June 1st, 2012
07:09 PM ET

Loose lips and the Obama national security ship

By Adam Levine, with reporting from Pam Benson and Ann Colwell

The level of detail spilling out through media reports about crucial national security operations is raising the question of whether President Barack Obama's administration can keep a secret - or in some cases even wants to.

In just the past week, two tell-all articles about Obama's leadership as commander-in-chief have been published, dripping with insider details about his sleeves-rolled-up involvement in choosing terrorist targets for drone strikes and revelations about his amped-up cyber war on Iran.

Each article notes the reporters spoke to "current and former" American officials and presidential advisers, as well as sources from other countries.

"This is unbelievable ... absolutely stunning," a former senior intelligence official said about the level of detail contained in the cyberattack story. FULL POST

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Filed under: Analysis • drones • Obama • Pakistan • Yemen
Army charges Bales with steroid use
Staff Sargeant Robert Bales has been identified as the soldier accused of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan, including 9 children, 3 women and 4 men.
June 1st, 2012
03:55 PM ET

Army charges Bales with steroid use

By CNN Wire Staff

In amended charges presented Friday, U.S. military authorities accused Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales of illicit steroid and alcohol use in addition to 16 counts of premeditated murder for allegedly gunning down villagers in Afghanistan earlier this year.

Bales' lawyer, John Henry Browne, responded to the changes by saying he is "so relieved" that military prosecutors "came out publicly with the steroid use."

"Steroid use is going to be an issue in this case, especially where Sgt. Bales got steroids and how he got steroids," Browne told CNN.

The U.S. military said that, in March, Bales left his outpost in Afghanistan in the middle of the night and single-handedly attacked two villages. The incident further riled relations between Washington and Kabul, intensifying the debate about whether to pull American troops ahead of their planned 2014 withdrawal.

READ FULL STORY HERE


Filed under: Afghanistan • SSGT Robert Bales
Panetta: No unilateral U.S. military action likely in Syria
Panetta shakes hands with US Ambassador to Singapore David Adelman upon his arrival to Singapore on Friday.
June 1st, 2012
03:43 PM ET

Panetta: No unilateral U.S. military action likely in Syria

By Mike Mount

As images of grisly massacres continue to flow from Syrian opposition groups, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States should not move forward with unilateral military action without the authorization of the United Nations.

"No, I cannot envision that," Panetta said when asked if the United States would bypass the world body to take action in Syria to remove President Bashar al-Assad. But he left the door open by saying, "I think it is important for the U.S. to protect every possible option for taking action in the future."

His comments were made Thursday aboard a U.S. Air Force plane taking him to a conference in Asia. At the conference, he is expected to promote the new U.S. military strategy that puts the Defense Department's main focus on Asia, instead of the Middle East and Southwest Asia, where the country has been fighting for over 10 years.

"There is no question that we are very concerned about the atrocities that are taking place in Syria," Panetta said. "... This is an intolerable situation. We cannot be satisfied with what's going on and the international community has got to take further steps to make sure that Assad steps down."
FULL POST

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Filed under: Syria
Clinton ordered to make terror list decision
Iranian-Americans rally outside the White House to urge the administration to remove the MEK, from the State Department's Foreign Terrorist Organizations List.
June 1st, 2012
02:20 PM ET

Clinton ordered to make terror list decision

By Jamie Crawford

A federal appeals court has ordered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a prompt decision on whether to remove an Iranian dissident group from the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia gave Clinton four months from Friday to deny or grant Mujahedeen-e-Khalq's request for removal from the list, or the court would issue a so-called writ of mandamus and remove the group itself.

"We have been given no sufficient reason why the secretary, in the last 600 days, has not been able to make a decision which the Congress gave her only 180 days to make," the court said in its ruling. "If she fails to take action within that (four month) period, the petition for a writ of mandamus setting aside the (foreign terrorist organization) designation will be granted."

The State Department had argued for an open-ended decision-making process.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iran • Iraq • M.E.K. • Security Brief
This sergeant takes 'barking orders' literally
June 1st, 2012
01:44 PM ET

This sergeant takes 'barking orders' literally

It's a proud day for the Marine's official mascot Chesty XIII.  In a ceremony at the Marines Barracks in Washington, the four-legged Marine was promoted to the rank of sergeant having served as a corporal since May 2010.

"Renowned for his tough, muscular, and aggressive appearance, the English bulldog has been serving as a corporal since May 2010. Sgt. Chesty is always on duty at "the Barracks," motivating spectators and guests at countless performances both here and abroad," according to a Marine statement.

No word on whether Bravo called in a congratulations.


Filed under: Marines
June 1st, 2012
11:06 AM ET

Putin: Russia not 'propping up' Syrian regime

By Jill Dougherty

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday denied that Russia is providing weapons that are killing Syrian civilians.

"We don't supply weapons that can be used in civil conflicts," he said.

A Russian-flagged ship docked this week in the Syrian port of Tartus, and some human rights groups say it was carrying weapons to be used in the conflict in Syria. The U.S. State Department said Thursday that it was looking into the matter but could not confirm that the ship was carrying arms.

Speaking with reporters in Berlin after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin also struck back at claims by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Russia is "propping up the regime" of Bashar al-Assad.
FULL POST

EXCLUSIVE: Romney intel briefings to start after official nomination
June 1st, 2012
02:00 AM ET

EXCLUSIVE: Romney intel briefings to start after official nomination

By Barbara Starr

The Obama administration will stick with the election-year tradition of both Democratic and Republican White Houses in offering presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney classified intelligence briefings only after he formally secures his party's nomination at the convention this summer.

"It's a long-standing practice for presidential candidates and select advisers to be provided intelligence briefings following the party's nominating convention," Shawn Turner, the spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told Security Clearance. "During the last presidential campaign, all the candidates began receiving briefings in September following the conventions."

FULL POST