September 10th, 2012
11:56 PM ET

U.S. records of Afghan fuel purchases shredded

By Dan Merica

A U.S. watchdog for Afghanistan reconstruction has made it clear to the Pentagon – it is concerned about the accountability and accuracy of a program that transfers money to the Afghan government for fuel purchases.

Concerns over the $1.1 billion program stem from unaccounted funds as well as reports about the discovery that key financial recovers covering a period of nearly four years were shredded.

In reports to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top Pentagon officials, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said a scheduled budget increase and plans to transfer the program to the Afghan army - both set for next year - should be reconsidered unless major changes are made to improve accountability for fuel purchases, deliveries and consumption.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Pentagon
September 10th, 2012
06:41 PM ET

The Air Force's new reality...how to monitor a lot of TV

It's hard to believe that reality TV shows with stars like Honey Boo Boo and the Kardashian's can teach the U.S. Air Force something about monitoring tens of thousands of hours of video.  But that's what's happening.

The Air Force is using software used by some reality TV show production companies and sports networks, like ESPN, to tag specific frames or clips of video fed in from U.S. military drones around the world.  In dark, cavernous buildings, sure-eyed intelligence analysts are now able to go back and quickly pinpoint that material as soon as they need to see it again.

The software can be invaluable when time is of the essence and lives are on the line in a battlefield, according to Air Force officials.

CNN Pentagon Correspondent, Chris Lawrence visited an Air Force intelligence facility at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, where airmen monitor some of the thousands of hours of drone video to get a sense of how all of this works.


Filed under: Air Force
Israel: U.S. needs more clarity on Iran threshold
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran "will not stop" unless it sees a clearer "red line" over its disputed nuclear program.
September 10th, 2012
05:30 PM ET

Israel: U.S. needs more clarity on Iran threshold

By Elise Labott

Israeli officials were telling CNN's Security Clearance just a month ago that the United States and Israel were cooperating closely on intelligence sharing over Iran.

The latest U.S. assessment gave the two countries their closest understanding yet of the scope and pace of the development of the Iranian effort, the Israelis said.

But the close cooperation belies a heated policy debate – one becoming more public – about when military action would be required to take out the nuclear program.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is displaying growing impatience with what he says is a lack of clarity by the Obama administration on so-called "red lines" that Iran cannot cross if it wants to avoid war.
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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • IAEA • Intelligence • Iran • Israel • Nuclear • Obama • Rep. Mike Rogers
White House: Obama not skipping intel briefings
The president is show pictures during an intelligence briefing in 2011. (Credit: White House photo)
September 10th, 2012
05:04 PM ET

White House: Obama not skipping intel briefings

The president's spokesman disputed a Washington Post item that suggested the commander-in-chief has not attended the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB)  "more than half the time."

The PDB is a daily rundown of threats and developments as assessed by the national security community. It is a top secret written document that is read by the President and his inner circle of security advisors and is often accompanied by in-person briefing by intelligence officials.

The opinion column by Marc Thiessen, a former speech writer for President George W. Bush, cites research by the conservative Government Accountability Institute, which studied Obama's daily schedule from his first day in office through June 2012.

During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent. By contrast, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.

Asked about the article Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the assertion that the president was playing hooky from his presidential daily briefings was "hilarious" : FULL POST


Filed under: Intelligence • Obama • White House
September 10th, 2012
12:37 PM ET

Panetta and Karzai talk about stalled Bagram handover

By Barbara Starr, with reporting from Chelsea Carter

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai spoke by telephone Monday to discuss a brewing controversy over the handover of detainees being held by NATO forces inside Afghanistan at Parwan prison at Bagram Air Base.

"The Secretary and President Karzai did have a phone call earlier today and expressed a shared commitment to implement the terms of the memorandum of understanding on detention operations in Afghanistan," Pentagon spokesman George Little said, Little said the conversation was “cordial.”

Little would not discuss specifics of the dispute but a coalition official told CNN the US is holding on to several Afghan detainees because of concerns about whether Afghan authorities will properly handle their cases and under what circumstances they might be released. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • ISAF • Karzai • Panetta
Top Yemeni al Qaeda commander believed killed
September 10th, 2012
10:45 AM ET

Top Yemeni al Qaeda commander believed killed

Yemeni forces have killed Said al-Shihri, second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Defense Ministry said Monday. An official military website cited a senior source saying al-Shihri was killed in an operation in Hadramawt Valley.

A Yemeni government official told CNN's Mohammad Jamjoom that an operation took place and a body appears to be that of al-Shihri, but that officials are waiting for DNA confirmation.

Al-Shihri was once held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. In November 2007 he was transferred to Saudi custody, and underwent a program designed to lead people away from terrorism.

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Filed under: AQAP • Terrorism • Yemen