Levin: Military brass kept in the dark on prostitution scandal
May 8th, 2012
08:42 PM ET

Levin: Military brass kept in the dark on prostitution scandal

By Alan Silverleib

Senior military leaders were not immediately notified that troops in their command were involved in what is alleged to be a much larger alleged prostitution scandal involving military and Secret Service agents in Colombia, according to the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, also said Tuesday that a decision to keep the suspected military personnel in Colombia after news of the scandal first broke was made without any input from Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, the head of the U.S. Southern Command.

Levin told reporters that the higher levels of the chain of command were not notified of the assignment of certain personnel to Colombia in advance of President Barack Obama's visit to Cartagena for the Summit of the Americas in April.
FULL POST

May 8th, 2012
08:07 PM ET

Clinton on jailed American in Cuba

In an interview with CNN's Jill Dougherty, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed the Cuban government to release American Alan Gross, who has been held by the Cuban government for over two years.  Clinton spoke during a wide ranging interview during a stop in India.

Gross, spoke by telephone from his prison in Cuba with CNN's Wolf Blitzer last Friday. The call was broadcast on "The Situation Room."


Filed under: Alan Gross • Cuba
U.S. not ready to remove Iranian group from terror list
Supporters of MEK rally outside the White House in October 2011.
May 8th, 2012
04:23 PM ET

U.S. not ready to remove Iranian group from terror list

By Jamie Crawford

An Iranian dissident group on the U.S. government's list of terrorist organizations is showing signs of cooperation, but the United States has not decided whether to remove it from the list, a Department of Justice attorney told a federal appeals court panel Tuesday.

An attorney for Mujahedin-e Khalq urged a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to issue a writ of mandamus, essentially an order compelling the State Department to comply with a previous order, and to make a decision on delistment in a timely manner.

MEK is seeking the enforcement of a 2010 ruling by the same court ordering the State Department to review the group's status on the Foreign Terrorist Organization list. In its ruling, the District Court gave the State Department 180 days to review the request from MEK to be removed from the terror list.
FULL POST


Filed under: Iran • M.E.K. • Security Brief
Helping sex traffic victims through dance
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with members of Kolkata Sanved during a stop in Kolkata earlier this week.
May 8th, 2012
03:40 PM ET

Helping sex traffic victims through dance

By Jill Dougherty reporting from Kolkata

The girls step forward, chanting rhythmically, their breath coming in explosive waves.

At first they look delicate, vulnerable. Their feet are bare. They wear brightly colored tops held with a sash of traditional fabric, and cream pantaloons secured with a saffron belt.

But their vulnerability is suddenly transformed, their arms moving in karate-chop gestures, their voices slashing the air.
FULL POST

May 8th, 2012
02:37 PM ET

A new border strategy to combat evolving threat

by Suzanne Kelly

If there was one thing nearly everyone in the House subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing room agreed on Tuesday, it was the enormity of the challenge facing U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Border Patrol Chief Michael J. Fisher then rolled out his new border security policy, a policy that hasn't undergone a significant update since 2004. It shifts the focus from efforts to patrol the 8,600 miles of border surrounding the country to identifying the areas of greatest risk and devoting resources there.

"The Border Patrol's strategic plan marks an important point in the growth and development of the U.S. Border Patrol and establishes an approach that is tailored to meet the challenges of securing a 21st century border against a variety of dynamic threats and dangerous adversaries," said Fisher, who says the threat along the border is constantly evolving.

Fisher was joined at the witness table by Rebecca Gambler from the Government Accountability Office and Marc Rosenblum, a specialist on immigration issues.

If there were another thing everyone agreed on, it was that securing the border, which includes the rugged warzone-like conditions in parts of the Southwest to the vast expanses of land along the northern border, is nothing short of a work in progress. FULL POST


Filed under: Border Security • Border security • drones • drugs • Homeland Security • Terrorism
May 8th, 2012
11:09 AM ET

Al Qaeda's bomb-makers evolve, adapt and continue to plot

Three months before he was killed by a U.S. drone strike, Fahd al Quso, one of al Qaeda's top operatives in Yemen, spoke at length to a local journalist. He was asked why al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had stopped plotting against the United States. Was it because all efforts were devoted to an internal project?

"The war didn't end between us and our enemies. Wait for what is coming," al Quso replied.

It seems al Quso, the head of the group's external operations, wasn't bluffing after the recent discovery of a device designed to be carried aboard an airliner by a suicide bomber without detection.

U.S. officials describe the device as an evolution of the bomb smuggled aboard a U.S.-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009 by a young Nigerian, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab.

Read more of Paul Cruickshank, Tim Lister and Nic Robertson's reporting about the evolution of al Qaeda's bomb-making

May 8th, 2012
07:27 AM ET

Hillary Clinton talks China, Iran in wide-ranging interview

From Jill Dougherty

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated Washington's position on a wide array of subjects during an interview Tuesday with CNN in New Delhi.

Clinton spoke about Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese activist at the center of a recent diplomatic storm between the United States and China.

Recommended: Clinton urges Cubans to release jailed American

Chen was sentenced in 2006 to four years and three months in prison for "damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic," charges that his supporters maintain were trumped up by the authorities to punish his legal advocacy for victims of what he called abusive family-planning policies, including forced abortions and sterilization.

Recently, Chen has said he wants to come to the United States. He has been in a hospital bed in Beijing, where he is undergoing medical examinations and treatment after escaping more than 18 months of house arrest in eastern China some two weeks ago.

"We're looking forward to welcoming him to the United States," Clinton said in New Delhi. "We remain in close contact with him. We know that Chinese officials have visited him in the hospital. ... We're doing the same in order to prepare the way so that he can come here and pursue his studies." FULL POST

May 8th, 2012
06:48 AM ET

BREAKING: New border strategy to be unveiled Tuesday

By Suzanne Kelly

The Chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is expected to lay out his new strategy for securing the border Tuesday morning on Capitol Hill.

Testifying before a Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Michael J. Fisher will try to convince lawmakers that a strategy focused less on blanket resources and more targeted to areas of risk is the best way to keep the country from terrorists, drug smugglers and human smugglers while still curbing the numbers of undocumented immigrants trying to cross.

Recommended: Suzanne Kelly's exclusive interview with Chief Fisher

Changing strategy does not mean that CBP will require less resources in the future. It now has nine unmanned aerial surveillance systems in its fleet, better known as drones, and it is expected to take delivery of a 10th this year. FULL POST

May 8th, 2012
05:32 AM ET

Clinton on foiled al Qaeda plot: 'Terrorists keep trying'

By the CNN Wire Staff

The latest foiled bomb plot targeting an airliner is an indication that, while the device did not ultimately pose a threat, terrorists remain determined, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said Tuesday.

"These terrorists keep trying ... to devise more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people, and it's a reminder as to why we have to remain vigilant at home and abroad in protecting our nation and in protecting friendly nations," she told reporters at a news conference in New Delhi.

The plot was thwarted two weeks, a source familiar with the operation said Tuesday. Saudi intelligence assets provided the tip, the source said.

Read the full CNN.com story here.

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Filed under: Clinton • State Department • Terrorism
Cyber attack targets gas pipeline companies
May 8th, 2012
01:50 AM ET

Cyber attack targets gas pipeline companies

by Suzanne Kelly

A series of natural gas pipeline sector companies are being targeted by a cyber attack that appears to have been launched in December, according to a notice from the Department of Homeland Security.

The threat was disclosed in a monthly note published by the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), a DHS division devoted to cybersecurity.

"DHS’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team has been working since March 2012 with critical infrastructure owners and operators in the oil and natural gas sector to address a series of cyber intrusions targeting natural gas pipeline companies," said DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard.

“The cyber intrusion involves sophisticated spear-phishing activities targeting personnel within the private companies," Boogaard said.

FULL POST