Special Operations rebuffed in effort to get new authority
June 5th, 2012
07:30 PM ET

Special Operations rebuffed in effort to get new authority

By Mike Mount

A request by the U.S. military's Special Operations Command to get new authority to train and equip security forces in countries considered to be terrorist hot spots was denied by Congress and the State Department, although military officials say the proposal was not an effort to circumvent the regular authorization chain.

The request was to use Special Operations Command money to create, train and equip domestic special operations troops in countries of concern where commanders believed training was needed, as well as to build barracks and other construction projects related to training over three years.
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No friend of Ahmadinejad, Iranian insider still defends nuclear ambitions
June 5th, 2012
03:38 PM ET

No friend of Ahmadinejad, Iranian insider still defends nuclear ambitions

By Ashley Fantz

A former spokesman for Iran's nuclear program whose life was turned upside down when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused him of spying still vigorously defended his homeland's nuclear efforts on Tuesday.

Sayed Hossein Mousavian stressed that the West is making a mistake in believing that Iran is making a bomb, or that the country has nefarious intentions with its nuclear plan.

Mousavian, an associate research scholar at Princeton, spoke for an hour at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

He repeatedly said that the West, particularly the United States, must recognize Iran's right to build its nuclear program and that the United States and Iran would be better served if they were less suspicious of each other. He also argued that the international community should ease sanctions against Iran. FULL POST

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Filed under: Ahmadinejad • Diplomacy • IAEA • Iran • Middle East • Nuclear
June 5th, 2012
11:52 AM ET

Al-Libi death a major blow for al Qaeda

By Paul Cruickshank

Abu Yahya al-Libi is universally admired in jihadist circles and among the younger generation of al Qaeda leaders.  Charismatic, intelligent, a religious scholar - and with the extra qualification of having escaped from U.S. custody in Afghanistan – his loss is "a cataclysmic blow" to al Qaeda, according to analysts who follow the group.

Al-Libi was the target of a U.S. drone strike this week, a U.S. official tells CNN's Barbara Starr.    A U.S. official told CNN's Pam Benson that al-Libi is dead.

RECOMMENDED:  Peter Bergen – Only one senior al Qaeda leader left

In recent years, al-Libi emerged as one of the terrorist network's most important clerics and propagandists, appearing in countless videos. By most accounts, he was effectively al Qaeda's deputy leader. And his Libyan nationality is important to an organization that after the elevation of Ayman al-Zawahiri as leader was vulnerable to criticism it was dominated by Egyptians. FULL POST

June 5th, 2012
10:05 AM ET

Syria expels diplomats

Syria announced Tuesday it is expelling some diplomats from 11 countries, a week after those nations expelled Syrian officials in a coordinated response to a massacre and the government's violent crackdown on the opposition.

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The move came as those countries looked for new ways to push for a halt in the violence, through the U.N. Security Council and other means.

And in Syria, an opposition group reported 24 people were killed Tuesday, and the government reported that three of its officers were assassinated.

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Filed under: Assad • Diplomacy • Middle East • Syria
Al Qaeda leader targeted in drone strike
June 5th, 2012
09:59 AM ET

Al Qaeda leader targeted in drone strike

UPDATE:  U.S. officials confirmed Tuesday afternoon that al-Libi was killed in the drone strike.

With reporting from Barbara Starr

Abu Yahya al-Libi, the no. 2 man in al Qaeda and a longtime public face of the terror network, has been targeted by a drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

RECOMMENDED: Al-Libi death a blow to al Qaeda

Investigators are trying to determine whether al-Libi was injured or killed in the Monday hit, which left 15 militants dead and three others wounded, the official said. Intelligence officials may find out al-Libi's fate only from monitoring websites and chatter, according to the official.

A senior Pakistani official said investigators have to verify that al-Libi was among the dead. Eight of the victims from the strike were "foreigners," with most of them Arabs, the Pakistani official said.

The drone fired at least six missiles at a militant compound near the town of Mir Ali in the North Waziristan region near the Afghanistan border.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • drones • Pakistan • Terrorism
June 5th, 2012
04:10 AM ET

U.S. General who misspoke on North Korea is replaced

By Paula Hancocks

The Pentagon has announced a replacement for the U.S. General in charge of Special Operations in Korea a week after controversy broke over comments he made on North Korea.

Brigadier General Neil Tolley was reported as saying U.S. and South Korean troops parachute into North Korea to spy on underground military facilities. Tolley admitted he was not misquoted at a conference in Florida last month, rather he misspoke.

Jennifer Buschick, spokesperson for U.S. Forces Korea tells CNN, “This is a routine announcement that has been in the works for months” and Tolley’s replacement “has no connection to current events.”

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Filed under: North Korea
Decoding the 'Flame' virus
June 5th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Decoding the 'Flame' virus

By Suzanne Kelly

Last week, groups of congressional staffers gathered in conference rooms in the nation's capital. They were coming to hear from a representative from Symantec about the current threat landscape in cyberspace.

It's an annual event for the security software giant, one in which staffers are briefed on current and emerging threats. They, in turn, brief lawmakers who are looking for ways to "catch up" in the war in cyberspace.

As you might expect in a briefing on cybersecurity, lots of numbers were thrown out: an 81% increase in the number of malware attacks, 5.5 billion attacks blocked worldwide and some 403 million unique pieces of malware (many of them have variations of the same attack that are auto-generated) aimed at computer users around the world.

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Filed under: Cybersecurity • Flame