By Chris Lawrence
The Pentagon released the list of the 78 members of the armed forces who are invited to next week's White House dinner to honor Iraq veterans. (Read the list here)
The February 29 dinner, hosted by President Barack Obama and the first lady, will "recognize the significant contributions of the men and women in uniform who served" and their families, according to the Pentagon statement.
But how to select fewer than 100 people to represent the hundreds of thousands who served in Iraq? That was the dilemma facing the Pentagon, as it tried to come up with a list of American soldiers, sailors, Marines and airman who would be invited. FULL POST
By Elise Labott
After a slow start convening a group to deal with the crisis in Syria, the so-called Friends of Syria are hoping to close their inaugural meeting with a concrete plan to address the growing humanitarian needs in the country and an initial move toward recognizing the Syrian opposition as a key player in a post-Assad transition.
The more than 70 countries and international organizations gathering in Tunis on Friday are expected to unveil a plan for getting emergency aid to the Syrian people and issue a stern warning to President Bashar al-Assad. They want him to agree to an immediate cease-fire and provide access to humanitarian groups to deliver the aid or face a yet-to-be mentioned response from the world community. FULL POST
Afghan rage over the burning of Qurans by NATO troops showed little signs of subsiding Thursday even after a President Barak Obama apologized for the "error."
In a letter delivered to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Obama called the act "inadvertent," Karzai's office and National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said Thursday.
"We will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, including holding accountable those responsible," Obama said in the letter delivered by Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.
Afghanistan erupted in violent demonstrations since the troops' burning of the Islamic religious material at the beginning of the week. Many feared further unrest Friday, the Islamic holy day.
By Pam Benson
The targeted killing of those suspected of engaging in terrorist activities against the United States, including American citizens, is justified and legal, according to the Defense Department's chief lawyer.
Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson is the first government lawyer to officially weigh in on the legal justification for killing a U.S. citizen since American born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a CIA missile fired from an unmanned aerial vehicle last September.
In comments Wednesday night during a speech at Yale University, Johnson made no mention by name of al-Awlaki or the classified CIA drone program.
"Belligerents who also happen to be U.S. citizens do not enjoy immunity where non-citizen belligerents are valid military objectives," Johnson said.
By Jennifer Rizzo
Pfc. Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army soldier accused in the biggest leak of intelligence documents in the military's history, was formally charged Thursday.
Aiding the enemy is a capital offense, but prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. If convicted on all the charges, Manning will likely face life in prison. The 24-year-old is suspected of giving hundreds of thousands of secret documents to the WikiLeaks website. FULL POST
By Jennifer Liberto from CNNMoney
The Treasury Department announced new sanctions Thursday against two alleged international crime groups, Yamaguchi-gumi of Japan and the Brothers' Circle, which spans several former Soviet nations.
Treasury is directing U.S. banks to freeze assets of nine members of the groups because they pose a "threat to the integrity of the U.S. financial system," said David S. Cohen, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Speaking to reporters Thursday, Cohen declined to say how much money might be at stake. FULL POST
By Elise Labott and Adam Levine
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the opposition Syrian National Council is emerging as an alternative to the Bashar al-Assad regime and that the consensus opinion among Arab League and other nations is that the group is a credible representative. Diplomats tell CNN that the opinion will be reflected in the communique to be issued from the Friends of Syria conference on Friday in Tunisia.
The Obama administration has been conflicted about the opposition. Just last week, top intelligence and military officials spoke of how undefined the opposition is. But it seems the U.S. is moving towards supporting the opposition even with concerns about who they are comprised of. FULL POST
By Jamie Crawford
The United States formally designated a radical Indonesian Islamist group a foreign terrorist organization and imposed sanctions on its leaders Thursday.
Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), which seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia, was added to the Foreign Terrorist Organization list following its attacks on Indonesian government personnel and citizens, the State Department said.
"JAT has robbed banks and carried out other illicit activities to fund the purchase of assault weapons, pistols, and bomb-making materials," the department said in a statement announcing the move. FULL POST
By Elise Labott
The United States and Pakistan sought to repair damaged ties ahead of a review by Pakistan's parliament on how the relationship between the two countries should go forward.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar for more than an hour Thursday on the sidelines of a conference in London on Somalia. FULL POST
By Elise Labott
Senior U.S. officials traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that Syria is not providing access for humanitarian aid.
Countries plan to forge a comprehensive plan to deliver aid to Syria and press Syria to provide access within days, the officials said.
Clinton has had many discussions with other diplomats about how to help people stuck in "horrific conditions," such as the besieged city of Homs, a senior State Department official said. FULL POST