May 31st, 2012
01:30 PM ET

Pakistan military relations returning in 'fits and starts'

Two U.S. military liaison officers have returned to Peshawar, Pakistan in the last week or so to help coordinate communications regarding
border operations, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday. The officers were removed at Pakistan's request last November after a border strike
by US and NATO forces that killed two dozen Pakistani troops.

Coordination between Pakistan military and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which includes the U.S. military, is returning in "fits and starts" and communications are improving, said Capt. John Kirby at a Pentagon press conference.

Kirby said Pakistan requested the return of the officers. The US and Pakistan continue to negotiate the reopening of border crossings for war
supplies which were also closed last November.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • ISAF • Pakistan
May 31st, 2012
10:06 AM ET

Pakistani Taliban vows to kill doctor who helped track bin Laden

By Reza Sayah and Nasir Habib in Islamabad

The Pakistani Taliban vowed on Thursday to kill Shakeel Afridi, the jailed Pakistani doctor accused of helping the CIA in the search for Osama bin Laden, a spokesman for the militant group told CNN.

"We will cut him into pieces when we find him," Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told CNN by phone. "He spied for the U.S. to hunt down our hero Osama bin Laden."

Pakistani officials say Afridi is being held in a prison in the city of Peshawar in northwest Pakistan.

Read the whole story here

Defense official says automatic cuts will cause 'absurdities'
May 31st, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Defense official says automatic cuts will cause 'absurdities'

By Mike Mount

The Pentagon's chief budget officer is ringing the alarm bell about looming budget cuts that could destroy the department's new defense strategy and force the defense industry to face "absurdities" as defense programs are shuttered.

"This is not the way to do defense planning and budgeting," said Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

Carter was speaking to reporters Wednesday in Washington about the effects of sequestration, a possible automatic cut in the defense budget of more than half a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Sequestration would kick in starting in January 2013 if President Obama and Congress cannot come to agreement on cuts in the overall budget.

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Filed under: Budget • Congress • Pentagon
Flame malware: Does bigger mean better?
Screen grap released by Kaspersky Lab site shows a porgram of the computer virus, Flame
May 31st, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Flame malware: Does bigger mean better?

Editors Note: James Lewis is a Senior fellow and Director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He offers this commentary on Flame, a recently discovered malware program infecting computer systems in Iran and elsewhere.

By James Lewis, Special to CNN

Is it wrong to be blasé about the most frightening malware ever invented? Some people worry that Flame is "bigger" than Stuxnet, weighing in at 20 megabytes. Flame is "bigger" than Stuxnet, but size and sophistication aren't the same.

Let's look at some of the tricks Flame uses. Recording keystrokes (a "keylogger") is about 20 years old. Turning on the   microphone of your computer is also mid-90s (turning on the camera is more recent, but also not news). The same is true for taking screen shots of your e-mail. You can buy some of these features on the black market. This is not cutting-edge stuff - somebody cobbled together existing exploits into a big package.

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Filed under: Cybersecurity • Iran • Malware • Russia • Stuxnet
May 31st, 2012
12:42 AM ET

U.S. general admits he misspoke about North Korea spying

By Paula Hancocks

A U.S. general in Korea who reportedly said that American troops parachute into North Korea to spy has admitted he was not misquoted in the speech – but that he misspoke.

Brigadier General Neil Tolley, commander of special forces in South Korea, made the comments during a speech at a conference in Florida last week. The Diplomat, a magazine based in Japan, quoted Tolley as saying in the speech that U.S. troops parachute into North Korea to spy on underground military facilities.

Amidst the ensuing controversy, the Pentagon accused the reporter of the piece, David Axe, of misreporting the speech.

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Filed under: North Korea