One soldier, one year: $850,000 and rising
A US servicemember stands a post on a hill in Afghanistan. (CNN Photo)
February 28th, 2012
05:50 PM ET

One soldier, one year: $850,000 and rising

By Larry Shaughnessy

Keeping one American service member in Afghanistan costs between $850,000 and $1.4 million a year, depending on who you ask. But one matter is clear, that cost is going up.

During a budget hearing today on Capitol Hill, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, asked Department of Defense leaders, "What is the cost per soldier, to maintain a soldier for a year in Afghanistan?" Under Secretary Robert Hale, the Pentagon comptroller, responded "Right now about $850,000 per soldier."
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Exposing Stratfor: WikiLeaks details inner workings of analysis firm
February 28th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Exposing Stratfor: WikiLeaks details inner workings of analysis firm

By Suzanne Kelly

The first blow came in December, when private analysis firm Stratfor - which gathers open-source and paid-source information on global issues for subscription-based clients - had its company e-mail hacked. It was reportedly the work of the loose-knit, yet well-feared group of hackers known as Anonymous.

This week, the second blow was delivered as the website WikiLeaks began posting what it says is a body of internal Stratfor e-mails numbering in the millions and reportedly laying out just how the sausage is made at a modern-day private intelligence firm. FULL POST

February 28th, 2012
03:17 PM ET

Egyptian judges in NGO case recuse themselves

By Adam Levine, with reporting from Mohamed Fadel Fahmy in Cairo

The Egyptian judges in the case against American and other employees of non-governmental organizations has recused themselves from the case, the head of Egypt's appeals court tells CNN.

"The three judges handling the NGO case have submitted a memo indicating their decision to step down from the case. As the head of the Appeals Court, I will look at the judicial rotation tomorrow and appoint a new judge to head the case,' Nabdel Moez Ibrahim told CNN. FULL POST

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Filed under: Diplomacy • Egypt • Hillary Clinton • Middle East • Secretary of State
February 28th, 2012
02:34 PM ET

Clinton: Questions still on Iran ambitions

By Jamie Crawford

The United States does not believe Iran has a nuclear weapon, but its actions leave a great deal to question, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday, drawing an analogy to the mistaken belief that Iraq had chemical weapons before the U.S. invasion in 2003.

"I do think living as long as I have lived, people say and do things that are at variance with what one might expect," Clinton told Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, during testimony before a Senate appropriations subcommittee looking into the State Department's current budget request.

"It is still quite bewildering to me why Saddam Hussein wanted everyone to believe he had chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons when apparently he did not," Clinton said.

She said the administration is determined to prevent Iran from getting a weapon.
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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iran • Military • Nuclear • Secretary of State
Pentagon has "detailed plans" on Syria options
February 28th, 2012
01:53 PM ET

Pentagon has "detailed plans" on Syria options

By Barbara Starr

The Pentagon has drawn up "detailed plans" developed to carry out military action against the Syrian regime, if ordered by President Obama, according to a senior U.S. official. The crucial progress in military planning comes after several weeks of initial analysis by the Pentagon of what the official says are a "full range of options."

The detailed plans for each option include more precise concepts of how a variety of operations could be carried out, as well as estimates of the numbers of personnel, types of units and military equipment and weapons that could potentially be needed.

The planning behind the scenes comes as the United States continues to pursue diplomatic and political solutions, including trying to pressure Syria's President Basher al-Assad to step aside. FULL POST

Clinton says Assad could fit definition of war criminal
February 28th, 2012
11:36 AM ET

Clinton says Assad could fit definition of war criminal

By Adam Levine

The U.S. Secretary of State said that she believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's actions fit the definition of war crimes but does not think such a path should be pursued at the moment. (Click here for the latest CNN reporting on Syria)

“I think that based on definitions of war criminal and crimes against humanity there would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category,” Secretary Clinton told a Senate committee on Tuesday.

Asked by South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham if charges should be pursued, Clinton said now is not the time.

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Filed under: Assad • Clinton • Congress • Middle East • State Department • Syria
February 28th, 2012
10:13 AM ET

Rep. Rogers: Israel and Iran don't believe the U.S.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said that Israel and Iran don't believe the U.S. is serious about military options to stop Iran's nuclear program.

In an interview with CNN's John King, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said the U.S. needs tighter sanctions and "a real option of military consequence."

"They don't believe it - Iran, I mean - and neither does Israel. We have to change that equation if we're going to I think have an impact on Iran backing down from their nuclear weapon program," Rogers said on an interview broadcast Monday on John King, USA. FULL POST

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Filed under: Diplomacy • Intelligence • Iran • Israel • Middle East • Rep. Mike Rogers • Syria
A classic case of self-radicalizing
February 28th, 2012
01:00 AM ET

A classic case of self-radicalizing

Zachary Chesser is barely legal. At the age of 21, the self-confessed terrorist was sentenced to a 25-year prison term last year for posting radical Islamist messages online and attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

His online threat was aimed at the writers of "South Park." Their crime, according to the Virginia native: depicting the prophet Mohammed in a bear suit for an episode of the popular adult cartoon show.

In a new report released by the Senate Homeland Security Committee, staffers used Chesser's online writings and personal correspondence with him last year to get a better look at how the Internet influences his thinking. What they saw alarmed them. FULL POST