Jordan's sphere of influence
Jordan's King Abdullah talking to Suzanne Kelly
January 18th, 2012
11:32 PM ET

Jordan's sphere of influence

By CNN's Suzanne Kelly

Editor's note: Fresh from a meeting with President Obama, Jordan's King Abdullah sat down with Suzanne Kelly to talk about the Arab Spring and Jordan's influence in the region and its efforts toward negotiating a lasting Middle East peace. Watch for more stories from Suzanne's interview with the King later this week.

For years, Jordan has been quietly waging its own war of influence in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and now more prominently, in stepping up to fill a role in restarting stalled peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Jordan's King Abdullah met with President Barack Obama at the White House this week and his message when it came to the talks was, "We've got this. We'll let you know when we need you."

"At this stage, and I said this to the president yesterday, as I did when I first met him three years ago, it's up to us to do the heavy lifting," said King Abdullah. "We still have a lot of homework to do and that's our responsibility. We can't always have to fall back on the United States to do everything."

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Terror mag found in Gitmo cell
January 18th, 2012
08:49 PM ET

Terror mag found in Gitmo cell

By Larry Shaughnessy

A copy of the jihadist magazine Inspire was found in a Guantanamo prison cell, a military official revealed Wednesday.

The disclosure that a publication of an al Qaeda-affiliated group found its way into one of the world's most secure detention facilities came during a military hearing for a suspect in the 2000 USS Cole bombing.

The magazine's discovery prompted even tighter security precautions including closer examination of detainee mail, which was the issue under discussion when Cmdr. Andrea Lockhart, a prosecutor, told the military court the magazine had been found.

Defense lawyers for suspect Abd al-Rahim Hussein Mohammed Abdu al Nashiri had argued that the military was unfairly examining privileged communications between attorneys and their client. FULL POST

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • AQAP • Gitmo • Security Brief • Terrorism • Yemen
A sky hook for diplomacy
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gives Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a copy of his childrens book.
January 18th, 2012
07:04 PM ET

A sky hook for diplomacy

By Jamie Crawford

You can add another title to NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's long and distinguished resume: cultural ambassador.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bestowed the title on the former Los Angeles Lakers star Wednesday for a role that will take him around the world to engage young people in an effort to forge greater understanding of the United States.

"It's a great story that you not only tell, but exemplify, from the streets of Harlem to the NBA," Clinton said at an appearance at the State Department. The secretary, dwarfed by the former Laker, also touted Abdul-Jabbar's foundation, which works to improve children's lives through education and sports.

"I really appreciate the opportunity," Abdul-Jabbar said. "I remember when Louis Armstrong first did it back for President Kennedy, one of my heroes. So its nice to be following in his footsteps."
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Jordan's King: Syria not changing soon
January 18th, 2012
04:34 PM ET

Jordan's King: Syria not changing soon

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jordan's King Abdullah sat down with CNN Senior National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly to talk about the Arab Spring and Jordan's influence in the region and its efforts toward negotiating a lasting Middle East peace. Watch for more stories from Suzanne's interview with the King soon.

By Suzanne Kelly

He was the first Arab leader to call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, yet after months of violence and a less than successful effort by the Arab League to stop the killing of protesters, King Abdullah of Jordan says don't expect change in Syria overnight.

"I don't see Syria going through many changes.  I think what you're seeing in Syria today, you will continue to see for a while longer," Abdullah said in an interview with Security Clearance.

"It's a very complicated puzzle and there is no simple solution.  If you can imagine Iraq being a simple solution to move Iraq into the light a couple of years ago and it's different in Libya, so it has everybody stumped and I don't think anybody has a clear answer on what to do about Syria."

Abdullah is in Washington to meet with President Barack Obama and his administration as Jordan makes a renewed push to restart peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians in the midst of the Arab Spring, which for the past year has engulfed the region in turmoil and change. FULL POST

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Diplomacy • Iran • Israel • Jordan • Middle East • Syria
US open to talking with Iran
January 18th, 2012
02:21 PM ET

US open to talking with Iran

By Adam Levine

A diplomatic solution with Iran is still possible, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Wednesday.

"We have always expressed a willingness to try do that," Panetta said at a Pentagon briefing. Panetta was responding to a report from Iran that said President Barack Obama had proposed direct talks in a letter passed to Iranian leadership.

Panetta refused to comment about specific communications but said diplomacy is always an option to pursue.

The U.S. recently sent a letter to Iran warning about blocking the Strait of Hormuz, among other communications, CNN reported earlier this week.  The United States has suggested to Iran that the two sides establish a channel of direct communication to ensure miscalculations don't escalate.

The choice to talk is Iran's, said State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

"If you, Iran, are prepared to engage seriously and come clean about your nuclear program and demonstrate to the world that you have no military intent," the US is open to engagement, Nuland said. FULL POST

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Filed under: Diplomacy • Iran • Military • Panetta
Iran's gift to Obama
January 18th, 2012
09:57 AM ET

Iran's gift to Obama

By Shirzad Bozorgmehr reporting from Tehran, Iran

An Iranian non-profit company says it will honor U.S. President Barack Obama's request that Iran return a drone that crashed there last year.

But instead of the actual drone, the company says it will send miniature toy versions. A lot of them.

"We plan to send a full squadron of 12 to the White House for President Obama as a present," said Reza Kioumarsi, a spokesman for the Aaye Art Group, a Tehran-based non-profit, non-governmental company that makes novelty items.

Read Shirzad's whole story here

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Filed under: Ahmadinejad • Diplomacy • drones • Iran
Barak: Decision to attack Iran "very far off"
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak
January 18th, 2012
06:59 AM ET

Barak: Decision to attack Iran "very far off"

By CNN's Kevin Flower

Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that an Israeli decision on whether to strike Iran’s nuclear program was “very far off”.

Speaking to Israeli Army Radio, Barak would not offer a concrete estimate as to when he believes Iran may develop a nuclear weapon.

“I don’t know its a long way off. Some will say a few years some will say six months. It really doesn't matter.”

Pressed on whether the decision to use force might be weeks or months away Barak said “I wouldn't want to make any estimates. It’s not urgent.”

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Filed under: Diplomacy • Foreign Policy • Intelligence • Iran • Israel • Middle East • Military • Nuclear
January 18th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Speak like a spy: A how-to guide

By CNN's Pam Benson

You've been a ghost at Fort Fumble, left to slip and slide, but now you're retread as a lingie and can use your skills to whiffle. If you're wondering what may have been in my coffee this morning, folks at the National Security Agency–or at least those from days gone by–would probably have no problem understanding the meaning behind the previous sentence. An article about the unofficial vocabulary of the super secret NSA was published in a 1991 edition of an in house magazine. Cryptologic Quarterly is published by the History and Publications staff and is only for the eyes of NSA employees. The article was one of a number recently declassified and made public by the NSA. Jobs have no doubt changed and technology has grown in leaps and bounds, so the lingo may differ, but now you have a chance to see for yourself NSA speak.

By the way, the translation of my first sentence:

You’ve been floating among offices waiting for a permanent position at the NSA, left to waste time, but now you’re retrained as a linguist and can use your skills to read rapidly through a stack of materials to cull out usable items.

If you want to become familiar with some of the lingo, click here.

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Filed under: Intelligence