Military judge removed from Fort Hood shooter case
December 3rd, 2012
09:01 PM ET

Military judge removed from Fort Hood shooter case

By Jennifer Rizzo

A military appeals court has removed the judge who had been overseeing accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan’s court-martial, saying the judge was biased.

The ruling makes Col. Gregory Gross’ order for Hasan’s beard to be shaved invalid. Hasan has objected to the order with various appeals, citing religious freedom.

“We order the removal of the military judge on the basis of the appearance of bias,” the court document states.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces faulted Gross with allowing the proceedings to become a “duel of wills” between him and Hasan rather than focusing on the serious crimes with which Hasan is charged.

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, has been charged with 13 counts of murder in connection with the November 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood, the sprawling Army post in central Texas.
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Filed under: Army • Legal • Military • Nidal Hasan • Terrorism
Rice vs. Kerry: Weighing the odds of being secretary of state
December 3rd, 2012
08:28 PM ET

Rice vs. Kerry: Weighing the odds of being secretary of state

By Jamie Crawford

It's a favorite game in Washington to weigh the odds of each potential nominee to a president's cabinet and that game is in full swing - especially in trying to anticipate President Barack Obama's choice for replacing Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

With speculation mounting that President Obama may soon announce his nominee, two very well-known names - Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, and Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice - remain the two top possibilities. Each comes with strengths but with baggage as well.

Rice's name has been floated in recent weeks as being Obama's preferred candidate for the top diplomatic post.

Twice in recent weeks the president has voiced support for her as she has been at the receiving end of a barrage of criticism over how she presented the administration's explanation for the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Her appearance on Sunday talk shows the weekend after the attack that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador has led to questions as to whether she is too controversial now to be chosen by the president.
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Filed under: Kerry • Susan Rice
Defense companies see cuts coming even with a budget deal
December 3rd, 2012
06:28 PM ET

Defense companies see cuts coming even with a budget deal

By Jennifer Rizzo

Defense company executives conceded on Monday that their industry would likely see billions more in cuts even if Congress reaches a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

"We need to stop believing or pretending that there is a scenario out there that offers no defense cuts," said David Langstaff, president and chief executive of TASC, Inc. "The question is whether we make them responsibly or irresponsibly."

The automatic cuts, referred to as sequestration, are set to go into effect on January 2 if the White House and Congress cannot agree on where $1 trillion in federal savings over the next decade should come from.

The Pentagon's budget would be axed by $500 billion over that time. That would be on top of a similar cut the Pentagon is already committed to achieving.

Langstaff discussed the threat of the looming budget cuts at the National Press Club along with three other defense industry executives: Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman; David Hess, president of Pratt & Whitney; and Dawne Hickton, CEO of RTI Metals.
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Filed under: Budget • Congress • Defense Spending • Pentagon • White House
Challenges persist in confronting growing threat of al Qaeda in Mali
Armed youth in AQIM video released in 2011
December 3rd, 2012
06:16 PM ET

Challenges persist in confronting growing threat of al Qaeda in Mali

By Mike Mount

Military operations to stop the growth of al Qaeda's influence in northern and western Africa will only make the violent situation there worse if done prematurely, said the top U.S. military commander overseeing operations in Africa.

The concern shows the challenge of dealing urgently with a growing threat from Northern Mali, which has become a safe haven for al Qadea-linked terrorists, who are gaining momentum across northern Africa. The al Qaeda affiliate, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, has been linked to the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, according to U.S. officials.

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December 3rd, 2012
03:07 PM ET

Syria mixing chemical warfare agents, U.S. official

By Barbara Starr

Syrian forces began combining chemicals that would be used to make deadly sarin gas for use in weapons to attack rebel and civilian populations, a U.S. official tells CNN.

The United States obtained intelligence over the weekend indicating this development, according to the official who had direct knowledge of the latest information.

The intelligence, the official said, came from multiple sources but declined to provide any more details about how the United states learned of it.

Sarin gas, the source said, could most readily be used to fill artillery shells.

Syrian State TV cited a Foreign Ministry official on Monday as saying the country would never use chemical weapons on its own people.

CNN reported on Sunday that U.S. intelligence is concerned about the Syrian government's intent regarding its vast chemical weapons stockpiles after what one senior American official described as "worrying signs" of activity in "the last few days."
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Hillary Clinton tributes fuel 2016 buzz
Photo: AFP/Getty Images
December 3rd, 2012
02:01 PM ET

Hillary Clinton tributes fuel 2016 buzz

By Jamie Crawford

Despite her repeated statements that she will leave public service once her successor is in place, buzz about a possible second run for the presidency by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in full force following the showing of a tribute video of her career.

Before delivering remarks on U.S. and Israeli relations Friday, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution rolled out a video replete with soaring music and effusive praise of Clinton's career by high-profile leaders and luminaries, and with it, continued speculation about whether she really has run her last political race.

"As someone who knows a thing or two about political comebacks, I don't think we have heard the last of Hillary Clinton," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the video.

"I have an instinct that the best is yet to come," said Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy and former British prime minister.

The video was part of the ninth annual forum by the Saban Center that focuses on the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and the U.S. role in dealing with it. FULL POST