Cyber security proposal changed to meet White House privacy concerns
December 1st, 2011
11:39 PM ET

Cyber security proposal changed to meet White House privacy concerns

By Pam Benson, CNN Senior National Security Producer

The House Intelligence Committee made some revisions in its cyber security bill Thursday to address privacy concerns raised by the White House.

The legislation is designed to improve information sharing between the federal government and private industry in an effort to better protect American businesses computer systems from cyber attacks.

It enables the government to provide classified information to the private sector and removes some of the legal barriers that discouraged private companies from sharing threat information with other companies and the government.

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Filed under: Congress • Intelligence
Enough said by U.S. to Pakistan?
Pakistani students shout anti-US slogans during a demonstration in Peshawar on December 1
December 1st, 2011
09:55 PM ET

Enough said by U.S. to Pakistan?

Could a debate taking place within the Obama administration over how to respond to the deaths of two dozen Pakistan soldiers in NATO airstrikes last week further exacerbate already-frayed ties with Islamabad and complicate U.S. efforts to end the war in Afghanistan?

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have called the incident a "tragedy" and offered condolences, the U.S. government has not gone as far as to offer a formal apology. Some in the State Department believe a show of remorse is necessary to help save the relationship with Pakistan, already badly damaged over the U.S. raid into Pakistan to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, from completely unraveling. But the White House has balked.
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December 1st, 2011
07:24 PM ET

U.S. at odds over Iran's central bank

The Obama administration could consider supporting further action targeting Iran's central bank, officials from the U.S. State Department and Treasury told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.   However, as Barbara Starr reports, the officials cautioned about the risk of doing so.

The discussion comes as the European Union moved to impose new sanctions on Iran after the attack this week on British embassy buildings.

The U.S. Senate could vote as soon as Thursday on a bill by Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois that would cut off Iran from global finance by freezing U.S.-assets of any institution that does business with Iran's central bank.

The Obama administration opposes the measure because of its possible impact on the oil supply and, ultimately, the U.S. and international economy.

"There is absolutely a risk that in fact the price of oil would go up, which would mean that Iran would in fact have more money to fuel its nuclear ambitions, not less," said Wendy Sherman, the State Department's undersecretary for political affairs.

Sherman said that the administration does agree with the "impulse, the sentiment, the objective, which is really to go at the jugular of Iran's economy."

Senators reach compromise on detainee language in DOD bill
December 1st, 2011
07:20 PM ET

Senators reach compromise on detainee language in DOD bill

The Senate on Thursday passed a giant defense bill that includes a new policy for detaining and trying suspected al Qaeda terrorists - a policy that attracted controversy during the debate and may draw a presidential veto.

The defense authorization bill passed by a vote of 93-7.

In keeping with budget cuts across the government, the $662 billion bill shrinks Pentagon spending by $43 billion from last year. It includes funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and sets policies for the various weapons systems and personnel programs at the Defense Department.
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Dinner with Suu Kyi
December 1st, 2011
04:20 PM ET

Dinner with Suu Kyi

By Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty reporting from Yangon, Myanmar

Aung San Suu Kyi, icon of Myanmar's democracy movement, was looking for some advice from Hillary Clinton:  Did the former first lady, former politician, and current secretary of state have any pointers on getting back into the public fray?

After nearly two decades in detention under Myanmar's military regime, Suu Kyi has registered her political party and intends to run in upcoming elections.  She met Thursday night with Clinton at the residence of the U.S. chief of mission in Yangon for a quiet dinner before a more in-depth meeting scheduled for Friday at her own home, where she was held prisoner.

Clinton and Suu Kyi "fell into conversation very easily, very naturally," said a senior State Department official who described the evening to reporters traveling with Clinton. It was "as if they knew each other a long time."

The Nobel Peace Prize winner told Clinton that she has read the books the secretary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have written. In an ironic twist, she added that one of the few things she missed about being under house arrest is that she had a lot more time to read. Now, when she reads she's delving into books about military personalities. FULL POST

Al Qaeda claims its holding American
Warren Weinstein, left, was abducted August 13 in Lahore, Pakistan.
December 1st, 2011
04:10 PM ET

Al Qaeda claims its holding American

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has claimed responsibility for the capture last August of a 70-year old American citizen in Pakistan, according to SITE, a website that monitors terrorist threats.

"Just as the Americans detain all whom they suspect of links to al Qaeda and the Taliban, even remotely, we detained this man who is neck-deep in American aid to Pakistan since the seventies," al-Zawahiri said in a video posted online, referring to Warren Weinstein, a former U.S. Agency for International Development worker who was abducted August 13 in Lahore.

Al-Zawahiri listed eight conditions for Weinstein's release, including the halting of air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, and the release of Muslim prisoners such as Abu Musab al-Suri, the "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdul Rahman, Ramzi Yousef, Sayyid Nosair, and relatives of Osama bin Laden.

Read the whole story here


Filed under: Al Qaeda • Al-Zawahiri • Pakistan • Terrorism
Obama defends Israel stance
December 1st, 2011
11:57 AM ET

Obama defends Israel stance

White House producer Alexander Mooney reports on a defensive president, who has  faced criticism from some quarters that his administration’s support of Israel has been lackluster at best.   President Obama told a gathering of wealthy Jewish supporters Wednesday evening that no other administration has been as committed to the longtime U.S. ally.

“This administration – I try not to pat myself too much on the back – but this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration,” Obama said at a private high-dollar fundraiser in New York’s upper East Side attended by about 30 people who paid $10,000 each. The event was hosted by Jack Rosen, the chairman of the American Jewish Congress.

Read the full story on CNN's 1600 Report blog


Filed under: 2012 Election • Israel • Obama
December 1st, 2011
08:14 AM ET

Presidential letters to Myanmar

From the pool producer traveling with Hillary Clinton

President Obama has sent two letters with Secretary Clinton, one for Burma's President Thein Sein and another for Augn San Suu Kyi. Clinton delivered the first one during her meeting with President Sein in the morning and delivered the second at an evening dinner with Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon.

Here's the text of both letter:

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Filed under: Diplomacy • Hillary Clinton • Myanmar • North Korea • Obama • Secretary of State