By Jamie Crawford
David Cohen's office has set its sights on a key target since its inception in 2004: drastically reducing al Qaeda's ability to attack and finance its operations.
The results have been clear, the U.S. Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence said Thursday.
The core group of al Qaeda "is in a much weaker state than it was" even two years ago, said Cohen, who oversees U.S. efforts to choke off the funding for bad actors and rogue regimes around the world.
By Larry Shaughnessy
The Pentagon has made the Aegis ballistic interceptors a cornerstone of its missile defense system, and this week it successfully tested the second generation of the launchers.
A target was launched Wednesday from a ground facility in Hawaii, aimed northwest into a broad expanse of the Pacific Ocean. The guided missile cruiser USS Lake Erie began tracking the target missile and quickly launched a new interceptor missile, the Standard Missile-3 Block 1B.
The SM-3 tracked the target missile, adjusted its flight path and, at the right time, fired a warhead at the target, destroying it. FULL POST
By Barbara Starr
The Yemeni branch of al Qaeda now has "a whole outfit designated to target the U.S. homeland," according to a source closely working with U.S. intelligence agencies and the military.
In addition, the U.S. now believes Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is working on "several types of bombs" that could get past airport x-ray screening machines.
The bomb technology is aimed at targeting the U.S., according to the source.
Although the group has not yet succeeded in any of their bomb plots against the U.S., there are several bomb makers and a group of would-be suicide bombers inside the group, which operates out of rudimentary training camps in southern Yemen. FULL POST
By Barbara Starr and Adam Levine
U.S. negotiations with the Taliban that have now stalled include an American proposal for the release of Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured in Afghanistan in June 2009, U.S. officials tell CNN.
"In the discussions with the Taliban there have been a series of confidence-building measures discussed. I am not going to deny that one of those potential confidence-building measures has been the release of Bowe Bergdahl," one U.S. official said.
Until now the administration has never directly acknowledged the discussions included Bergdahl. But in interviews with the New York Times and the Idaho Mountain Express, published Wednesday night, Bergdahl's parents said that the fate of their son was part of the negotiations.
The family told the New York Times they were speaking out because of frustration over a lack of progress in the talks. FULL POST
A U.S. drone strike killed eight militants in southern Yemen Thursday morning, continuing a coordinated assault on al Qaeda and its affiliates in the area, security officials said.
The attack targeted a convoy carrying senior leaders of the Ansar al-Sharia militant network, an offshoot of al Qaeda, in the Jaar district of Abyan province.
The drone strike was followed by a string of air strikes by Yemen's air force, said three security officials.
Suspected al-Qaeda militants seized Abyan last year during Yemen's political stalemate after government troops evacuated most military posts in the province.
By Jennifer Rizzo
As the House Armed Services Committee was finalizing its version of the 2013 defense budget Wednesday, a traditional input from the military's top brass was noticeably missing this year.
The Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps service chiefs decided not to submit to Congress their "wish lists," a rundown of programs and priorities not covered under the current budget that they would like to see funded if extra money was available. Officially known as unfunded priorities lists, this is the first year that all the services have not submitted the documents since the 1990s. An exception is the Special Operations Command, which has submitted one request this year of $143 million for high-definition, full-motion video sensors for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.
"These served a very useful purpose in the last decade because it's rare for senior military leaders to get a direct line to Congress without having to go through the Secretary of Defense," said Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.