By Mike Mount and Elise Labott
Talks between the United States and Pakistan are intensifying in part in an effort to get Pakistan to decide to reopen its border, allowing war supplies to flow into Afghanistan, ahead of the NATO meeting in Chicago next week.
It is unclear if the negotiations will be finished in the coming days, two senior U.S. officials said, and they questioned whether enough progress was being made on reopening the supply routes for the administration to issue an invitation to President Asif Ali Zardari to attend a major NATO summit, also in Chicago, this weekend.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan met Saturday in Islamabad with the head of Pakistan's Army to try to improve border coordination between the two countries, six months after a U.S. military airstrike mistakenly killed 24 Pakistan soldiers near the Afghan-Pakistan border.
By Pam Benson
Obama administration officials were tight-lipped about the weekend visit of counterterrorism advisor John Brennan to Yemen this past weekend.
The visit came just days after revelations of a CIA and Saudi mole who foiled a plot hatched by al Qaeda in Yemen to blow up a U.S.-bound airplane. As Brennan arrived in the capital city of Sanaa, government troops clashed with terrorist fighters in the south, killing two dozen from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. On Saturday, a pair of U.S. drone strikes killed 11 suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen's Mareb province.
In a briefing with reporters on Air Force One, White House spokesman Jay Carney didn’t have any specifics on John Brennan’s visit to Yemen other than to say he "met with a variety of officials from the Yemeni government, and reiterated our firm support to Yemen, both political, economic and military support."
"We obviously have a keen interest in working with the Yemeni government in the fight against extremism there, and that was certainly part of the discussion. But the relationship is broader than that," Carney said Monday.
By Jennifer Rizzo
A House Armed Services Committee member is taking the obscure concept of "sequestration" to the streets, kicking off a nationwide tour Monday to discuss the potential $1 trillion in automatic cuts threatening the defense budget.
"The impact of looming defense cuts would be catastrophic to our military, communities and veterans. If no action is taken by January 1st," Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Virginia, said in a press release. "I look forward to seeing firsthand how sequestration will impact Virginia installations and hear how these cuts will affect local communities."
The Department of Defense already is required to cut $400 billion from its budget as part of an agreement that allowed President Barack Obama to raise the debt ceiling. The same deal created a congressional "super committee" tasked to find more than a trillion in government savings over the next decade, although no solution was reached. If Obama and Congress cannot come to agreement on where the cuts should come from, another $600 billion would automatically be axed from the defense budget. The automatic cuts are referred to as sequestration.
The "Defending our Defenders" tour, which begins in Chesapeake, Virginia is being billed as a "listening session" where attendants can share their stories, ask questions, and voice their opinions on how massive cuts to the defense budget would impact their communities.
But some see an ulterior motive in the tour - using it as a platform to argue against the cuts.
As the Obama administration seeks to bring to a close the Afghanistan war and the Iraq war already in the rear-view mirror, the companies that for the last decade have earned millions, if not billions, of dollars supplying equipment are looking for what to do as the war well runs dry. Two recent articles point to different strategies by some cutting edge companies.
In the Boston Globe, Bryan Bender reports on the intense lobbying effort by iRobot. The company, which is probably better known in the U.S. for its automated Roomba vacuum cleaners, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on teams of lobbyists to stave off defense cuts. It appears to be money well spent.
"The House Armed Services Committee this week voted to provide nearly $100 million in new funding for unmanned ground systems and has listed as one of its priorities this year funding programs to counter improvised explosive devices and to bolster “unmanned intelligence’’ projects," Bender writes. IRobot provides just such devices. FULL POST
By Anderson Cooper Producer Susan Chun
Editor's Note: Watch Anderson Cooper's special report Monday night 8pET on CNN
On Friday night after AC360° aired, Anderson and team embarked on a nearly 28 hour trip (including two plane rides, layovers and a three hour drive) that took us from New York City to the eastern border of Turkey.
Where are we going? The eastern part of Turkey borders Syria. Believe me, we would love to actually go into Syria and report what’s happening in the country. However, despite Bashar al-Assad’s regime’s claims that journalists are free to report from the country, our visa applications have disappeared into the Syrian embassy in Washington with no word on if we are approved, denied, or even when a decision would be made.
CNN's Reza Sayah reports on U.S.-made NATO supplies bound for Afghanistan that are stuck and unused in Pakistan.
The transit points have been closed for nearly half a year as Pakistan and the U.S. negotiate how to resume relations after a series of incidents, including the secret raid by American forces to kill bin Laden and a border fight with NATO troops that left two dozen Pakistani soldiers killed. It has been a costly problem for the U.S. and NATO which must use other, more circuitous routes to get supplies into the country. FULL POST
By Barbara Starr
The head of the U.S. Northern Command has a reminder for his troops supporting the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago: no alcohol, no prostitutes.
It comes as the U.S. Southern Command finalizes its probe into the conduct of 12 troops assigned to security for a recent presidential trip to Colombia. Investigations continue into an alleged prostitution scandal involving military and Secret Service agents who were in the South American nation in advance of a trip last month by President Barack Obama.
The U.S. military is about to offer its logistical support to the NATO summit that will be attended by Obama and other heads of state later this month in Chicago. U.S. troops are expected to assist with communications, security, transportation and other functions throughout the high-profile event.