May 1st, 2012
09:52 PM ET

The future of al Qaeda

One year after the death of Osama bin laden, the core of al Qaeda that brought us 9/11 is essentially gone. But it is the organization's affiliates around the world that analysts say will still be a "formidible problem" in the future. CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence reports.

May 1st, 2012
06:36 PM ET

Obama's surprise visit to Afghanistan

President Obama spoke to U.S. troops and signed an accord with Afghanistan's president. CNN's Barbara Starr reports on the tight security surrounding the President's dangerous visit to the war zone.

May 1st, 2012
06:35 PM ET

'Hard Measures' offers hard look at enhanced interrogations

By Suzanne Kelly and Pam Benson

Two months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Pakistani forces captured and handed over to the U.S. a Libyan who was fleeing Afghanistan and was suspected of having knowledge that could help expose the locations of al Qaeda operatives around the world.

Ibn al Sheikh al Libi was briefly in CIA custody before being turned over to Egyptians for questioning. It was a method often employed by the CIA in cases where the agency had no authority to hold suspected terrorists as long as they might need in order to collect valuable intelligence.

Back in Langley, Virginia, Jose Rodriguez, then chief of staff at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, was eagerly awaiting reports detailing information that al Libi was providing his interrogators. But the reports, according to Rodriguez, were slow and incomplete.

"It was clear that they were not going to look after our national security interests like we would look after our national security interests," said Rodriguez, who has just written a book, "Hard Measures," that justifies the use of secret CIA prisons and enhanced interrogation methods that include the controversial method of waterboarding.

He said he was frustrated by how slowly the information was coming in.

"It became obvious to me that we could not contract out interrogations," he said. "We needed to bite the bullet and do it ourselves."

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U.S.-Afghan agreement short on specifics
Afghan President Hamid Karzai shakes hands with President Obama after signing a strategic partnership agreement on May 1, 2012 at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
May 1st, 2012
05:50 PM ET

U.S.-Afghan agreement short on specifics

By Mike Mount

President Barack Obama and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement that outlines cooperation between their countries after the withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces in 2014.

With little detail and few specifics in the document, U.S. officials say it paints a broad stroke of what the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship will look like from 2014 through 2024.

Officials said the document highlights military, diplomatic and economic relationships between the two countries without offering specifics on troops levels, economic assistance and the status of diplomatic relations.

With some 88,000 U.S. troops operating inside Afghanistan, the document does state that there will be no permanent U.S. bases in the country after the 2014 withdrawal, officials said. The agreement also allows for the possibility of U.S. troops staying in Afghanistan beyond 2014 to train and conduct counterterrorism operations to go after what a White House fact sheet described as "targeting the remnants of al Qaeda."
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Filed under: Afghanistan • Kabul • Karzai • Obama
Putting terrorism in perspective
Osama bin Laden
May 1st, 2012
05:12 PM ET

Putting terrorism in perspective

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of opinion essays about homeland security. Clark Kent Ervin was the first inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security. He currently is a consultant for the Aspen Institute's Homeland Security Program. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the 2012 Aspen Security Forum, July 25-28.

By Clark Kent Ervin, Special to CNN

This week marks the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. What should be a cause for nationalistic chest-beating by all Americans has become, like everything else these days, a source of partisan rancor instead. But, to me, the most striking thing about the anniversary is not the hothouse political combat it is engendering, but instead the degree to which it underscores a perennial and pernicious feature of the American psyche - our tendency to lurch from one extreme to another.

We see this tendency in economic policy, with one extreme arguing for virtually no government intervention whatsoever in the marketplace (except, of course, where its own parochial interests require it) and another arguing for a government solution to virtually every problem. Common sense, as well as bitter experience, calls for a balance between the two. Left entirely to their own devices, some in the private sector will defraud consumers and abuse workers. And, left entirely to their own devices, some in government will make bad business decisions and unduly restrict individual freedom.

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Filed under: 1 Year After Bin Laden's Death • AQAP • Terrorism
Female U.S. submariners investigated for fraud
May 1st, 2012
01:07 PM ET

Female U.S. submariners investigated for fraud

By Mike Mount

Two of the first women to be chosen by the U.S. Navy to serve on submarines have had their duties reassigned and are being investigated for fraud, according to U.S. Navy officials.

U.S. Navy investigators are looking at whether the two women committed fraud by claiming excessive expenses while they trained for their submarine duty, according to Cmdr. Monica Rousselow, a spokesman for the Navy's submarine forces. The investigation began in February.

While details of the case and the officers names are not being released because the investigation is ongoing, a U.S. Navy official with knowledge of the matter said the two women are suspected of misrepresenting information about leases in their travel documents so their reimbursement pay was higher than it should have been.
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Filed under: Military • Navy
5 arrested in plot to blow up Cleveland bridge
FBI released photo of the five suspects
May 1st, 2012
10:58 AM ET

5 arrested in plot to blow up Cleveland bridge

By CNN Wire Staff

Five suspects, some of whom describe themselves as anarchists, were arrested after allegedly conspiring to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, the FBI said Tuesday.

"The public was never in danger from the explosive devices" because an undercover FBI agent was involved and the explosives were inert, the bureau said in a news release.

"The defendants were closely monitored by law enforcement," it said.

Authorities say three of the men are self-proclaimed anarchists who had considered "a series of evolving plots over several months."

READ FULL STORY HERE


Filed under: Security Brief
Afghan insurgency still leveraging Pakistan haven
May 1st, 2012
09:52 AM ET

Afghan insurgency still leveraging Pakistan haven

By Barbara Starr

Although the international coalition and Afghan government are making progress in the war in Afghanistan, "the Taliban-led insurgency and its al Qaeda affiliates still operate with impunity from sanctuaries in Pakistan," according to a new semi-annual report issued by the Pentagon.

"The insurgency's safe haven in Pakistan, as well as the limited capacity of the Afghan government, remain the biggest risks to the process of turning security gains into a durable and sustainable Afghanistan," it said.

While the coalition is on track to turn security fully over to Afghan control, the insurgency "remains a resilient and determined enemy and will likely attempt to regain lost ground and influence this spring and summer through assassinations, intimidation, high-profile attacks and emplacement of improvised explosive devices," the report said. FULL POST

The bin Laden Situation Room revisited – One year later
Seated to the left of Biden and Obama: Webb (sitting), Mullen, Donilon, Daley, Blinken, Tomason, Brennan, Clapper, McDonough (seated), Clinton, Gates
May 1st, 2012
02:00 AM ET

The bin Laden Situation Room revisited – One year later

By Jamie Crawford

In the annals of American history, the famous photo taken by Pete Souza of President Barack Obama and his national security team monitoring 'Operation Neptune's Spear'–the Navy SEALs raid that killed Osama bin Laden– has achieved icon status. Splashed across newspapers and television screens across the world, the tension in the room seemed palpable to all who saw it. But an interesting footnote to the famous photo is that it was not taken in the actual Situation Room at the White House.

As CNN Terrorism Analyst Peter Bergen reports in his new book "Manhunt," about the decade long search for bin Laden, the room where the photo was taken is actually a smaller room adjoined to the larger Situation Room. Like the Situation Room, the smaller room has secure video and phone communications, but it has a table that can only accommodate seven people Bergen writes, as opposed to the larger table next door which can seat more than a dozen.

Brigadier General Marshall "Brad" Webb, assistant commanding general of Joint Special Operations Command who sits in the center of the famous photo, was monitoring the operation on a screen through a laptop computer. Michael Leiter, then director of the National Counterterrorism Center, went into the room to watch the feed that was being relayed from a secret drone. Secretaries Clinton, Gates, and Vice President Biden soon followed. Moments later Bergen reports, the president walked in and said, "I need to watch this," as he seated himself next to Webb.

In the days and months that followed, many of the people in the room have reflected on that crucial time in U.S. history, what it meant to them, and what they were thinking.
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