August 7th, 2012
11:55 PM ET

Army critical of its controversial intelligence system

By Mike Mount

An intelligence gathering system widely used by the Army in Afghanistan to detect roadside bombs and predict insurgent activity has severe limitations and is "not suitable," according to a memo from the Army's senior equipment tester to the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Raymond Odierno.

The e-mail memo was sent to Odierno on August 1, and comes as the system - known as the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) - is in the middle of Army and congressional investigations.

The inquiries surrounds a newly developed software system called Palantir, which - according to U.S troops and commanders who have used it - is more effective in helping troops in Afghanistan track and predict the location of deadly roadside bombs than the existing DCGS.

The memo to Odierno, written by the head of the Army's test and evaluation command - Gen. Genaro J. Dellarocco - hammers the DCGS system for its "poor reliability" and "significant limitations," during operational testing and evaluation earlier this year.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Army • Cybersecurity • Military
Feds more than double aid to Yemen
Yemeni militants, suspected of being members of al Qaeda, patrol on their pick ups in the restive southern city of Zinjibar.
August 7th, 2012
10:16 PM ET

Feds more than double aid to Yemen

By Jamie Crawford

The United States will provide Yemen with the largest amount of U.S. government assistance to date for both the civilian and security sectors,the State Department announced Tuesday.

The Obama administration will provide $337 million in assistance in the 2012 fiscal year, up from $147 million provided in the previous fiscal year, the State Department said in a news release.

The United States has an interest in ensuring stability in Yemen, which is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world and one where a democratic transition is still under way. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the organization's most lethal affiliate, is based in the southern portion of the country.
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Filed under: AQAP • Pentagon • State Department • Yemen
Terror and toy planes - not so remote
A remote controlled model of the US Navy's 1950s Sabre jet fighter that allegedly belonged to Rezwan Ferdaus.
August 7th, 2012
09:36 PM ET

Terror and toy planes - not so remote

By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister

The video recovered by Spanish security services shows a man guiding a large remote-controlled plane in the skies of southern Spain. The plane banks and begins a controlled descent. Two packets drop - one from either wing - to the delight of the "pilot."

According to Fernando Reinares, senior terrorism analyst at Madrid's Elcano Royal Institute, Spanish security services believe the video was made not by an enthusiastic hobbyist, but by a committed terrorist trying to convert a toy plane into a potentially deadly bomber.

The home video was recovered last week, along with explosives, in what Spanish authorities called one of the most significant operations against al Qaeda in the country.
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Military limiting Guantanamo detainee access to lawyers
August 7th, 2012
06:23 PM ET

Military limiting Guantanamo detainee access to lawyers

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

The Obama administration has begun limiting the legal rights of terror suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, telling a federal judge Tuesday the government alone should decide when the prisoners deserve regular access to their counsel.

In a 52-page filing, Justice Department lawyers said they have started restricting when Guantanamo prisoners can challenge their detention in a Washington-based federal court. If approved, any relaxing of the rules would be made on a case-by-case basis at the exclusive discretion of military officials, not by the courts.

At issue is whether a Supreme Court decision on detainee rights from 2008 gives federal courts the ultimate power to control so-called "habeas" petitions from foreign combatants in U.S. military custody. Volunteer private lawyers say they deserve regular access to their imprisoned clients, even if there is no active habeas challenge pending in court, or any pending charges. FULL POST

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Filed under: Gitmo • Military
August 7th, 2012
06:18 PM ET

First look at the Osama bin Laden movie

By Larry Shaughnessy

Hollywood loves a scandal, and it has one in a movie that drew criticism before filming began.

"Zero Dark Thirty" is about the hunt for and the eventual killing of Osama Bin Laden, made by Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, the team who made the Oscar-winning film "The Hurt Locker."

The movie was originally said to be be releasing just before the election, but after Republican complaints that it was a Pro-Obama ad, it was pushed back until December.  Although there is some dispute if  it was ever meant to release before December.

But the trailer has been released. It's highly stylized assortment of clips from the movie, most of them made to look like satellite images you might see if you were in the CIA war room.

There are two mentions of bin Laden, but none of President Obama. And the film's screenwriter told Entertainment Weekly magazine that Obama's not mentioned in the film either. EW is owned by CNN parent company Time Warner.

"A lot of people are going to be surprised when they see the film. For example, the president is not depicted in the movie. He's just not in the movie," Boal said.

The movie's been the focus of a Washington partisan fight since last summer. The Department of Defense said it would investigate whether there was any impropriety in aiding the making of the movie. The CIA is also accused of giving the filmmakers too much access.

The probe by the Pentagon's inspector general came after questions were raised by Rep. Peter King, R-New York.

He demanded investigations by the Department of Defense and CIA inspectors general into what, if any, classified information about special operations tactics, techniques, and procedures were leaked to the filmmakers, calling the film a "potentially dangerous collaboration" between liberal filmmakers and the administration.

Some of what those investigations found did show collaboration between the administration and the filmmakers, but DoD and White House officials have said it's no different than what they give many filmmakers and news reporters on a regular basis.

Right-wing extremist terrorism more dangerous than al Qaeda?
A gunman killed six people at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Sunday.
August 7th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Right-wing extremist terrorism more dangerous than al Qaeda?

Right-wing extremist individuals over the past decade in the United States were as likely to use violence as a means to express their political or social beliefs as those motivated by Osama bin Laden's ideology, writes CNN's national security analyst Peter Bergen and his colleague at New America Foundation, Jennifer Rowland.

In the analysis on CNN's Opinion page, Bergen and Rowland say that in the last decade, right-wing and left-wing extremist groups and individuals have been far more likely to acquire toxins and to assemble the makings of radiological weapons than al Qaeda sympathizers.

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Syria defections continue, but significance in question
Syrian rebels prepare to advance into the Salaheddin district in the northern city of Aleppo to fight against forces loyal to the government on August 4, 2012.
August 7th, 2012
01:00 AM ET

Syria defections continue, but significance in question

By Jill Dougherty and Jamie Crawford

As news broke Monday that Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab had defected, the U.S. State Department said it was "encouraged," describing Hijab as the "highest-profile official to defect from the Assad regime."

"When the prime minister of the entire government defects, that's clearly an indication that they're on the way out," acting deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters.

But experts on Syria aren't so sure.

"The prime minister in Syria is the head of the government, but the government in Syria doesn't rule the country," Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy told CNN. "It's the regime, and the regime includes the security services, the army and the members of the Assad family."

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