November 9th, 2012
09:12 PM ET

Who will replace Petraeus atop the CIA?

By Pam Benson

So who might be the replacement for David Petraeus? The rumor mill was in full swing Friday after the CIA director stepped down, saying he had an extramarital affair.

One person being discussed is Michael Morell, the now acting CIA director, who could be named to the position permanently.


President Barack Obama thinks highly of Morell, several U.S. officials told CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin.

In his statement on the resignation of Petraeus, Obama expressed the "utmost confidence" in Morell continuing the work of the CIA.

Also: Petraeus stand-in has been through this before

Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein also expressed support of Morell, saying "the agency is in very good hands until the president selects a replacement."

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Filed under: CIA • Petraeus
Obama administration continues explanations on Benghazi decision-making
A protester reacts as the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi burns.
November 9th, 2012
08:48 PM ET

Obama administration continues explanations on Benghazi decision-making

By Jill Dougherty and Mike Mount

With the election over, the Obama administration is releasing more information to Congress and journalists about the deadly attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Post-election, the questions of the Obama administration's handling of the attacks continue, and the Pentagon and State Department Friday released information to try to further clarify decisions made before, during and after the attacks.

The information is the latest attempt by the various U.S. agencies to explain their role in the attacks which killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. After being bombarded with requests from congressional committees for documents about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, the State Department said Friday it has handed over a number of documents to Congress for review.

And Friday afternoon the Pentagon released and hour-by-hour timeline highlighting when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his senior commanders were told of the attacks and when decisions were made to move forces to assist. The information shows that the scramble to respond was not even close to being in a time frame to help fend off the attack, with special units only getting in position a half-day after the attack ended.

The Pentagon's timeline does not uncover any discrepancies from what has been said publicly by Panetta, but it does show that the first U.S. FULL POST

Senate Intelligence Chairman calls Petraeus' resignation 'tragic'
November 9th, 2012
05:23 PM ET

Senate Intelligence Chairman calls Petraeus' resignation 'tragic'

By CNN's Gloria Borger

Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN CIA Director David Petraeus' resignation is "tragic for this human being" and for the country. "He loved the job, had a big design for the job," she said.

Feinstein also made the point that "people are going to say he's a scapegoat for Benghazi and that's absolutely false," referring to the controversy over the timeline of the terror attack at the U.S. mission in Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. "I know what the personal story is. It is not a cover up."

While she refused to elaborate on the details surrounding Petraeus' sudden departure, she told CNN "I deeply believe, based on what I know, that it was an egregious personal mistake."

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Filed under: CIA • Petraeus
Military drones
November 9th, 2012
04:24 PM ET

Drone incident over the Gulf: A sign of the times

By Tim Lister, CNN

It seems they are everywhere, from the foothills of the Himalayas to the vast tracts of the Sahara, searching the terrain and seas below like glinting birds of prey. Drones have become the emblem of war and intelligence-gathering in the 21st century.

And for the first time, Iran has tried to bring down a U.S. drone as it flew off the Iranian coastline in the northern Persian Gulf.

The United States says Iranian jets fired on an unarmed MQ-1 Predator on November 1 while it was on a routine surveillance mission above international waters. The Defense Department said the drone was 16 miles from the Iranian coast.

"The internationally recognized territorial limit is 12 nautical miles off the coast, and we never entered the 12 nautical-mile limit," said George Little, Pentagon spokesman, on Thursday.

Given the tensions between the two governments, the Predator’s exact position will not have deterred the Iranians. Maj. Gen. Seyed Masoud Jazaeri told the semi-official Fars news agency Friday that "The Iranian armed forces will respond decisively to any act of transgression. ... If any foreign planes try to enter our country's [air]space, our armed forces will confront it."

Despite two passes, the pair of Iranian Sukhoi-25 jets were unable to hit the Predator, which safely returned to base - possibly in Qatar or Kuwait (but U.S. officials remain tight-lipped about its home base). Freedom of navigation in the Gulf - through which one-fifth of the world’s crude output travels - is a vital interest to the U.S. and its regional allies.

So why did Iranian jets try to bring the drone down? FULL POST

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Filed under: drones • Iran • Middle East
Petraeus stand-in has been through this before
Michael Morell, Deputy Director of the CIA stands between Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on June 20, 2012
November 9th, 2012
04:24 PM ET

Petraeus stand-in has been through this before

By Pam Benson

Once again, Michael Morell is being called on to fill in as acting director of the CIA, this time after the resignation of David Petraeus on Friday.

It was only last year, during the two-month gap from the time Leon Panetta left the CIA until Petraeus took over the helm, that Deputy Director Morell oversaw the agency.

The career intelligence officer joined the CIA in 1980. Much of his early career focused on Asian issues, and he has had a steady climb up the career ladder.

Also: Who will replace Petraeus?

He served as then-CIA Director George Tenet's executive assistant and presided over the daily intelligence briefing for President George W. Bush. After a three-year overseas assignment in the mid-2000s, he returned to headquarters, where he became the associate deputy director responsible for the day-to-day operation of the agency.

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Filed under: CIA • Intelligence
November 9th, 2012
02:59 PM ET

BREAKING: CIA'S PETRAEUS RESIGNING

David Petraeus stepped down as the director of the CIA on Friday, citing an affair.

"After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours," he said in a statement.

Read all of CNN's reporting on the Petraeus resignation

A retired U.S. Army general who served as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, Petraeus was sworn in as the head of the CIA in September 2011.

President Barack Obama accepted his resignation.

"By any measure, he was one of the outstanding general officers of his generation, helping our military adapt to new challenges, and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he helped our nation put those wars on a path to a responsible end," the president said.

"As director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he has continued to serve with characteristic intellectual rigor, dedication and patriotism."
Obama expressed confidence that the CIA will move forward under the direction of Acting Director Michael Morell.

Here's Petraeus' letter to the CIA staff: FULL POST

November 9th, 2012
02:08 PM ET

Navy SEALs reprimand meant to send message to other SEALs

By Chris Lawrence

The disciplining of U.S. Navy SEALs who aided a video game maker was conducted in a more public fashion than typically done in order to send a message to the SEALs community about keeping classified information secret, CNN has learned.

Seven U.S. Navy SEALs have been reprimanded for giving up classified information connected to their work so a video game could seem more realistic, according to a Navy official.

The seven were charged with the unauthorized showing of their official combat gear and dereliction of duty for disclosing classified material, according to the official, who is familiar with the investigation.  The letters of reprimand will be "considered" when the SEALs go up for promotion, essentially ending any chance of advancement in the Navy.

At least one of the SEALs disciplined was part of the team that raided Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, a defense official said Friday.

The reprimand was not conducted privately, as is usually the case.  The decision was made "at the command level" to conduct the disciplinary proceedings, with most members of the command present, "to send a message to other SEALs" that revealing classified information and publicly speaking about their missions is "unacceptable." FULL POST

November 9th, 2012
02:03 PM ET

Israel says it will follow U.S. lead on Iran

By Samuel Burke

Israel is signaling a major change in tone toward U.S. President Barack Obama now that he has won reelection.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, gave what could only be described as a ringing endorsement of the Obama administration’s handling of Iran’s nuclear program. It has been a very contentious issue between the two allies, with the U.S. fearing Israel might unilaterally strike Iran’s nuclear sites and drag the U.S. into an regional war.

But Ayalon told Amanpour that despite past differences with the Obama administration over Iran, “I think today we can safely say that we are very much on the same page and will continue to follow the lead of the U.S.”

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Filed under: Diplomacy • Iran • Israel • Middle East
November 9th, 2012
05:50 AM ET

Tehran responds to Pentagon claim Iran warplanes opened fire on U.S. drone

Update:  An Iranian military official described the encounter as "decisive" action by Iran:  "Iran will use all its capabilities, including the relevant international agencies, to follow up on this case," Maj. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi said Friday, according to Iran's semi-official news agency ISNA.

Original story:  Iran said Friday it would confront any effort to transgress its airspace, responding for the first time to accusations that two of its warplanes opened fire on a U.S. Air Force drone over international waters,

“The Iranian armed forces will respond decisively to any act of transgression,” Major General Seyed Masoud Jazaeri said Friday, in response to the CNN report that two Iranian jets fired on an unmanned American drone over the Persian Gulf. "If any foreign planes try to enter our country's space, our armed forces will confront it," he was quoted as saying, according to Fars News.

The statement, which neither confirms or denies the encounter, comes a day after Security Clearance first reported the incident - later publicly confirmed by the Pentagon. The incident triggered a formal warning by the United States to Iran through diplomatic channels amidst concerns it will further heightens tensions between the two countries over Tehran's nuclear program.

Also: Iran's nuclear ambitions to challenge Obama in second term

The warning came after the disclosure that two Iranian Su-25 fighter jets fired on an unarmed Predator drone conducting routine surveillance in international airspace east of Kuwait, 16 miles off the coast of Iran, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters Thursday the drone was not in Iran's territory.

"Our aircraft was never in Iranian airspace. It was always flying in international air space. The recognized limit is 12 nautical miles off the coast and we never entered the 12 nautical mile limit," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in responding to questions from reporters after CNN reported the incident.

The Predator drone was not hit in the November 1 incident, and it returned under its own power to its base, he said.

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Filed under: drones • Iran • Pentagon
Busting Bond: The myths of movie spycraft
Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions’ action adventure SKYFALL
November 9th, 2012
03:00 AM ET

Busting Bond: The myths of movie spycraft

By Suzanne Kelly

The latest James Bond movie, "Skyfall," delves into some tantalizing personal details about the world's favorite British spy, from formative events in his childhood to an up-close look at his relationship with M, the chief of the super-secret British spy service where Bond works.

The new film offers plenty of the heart-thumping chase scenes one expects from a Bond movie, and it also gives glimpses of Bond's well honed art of spycraft. Which begs the question: How realistic is today's Bond?

Some real-life former spies offered to help bust through some of the myths created by the movie:

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