November 4th, 2011
06:42 PM ET

Secret video briefings for President Reagan released

CNN’s Jill Dougherty reports on new videos released by the CIA that give a glimpse into how the intelligence community briefed President Ronald Reagan on America's cold-war enemy...the Soviet Union

State Department warns Syrians about amnesty offer
The U.S. is questioning the sincerity of Syrian President Assad's recent offer of amnesty for anti-government demonstrators.
November 4th, 2011
04:42 PM ET

State Department warns Syrians about amnesty offer

By Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

With reports of mounting civilian deaths in Syria, the U.S. State Department took the unusual step Friday of advising Syrians not to take up the their government's offer of amnesty for demonstrators who turn in their weapons.

Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, responding to a reporter's question about the offer to turn themselves in, said she had not heard such reports.

"This would be about the fourth amnesty that they've offered since I took this job about five months ago," she said. "So we'll see if it has any more traction than it's had in the past."

Pressed on whether she would advise Syrians to accept the amnesty offer Nuland briskly responded, "I wouldn't advise anybody to turn themselves in to regime authorities at the moment."

FULL POST

Hill presses for details on possible Pentagon cuts
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 14: U.S. Sen. John McCain (AZ) (L) and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) walk through the US Capitol in a file photo from 2010. The two powerful Republicans wrote Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asking for details on what budget cuts may occur at the Pentagon. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
November 4th, 2011
04:22 PM ET

Hill presses for details on possible Pentagon cuts

By CNN Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

Calls for details about what budget cuts the Defense Department is considering are coming from both houses of Congress and both parties. And they are getting more urgent.

The latest demand for specifics came in a letter Thursday from Senators John McCain (R-Ariz) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. "We ask that you describe the specific options and types of actions the Department would be required to take" if more budget cuts are mandated.

Their letter went on to say "In order for the Congress to do its job, we cannot wait until December or later to receive specific and concrete information."

Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby confirmed that Panetta had received the letter and would reply but wouldn't say if that reply would include the details McCain and Graham were demanding.

FULL POST

November 4th, 2011
04:12 PM ET

U.S. general relieved of duty for disparaging Afghan government

By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

The commander of NATO's international security force in Afghanistan sacked a senior U.S. Army general Friday for making disparaging comments about the Afghan government.

Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, said Major Gen. Peter Fuller was relieved of duty, effective immediately, for making "inappropriate public comments."

Fuller, who was helping train and equip Afghan security forces, made less-than-diplomatic comments about the Afghan government and its leaders to a Politico reporter, including claims that some Afghan leaders are "isolated from reality."

Politico quoted Fuller as criticizing Afghan President Hamid Karzai for saying Afghanistan would side with Pakistan against America in war.

"Why don't you just poke me in the eye with a needle?" Fuller said. "You've got to be kidding me. I'm sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion, and now you're telling me, 'I don't really care'?"

U.S. officials have said Karzai's remarks were misunderstood. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Army • Diplomacy • ISAF • Kabul • Karzai • Military
U.S. concerned Israel could strike Iran
File photo of an Israeli F-15 fighter jet
November 4th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

U.S. concerned Israel could strike Iran

By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

The United States has become increasingly concerned Israel could be preparing to strike Iran's nuclear program, a senior U.S. military official told CNN on Friday.

The U.S. military and intelligence community in recent weeks have stepped up "watchfulness" of both Iran and Israel, according to the senior U.S. military official and a second military official familiar with the U.S. actions.  Asked if the Pentagon was concerned about an attack, the senior military official replied "absolutely." Both officials declined to be identified because of the extreme sensitivity of the matter.

Both the U.S. Central Command, which watches developments in Iran, and the U.S. European Command, which watches developments in Israel, are "increasingly vigilant" in watching potential military movement in both countries.  U.S. satellites are a crucial method of gathering intelligence in both arenas, though the official did not specify that was the method being used.

Separately, another senior U.S. military official is now calling Iran the largest threat to the United States in the Middle East.  Concerns about the threat to American interests from Iran has grown for several reasons, according to military officials.  In addition to the country's nuclear ambitions, recent allegations have come to light about an Iranian assassination plot in Washington, Iranian shipment of weapons into Iraq, and continued Iranian support for the militant group Hezbollah. FULL POST

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Filed under: drones • Intelligence • Iran • Israel • Middle East • Military • Nuclear
How inside is the new 'insider' account of bin Laden raid?
Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan
November 4th, 2011
11:46 AM ET

How inside is the new 'insider' account of bin Laden raid?

MacMillan USA

By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

A still-unpublished book claiming to tell the inside story of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, which the author says is based on interviews with those on the raid, is already generating controversy inside the secretive world of U.S. Special Operations Command.

Every member of the Navy SEAL team on the raid has been questioned by superiors about whether they spoke to author Chuck Pfarrer, a former Navy Seal, about the mission in violation of orders, a U.S. official told CNN.

The official, who has direct knowledge of the questioning, told CNN that the SEALs all denied speaking with Pfarrer, whose book, "SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to kill Osama bin Laden," is scheduled to be released next week.

The book has several chapters on other SEAL missions and history, but much of the focus is on Bin Laden.

In a telephone interview with CNN, Pfarrer said he spoke directly with several SEALs on the top-secret operation.

"I certainly did," talk to them Pfarrer told CNN, describing the conversations as "face to face." Pfarrer told CNN he also spoke to contractors who worked on preparing for the mission. FULL POST

November 4th, 2011
10:44 AM ET

Military action against Iran?

Speculation is reaching a critical mass that Israel is getting closer to launching a military strike against Iran's nuclear program. Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty takes a look at the current state of affairs.


Filed under: Iran • Nuclear • Security Clearance on TV • State Department
November 4th, 2011
10:39 AM ET

'Homegrown' terrorists pose unique threat

by Senior National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly

The arrest this week of four Georgia men charged with plotting to attack government officials with explosives and a biotoxin raises the question of just how big of a threat are homegrown terrorists in the United States?
While security experts obviously can't put a ranking on a would-be terrorist, there are some reasons why the homegrown variety pose a unique challenge to law enforcement.
"Homegrown terror groups tend to be small and tight-knit, which makes detection and infiltration a law enforcement challenge," said CNN National Security Analyst Fran Townsend. "These groups vary widely as to their grievance and motivation, but all use violent means to get attention."
The most deadly domestic terror attack in the United States remains the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in April of 1995. Timothy McVeigh, who headed a small group of individuals, planted the truck bomb that killed 168 people.
Dr. Anthony Lemieux, a visiting professor at Emory University in Atlanta and an investigator with the National Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), says there are plenty of cases of homegrown terror within the United States. FULL POST

Seven billion? No need to panic
November 4th, 2011
04:00 AM ET

Seven billion? No need to panic

By Martin Libicki, Special to CNN

Editor's note: This opinion article was written by Martin Libicki, author of "Global Demographic Change and Its Implications for Military Power." He is a senior management scientist at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis. 

If the newest members of Planet Earth’s Club of Seven Billion are inclined to worry, should they be concerned that mankind’s burgeoning population may bring on a world of war and ceaseless strife?

In a word, no.

A notable feature about crossing the seven-billion mark is that, for the first time in history, it took as long to add this billion as it did the last billion (12 years in both cases).  Human fertility has dropped rapidly almost everywhere.  Most people now live in countries where the birthrate is too low to maintain constant population levels.  In the southern third of India, birthrates are below what it takes to replenish the population.
High birthrates, and hence potentially rapid population growth, are largely confined to two broad regions: sub-Saharan Africa and, for the time being, the Indus-Gangetic plains of South Asia.

This is not to say that the human pressure on the environment is decreasing. Indeed, the opposite is true. However, demographic growth is not the main reason. FULL POST


Filed under: Africa • Analysis • Author • China • Foreign Policy • India • Pakistan • Think tank
You too can be a victim of cyber espionage
New Economic Espionage Poster
November 4th, 2011
04:00 AM ET

You too can be a victim of cyber espionage

You might think in this day and age it would be pretty obvious people are trying to steal economic and industrial secrets through cyberspace.  And it may be. But the US intelligence community is concerned private industry and individuals don't appreciate how easy it is to pilfer data. It can happen in a split second.  And the stakes couldn't be higher.  As one senior US intelligence official put it, "part of our economic viability" could be destroyed.

So as part of the campaign to raise awareness of the potential costs of not protecting your networks, your laptops, your personal electronic devices, a series of fairly blunt posters are being widely distributed.

 

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Filed under: Intelligence • Security Brief