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.
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.
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.
The White House defended President Obama’s direct involvement in the controversial drone program Tuesday.
“This president's first priority is the protection of the United States, protection of the citizens of this country, and he takes that responsibility enormously seriously,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. “And that is why he has pursued the fight against al Qaeda in the very direct way that he has.”
New details in a New York Times story show that Obama is intimately involved in discussions over which suspected terrorists to target next.
CNN's Chris Lawrence reports.
The United States and seven other countries across the globe announced they were expelling Syrian diplomats Tuesday in a coordinated move reflecting the international outrage about a massacre in the town of Houla.
A U.N. official said it's "clear" that Syrian government forces were involved in the massacre, which left more than 100 people dead, nearly half of them children.
The State Department Sp0keswoman Victoria Nuland just released a statement about the expulsion: FULL POST
By Guy Azriel reporting from Jerusalem
Israel's Vice Prime Minister suggested Tuesday that his country has the capabilities to develop malware capable of attacking sophisticated computer systems, but would not confirm whether Israel has any role in the newly revealed “Flame” malware that has been infecting computers in the region, with Iran seeming to be a main target.
(Watch the video above for a good explanation of the Flame threat)
Speaking to Israeli Army radio, Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon said “Israel is blessed to be a nation possessing superior technology. In that respect our achievements open up all sorts of opportunities for us."
“Whoever sees the Iranian threat as a serious threat, not just for Israel, but the entire western world led by the United States would be likely to make use all possible means, including these in order to hurt them," said Yaalon, a former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, when asked about Israel’s involvement in cyber warfare activity. FULL POST
By Larry Shaughnessy
One of the many issues likely to be batted around during this year's presidential election is the status of the U.S. Navy.
Several times on the campaign trail, Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, has criticized the Obama administration's handling of the Navy.
"Do you realize our Navy is now smaller than any time since 1917?" Romney said during a campaign rally in South Carolina last January.
Two Army reservists launched a lawsuit against the Defense Department for excluding women from combat roles. They say the combat ban can hurt a woman's career in the military, CNN's Chris Lawrence reports.
By CNN Wire Staff
International envoy Kofi Annan arrived in Syria on Monday amid growing fury over a gruesome massacre that killed 108 people in one town.
He vowed "serious" discussions with President Bashar al-Assad and said he had a message for "everyone with a gun": to halt the violence.
Rebel leaders have said Annan's six-point plan is already "dead" following the killings in Houla, a suburb of the anti-government bastion of Homs. U.N. monitors in Syria said 49 children were among those slaughtered there Friday.
Al-Assad's regime insists it was not behind the massacre and blames terrorist groups. Throughout the uprising against the government, Syria has blamed violence on "armed terrorist groups."