May 4th, 2012
06:49 PM ET

Panetta warns troops

After a series of scandals this year the entire military received a warning against bad behavior. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke to troops at Ft. Benning Georgia Friday, CNN's Barbara Starr reports

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Filed under: Dempsey • Marines • Military • Panetta • Panetta
Rogers: Taliban 'stronger' than it was two years ago
May 4th, 2012
06:36 PM ET

Rogers: Taliban 'stronger' than it was two years ago

By Suzanne Kelly

Just two hours before President Barack Obama landed in Afghanistan on Tuesday, a congressional delegation was departing.

The delegation, made up of the top four intelligence members on the House and Senate intelligence committees, had spent several days flying around the country, under the radar, visiting with U.S. military and intelligence officers and, of course, a healthy dose of Afghan officials, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

It turns out that not everyone assesses the future threat of the Taliban in quite the same way.

Speaking to the nation Tuesday night, the president said the insurgency was on the decline.

"Over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban's momentum," he said.
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A diplomatic mess played out through a multimedia prism
May 4th, 2012
05:42 PM ET

A diplomatic mess played out through a multimedia prism

By Jill Dougherty reporting from Beijing

Throughout her nearly 24-hour journey from Washington to Beijing, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton avoided the cameras of journalists traveling on her plane.

For nearly a week leading up the trip - ever since the blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng had fled his village home and sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing - both the secretary and her spokespersons refused to answer any and all questions about him, save a tight-lipped "We've got nothing on that for you."

But the U.S. officials did have someting, a full-scale diplomatic mess that would play out not just behind closed doors, but through the media and social media with every few hours bringing a new twist.

His arrival had been dramatic. A U.S. official speaking on background because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue said that embassy officials took a car to retrieve Chen after he fled. Their vehicle was tailed by Chinese security and the Americans took action to evade those vehicles. Embassy staff began preparing for a long stay by Chen, possibly even a year, as another activist had done more than 20 years previously.
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May 4th, 2012
04:58 PM ET

Bin Laden's former driver interrogated on tape

Salim Ahmad Hamdan, a one time personal driver for Osama bin Laden, is seen being questioned years ago by U.S. interrogators in recordings just released by the Pentagon. They were released just as other videos showing the 9/11 ring leader giving his last will and testament also emerged. CNN's Brian Todd takes a look.


Filed under: 9/11 • Afghanistan • Gitmo • Osama bin Laden • Security Clearance on TV
The sometimes perilous business of spy thrillers
Executive Producer Howard Gordon and Director of Photography Chris Manly on location
May 4th, 2012
02:34 PM ET

The sometimes perilous business of spy thrillers

by Suzanne Kelly

Selling a spy novel these days can be a killer.

While there is undoubtedly an appetite for fast-paced, heart-thumping thrills in print, it seems that a combination of shrinking shelf space and authors who publish books seemingly forever are making the competition stiff.

"Dead authors and old authors never leave the marketplace anymore," says a New York-based literary agent who asked not to be identified because the thriller community is so small and tightly knit. "They are taking up the shelf space and the challenge is, if you're a new writer without a platform, is how to get a number of books taken that is gonna challenge the weekly onslaught of already-established writers."

Some hugely successful authors such as James Patterson and Tom Clancy have started working with less-established writers, which means they can crank out more books under their already-proven brand identities. Such trends have seen other authors long departed, including Robert Ludlum and Ian Fleming, continue to be published, even in death.

"Every time an author hires someone to write books with him, every time he does that, he's taking up a slot that might have been for a new writer," says the agent, who adds there is also a flip side: Those lucky few, the less-experienced authors, can garner attention they may not have been able to get otherwise. FULL POST

Chen's friend refutes earlier criticism of U.S. Embassy
Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng Wednesday at a Beijing hospital, where he received care for an injured foot.
May 4th, 2012
08:26 AM ET

Chen's friend refutes earlier criticism of U.S. Embassy

Update:  U.S. says Chen Guangcheng has been offered a fellowship to study in the United States and China will allow him to travel. See CNN's latest reporting on the Chen affair here

By Jill Dougherty

As criticism intensified over the Obama administration's handling of Chen Guangcheng's case, the State Department released a translation of his friend's Twitter post in which the Chinese activist denies he wanted political asylum and says he was not forced out of the U.S. Embassy.

The post by his friend Guo Yushan also says Chen wants to go to the United States "to rest for a few months."

Calling the existing Web translations of Guo's Twitter post "uneven," the State Department translation quotes him as saying he talked with Chen by phone after failing to reach him several times because "the line was always busy."

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With Gitmo hearing, a legal 'circus' resumes
May 4th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

With Gitmo hearing, a legal 'circus' resumes

By Larry Shaughnessy

The Obama administration's struggle over how to handle the prisoners and prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, enters a new chapter Saturday when a military judge there will convene an arraignment for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men for their alleged roles in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

It could be a routine military commission hearing, with charges being read and pleas being entered, or it could be the latest act of a legal and political free-for-all.

"I've had conversations with other people who believe the circus is going to begin with the first appearance," said Rear Adm. Donald Guter, who once served as the Navy's top lawyer. FULL POST

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Filed under: 9/11 • Gitmo • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed • Legal • Living With Terror • Terrorism