Obama admin debates releasing Awlaki memo
October 10th, 2011
08:52 PM ET

Obama admin debates releasing Awlaki memo

By Sr. State Dept. Producer Elise Labott and Sr. Producer Carol Cratty

Justice Department memo made the case that the United States could legally kill U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki if it was not possible to capture him alive, a senior U.S. official who has read the memo told CNN Monday.

The memo, reported Sunday in the most extensive detail yet by the New York Times, was prepared in the summer of 2010. Al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen on September 30 of this year.

The official said the classified memo, the product of months of interagency deliberations involving top lawyers from the National Security Council, State Department, Pentagon and intelligence agencies, argued that though al-Awlaki was an American citizen, he met the definition of a lawful target in Congress' authorization to use force against al-Qaeda enacted after 9/11.

Though al-Awlaki wasn't on the "hot battlefield" of Afghanistan, the fact he was an operational figure in al-Qaeda and was planning attacks against Americans gave the United States legal justification to use force to defend itself against him, the memo argued. It also said that the United States had the right to take unilateral action in Yemen if Yemeni government officials were unable or unwilling to capture or kill him themselves, the official said. FULL POST

October 10th, 2011
08:13 PM ET

Drones breached by computer virus, but still flying

By Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence

The systems that control U.S. military drones have been infected with a computer virus, a U.S. defense official confirmed to CNN on Monday.

Despite the infection of the classified program, the virus has not "stopped flights worldwide," the official said.

The official declined to comment on how the systems were infected nor whether the virus has resisted attempts to remove it.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • CIA • Cybersecurity • drones • Iraq • Military • Pentagon • Security Brief
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula calls al-Awlaki a martyr, promises retaliation
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October 10th, 2011
05:04 PM ET

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula calls al-Awlaki a martyr, promises retaliation

By Carol Cratty, CNN Senior Producer

 The terrorist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has confirmed the death of U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, calling him a martyr, according to a statement posted Sunday on jihadi internet forums.

Al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen on September 30, but American officials said internet postings following his death indicated many who share his ideas did not believe he had been killed and were seeking confirmation. Another American named Samir Khan and two other people also died, officials said. Khan was the co-editor of the terrorist network's English-language online propaganda and recruiting magazine, Inspire.
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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Anwar al-Awlaki • AQAP • Yemen
RAND: China could be stronger foe than Germany or Russia ever were
October 10th, 2011
02:56 PM ET

RAND: China could be stronger foe than Germany or Russia ever were

A new report from the research group RAND Corporation concludes that China's increasing economy and military advancement has it on a path that could potentially make it a greater foe to the United States than Russia or Germany ever were.  The report is sure to be a must-read for defense budget hawks everywhere.

The study, entitled Conflict with China, was done on behalf of the US Army. Before anyone gets too riled up, the authors note in the preface that "while the risk of conflict with China cannot be ignored, neither should it be exaggerated." Of course, that depends on the U.S. maintaining "the capacity to deter behavior that could lead to such a clash throughout this period."

The report details scenarios where a clash with China could be instigated including the collapse of North Korea, escalation over Taiwan and a cyber-warfare leading to real warfare.

The biggest damage to the United States in a conflict with China, short of a nuclear exchange, is  MAED (Mutual Assured Economic Destruction):

"Massive and mutual economic harm would indeed result from any significant Sino-U.S. armed conflict, even if the two sides eschewed employment of economic weapons, " according to the RAND study.  On the upside, because the two behemoth economies are so intertwined, the study authors suggest "this mutual dependency can be an immensely powerful deterrent."

READ THE STUDY

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Filed under: China • Cybersecurity • North Korea
UN report: torture in Afghan prisons
October 10th, 2011
02:05 PM ET

UN report: torture in Afghan prisons

By CNN's Josh Levs

Authorities in some Afghan prisons are torturing detainees into confessions, using methods that meet the international definition of torture, according to a new U.N. report.

The practices documented "are among the most serious human rights violations under international law, are crimes under Afghan law and are strictly prohibited under both Afghan and international law," the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says in the report.

"Detainees described experiencing torture in the form of suspension (being hung by the wrists from chains or other devices attached to the wall, ceiling, iron bars or other fixtures for lengthy periods) and beatings, especially with rubber hoses, electric cables or wires or wooden sticks and most frequently on the soles of the feet.  Electric shock, twisting and wrenching of detainees' genitals, stress positions including forced standing, removal of toenails and threatened sexual abuse were among other forms of torture that detainees reported.

"Routine blindfolding and hooding and denial of access to medical care in some facilities were also reported. UNAMA documented one death in government custody due to torture in April 2011, the report says.

The report contains quotes from various prisoners, not identified by name, describing their experiences in detail. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Kabul • Karzai • NATO • United Nations