White House objects to Congress adding money to intel budget
May 30th, 2012
10:15 PM ET

White House objects to Congress adding money to intel budget

By Pam Benson

The Obama administration is opposed to Congress adding more money to the intelligence budget and is asking for the funding to be reconsidered in the final budget.

In a statement released Wednesday, the White House said it had serious concerns about some of the funding contained in a classified part of the House Intelligence Authorization bill that exceeds the administration's request.

"The administration objects to unrequested authorizations for some classified programs that were reduced in the president's budget because they are lower in priority and would support deficit reduction efforts," the statement said.

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Filed under: Congress • Intelligence
Cleanup at Iran's Parchin site?
Imagery from May 25, 2012 showing the razing of two small support buildings. It also shows heavy machinery tracks near the site
May 30th, 2012
08:01 PM ET

Cleanup at Iran's Parchin site?

From CNN's Jennifer Rizzo

New satellite images of an Iranian military base indicate Iranian efforts to cover evidence of a nuclear weapons program, according to a Washington-based think tank.

The DigitalGlobe images, obtained by the Institute for Science and International Security, were taken last week of Iran's Parchin military base, where international inspectors suspect Iran may have conducted explosives tests connected with a possible nuclear weapons program.

Two small buildings at the suspected testing site have been destroyed. Tracks made by heavy machinery supposedly used in the demolition are visible, according to the institute's analysis.

Wide view image of the suspected high explosive testing site showing extensive evidence of earth displacement activity.

The group says suspected cleanup activity was also seen in satellite images from April. The two buildings were intact in the previous images.

"The newest image raises concerns that Iran is attempting to raze the site prior to allowing an IAEA visit," said the report. "The razing of the two buildings may also indicate that Iran has no intention to allow inspectors access soon."

The International Atomic Energy Agency has requested access to the site, which the Iranians have so far denied. In a letter sent to Iran in May, the agency expressed concern that extensive activity observed in "buildings of interest" could hamper the inspection process.


Filed under: Security Brief
May 30th, 2012
07:30 PM ET

Worse case scenario in Syria

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations warned that should the current plan fail in Syria, the world is facing a 'worst case scenario' of intensifying civil strife.

Ambassador Susan Rice told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that that there needs to be "maximum international pressure" on Syria's president by the United Nations Security Council "including sanctions and potentially other steps."

"Should all of that fail or not be possible because it perhaps would be vetoed again, then we're into a situation which is chaotic," Rice said in the interview that aired Wednesday on Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

May 30th, 2012
07:18 PM ET

Sticking with 'Plan A' but thinking about 'Plan B' for Syria

The United States and its allies are blatantly accusing the Syrian president of having blood on his hands.

But right now, any talk of military intervention is still just talk.

United Nations observers report finding 13 corpses in eastern Syria this week with their hands tied behind their backs.

This, only days after the massacre in Houla that unleashed global outrage.

Russia and China made it clear again today that they're staunchly opposed to using force against Syria.

And the Obama administration shows no sign that it's ready to change course.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has details.


Filed under: Assad • Barack Obama • Dempsey • Free Syrian Army • Jordan • Military • Rep. Mike Rogers • Security Brief • Syria • United Nations
Flame raises the cyberwar stakes
May 30th, 2012
02:32 PM ET

Flame raises the cyberwar stakes

By CNNMoney's David Goldman

The "Flame" virus, the most complex computer bug ever discovered, has been lurking for years inside Iranian government computers, spying on the country's officials.

In a statement posted on its website on Monday, the Iranian National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) said it discovered Flame after "multiple investigations" over the past few months.

The Iranian CERT team said it believes there is a "close relation" between Flame two previous cyber attacks on Iran, known as the Stuxnet and Duqu computer worms.   Stuxnet is widely believed to have been launched by either the U.S. or Israel (or both countries).

This isn't traditional war. The Internet has leveled the playing field, allowing governments that would never launch military attacks on one another to target one another in cyberspace.

"In warfare, when a bomb goes off it detonates; in cyberwarfare, malware keeps going and gets proliferated," said Roger Cressey, senior vice president at security consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, at a Bloomberg cybersecurity conference held in New York last month.

"Once a piece of malware is launched in wild, what happens to that code and its capability?" he added. "Things like Stuxnet are being reverse-engineered."

Read the whole story here

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Filed under: Cybersecurity • Flame • Iran • Israel • Malware • Stuxnet
U.S. sticking with 'Plan A' for Syria
Joint UN-Arab envoy to Syria Kofi Annan (L) during a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the presidential palace in Damascus on May 29, 2012.
May 30th, 2012
01:14 PM ET

U.S. sticking with 'Plan A' for Syria

By Jamie Crawford

With the situation in Syria seemingly deteriorating by the day, the United States is doing what it can to pressure Bashar al-Assad to step aside, but that goal is nowhere in sight, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

"As it relates to what Plan B is for Syria, we're still on Plan A," Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough said at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar. The event was sponsored by the Brookings Institution.

Following a massacre in the Syrian village of Houla this past weekend that left scores of children and villagers dead, McDonough said the United States continues to support the joint United Nations/Arab League plan, led by Kofi Annan, which is deploying monitors into Syria.

But McDonough acknowledged that simply putting monitors in Syria is not going to stop the carnage.
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Filed under: Assad • Russia • Sanctions • Syria • Treasury • UN Security Council • United Nations
Panetta leaving on 9-day trip to Asia
Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta during his previous visit to Asia. He leaves Wednesday for a 9 day visit to Singapore, India and Vietnam. (photo by Larry Shaughnessy/CNN)
May 30th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Panetta leaving on 9-day trip to Asia

By Larry Shaughnessy

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta leaves Wednesday on a nine-day trip to Asia to bring allies there up to speed on the United States' new Pacific-orientated defense strategy.

"Basically the core of what we are trying to do with the swing through Asia, is to give a comprehensive account to partners and everyone in the region about what the rebalance to the Asia/Pacific will mean in practice," a senior defense official said while briefing reporters about the trip.

The trip starts in Honolulu where Panetta will meet with Adm. Sam Locklear, head of U.S. Pacific Command, who will join Panetta for much of the trip.

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Filed under: Asia • Australia • China • Japan • Panetta • Phillipines • South Korea
Internal reports highlight threats to Afghan police force
May 30th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Internal reports highlight threats to Afghan police force

By Mike Mount

An Afghanistan government assessment of its own police force raises concern that unresolved issues are undermining the ability to take over security in the country, according to a report obtained by Security Clearance.

The report by the Afghan Interior Ministry looks at five major threats facing the Afghan National Police. They range across the spectrum of long-time problems inside Afghanistan and include outside terrorist threats and armed opposition to the Afghan government, unlawful governance and corruption, illegal drug trade, organized crime and illegally armed groups. Resolving the threats is critical not just for the police force but also for overall stability as the country seeks to take over security from U.S. and NATO forces by the end of 2014.

The threats, narrowed down from "a list of numerous others," according to NATO officials, are identified in the Afghan National Police Strategy report obtained by Security Clearance.

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