Somalia aid worker in ‘Phase II’ of return from captivity
January 26th, 2012
09:48 PM ET

Somalia aid worker in ‘Phase II’ of return from captivity

By CNN's Larry Shaughnessy

The American humanitarian aid worker rescued by Navy SEALS Tuesday night is going through what the U.S. military calls “Phase II” reintegration of former hostages.

Jessica Buchanan and Poul Thisted, the Danish man who also was rescued from kidnappers in the raid on a compound in Somalia, are now in a military facility in Sigonella, on the Italian island of Sicily.

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Filed under: Somalia
Charting the defense cuts
Source: Project on Defense Alternatives
January 26th, 2012
08:58 PM ET

Charting the defense cuts

Mention cuts to the U.S. Defense Department budget and you’ll hear that it’s either a catastrophic mistake or you’ll get hollering from those that say the fat hasn’t even started to be trimmed. Perhaps a look at the numbers could bring some clarity to situation. The Project on Defense Alternatives seemed to think so when they put out the chart above that plots out the Defense Department’s base budget, the budget minus war spending, starting in the late 70’s after the Vietnam War.

The defense policy think tank, which argues that defense spending could be cut further, shows that when looking at the bigger historical picture projected cuts are nowhere near the lows of the 90’s, often referred to as the “Peace Dividend”, after the Cold War. Even after sequestration cuts that would slash the Pentagon budget by another $500 billion, a scenario that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta referred to as “doomsday”, the base budget would still be higher than the average spending during the Cold War in the 1980s.

All numbers have been adjusted for inflation, the group says, according to Defense Department estimates.


Filed under: Budget • Defense Spending • Military • Panetta • Secretary of Defense
Really, seriously, Clinton is done with government
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
January 26th, 2012
06:16 PM ET

Really, seriously, Clinton is done with government

By Elise Labott

While much of the country is looking ahead to the next election, Hillary Clinton said she is squeezing every last moment out of her current job.

As secretary of state, Clinton isn't allowed to campaign or participate in domestic politics.

"It is a little odd for me to be totally out of an election season," the former presidential candidate and senator admitted to State Department employees Thursday during a town hall meeting.

Clinton said she hasn't even watched any of the many Republican presidential debates so far.

Foreign service officers are also expected to remain politically neutral in conducting their jobs, but there were clearly a few Clinton fans in the room. One woman asked Clinton whether she could be persuaded to stay as secretary of state or even run for vice president, reflecting rumors that Joe Biden might step down and President Barack Obama would ask Clinton to join the ticket for his re-election bid.
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WikiLeaks forces change in intel community
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at CSIS conference
January 26th, 2012
03:58 PM ET

WikiLeaks forces change in intel community

By CNN's Pam Benson

The WikiLeaks disclosure of hundreds of thousands of American documents continues to cast a shadow over the U.S. intelligence community.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told an information-sharing conference Thursday that plugging leaks of classified materials is still a challenge for the community as it develops new systems to protect information while at the same time ensuring the right people have access to it.

WikiLeaks, the international online group that publishes secret government documents it receives from outside sources, set off a firestorm a year and a half ago when it made public on its website U.S. diplomatic cables and other sensitive documents, most of them pertaining to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

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Filed under: Clapper • Intelligence • ODNI • WikiLeaks
Drones do not always reign supreme
January 26th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

Drones do not always reign supreme

One interesting note in the new Pentagon budget proposal is that while there is going to be an increase overall in spending on technologies like drones, surveillance capabilities and cyberwarfare, in one case the old school way of doing things won out. For the Air Force, it turns out, the 1950s-era U2 surveillance plane is being chosen over the Global Hawk drone. Why? It's cheaper to fly the manned planes, the Pentagon explained in a just released document explaining the new budget: FULL POST

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Filed under: Air Force • Defense Spending • drones • Military
January 26th, 2012
02:14 PM ET

Budgeting for a new military vision

By CNN's Larry Shaughnessy

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta unveiled details of a budget plan that slices half a trillion dollars in spending increases over the next 10 years and serves as a blueprint for the administration's vision of how America's military needs to change.

The savings would begin in October, the start of fiscal year 2013.
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Filed under: 9/11 • Afghanistan • Air Force • Army • Budget • Defense Spending • Dempsey • drones • Iraq • Marines • Military • Military life • Navy • Panetta
Pentagon shooter pleads guilty
Yonathan Melaku shown during shooting at the National Museum of the Marine Corps Photo from court exhibit
January 26th, 2012
12:16 PM ET

Pentagon shooter pleads guilty

By CNN's Carol Cratty

A former Marine Corps reservist pleaded guilty Thursday to shooting at the Pentagon and other military-related buildings and to trying to desecrate graves at Arlington National Cemetery containing the remains of veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yonathan Melaku entered a guilty plea to three counts: damaging U.S. property with a firearm, using a firearm in a crime of violence and attempting injury to veterans' memorials on U.S. property.

Melaku, a 23-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Ethiopia, was arrested June 17 at the cemetery. He had a backpack with four plastic bags each containing 5 pounds of ammonium nitrate, material commonly used in homemade explosives. He also had numerous 9 mm spent shell casings; black paint and a notebook with Arabic statements mentioning al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and the "Path to Jihad."

In the statement of facts document signed by Melaku, he admitted he "intended to desecrate and injure grave markers by spray-painting the markers with Arabic statements and by leaving the ammonium nitrate he was carrying at the sites of these grave markers."

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Filed under: Legal • Military
January 26th, 2012
09:37 AM ET

Son of Obama cabinet member unable to leave Egypt

By Elise Labott and Ben Wedeman

Sam LaHood, a senior representative of the U.S. International Republican Institute and the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, has been prevented from leaving Egypt, State Department officials said Thursday.

LaHood, who directs the International Republican Institute's office in Egypt, went to the Cairo airport on Saturday to fly somewhere "in the region," said an institute official with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

An airport official told him he was banned from traveling outside Egypt, the official said, though LaHood was not told why.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions between Egyptian authorities and several international non-governmental organizations that work in Egypt.
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Filed under: Egypt
Foreign policy of the final four
The remaining candidates in the GOP race at a debate in South Carolina.
January 26th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

Foreign policy of the final four

By Jamie Crawford

Foreign policy still lags far behind the discussion of domestic issues as the Republican candidates continue debating each other. But when it does arise, the final four candidates in the race seem to divide into two camps - intervene big time on one side, stay out of it on the other side.

"We have one candidate, Ron Paul, whose a principled noninterventionist, and then we have three candidates - Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum - that are all activist internationalists who want to use American power aggressively overseas to contest the perils they see," James Lindsay with the Council on Foreign Relations told CNN.

The race to the nomination for Romney, Gingrich and Santorum is not likely to turn on foreign policy Lindsay told CNN. "They may not be in the same ZIP Code on all issues, but they are in the same city," he said.

But despite the broad similarities, some more subtle differences over policy and criticism of the Obama administration's handling of foreign policy still play out. Here is a look at how the remaining White House hopefuls view some of the toughest international issues likely to take a prominent role over the next year.
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Filed under: 2012 Election • Foreign Policy