By Carol Cratty
A U.S. Army soldier accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of secret government documents to WikiLeaks came one step closer to a court-martial on Thursday. An investigating officer assigned to Pfc. Bradley Manning's case recommended he face a just such a military court for trial, the Army announced.
After an Article 32 hearing for Manning - which is the military's rough equivalent of a grand jury proceeding - the investigating officer concluded "reasonable grounds exist to believe that the accused committed the offenses alleged." The recommendation now goes Col. Carl Coffman, the "special court-martial convening authority." If he approves, the recommendation would then go to the commander of the military district of Washington for a final decision on Manning's case.
Manning, 24, is accused of committing the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history. The charges against him include aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, transmitting national defense information, and theft of public property or records.
By CNN's Elise Labott
The United States could inch closer next week toward peace talks with the Taliban if Afghan President Hamid Karzai blesses the negotiations, senior administration officials said Thursday.
Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, who has been meeting secretly with Taliban negotiators for more than a year, will head to Kabul next week to work out the details of future talks
"We don't have any idea standing here today what the outcome of such discussions could be," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday, following a meeting with Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci. "I think all of us are entering into it with a very realistic sense of what is possible. And that includes, of course, President Karzai and his government, which after all bear the ultimate responsibility and the consequences of any such discussions."
Officials in the United States and Afghanistan expressed shock and outrage Thursday regarding a video purporting to show a U.S. Marine sniper team urinating on dead bodies, possibly in Afghanistan.
Statement from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta:
I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. I have ordered the Marine Corps and ISAF Commander General John Allen to immediately and fully investigate the incident. This conduct is entirely inappropriate for members of the United States military and does not reflect the standards or values our armed forces are sworn to uphold. Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent.
By Suzanne Kelly, Jill Dougherty and Jamie Crawford
It sounds more like an episode of the heart-pounding TV series "24'"than a research project by a nonproliferation think tank.
The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) released results of a yearlong study Wednesday - the first of its kind - that looks at just how closely countries are safeguarding their nuclear materials and what might happen if they don't do a better job of it.
"If terrorists succeeded in blowing up a large city somewhere in the world, the result would be catastrophic," NTI co-chair and former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn told a group of journalists and nuclear experts in Washington before laying out just what that would look like. He described a "human toll of hundreds of thousands dead and injured, and disruptions to global commerce and global confidence, and long-term environmental and public health consequences."