Battle to reauthorize powerful government spy tools
U.S. Capitol
September 11th, 2012
07:08 PM ET

Battle to reauthorize powerful government spy tools

By Suzanne Kelly and Pam Benson

The classified program that arms the U.S. government with powerful authorities to monitor communications of foreigners overseas is at the heart of a debate over just how much people should trust their government.

The Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act, originally enacted in 1978, was amended after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, allowing for a dramatic expansion of the abilities of the U.S. government to collect intelligence on foreign people in foreign countries. FISA sets procedures for the intelligence community to intercept e-mails, phone conversations and other communications of foreigners overseas who are suspected of threatening the United States.

The problem is that sometimes, in the course of collecting that electronic information, data also is collected on "U.S. persons" - meaning citizens or foreign residents of the United States.
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September 11th, 2012
05:19 PM ET

White House: Obama talks with Netanyahu on Iran, no meeting sought

By Barbara Starr

President Barack Obama talked with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a call Tuesday night about the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program, according to a White House statement.

Obama placed the call to Netanyahu, a senior administration official told CNN.

The one-paragraph statement from the White House, which referred to the Obama-Netanyahu discussion as "a part of their ongoing consultations," followed reports earlier in the day that the White House had rejected a request by Netanyahu to meet with Obama this month to discuss Iran's nuclear program.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer, citing Israeli sources, reported that the Israelis were told Obama's schedule would not permit a meeting even though Israel offered to have Netanyahu travel to Washington.

Obama and Netanyahu are both due to address the United Nations in New York in late September but not at the same time.

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Filed under: Ahmadinejad • Arms Control • Iran • Israel • Military • Nuclear • Panetta • Pentagon
"Face of indefinite detention" dies at Guantanamo
September 11th, 2012
03:02 PM ET

"Face of indefinite detention" dies at Guantanamo

A detainee who was found dead over the weekend at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was identified as Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, 32, of Yemen.

U.S. Southern Command released his name Tuesday after notifying his family. The detainee was found unresponsive Saturday afternoon during a routine check, Southern Command said. Lifesaving measures were performed, but the detainee died at the hospital.

Latif had been detained at Guantanamo since January 2002 and had lost legal challenges to his indefinite detention.

In June, appeals from him and six other detainees contesting their open-ended custody were turned aside by the Supreme Court. FULL POST


Filed under: Gitmo
September 11th, 2012
02:21 PM ET

Protestors storm US Embassy in Cairo

By the CNN Wire Staff

Angry protesters climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday and hauled down the American flag, replacing it with a black standard with Islamic emblems, apparently in protest of the production of a film thought to insult the Prophet Mohammed.

The incident prompted a volley of warning shots to be fired as a large crowd gathered outside, said CNN producer Mohammed Fahmy, who was on the scene.

The replacement flag read, "There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger."

Others expressed more general grievances about U.S. policy, chanting anti-American slogans and holding up bits of a shredded American flag to television camera crews in front of the embassy.

An embassy operator told CNN that the facility had been cleared of diplomatic personnel earlier Tuesday, ahead of the apparent threat, while Egyptian riot police were called to help secure the area.

The U.S. Embassy said in a statement Tuesday that it "condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims - as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions."

"Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy," the statement said. "We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."

The incident occurred on the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, as crowds gathered in somber remembrance of the nearly 3,000 people killed that day.

It is not clear which film upset the protesters in Cairo.

In 2008, an anti-Muslim and anti-immigration parliamentarian from The Netherlands sparked international outcry when he produced a film that portrayed Islam as a violent religion.

Geert Wilders' film "Fitna," which he released online, featured images of terrorist acts superimposed over verses from the Quran.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Egypt
Study: One year later, no overall negative impact on military after repeal of DADT
A member of the Air Force reads a copy of OutServe, a magazine for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military personnel.
September 11th, 2012
06:12 AM ET

Study: One year later, no overall negative impact on military after repeal of DADT

By Chris Boyette

For nearly 17 years, gay and lesbian soldiers of the U.S. military were expected to deny their sexuality under threat of dismissal as part of the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell."

The repeal of the policy on September 20, 2011 stirred controversy, and inspired passionate arguments on both sides of the issue.

Now a year later, the first academic study of the effects of repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” has found the repeal has had “no overall negative impact on military readiness or its component dimensions, including cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale.”

The study was published Monday by the Palm Center, a research branch of the Williams Institute at University of California Los Angeles Law School, which describes itself as “dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.”

“The report confirms what the research suggested all along,” said Professor Aaron Belkin, lead author of the study, and director of the center.

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Filed under: Military
The medical legacy of a decade at war
September 11th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

The medical legacy of a decade at war

By Jennifer Rizzo

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States waged the "war on terror," a continued combat campaign that has lasted more than a decade. Thousands of Americans have been killed and almost 50,000 troops have been wounded in the wars waged in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Perhaps the most lethal uses of force by insurgents have been improvised explosive devices. Blast injuries from these bombs including the loss of limbs, traumatic brain injury, and severe burns are prolific among wounded troops.

But service members are surviving these extreme injuries that would have proved fatal decades earlier. A warrior wounded in battle now has a 50% better chance of surviving than in any previous war, according to the Defense Department, which credits some of this advancement with improved body armor, better doctor and medic training, and an efficient and timely evacuation system. According to the Air Force the military for example is able to get a wounded service member back to the United States in three days or less if needed, compared to the 10 days it took during the Gulf War and the 45 days it took during the Vietnam War.

Just like in preceding wars, medical research has churned out advancements to better heal the wounded and prevent more from dying on the battlefield.
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Filed under: 10 years of war • 9/11 • Afghanistan • Iraq • Military • Security Brief
On 9/11, al Qaeda looks to Syria to revive its fortunes
September 11th, 2012
05:32 AM ET

On 9/11, al Qaeda looks to Syria to revive its fortunes

By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister

As al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri takes stock of the terrorist network’s fortunes eleven years after 9/11 he is likely to have mixed emotions.

Many of al Qaeda’s senior figures, including Osama bin Laden, are dead or captured as a result of counter-terrorism operations in Pakistan. Those lost include many of its operational experts, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Younis al Mauretani and Rashid Rauf. Most of al Qaeda’s terrorist plots against the West since 9/11 have been aborted or broken up. It’s unclear how far al Qaeda ‘central’ even knew about significant attacks such as that in Madrid in March 2004 – although Rauf appears to have been intimately involved in the London bombings the following year.

The group's sources of finance in the Gulf have come under remorseless attack from the U.S. Treasury and encrypted documents discovered last year by German intelligence revealed an organization under pressure, scrambling to find new ways of attacking the West.

One of the documents, entitled "Future Works" and thought to have been written in 2009, suggests al Qaeda was in a hurry to prove its relevance, amid intense pressure from western counter-terrorism agencies.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Al-Zawahiri • Libya • Syria
Analysis: Al Qaeda in Yemen suffers another blow as top Saudi member is killed
September 11th, 2012
12:00 AM ET

Analysis: Al Qaeda in Yemen suffers another blow as top Saudi member is killed

By Tim Lister and Paul Cruickshank

Abu Sufyan Said al-Shihri was prisoner number 327 at the Guantanamo Bay, Cubla, detention center, transported there after being captured as he tried to cross the border into Pakistan from Afghanistan late in 2001.

But in 2007 he argued before a review board that he was a Muslim - not a terrorist - and if allowed to return home to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia he would join his family's furniture business.

Al-Shihri was repatriated and put through a rehabilitation program, but within months absconded to become one of the founding members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in neighboring Yemen.

Four years later, his reported demise - in the remote and mountainous Hadramawt province - is a significant success for Yemen's armed forces in their re-energized campaign against AQAP and its allies in the south and east of the country.
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