Taliban video doesn't show attack on Afghan base
Image from video posted online by a group associated with the Afghanistan Tailban purporting to show last week's attack on Camp Bastion.
September 19th, 2012
05:48 PM ET

Taliban video doesn't show attack on Afghan base

By Barbara Starr

Taliban video purporting to show the aftermath of a brazen attack on American and British troops in Afghanistan isn't what it claims to be, according to an intelligence analysis by coalition forces.

Part of the footage features a coalition helicopter that wasn't deployed at Camp Bastion at the time of Friday evening's attack, according to British Army Lt. Col. Martin Morris, deputy spokesman for NATO forces headquartered at the joint base.

Daylight footage of the CH-53 helicopter is actually four to six weeks old, Morris said. That type of aircraft had not been stationed at Bastion for more than a month, he said.

Additionally, smoke rising near the landing helicopter came from a burn pit where base garbage is incinerated, Morris said Wednesday.

Two U.S. Marines were killed and a half-dozen Harrier jets were left in ruins after the raid at the installation in the remote desert region of Helmand.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility. FULL POST

Intel official: Libya attack was terror act, but not planned in advance
NCTC Director Matthew Olsen testifies at Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing
September 19th, 2012
05:25 PM ET

Intel official: Libya attack was terror act, but not planned in advance

By Pam Benson

The nation's counterterrorism chief told Congress on Wednesday the assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans was a terrorist attack.

But National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen said at a Senate hearing the best information so far indicates that armed extremists did not plan in advance to assault the Benghazi consulate last Tuesday, but took advantage of an opportunity to do so during a demonstration over an anti-Muslim film.

Olsen said the investigation continues and facts are being developed. But he said it "appears that individuals who were certainly well armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded that evening and into the morning of September 12.

"We do know that a number of militants in area, as I mentioned, are well armed and maintain those arms. What we don't have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack," he said.

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Filed under: 9/11 • Libya • McCain • Security Brief
September 19th, 2012
03:55 PM ET

U.S. leads Persian Gulf exercise

As tensions escalate over Iran's nuclear ambitions, the United States and two dozen nations are stepping up their presence in the Persian Gulf by performing one of the largest anti-mining exercises ever conducted. CNN’s Chris Lawrence is reporting live from the USS Enterprise, just days away from the exercises.

Limits on joint patrols may undercut transition in Afghanistan
In this photograph taken on August 5, 2012, an Afghan National Army soldier walks during a patrol with US soldiers from Apache team, Task force Geronimo in the village of Karizona, Sabari District in Khost Province.
September 19th, 2012
02:43 PM ET

Limits on joint patrols may undercut transition in Afghanistan

By Joe Sterling

NATO's decision limiting some operations with Afghan troops might lessen so-called insider attacks, analysts say.

But the move could undermine the coalition's efforts to help the locals take over their nation's security.

Coalition forces have been regularly partnering with small Afghan units in operations for years.

But in an order Sunday from Gen. John Allen, head of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, a regional commander now must give the OK for a joint operation, a move seen as a setback to the transition of military power to Afghans by the end of 2014.

The spurt of attacks by Afghan police and soldiers against their coalition counterparts and the anger of the anti-Islam video that went viral across the world forced the NATO-led force to adjust the relations between coalition and Afghan forces.
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Filed under: Afghanistan • Green on Blue Attacks • NATO
Who wins when foreign policy becomes campaign focus?
September 19th, 2012
12:31 PM ET

Who wins when foreign policy becomes campaign focus?

When foreign policy crises intrude into presidential elections, they have the ability to shake up campaigns and force candidates to adjust their plans, writes Prof. Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, on CNN's Opinion page.

Zelizer looks at when it has helped the incumbent, like Republican Dwight Eisenhower, and when it has hurt the sitting president running for re-election, as was the case with Jimmy Carter.

What will happen if the current crises continue or get even worse: FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election