Karzai: I will not let congressman into Afghanistan
May 21st, 2012
06:20 PM ET

Karzai: I will not let congressman into Afghanistan

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

By Jamie Crawford

If Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, an influential member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is looking for a country to visit as a member of a congressional delegation, he can cross Afghanistan off his list.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Rohrabacher have been at loggerheads over the congressman's push for a more decentralized Afghan government. Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer about the disagreement, Karzai said he is against letting Rohrabacher into the country.

"Until he changes his tongue, until he shows respect to the Afghan people, to our way of life and to our constitution ... No foreigner has a place asking another people, another country to change their constitution. Have we ever asked the United States to change its constitution?" Karzai said in an exclusive interview that aired Monday on "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."


Last month, Rohrabacher was asked by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not to travel on to Afghanistan with a congressional delegation that he was part of as it visited the region, after Karzai said the congressman was not welcome.

FULL POST

May 21st, 2012
05:43 PM ET

Iran propping up Syria's dwindling cash reserves

Editor's note: CNN's Barbara Starr is covering the Eager Lion military exercise in Jordan.  Read all her reporting here.

By Barbara Starr

Syria's president is quickly spending through his cash reserves as sanctions choke off many sources of funding, but the regime is getting help from Iran in bolstering finances, CNN has learned.

In Jordan, the government is accepting the reality that Bashar al-Assad may remain in power in Syria for months to come, aided by Iran.

According to intelligence assessment shared with CNN, al-Assad likely had about $30 billion in cash reserves to spend when unrest and bloodshed began in March 2011. He's about down to $6 billion to $9 billion.

And with the war against his own people costing him about $1 billion a month, he should have been out of business by the end of the year, according to officials in the region.

But sources are also telling CNN that al-Assad is getting a cash infusion from Iran, funneled in through banks in Lebanon, and Iran's support combined with Russia's political and economic support could keep al-Assad going for months to come.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Assad • Iran • Syria
Court blocks release of CIA interrogation methods
May 21st, 2012
05:14 PM ET

Court blocks release of CIA interrogation methods

By Bill Mears

CIA secret interrogation methods - including detention and harsh questioning of suspected terrorists - remain off limits to public release, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The agency was sued eight years ago to provide details of certain communications describing the use of waterboarding and other direct intelligence-gathering methods of foreign terror suspects. A three-judge panel from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled "intelligence methods" are not subject to a Freedom of Information Act request from the lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"We give substantial weight to the government's declarations, which establish that disclosing the redacted portions of the (secret memos) would reveal the existence and scope of a highly classified, active intelligence activity," said the judges. FULL POST

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Filed under: CIA • Gitmo • Intelligence • Lawsuit • Legal • Living With Terror
Afghanistan exit strategy agreed on, Pakistan issue unresolved
May 21st, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Afghanistan exit strategy agreed on, Pakistan issue unresolved

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday that he expects a deal "in the very near future" to reopen Pakistan's border with Afghanistan for war supply shipments.

"So far, the closure of the transit routes has not had a major impact on our operations," Rasmussen said, but added the transit routes were very important and that he expected their reopening "in the very near future."

Recommended: NATO accepts Obama timetable to end war

But the issue was unresolved even as NATO leaders signed off Monday on President Barack Obama's exit strategy from Afghanistan that calls for an end to combat operations next year and the withdrawal of the U.S.-led international military force by the end of 2014.

Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari was surely feeling some pressure.   Even a normally bland NATO document took note of thanking Central Asian countries and Russia for aiding in transporting supplies, while urging Pakistan to "reopen the ground lines of communication as soon as possible." FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Chicago NATO summit 2012 • Diplomacy • NATO • Pakistan • Rasmussen
Exclusive interview Afghan President Hamid Karzai
May 21st, 2012
01:25 PM ET

Exclusive interview Afghan President Hamid Karzai

CNN's Wolf Blitzer sits down with Afghan President Hamid Karzai for an exclusive interview at the NATO summit in Chicago. This will air Monday during the 5pm ET hour on CNN.

On Monday, NATO countries are expected to sign off on President Obama's exit strategy from Afghanistan that calls for an end to combat operations next year and the withdrawal of troops by the end of 2014.

Karzai met with President Obama on Sunday and both agreed that the end of the war is close. Karzai reiterated his commitment to the withdrawal timetable, "so that Afghanistan is no longer a burden on the shoulder of our friends in the international community, on the shoulders of the United States and our other allies."

Blitzer is anchoring "The Situation Room" live from Chicago today from 4-6pm ET on CNN.

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Chicago NATO summit 2012 • FIRST ON CNN/EXCLUSIVE • ISAF • Karzai • NATO
Supreme Court to review government's foreign surveillance program
May 21st, 2012
12:31 PM ET

Supreme Court to review government's foreign surveillance program

By Bill Mears

The Supreme Court said Monday that it will tackle a major national security and privacy dispute involving the government's little-known foreign surveillance program.

The justices announced they would hear an appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union, representing a coalition of "United States persons" - attorneys, journalists and labor, legal, media and human rights organizations.

Oral arguments will be heard this fall.

The larger issue involves the constitutionality of the federal government's electronic monitoring of targeted foreign people. A federal appeals court said the domestic plaintiffs who deal with overseas clients and co-workers reasonably feared the government was reading and hearing their sensitive communications, and those groups had taken costly measures to avoid such intrusions.

That New York-based three-judge panel last year ruled against the Obama administration proceeding.

The specific question now to be addressed by the high court is whether certain Americans have "standing" to challenge the federal law, without a specific showing they have been monitored. Plaintiffs say the National Security Agency has in turn refused to disclose specifics. The ACLU calls that "Catch-22" logic.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Clapper • Intelligence • Justice Department • NSA
Is an east coast missle shield necessary?
May 21st, 2012
12:15 PM ET

Is an east coast missle shield necessary?

It’s amazing that a country without money can consider building a missile shield against a threat that doesn’t exist, writes Mark Thompson on Time's Battleland blog.

The House has approved a $643 billion defense-spending bill for 2013 that’s $3.7 billion more than the Obama Administration, and its Pentagon, is seeking. That’s just about the same amount the Congressional Budget Office estimates the House bill’s push for an East Coast missile shield will cost over the next five years.

As Thompson writes, while the U.S. has already invested billions building such a West Coast system against the threat of a North Korean missile attack, so why shouldn’t we build a mirror system on the other side of the country to protect its denizens from attack by the Iranians: FULL POST

NATO countries pledge most of the money needed for Afghan forces
May 21st, 2012
10:24 AM ET

NATO countries pledge most of the money needed for Afghan forces

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

By Elise Labott

NATO has raised more than $1 billion toward the $4.3 annual cost needed to fund the Afghan National Security Forces after 2014, two senior U.S. officials tell Security Clearance.

"But we're over $1 billion, heading for the $1.3 goal, earlier than we dared hope," one of the officials said.

NATO was asked to come up with $1.3 billion in annual costs, with Afghanistan paying $500 million and the U.S. paying the rest.

More announcements are expected by NATO allies and members of the ISAF coalition at Monday's session on Afghanistan.

The current target for the Afghan force is around 352,000 army and police. After 2014 that number is expected to dip to about 250,000.

Iran: We can withstand sanctions
May 21st, 2012
06:49 AM ET

Iran: We can withstand sanctions

As Iran gets set to meet again with the U.S. and other countries to negotiate its nuclear program, the country's economic minister insisted in an interview Sunday with CNN's Fareed Zakaria that the crippling sanctions imposed on Iran were not having as much of an impact as believed.

Minister Shamseddin Hosseini argued that his country has a much broader economy than just oil.

"Last year, the total non-oil exports increased by 30 percent and according to the latest reports that the International Monetary Fund has published, Iran's GDP - Iran's per capita income has also increased," Hosseini said in the interview on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS.

Zakaria pressed Hosseini on the argument, asking how it could be that the country is not affected when 80% of its foreign revenues come from foreign sales of oil.

Here is a transcript of the exchange: FULL POST

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Filed under: EU • Europe • Fareed Zakaria GPS • Iran • Sanctions
May 21st, 2012
06:01 AM ET

Arrests and allegations of brutality between Chicago police, protesters

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.

By the CNN Wire Staff

Protesters vowed to carry out disruptive demonstrations Monday in Chicago, a day after baton-wielding police clashed with demonstrators in a violent confrontation that left dozens injured just blocks from where NATO leaders were gathered.

Security was expected to be tight on the final day of the two-day NATO summit, which has played out against a backdrop of protests that has seen thousands taken to the street to protest everything from the war in Afghanistan to the economy.

Occupy Chicago, one of the groups that helped organize the demonstrations, took to social media to urge people to join in another planned demonstration at 10 a.m. ET on Monday.

Dozens were injured in a melee Sunday that came at the end of a largely, peaceful demonstration that began in Chicago's Grant Park, where President Barack Obama delivered his presidential acceptance speech in 2008.

Read the full CNN.com story here.

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Filed under: Chicago NATO summit 2012 • NATO
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