By Elise Labott
Fearing protests after Friday Muslim prayers could turn violent, the Obama administration is engaged in an all-out effort to secure American diplomatic facilities overseas.
In the wake of Tuesday's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and protests at U.S. embassies in Cairo, Egypt, and Yemen in response to a video by an American filmmaker, officials say all diplomatic posts overseas have been instructed to beef up security in advance of Friday's prayers
"We are in a full-court press at every single one of the posts in the Middle East and anywhere else there is any chance of demonstrations after Friday services to make sure nothing bad happens. And to have the security in place in case bad things do happen," one senior official said. "We are talking to every senior person, in Washington and at post to make certain as much security is in place any place we think there could be a threat or a demonstration."
Friday prayers have consistently been a flashpoint for protests throughout the Arab spring.
By Larry Shaughnessy
The U.S. House of Representatives Thursday overwhelmingly passed a new version of the Stolen Valor Act, a bill aimed at people who lie about receiving military medals and then attempt to profit from the deception.
The first version of the Stolen Valor Act was struck down by the Supreme Court as a violation of the First Amendment.
The bill focuses not on people who lie about having medals they didn't earn, but on any profits they make from lying about the medals, which is essentially criminal fraud.
By Jamie Crawford
President Barack Obama offered a more cautious and nuanced take than in recent memory of the United States and Egyptian relationship following an assault on the American embassy in Cairo this week.
"I don't think that we consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," Obama said Wednesday in an interview with the Spanish language network Telemundo. "They are a new government that is trying to find its way," he said. "They were democratically elected."
Obama's comments were taken as a possible change in posture toward a country that has enjoyed billions of dollars in U.S. military and economic assistance since the signing of a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 – the linchpin of security in the volatile region.
"I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident," Obama went on to say in the interview. "I think it's still a work in progress. But certainly in this situation, what we're going to expect is that they are responsive to our assistance that our embassy is protected, that our personnel are protected."
CNN Intelligence Correspondent Suzanne Kelly reports on the latest intelligence regarding the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya and takes a look at the suspects.
Was the US consulate in Benghazi adequately protected?
There were three lines of defense at consulate. Libyan security guards manned the outer perimeter. As you move further in, there are contract guards hired by the State Department. US special agents are the last line of defense inside the hard line.
The State Department, on Thursday, defended the security in place.
"We did evaluate the threat stream and we determined that the security at Benghazi was appropriate for what we knew," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
By Suzanne Kelly
The United States intelligence community does not believe the core of al Qaeda was behind this week's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a U.S. intelligence official told CNN Thursday.
The official said the picture is becoming clearer within the intelligence community as to what group or groups were responsible for the attack. Given what officials know about al Qaeda in Libya, U.S. intelligence believes it is very unlikely that core al Qaeda was behind the attack. But the official said the intelligence does not rule out that the attack was perpetrated by al Qaeda sympathizers.
The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee told CNN on Thursday that the strike "has all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda operation or an al Qaeda affiliate."
"One of the things that we've noticed over the last six or seven months is that al Qaeda in the Maghreb, northern Africa, have said they're really eager to strike northeastern targets. We've seen cells in Libya and Egypt starting to develop," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, on said CNN's “Starting Point.”
A lot of intelligence had come in over the previous 24 hours, a U.S. official said Thursday, and as they sift through that information, American intelligence agents continue to believe the attack was not premeditated.
However, other U.S. officials are not as sure. A congressional source said State Department Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy told congressional staff members he briefed on Wednesday that, because of the extensive nature of the attack and the "proliferation" of small and medium weapons, his opinion is the attack was planned.
By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister
(CNN) - The latest in a flurry of messages from al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri shows his growing interest in exploiting violence in Syria. In a 35-minute audio address posted on jihadist forums on Wednesday, Zawahiri claimed the United States was actually supporting the Assad regime to prevent an Islamist state from taking its place.
"Supporting jihad in Syria to establish a Muslim state is a basic step towards Jerusalem, and thus America is giving the secular Baathist regime one chance after another, for fear that a government is established in Syria that would threaten Israel," Zawahiri said, according to a translation provided by the SITE Monitoring Service.
It is not the first time Zawahiri has cast a covetous eye over events in Syria.
In February, he used most of an address to try to graft al Qaeda onto the growing insurgency.
CNN's Suzanne Kelly reports on the intelligence community's efforts to sift through the clues to figure out who is responsible for the deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
By Isobel Coleman
Editor's note: Isobel Coleman is the author of "Paradise Beneath Her Feet" and a senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
On Tuesday, protests rocked the American embassy compound in Cairo, while heavily armed militias overran the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and several others. The incidents initially seemed related, but they are in fact dramatically different developments.
In Egypt, a 2,000-strong crowd of protesters gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy to protest a film that depicts Islam in crude and offensive ways. The film is apparently being promoted by an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian now living in the United States and Terry Jones, the Florida pastor of "International Burn a Koran Day" infamy.FULL STORY
By the CNN Wire Staff
Riot police fired warning shots and tear gas early Thursday outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to keep hundreds of protestors, while demonstrators in the Yemeni capital city of Sana'a attempted to storm the American mission, witnesses said.
The protests are the latest to roil the Middle East over the online release of a film produced in the United States that denigrates Prophet Mohammed.FULL STORY