Hearing for USS Cole bombing suspect set for later this month at Guantanamo
US Military Prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Photo From: AFP/Getty Images
October 4th, 2011
07:13 PM ET

Hearing for USS Cole bombing suspect set for later this month at Guantanamo

By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

The arraignment for the USS Cole bombing suspect has been set for later this month in a military commission courtroom at the U.S. Navy Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is accused of killing 17 Navy sailors, injuring dozens more and crippling the warship in the 2000 bombing in the Aden, Yemen, harbor.

The preliminary hearing will be October 26. The U.S. is seeking the death penalty against al-Nashiri, and no date has been set for the trial, which will take place at Guantanamo with a judge and jury of U.S. military officers

His team of military and civilian lawyers have tried to have the case against him dropped, claiming that delays and mistreatment, including waterboarding and threats to him and his family, make a fair trial impossible.

The hearing is expected to be beamed on closed circuit television to journalists in an auditorium at a military base near Washington, as the Pentagon tries to bring new public acceptance and transparency to the military commission. It's also expected - but still not announced - that families of USS Cole victims and survivors will be allowed to view the proceedings from a separate location.


Filed under: Military • Terrorism • Yemen
October 4th, 2011
06:03 PM ET

Military shows off latest success of troubled fighter

By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

The Pentagon is doing an online victory dance about the latest win for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Marine Corps version of the plane, already under a cloud because of past development troubles, made its first landing on a ship at sea.

The short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) version of the fighter landed on the USS Wasp. The Air Force will receive a standard take-off version and the Navy F-35’s will land on carriers. The Marine version is for either sea landings or short battlefield strips.

The military posted a video of the landing on the youtube website.

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Filed under: Military
U.S. General: Security threat from Africa 'keeps me awake at night'
Gen. Carter Ham is Commander of U.S. Africa Command. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
October 4th, 2011
03:53 PM ET

U.S. General: Security threat from Africa 'keeps me awake at night'

By CNN National Security Producer Jamie Crawford
While the newest U.S. regional military command may be "small potatoes" in the current budget debates gripping Washington, Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, says it is essential for national security that the United States remain engaged in Africa.

"What keeps me awake at night is the thought of an American passport holder who transits through a training camp in Somalia and then finds their way back to the United States to attack Americans," Ham said Tuesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

That type of "mission failure" figures most prominently in Ham's mind in a role he has only held for little more than six months.

And while Libya is busy forming a new government, Ham said, there are some "worrying indicators" that advanced mobile weaponry left in Libya in the aftermath of Moammer Gadhafi's ouster has found its way into neighboring countries.
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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Al-Shabaab • Defense Spending • Foreign Policy • Libya • Military
Ford finally confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Syria
U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford Photo from: AFP/Getty Images
October 4th, 2011
01:38 PM ET

Ford finally confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Syria

By CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

Overcoming initial opposition to his appointment, Robert Ford has won unanimous confirmation by the Senate as U.S. ambassador to Syria.

President Barack Obama named Ford to the post at the end of last year as an interim appointment over Republican protest. Some Republicans argued that sending an ambassador back to Syria after a five-year absence would send the message that the United States was conferring legitimacy on the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

At his post in Syria, however, Ford has been an active supporter of the Syrian opposition and a vocal critic of the regime's brutal crackdown on protests. He has traveled to cities in Syria where the opposition has been under attack. He himself has been pelted with tomatoes and followed by pro-government supporters.

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October 4th, 2011
12:38 PM ET

Plans for private contractors to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq criticized

By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

The State Department came under fire on Capitol Hill on Tuesday for plans to bring in thousands of private contractors to protect diplomats once American troops withdraw from Iraq at the end of the year.

"We are very, very worried," Dov Zakheim told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Zakheim and other members of the Commission on Wartime Contracting said they were concerned that as many as 17,000 contractors will arrive, raising questions about cost, liability and the ability of the State Department to supervise them.

"Our recommendation was they need to pay more attention to getting those contractors in place and then overseeing their operation," commission member Katherine Schinasi said.

At the State Department, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at her afternoon briefing that she did not have numbers of incoming contractors available. "In an environment where U.S. forces are withdrawing who have in the past provided security for our civilian programs, we're going to have to do some contract security, but those numbers do sound high to me," Nuland said.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Iraq • Military
October 4th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

10 Years of War: American Taliban captured

By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

Editor's note: This is the second of a five-part series on the tenth anniversary of U.S. combat in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has been a war zone for decades, and often, the events of one war overlap with those of another.

Such was the case in late November 2001 near the city of Mazar-e Sharif just south of Afghanistan's border with Uzbekistan. A fortress called Qala-i-Jangi on the outskirts of the city had been, at one time, headquarters of Gen. Rashid Dostum, a warlord who controlled much of the northern Afghanistan during the early 1990s. He honed his military skills fighting the Soviets on the side on the Afghans who would become the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

But the Taliban had pushed him out of Afghanistan and into exile in Turkey.

Now, with the U.S. military launching a war against the Taliban, he saw a chance to connect with a new, far more powerful ally. And CNN was there from the beginning.
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The new U.S. military chief: a plain spoken man
Army General Martin Dempsey Photo from:AFP/Getty Images
October 4th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

The new U.S. military chief: a plain spoken man

By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

On his first full morning as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey has all the usual top-secret meetings, discussing the latest threats and intelligence from around the world.

And then, he wades right into what some might consider shark-infested waters: an informal get-together with about 40 Pentagon reporters in the chairman's well-appointed dining room. The ground rules: It's all off the record. But the outgoing Dempsey started answering questions and then agreed to allow some things to be reported after he led the entire group across the hall into his private office.

Gone is the thousands of dollars worth of modernistic blond wood furniture ordered by his predecessor, Adm. Michael Mullen. This is the office of an Army general. There is an almost life-size portrait of Gen. George Marshall, a man Dempsey says is a role model. The desk was Douglas MacArthur's, the general Dempsey said he doesn't want to be, in a lighthearted reference to MacArthur's firing by President Harry Truman.

But then there is an item that is uniquely Dempsey: a small wooden box on a table that Dempsey occasionally hand carries. He opens it and shows a number of small cards. On those cards: a photo and a few words about every service member killed during Dempsey's tours in Iraq. He also carries some of the cards in his wallet, saying it's his way of making sure the fallen are part of him, every day.

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Filed under: Iraq • Military • Pakistan • Pentagon