January 27th, 2012
09:52 PM ET

Floating U.S. base to be deployed in Mideast

From Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence

The Pentagon is converting an aging warship into a floating base for use by U.S. commandos operating in the Middle East, according to a senior Defense Department official.

The USS Ponce, an amphibious transport docking ship, will be retrofitted into a staging base for Navy special operations forces.

The Washington Post first reported the story.

"The warship will be manned by a combined crew of Navy officers and enlisted sailors and Military Sealift Command government civilian mariners," said a statement from Lt. Commander Mike Kafka at U.S. Fleet Forces. The deployment will fulfill a longstanding request of the U.S. Central Command, the statement said.

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Will Egypt's crackdown end U.S. gravy train?
President Obama told Egypt's military ruler Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi that NGO's should be able to operate freely in Egypt
January 27th, 2012
05:53 PM ET

Will Egypt's crackdown end U.S. gravy train?

By Elise Labott

For more than 30 years the United States and Egypt had a pact: America would stuff Egyptian coffers with military aid to ensure Egypt upheld its 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

But now this bargain is jeopardy. Even with former President Hosni Mubarak out of power and on trial, the military leadership continues to rule with a seemingly iron fist and the Muslim Brotherhood has just taken power in a landslide election.

The Obama administration hopes by helping rebuild Egypt's economy, on the verge of collapse, it will endear itself to the new government. Delegations of top U.S. officials have visited Cairo in recent months for meetings with Brotherhood officials to pledge support and show desire to forge a new partnership.

But after the Arab Spring, there is no free lunch. The administration has so far resisted suggestions on Capitol Hill about imposing conditions on U.S. aid to Egypt. But new conditions imposed by Congress dictate that future aid will depend on Egypt's ruling military council showing it is taking tangible steps toward democracy.
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Biden dishes on bin Laden decision
January 27th, 2012
04:56 PM ET

Biden dishes on bin Laden decision

By Adam Levine, CNN

The mission to get Osama bin Laden seems to be the raid that keeps on giving for the Obama White House.  Whether it is a mention at the top and bottom of the State of the Union address or a highlight in a campaign speech, the president frequently refers to the mission as evidence of his leadership and foreign policy strength.

Vice President Joe Biden jumped on the Obama leadership bandwagon Friday when he revealed that he cautioned the president against signing off on the raid on bin Laden's hideaway. Despite his reservations, Biden said the president made the decision all alone.

Speaking to a meeting of congressional Democrats in Maryland, Biden shared a few new details about the tense decision-making process preceding the president's approval for the daring Pakistan raid by special operations forces.

Biden said that for a four-to-six week period in early 2011 only six people knew that bin Laden might be hiding in the military town of Abbottabad, Pakistan. When enough information finally surfaced, the president convened his national security staff on April 28. FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda • CIA • Gates • Military • Most Wanted • Osama bin Laden • Panetta • Terrorism
Twitter to censor tweets in some countries
January 27th, 2012
03:36 PM ET

Twitter to censor tweets in some countries

Online social networking site Twitter said Thursday it will begin deleting users' tweets in countries that require it - but it will still keep those deleted tweets visible to the rest of the world.

The move is significant because, until now, the only way Twitter could comply with countries' limits was to remove the content globally.

Twitter said it will now delete tweets only "reactively" and on a case-by-case basis and will let the affected user know why the content is being withheld.

"We hold freedom of expression in high esteem and work hard not to remove Tweets," Twitter spokeswoman Jodi Olson wrote in an e-mail to CNN.

"And just to be clear, this is not a change in philosophy and there are still countries to which we will not go," she said. FULL POST


Filed under: Security Brief
Did the U.S. meet with the Taliban?
Ambassador Marc Grossman, is the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
January 27th, 2012
03:05 PM ET

Did the U.S. meet with the Taliban?

The State Department is being coy about whether the point man on Afghanistan and Pakistan met with representatives of the Taliban in Qatar this week.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland seemed to dance around the question Thursday of whether Marc Grossman, the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, met Taliban personnel when he was in Qatar earlier this week. Grossman visited the Gulf country as part of trip that took him to Afghanistan, Turkey, India, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., and Italy.

Reports this week indicated that a team of senior Taliban diplomats had arrived in Qatar in preparation for the opening of an office that would be used to conduct negotiations with members of the Afghan and U.S. governments.

Nuland refused to get into specifics from the podium, but did not dismiss anything either.

You can decide from this section of Thursday's State Department briefing transcript on whether a meeting took place.
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Filed under: Afghanistan • State Department • Taliban
January 27th, 2012
12:10 PM ET

Ft. Hood shooter wants trial delay

By Larry Shaughnessy

Lawyers for Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused in a 2009 mass shooting, will seek a delay of his court-martial, according to a Fort Hood spokesman.

Attorneys for Hasan, accused of killing 13 people at the military installation, will make the request next week, public affairs officer Chris Haug told CNN.

Lt. Col. Kris Poppe, Hasan's lead attorney, told CNN the reason he needs a delay in the start of the court-martial is "purely a matter of necessity of adequate time for pretrial preparation."

Hasan faces a possible death sentence if convicted. FULL POST

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Filed under: Legal • Living With Terror • Nidal Hasan