Gates says defense secretary role was his life's 'highest calling'
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (right) and his predecessor Robert Gates share a laugh during the unveiling ceremony.
October 29th, 2012
08:30 PM ET

Gates says defense secretary role was his life's 'highest calling'

By Jennifer Rizzo

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates evoked laughter during the unveiling of his official portrait Monday, but said his time heading up the military was the most important job in a long career in Washington.

“As America's Secretary of Defense during two wars was the singular honor and highest calling of my professional life,” Gates said at the Pentagon

Sending troops to war weighed on him every day, he said, so much so that he worried his devotion to protect them was clouding his judgment.

“Towards the end of my time in office, I could barely speak to the troops or about them without becoming over, without being overcome with emotion,” Gates said.

These feelings he says played a role in his decision to retire.

Gates began his role as Defense Secretary in 2006 under President George W. Bush. When President Barack Obama was elected in 2008 Gates stayed on in his role, despite plans of retiring—something he jokingly said he had current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to thank for.
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Filed under: Gates • Military • Panetta • Panetta • Pentagon • Secretary of Defense
Supreme court hears arguments on secret domestic surveillance
October 29th, 2012
04:56 PM ET

Supreme court hears arguments on secret domestic surveillance

By Bill Mears

David Nevin is an American private attorney defending accused 9/11 terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Human Rights Watch is an international group that has monitored the U.S. government's treatment of accused terrorists held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, including Mohammed.

Journalist/activists Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges have written about the war on terror and have overseas sources as part of their jobs.

These key plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court on Monday to allow them to proceed with a lawsuit over the constitutionality of the federal government's sweeping electronic monitoring of targeted foreigners suspected of terrorism or spying. FULL POST

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Filed under: Intelligence • NSA • Technology
Standing guard through Hurricane Sandy at the Tomb of the Unknowns
Spc. Brett Hyde, Tomb Sentinel, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), takes his twenty-one steps across a water soaked mat while guarding the Tomb during Hurricane Sandy at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Oct. 29, 2012.
October 29th, 2012
12:34 PM ET

Standing guard through Hurricane Sandy at the Tomb of the Unknowns

The Army's Old Guard continues their duty as sentinals at the Tomb of the Unknowns even as Hurricane Sandy looms closer to Arlington National Cemetery. The tomb has been guarded continuously since 1937. Service in the  3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) is considered to be an assignment of the highest honor for soldiers. Their dedication to the duty is so strong that when Hurricane Isabel approached, the soldiers were ordered to seek safety.  It was an order they disobeyed, and the Tomb was guarded throughout the storm.

CNN requested an opportunity to visit the tomb today to videotape the soldiers carrying out their duty. We were told that because of the weather, the cemetery was closed to visitors and that the members of the guard have switched to camouflage uniforms.  The Army does not want them photographed or videotaped wearing anything other than their traditional dress uniforms.

[Update 12:43pET - We are now told by the military that the photo below was taken last month.  All the photos above were provided by the Army and were taken today.]

Credit: U.S. Army photos

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Filed under: Military
Military prepares for Sandy impact
October 29th, 2012
10:08 AM ET

Military prepares for Sandy impact

By Adam Levine

The U.S. military is preparing to help with response to Hurricane Sandy and working to protect its own equipment.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was "monitoring" the storm from the Pentagon on Monday, according to a tweet from his press secretary George Little.

Over the weekend, Panetta appointed "dual status" commanders, according to the Department of Defense website.  The commanders are authorized to command both federal and state National Guard forces.

"This special authority enables them to effectively integrate the defense support operations and capabilities that Governors request. The Secretary is prepared to quickly agree to similar requests from other States," according to a press release about the decision. 

The decision was made by Panetta at the request of governor from Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

Over the weekend, the National Guard had approximately 1,500 forces on active duty in New York, Massachussets, Virginia, Delaware, Connecticut and Maryland.  The troops are assisting local first responders and the Federal Emergency Management Agency with route clearance, search and rescue, equipment and supplies delivery and evacuations.

U.S. Northern Command has put helicopters, planes, and rescue teams on alert to be ready to deploy as needed.

In addition to aiding in response, the military has been moving aircraft and ships to avoid damage during the storm.  Bases in New York, New Jersey and Delaware have all moved aircraft, according to the Department of Defense.  The Navy has also moved vessels including the USS Wasp, USS Taylor USNS Kanawa, USNS Medgar Evers and the USS Ross.

Get the latest CNN coverage of Hurricane Sandy

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Filed under: Military • Panetta • US Northern Command
October 29th, 2012
06:31 AM ET

U.S. sailor found dead in Japan

A U.S. Navy sailor has been found dead with a head injury at a Japanese train station, local police said Monday.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Samuel Lewis Stiles was discovered surrounded by seven or eight alcoholic drink cans on the platform in Haiki Station in Nagasaki Prefecture at 5 a.m. Sunday, Haiki police said.

The death, which police say they are investigating as either an accident or a crime, comes at a delicate time for the U.S. military in Japan after two U.S. sailors were arrested earlier this month on accusations they raped a local woman.

That case provoked an angry reaction from Japanese officials, and the U.S. military responded by imposing a curfew on its troops in Japan. The curfew restricted military personnel to bases, personal homes or hotels between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

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Filed under: Japan • Navy
Pakistani drone critic questioned by U.S. authorities
October 29th, 2012
06:22 AM ET

Pakistani drone critic questioned by U.S. authorities

A Pakistani politician critical of U.S. drone strikes said Saturday that American authorities detained and questioned him at a Canadian airport.

Imran Khan, a former cricket star, this month led a march to the border of Pakistan's tribal region to protest drone strikes, which he says end up killing more civilians than militants.

Khan said he boarded a New York-bound plane in Toronto on Friday when two U.S. immigration officials asked him to step outside. The officials made him wait for about 40 minutes before interviewing him for another 20 minutes, he said.

"I kept asking them what was this all about, and then one guy interviewed me and he was so confused, he had no idea what he was saying," Khan told CNN by phone from Seattle, another stop on his trip.

"He was talking about some fund-raising, so I asked him to come to the point, and he said, 'We're worried you might use violence against drones.' I mean, it was so ridiculous, I didn't even know how to answer it."

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Filed under: drones • Pakistan