While the Obama administration did not specify what type of military support it would provide, sources have told CNN that small arms and ammunition are part of the package.FULL STORY
By Tom Cohen
The man who admitted leaking classified documents about U.S. surveillance programs purportedly went online live on Monday to declare the truth would come out even if he is jailed or killed, and said President Barack Obama did not fulfill his promises and expanded several "abusive" national security initiatives.
According to the Guardian newspaper, Edward Snowden answered questions in an online chat about why he revealed details of the National Security Agency's secret surveillance of U.S. citizens.
Snowden said he did so because Obama campaigned for the presidency on a platform of ending abuses. But instead, he said Obama "closed the door on investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still sit without charge."
Snowden also wrote that he had to get out of the United States before the leaks were published by the Guardian and Washington Post to avoid being targeted by the government.
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