By Suzanne Kelly
Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, who co-chaired the 9/11 Commission, weighed in Monday on a simmering disagreement in the Senate over the best way to address the nation's vulnerability to cyberattacks.
The two men, who now run the Bipartisan Policy Center's Homeland Security project, are calling on senators to take more urgent action on the issue of cybersecurity. They cite recent public statements by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and FBI DIrector Robert Mueller warning that the cyber threat is expected to overshadow other terrorist threats facing the United States in the not-too-distant future.
"Much like the situation before the September 11, 2001, attacks, the federal government is not adequately organized to deal with a significant emerging national security threat," said Kean, former governor of New Jersey; and Hamilton, a former congressman from Indiana, in a letter sent to Senate leaders urging action on cybersecurity.
By Terry Frieden
Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday defended the targeted killing of U.S. citizens abroad who are suspected of plotting to kill Americans, rejecting critics' arguments that those strikes amount to assassinations.
While not referring directly to the government's drone attack on U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen last year, Holder was unflinching in providing publicly for the first time the Justice Department's legal justification for using lethal force, saying attacks like the strike that killed al-Awlaki fell within "our laws and values."
"Let me be clear: An operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated force, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful," he said. FULL POST
By Barbara Starr
The United States sees increasing involvement by and military aid from Iran in the attacks against opposition to the Syrian regime, according to several Obama administration officials.
They believe Iran wants to do whatever it can to ensure the survival of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, one of Tehran's closest allies.
"The aid from Iran is absolutely on the rise and is of very real concern," a U.S. official told CNN. "Tehran has supplied equipment, weapons and technical assistance - notably computer monitoring tools - to help suppress unrest."
This includes providing equipment to monitor communications of opposition groups. Iranian officials have continued to travel to Damascus to deliver the aid, the official said.
Iran's intelligence ministry sentenced Amir Mirzaei Hekmati to death in January, but the nation's Supreme Court annulled that sentence, Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reported Monday.
A court previously had convicted the 28-year-old of "working for an enemy country," as well as membership in the CIA and "efforts to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorism," the semi-official Fars news agency has reported.
By Adam Levine
President Obama's speech on Sunday didn't go any further do explain where the red line is when it comes to Iran seeking nuclear weapon capability, but the speech did lay down the U.S. position clearly for the generally hawkish and conservative audience at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on Sunday.
The president said the U.S. and Israel are on the same page in assessing that "Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon," but the two countries do not necessarily agree on how close is too close. FULL POST
With reporting from Steven Jiang in Beijing
China said Sunday it plans to increase its defense budget by 11.2%, following similar increases in years past and coming on the heels of a renewed U.S. push in the region.
The planned increase would lift spending to some 670 billion yuan ($106.4 billion) in 2012, which is almost 68 billion more than 2011 spending, said Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the National People's Congress.
By comparison, the proposed U.S. defense budget for the 2013 fiscal year is $613.9 billion, including $525.4 billion in base spending. That budget cuts half a trillion dollars in spending increases over the next 10 years. FULL POST
By CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden
After months of promises from the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder Monday will finally lay out at least some of the legal arguments that the Justice Department developed to support its targeted killing of a U.S. citizen with alleged terrorist ties in Yemen last year.
One official familiar with the speech said it was doubtful Holder would mention by name Anwar al-Awlaki, who was targeted in a September drone attack. Another American who was active in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Samir Khan, was not the target of the strike but was with al-Awlaki and killed at the same time.
Both the operation and the legal opinion that supported it remain classified.