May 31st, 2012
01:30 PM ET

Pakistan military relations returning in 'fits and starts'

Two U.S. military liaison officers have returned to Peshawar, Pakistan in the last week or so to help coordinate communications regarding
border operations, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday. The officers were removed at Pakistan's request last November after a border strike
by US and NATO forces that killed two dozen Pakistani troops.

Coordination between Pakistan military and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which includes the U.S. military, is returning in "fits and starts" and communications are improving, said Capt. John Kirby at a Pentagon press conference.

Kirby said Pakistan requested the return of the officers. The US and Pakistan continue to negotiate the reopening of border crossings for war
supplies which were also closed last November.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • ISAF • Pakistan
May 31st, 2012
10:06 AM ET

Pakistani Taliban vows to kill doctor who helped track bin Laden

By Reza Sayah and Nasir Habib in Islamabad

The Pakistani Taliban vowed on Thursday to kill Shakeel Afridi, the jailed Pakistani doctor accused of helping the CIA in the search for Osama bin Laden, a spokesman for the militant group told CNN.

"We will cut him into pieces when we find him," Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told CNN by phone. "He spied for the U.S. to hunt down our hero Osama bin Laden."

Pakistani officials say Afridi is being held in a prison in the city of Peshawar in northwest Pakistan.

Read the whole story here

Defense official says automatic cuts will cause 'absurdities'
May 31st, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Defense official says automatic cuts will cause 'absurdities'

By Mike Mount

The Pentagon's chief budget officer is ringing the alarm bell about looming budget cuts that could destroy the department's new defense strategy and force the defense industry to face "absurdities" as defense programs are shuttered.

"This is not the way to do defense planning and budgeting," said Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

Carter was speaking to reporters Wednesday in Washington about the effects of sequestration, a possible automatic cut in the defense budget of more than half a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Sequestration would kick in starting in January 2013 if President Obama and Congress cannot come to agreement on cuts in the overall budget.

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Filed under: Budget • Congress • Pentagon
Flame malware: Does bigger mean better?
Screen grap released by Kaspersky Lab site shows a porgram of the computer virus, Flame
May 31st, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Flame malware: Does bigger mean better?

Editors Note: James Lewis is a Senior fellow and Director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He offers this commentary on Flame, a recently discovered malware program infecting computer systems in Iran and elsewhere.

By James Lewis, Special to CNN

Is it wrong to be blasé about the most frightening malware ever invented? Some people worry that Flame is "bigger" than Stuxnet, weighing in at 20 megabytes. Flame is "bigger" than Stuxnet, but size and sophistication aren't the same.

Let's look at some of the tricks Flame uses. Recording keystrokes (a "keylogger") is about 20 years old. Turning on the   microphone of your computer is also mid-90s (turning on the camera is more recent, but also not news). The same is true for taking screen shots of your e-mail. You can buy some of these features on the black market. This is not cutting-edge stuff - somebody cobbled together existing exploits into a big package.

FULL POST


Filed under: Cybersecurity • Iran • Malware • Russia • Stuxnet
May 31st, 2012
12:42 AM ET

U.S. general admits he misspoke about North Korea spying

By Paula Hancocks

A U.S. general in Korea who reportedly said that American troops parachute into North Korea to spy has admitted he was not misquoted in the speech – but that he misspoke.

Brigadier General Neil Tolley, commander of special forces in South Korea, made the comments during a speech at a conference in Florida last week. The Diplomat, a magazine based in Japan, quoted Tolley as saying in the speech that U.S. troops parachute into North Korea to spy on underground military facilities.

Amidst the ensuing controversy, the Pentagon accused the reporter of the piece, David Axe, of misreporting the speech.

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Filed under: North Korea
White House objects to Congress adding money to intel budget
May 30th, 2012
10:15 PM ET

White House objects to Congress adding money to intel budget

By Pam Benson

The Obama administration is opposed to Congress adding more money to the intelligence budget and is asking for the funding to be reconsidered in the final budget.

In a statement released Wednesday, the White House said it had serious concerns about some of the funding contained in a classified part of the House Intelligence Authorization bill that exceeds the administration's request.

"The administration objects to unrequested authorizations for some classified programs that were reduced in the president's budget because they are lower in priority and would support deficit reduction efforts," the statement said.

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Filed under: Congress • Intelligence
Cleanup at Iran's Parchin site?
Imagery from May 25, 2012 showing the razing of two small support buildings. It also shows heavy machinery tracks near the site
May 30th, 2012
08:01 PM ET

Cleanup at Iran's Parchin site?

From CNN's Jennifer Rizzo

New satellite images of an Iranian military base indicate Iranian efforts to cover evidence of a nuclear weapons program, according to a Washington-based think tank.

The DigitalGlobe images, obtained by the Institute for Science and International Security, were taken last week of Iran's Parchin military base, where international inspectors suspect Iran may have conducted explosives tests connected with a possible nuclear weapons program.

Two small buildings at the suspected testing site have been destroyed. Tracks made by heavy machinery supposedly used in the demolition are visible, according to the institute's analysis.

Wide view image of the suspected high explosive testing site showing extensive evidence of earth displacement activity.

The group says suspected cleanup activity was also seen in satellite images from April. The two buildings were intact in the previous images.

"The newest image raises concerns that Iran is attempting to raze the site prior to allowing an IAEA visit," said the report. "The razing of the two buildings may also indicate that Iran has no intention to allow inspectors access soon."

The International Atomic Energy Agency has requested access to the site, which the Iranians have so far denied. In a letter sent to Iran in May, the agency expressed concern that extensive activity observed in "buildings of interest" could hamper the inspection process.


Filed under: Security Brief
May 30th, 2012
07:30 PM ET

Worse case scenario in Syria

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations warned that should the current plan fail in Syria, the world is facing a 'worst case scenario' of intensifying civil strife.

Ambassador Susan Rice told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that that there needs to be "maximum international pressure" on Syria's president by the United Nations Security Council "including sanctions and potentially other steps."

"Should all of that fail or not be possible because it perhaps would be vetoed again, then we're into a situation which is chaotic," Rice said in the interview that aired Wednesday on Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

May 30th, 2012
07:18 PM ET

Sticking with 'Plan A' but thinking about 'Plan B' for Syria

The United States and its allies are blatantly accusing the Syrian president of having blood on his hands.

But right now, any talk of military intervention is still just talk.

United Nations observers report finding 13 corpses in eastern Syria this week with their hands tied behind their backs.

This, only days after the massacre in Houla that unleashed global outrage.

Russia and China made it clear again today that they're staunchly opposed to using force against Syria.

And the Obama administration shows no sign that it's ready to change course.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has details.


Filed under: Assad • Barack Obama • Dempsey • Free Syrian Army • Jordan • Military • Rep. Mike Rogers • Security Brief • Syria • United Nations
Flame raises the cyberwar stakes
May 30th, 2012
02:32 PM ET

Flame raises the cyberwar stakes

By CNNMoney's David Goldman

The "Flame" virus, the most complex computer bug ever discovered, has been lurking for years inside Iranian government computers, spying on the country's officials.

In a statement posted on its website on Monday, the Iranian National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) said it discovered Flame after "multiple investigations" over the past few months.

The Iranian CERT team said it believes there is a "close relation" between Flame two previous cyber attacks on Iran, known as the Stuxnet and Duqu computer worms.   Stuxnet is widely believed to have been launched by either the U.S. or Israel (or both countries).

This isn't traditional war. The Internet has leveled the playing field, allowing governments that would never launch military attacks on one another to target one another in cyberspace.

"In warfare, when a bomb goes off it detonates; in cyberwarfare, malware keeps going and gets proliferated," said Roger Cressey, senior vice president at security consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, at a Bloomberg cybersecurity conference held in New York last month.

"Once a piece of malware is launched in wild, what happens to that code and its capability?" he added. "Things like Stuxnet are being reverse-engineered."

Read the whole story here

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Filed under: Cybersecurity • Flame • Iran • Israel • Malware • Stuxnet
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