July 18th, 2012
10:04 PM ET

Report: US flight schools vulnerable

CNN's Chris Lawrence examines flight schools and if they are still a possible training ground for terrorists.

Defense execs warn of looming job loss because of defense cuts
July 18th, 2012
06:34 PM ET

Defense execs warn of looming job loss because of defense cuts

By Mike Mount, CNN Senior National Security Producer

Chief executives of leading defense companies told a House panel Wednesday they would have to start informing employees just before the 2012 election that their jobs would terminated in January if Congress fails to make a budget deal, triggering hundreds of billions of dollars in defense cuts that would ripple through the defense industry sector.

The four CEOs testified before the House Armed Services Committee and echoed what many defense industry officials have been sounding the alarm about for months: The automatic cuts, known as sequestration, would be devastating to the defense sector and the economy.

FULL POST

Military imposing 'nonjudicial punishments' in Cartagena scandal
July 18th, 2012
05:04 PM ET

Military imposing 'nonjudicial punishments' in Cartagena scandal

Military imposing 'nonjudicial punishments' on 9 in Cartagena scandal

Seven U.S. Army soldiers and two Marines have been notified they will receive what the military calls "nonjudicial punishment" for misconduct while in Cartagena, Colombia, in April as part of the security team for President Barack Obama's visit, according to a U.S. military official.

The official declined to be named because the information has not yet been made public.

Because the unnamed personnel are not being charged with criminal offenses, the military will not disclose details of the punishment. Nonjudicial punishment traditionally has ranged from confinement to quarters, to forfeiting pay or losing rank.

One member of the Air Force received a lesser letter of reprimand. The military is still investigating the role of two U.S. Navy personnel involved in the scandal.

The investigation of military personnel came after nine Secret Service agents, who were sent to Cartagena in advance of the president's April trip to Colombia, were dismissed for spending time with prostitutes there.

Although it has never been publicly confirmed, several officials have said at least some of the military personnel also were believed to have been involved in soliciting prostitutes.

The nine personnel were charged with violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but the U.S. Southern Command, which handled the cases, decided the charges warranted a nonjudicial punishment rather than going to court-martial.

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Filed under: Air Force • Army • Barack Obama • Marines • Military • Navy
July 18th, 2012
01:36 PM ET

McCain refutes accusations by fellow Republicans about Hillary Clinton aide

Republican Senator John McCain (AZ)  took to the Senate floor Wednesday to criticize fellow Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN) and four other Republican members of Congress about their request that various agencies investigate whether the government has been infiltrated by Muslim extremists.

Bachmann is joined in her request by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-FL) and Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA).

Among the issues they raise is a claim that long-time aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, has three family members connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, and is at risk of being influenced by her family members.  The members of Congress want to know how she holds a high level security clearance. FULL POST

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Filed under: Congress
July 18th, 2012
12:50 PM ET

U.S. targets senior Syrian officials and WMD companies

By Jamie Crawford

The United States sanctioned 29 Syrian government officials along with companies linked to Syrian proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Treasury Department said Wednesday.

In a news release, the Treasury Department said the officials included the Syrian ministers of finance and justice as well as the governor of the Central Bank and other members of President Bashar al-Assad's Cabinet who had not been designated.

"Today's actions reflect the unwavering commitment of the United States to pressure the Assad regime to end the carnage and relinquish power," said David S. Cohen, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. "As long as Assad stays in power, the bloodshed and instability in Syria will only mount, and we will continue working with our partners in the international community to ensure that the inevitable political transition occurs as rapidly as possible."
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Filed under: Assad • Sanctions • Syria • Treasury
Civil rights groups sue U.S. for killing of Americans tied to al Qaeda
Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in an American drone strike in Yemen last year.
July 18th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Civil rights groups sue U.S. for killing of Americans tied to al Qaeda

By Ted Metzger, with reporting from Joe Sutton

Two civil rights groups sued the CIA director, the defense secretary and two military commanders over two covert U.S. strikes that killed three Americans in Yemen last year.

The operations killed radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, his son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, editor of a Jihadist online publication.

The two groups - the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights - filed the lawsuit on behalf of the parents of Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan.

It claims the strikes that killed the three men violated their constitutional rights because the targeted attacks "rely on vague legal standards, a closed executive process and evidence never presented to the courts," according to the complaint filed in D.C. federal court this morning.
FULL POST


Filed under: AQAP • Terrorism • Yemen
Top officials killed in blast, Syria says
A picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on July 18, 2012, shows Syrian Defence Minister General Daoud Rajha at an undisclosed location.
July 18th, 2012
08:45 AM ET

Top officials killed in blast, Syria says

Syria's defense minister and deputy defense minister were killed Wednesday in a blast at a national security building in Damascus, state media reported.

The attack brings the bloodshed in Syria well into President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle and could mark a pivotal point in the 16-month uprising.

Defense Minister Dawood Rajiha and Deputy Minister Assef Shawkat - who is al-Assad's brother-in-law - were killed in the explosion during a meeting of ministers and security officials, state TV reported.

They are the highest-ranking Syrian officials killed in the uprising.

FULL STORY


Filed under: Assad • Syria
For Navy crew, shooting at Indian fishermen was last resort
DoD photo of the small fishing boat fired on by a Navy supply ship Monday.
July 18th, 2012
06:40 AM ET

For Navy crew, shooting at Indian fishermen was last resort

By Larry Shaughnessy

When Navy security personnel onboard USNS Rappahannock opened fire on a small boat near Dubai on Monday, killing one Indian fisherman and injuring three others, it was the final step in an effort to protect the ship without resorting to force.

The incident is not without controversy. One of the Indian fishermen onboard the small boat told Reuters they did not get any warnings before they were fired on.

"We were speeding up to try and go around them and then suddenly we got fired at," the injured fisherman said. The U.S. military is investigating the incident.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Navy
Briefing the president about threats to the nation
July 18th, 2012
12:02 AM ET

Briefing the president about threats to the nation

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third in a series of articles about national security by participants in the upcoming Aspen Security Forum.  Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event, which is taking place from July 25-28 in Aspen, Colorado.

CNN Intelligence Correspondent Suzanne Kelly interviewed CNN contributor Fran Townsend, a former adviser to President George W. for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, on how terror threats are relayed and managed at the highest levels of the White House.

CNN: Describe the role of assistant to the president when it comes to managing issues of counterterrorism on a daily basis.

FRAN TOWNSEND: It's twofold. The first thing is that the individual is responsible for identifying and running a policy process related to that area in coordination with other agencies: everything from transportation security to disaster response, all the way through to interrogations.  The whole host of policies related to terrorism is one substantial piece to that job, but then there's also an operational aspect, but not in the sense of directing operations, rather in coordinating them.  That job was traditionally brought together by the (intelligence) agencies. Now, you've got an (National Counterterrorism Center) that basically does that for the White House.  As a third thing, I would say there is a diplomatic role that that person plays, and that is to meet with senior members of foreign governments to make sure we are getting the cooperation we need. FULL POST