June 15th, 2011
05:49 PM ET

Bergen: U.S.-Pakistan relationship rockiest since 1990

Pakistan's intelligence agency has detained several people who gave information to the United States before it killed Osama bin Laden, officials in Pakistan said Wednesday.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux spoke with CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen about the state of the U.S-Pakistan relationship and what either side could do to get over the impasse. Watch the interview or read an edited Q&A below.

Q: What do you think this says about the U.S. and Pakistan relationship now?

A: Well, I don't think it has been worse. I think this is the worse point that it has been since, arguably, 1990, when the United States put sanctions on Pakistan because of its nuclear program, and it's bad. It's very bad.

This is just one of a series of incidents on both sides of the equation which have really brought these relationships to kind of this point. The biggest incident, of course, before the arrests of bin Laden in Pakistan was the CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who shot two Pakistani men in Lahore in late January, which was a huge story in Pakistan. FULL POST

June 15th, 2011
02:42 PM ET

Terrorists drawn to South African passports

By Emily Smith

When Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was killed in Somalia last week, one of the clues that tipped authorities off to the al Qaeda operative’s true identity was the fraudulent South African passport he was carrying.

This isn’t the first time a terrorist has counterfeited the otherwise innocuous green and gold document. Corrupt government officials, a lack of enhanced security measures for the longest time, and the relative ease of forgery have led to an alarming number of faked passports landing up in militant hands, experts say.

In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the International Civil Aviation Organization revamped its standards for passport technology and security, and countries have had to step up their game on passport security. Adding biometrics to passports has been implemented with some success. South Africa, along with other developing nations, has struggled to complete the enhancements. Cost and bureaucracy have led to a delay in implementation, according to security experts. A few false starts and reportedly R500 million ($73 million) later, the country is finally issuing passports that include the updated security measures. According to Modiri Matthews with the Department of Home Affairs, the new passports include a micro-chip that stores fingerprint and other biometric information. The back page of the new passport is made of 7 layers of polycarbonate, making it about the thickness of a credit card, and each layer has its own security feature. While in the old passports a photo was laminated onto a page, now that photo is laser-engraved into the back page. The passport number is also etched into the top of every page within the passport, and each page has its own unique makeup using micro threads. FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda • Homeland Security
June 15th, 2011
02:27 PM ET

Rogers: Pakistan 'most frustrating relationship' of the U.S.

Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, acknowledged the complicated relationship between the United States and Pakistan during an address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Tuesday.

Rogers, who recently returned from talks in Pakistan with top military and intelligence leaders, says the U.S. has to demand greater transparency from their ally in order to maintain trust between the two nations. Here are some excerpts from his speech:

"I tell you it is still the most frustrating relationship I think the United States finds itself in, certainly the most complicated.  It is soon to be a rising nuclear power.  It has extremist elements, meaning it will move up, by the way, on the list of sheer number of weapons and systems that it possesses. It will edge out some of the other nuclear powers in the world.  It is a place that has extremist areas in the tribal regions that we all know about.  I came away from this this time with just the strong realization that Pakistan today is an army with a country, not a country with an army."

FULL POST

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Filed under: Intelligence • Pakistan
June 15th, 2011
01:49 PM ET

Gates makes good on promise to end controversial policy

From nearly the beginning of his tenure as Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates has set his sights on ending a controversial practice in the U.S. Army known as "stop loss." Wednesday he announced he's done it.

"There are no Army soldiers stop lossed," Gates announced at a Senate hearing.

"Stop loss" is the Pentagon's policy of involuntary extending some the active duty status of some service members beyond their initial end of term of service (ETS) date. It's used during times when the Pentagon needs as many troops as possible, like at the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

As far back as 2007, just months after taking over as defense secretary, Gates said about stop loss "It is an issue. It troubles me. And I think it is a strain. "
FULL POST

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Filed under: Gates • Military • Secretary of Defense
Gates and Mullen grilled by Senators
Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen on Capitol Hill today. Photo Credit: Getty
June 15th, 2011
12:52 PM ET

Gates and Mullen grilled by Senators

The nation's top military man warned Wednesday the U.S. must continue to work with Pakistan as a partner despite years of mistrust.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen did not directly refer to the latest tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan, the arrests by Pakistan authorities of people who provided assistance and information prior to the successful raid on the Osama bin Laden compound and the killing of the al Qaeda leader.

But he said Pakistan remains critical to U.S. strategy.

"We must continue to pursue a partnership with Pakistan," Mullen told the Senate Appropriation Defense Subcommittee. "The alternative – drifting toward a more contentious or fractured relationship – is far more detrimental to US interests in strategically defeating al Qaeda and ensuring nuclear weapons do not fall into terrorists' possession," Mullen said in the opening statement released in advance of the hearing.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Gates • Military • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Secretary of Defense
June 15th, 2011
08:29 AM ET

Security Brief – June 15, 2011

Compiled by Tim Lister

Pakistan arrests CIA informants on OBL

Pakistan released al Qaeda militant who was crucial to search for bin Laden – report

Syria: troops advance on another town, as Turkish PM meets Syrian envoy

Afghanistan: attacks by Afghan troops on ISAF soldiers rising – but motives complex

Yemen: CIA building drone base

Yemen: Islamists seize part of another town in south

Libya: rebels advance – but UK officials anxious about long air war

Libya: more evidence of rape as a weapon

Cybersecurity: White House renews push for landmark legislation FULL POST

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Filed under: Security Brief
Why are attacks by Afghan troops on NATO soldiers rising?
U.S. troops patrol Qalat, Afghanistan, earlier this month.
June 15th, 2011
08:22 AM ET

Why are attacks by Afghan troops on NATO soldiers rising?

In late November, U.S. soldiers were supervising artillery training for Afghan troops in Nangarhar province, close to the Pakistan border.

After they climbed a ridge to assess the impact area, an Afghan border policeman suddenly turned on them and opened fire.

Seconds later, six Americans and their assailant were dead.

It was one of the deadliest incidents of what the military call "green on blue" - a euphemism for attacks by members of the Afghan security forces on their allies in the international force known as ISAF.

They have risen sharply over the past year, raising fears that the Taliban are infiltrating the Afghan National Army and police force.

But military analysts and intelligence officials say the reality is more complicated. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military
June 15th, 2011
08:12 AM ET

Official: Informants who led CIA to bin Laden arrested

Islamabad, Pakistan - Pakistan's intelligence agency arrested "a few" informants who gave information to the CIA before the raid that left Osama bin Laden dead, Pakistani intelligence officials said Wednesday.

The arrests were addressed during the Friday meeting between CIA Director Leon Panetta, Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, Pakistan's head of military intelligence.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said he did not know the exact number of informants arrested or what date it happened. The arrests could point to another blow to the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Read the full story from CNN's Reza Sayah