Confidant turned informant – Day 5 of accused Wiki-Leaker hearing
December 20th, 2011
09:27 PM ET

Confidant turned informant – Day 5 of accused Wiki-Leaker hearing

By Larry Shaughnessy covering the military hearing at Ft. Meade, MD

9:24 update – IM'ing with Bradass87

A convicted computer hacker from California testified Tuesday in Pfc. Bradley Manning's preliminary hearing about six days of chats he conducted with someone who claimed to have leaked classified information and was "looking to brag about what they had done." (See the rest of our Bradley Manning coverage here)

Adrian Lamo said he traded instant messages in a chat format with someone self-identified as Bradass87. Lamo testified that based on an e-mail he received from Manning, as well as an examination of Manning's Facebook page, that Bradass87 was Manning.

Army Criminal Investigation Command Special Agent David Shaver later testified that the chat logs that Lamo provided to the Army largely matched chat logs found on Manning's computer in Iraq.

The prosecution did not ask Lamo any specific questions about the chats themselves, but did establish that he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and takes medication for it. At one point he admitted overusing his medication to the point that his parents became concerned and he eventually was put in an involuntary psychiatric hold for three days.

The only possible signs of his medical condition evident in court was his often halting speech and his unusual turn of a phrase. For example, when the prosecutor swore him in and then said "you make take your seat," Lamo responded, "That I shall." FULL POST

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Filed under: Bradley Manning • WikiLeaks
Mystery man in new Al Qaeda video
December 20th, 2011
07:01 PM ET

Mystery man in new Al Qaeda video

By Adam Levine

A new video released by the Yemeni wing of al Qaeda includes a mysterious English speaker in what could be the debut of a new spokesman to replace Anwar al-Awlaki. The video, posted by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's media arm, is a commemoration of al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike last September. It includes new footage of al-Awlaki lecturing.

The mystery man, Abu Yazeed, appears twice in the video. He is in shadow, peering off camera, and is wearing glasses and has a full beard. He is wearing what appears to be a black-and-white turban. He is identified as "Brother: Abu Yazeed."

In the video, Abu Yazeed speaks with an accent. He criticizes the U.S. for targeting Muslims as it fights terrorism, referencing the killings of al-Awlaki and American Samir Khan, who was killed in the same strike, and al-Awlaki's son, who was killed in a separate strike.

"Their willingness to exceed all limits is just unthinkable and by assassinating three of its own citizens far away from combat zones and with no judicial process," he says.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Adam Gadahn • Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Anwar al-Awlaki • AQAP • Terrorism • Yemen
First U.S. contact with North Korea since dictator's death
The body of Kim Jong Il lies in state in the North Korean capital Pyongyang Tuesday. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
December 20th, 2011
05:19 PM ET

First U.S. contact with North Korea since dictator's death

By Jamie Crawford

The United States has been in touch with North Korean government officials since the death of Kim Jong-il was announced, but those discussions were more "technical" in nature, a State Department spokeswoman said Tuesday.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the discussions were regarding the parameters for the resumption of U.S. food aid to North Korea.

"I can't speak to whether it was broader," Nuland said during a briefing with reporters. "But it was a technical level and it was designed to make clear that we still had questions with regard to the nutritional assistance issues."

In the absence of normalized diplomatic relations between the two countries, the U.S. communication with North Korean officials went through the normal channel of the North Korean mission to the United Nations, Nuland said.
FULL POST

Captive Iranian-American's family says he's no spy
December 20th, 2011
04:01 PM ET

Captive Iranian-American's family says he's no spy

By the CNN Wire Staff

The family of an Iranian-American man held in Iran on spying charges says he was there to visit relatives and called the purported confession aired by Tehran "forced."

Amir Mirzae Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested in August while visiting his grandmother and other relatives, his family said. In a statement released Tuesday, they said they remained quiet about the arrest at the urging of Iranian officials, who promised his release.

"Amir's family was shocked by the recent broadcast aired on Iranian TV with false information and a forced confession," they said. "Amir has never had any affiliation with the CIA, and these allegations are untrue.

"Amir's family hopes that this misunderstanding can be resolved peacefully with Iran, and that Amir can be reunited with his family and friends in the U.S. who miss him dearly, and are praying for his safe return," they said.
FULL POST


Filed under: Iran
December 20th, 2011
02:41 PM ET

EXCLUSIVE-Dempsey: Iran shouldn't "miscalculate our resolve"

By Barbara Starr reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan. Pam Benson and Charley Keyes contributed from Washington

As General Martin Dempsey toured around the globe over the last eight days, one issue was prominent - Iran's nuclear intentions.

Dempsey, in an exclusive interview with CNN, warned that Iran is playing a dangerous game that could ensnare the Middle East, the United States and others into conflict and a renewed nuclear arms race. From Iraq to Afghanistan, Kuwait to Saudi Arabia, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff heard about growing concerns about Iran's ambitions.

"My biggest worry is they will miscalculate our resolve," Dempsey said in an interview conducted during a stop in Afghanistan. "Any miscalculation could mean that we are drawn into conflict, and that would be a tragedy for the region and the world."

The recent loss of the U.S. spy drone over Iran exposed part of America's espionage efforts against the country. CNN recently reported that the drone was sent into Iran to conduct surveillance of possible nuclear sites. In perhaps the most candid comments yet from an American official about the spying efforts, Dempsey said the loss of the drone is not the end of U.S. efforts to figure out what Iran is doing.

"If you are asking 'are we gathering intelligence against Iran in a variety of means?', the answer is of course," Dempsey said. "It would be rather imprudent of us not to try to understand what a nation who has declared itself to be an adversary of the United States is doing".

FULL POST

Bioterror security at risk
December 20th, 2011
11:21 AM ET

Bioterror security at risk

By Mike M. Ahlers

Recent and proposed budget cuts at all levels of government are threatening to reverse the significant post-9/11 improvements in the nation's ability to respond to natural diseases and bioterror attacks, according to a report released Tuesday.

"We're seeing a decade's worth of progress eroding in front of our eyes," said Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, which published the report with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Budget cuts already have forced state and local health departments to cut thousands of health officials, the report says.  Cuts are jeopardizing the jobs of federal investigators who help states hunt down diseases, threatening the capabilities at all 10 "Level 1" state labs that conduct tests for nerve agents or chemical agents such as mustard gas, and may hurt the ability of many cities to rapidly distribute vaccines during emergencies, it says.

The "upward trajectory" of preparedness, fueled by more than $7 billion in federal grants to cities and states in the past 10 years, is leveling off, and the gains of the last decade are "at risk," the report says. FULL POST

December 20th, 2011
11:04 AM ET

What it's like in North Korea: Volleyball, no pollution, no traffic

Editor's Note: After Kim Jong Il's death brought tears in North Korea and caused concern for South Korea, we're taking a look at the secretive nation from the view of those who have traveled there.

The first time that Brit Simon Cockerell visited North Korea, he noticed how clean it seemed. The air was not polluted like in Beijing, where he has lived since 2000. Another curiosity also struck him: In the capital of Pyongyang, there were no advertisements or billboards, and there was no traffic.

One of the rare times one might see North Koreans out and about during the day is when co-workers are doing aerobics with their "work unit" in the morning, he said. Around lunchtime, workers might venture outside again, perhaps stringing up a net or marking a line in the street to play a quick match of volleyball before returning to the grind.

"It's a place that can seem very dead during the week. There are a few bars in Pyongyang, but they close around 10 p.m. There are no crowds. And this is odd, because there are 3 million who live in that city," said Cockerell, who has visited North Korea more than 100 times.

"There isn't any hustle or bustle. Everything is a five-minute drive away. You wind up, typically, on your first day saying to yourself, 'Bloody hell, I'm in North Korea, where is everyone?'" Read the full story

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Filed under: North Korea
North Korea's nuclear program
Kim Jong Un inspecting the Mokran Video Company in Pyongpang
December 20th, 2011
04:00 AM ET

North Korea's nuclear program

By Suzanne Kelly and Pam Benson

When it comes to assessing the future of North Korea's nuclear position and potential threat under a new leader, even the experts describe this transfer of power as an interesting predicament.

"This one's tough to handicap," says Robert Gallucci, former chief negotiator with North Korea during the Clinton administration, and current president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Nuclear experts estimate that North Korea has enough plutonium to arm about a dozen weapons. David Albright who heads the Institute for Science and International Security said Pyongyang may have between six to twelve actual nuclear weapons.
FULL POST