By Larry Shaughnessy
President Barack Obama's inauguration as the nation's first African-American president four years ago drew a record-breaking crowd estimated at nearly two million people.
The throng was so heavy at one point that thousands - including some VIPs and others with hard-to-get tickets to the Capitol grounds - couldn't even get near the National Mall.
But there should be more room this time in Washington to mark the start of Obama's second act in January with a smaller crowd expected and stepped up planning in place.
By Barbara Starr
There were preliminary signs on Wednesday that North Korea may not be in total control of a satellite less than 24 hours after it was blasted into orbit, a U.S. official told CNN.
"There are some initial indications they might not have full control," the official said of the device that was the payload for North Korea's first successful long-range rocket launch.
The official, who has access to the latest U.S. assessment, declined to be identified by name due to the sensitive nature of the information.
By Mike Mount
North Korea's latest missile launch moved the United States into new territory as the success of putting a satellite into orbit could also mean the reclusive country is one giant step closer to firing a missile across the Pacific.
The United States is examining information from Wednesday's launch to gather clues about the capabilities of North Korea's rocket technology that can be converted for use in long-range missiles.
Experts say the launch shows North Korea's rocket has the range to hit Hawaii and parts of the West Coast of the United States.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told CNN's Erin Burnett on Wednesday he is "confident" the United States could stop an incoming missile from North Korea.
By Barbara Starr, Jill Dougherty and Mike Mount
American military satellites picked up and confirmed the infrared signature of four short-range Scud missiles launched from the Damascus area to northern Syria in the past several days, a U.S. official said.
The missiles did not land on the Turkish side of the border but "came close," he said.
The Defense Support Program satellites are programmed to pick up the infrared signature of a man made or natural event.
The official could not be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information.
While not confirming specifics, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the Syrian regime is using more lethal weapons.
By Mike Mount
The North Korean rocket launch caught the United States by surprise as it occurred earlier than expected, defense and senior U.S. officials told CNN on Wednesday.
Military and intelligence were on heightened readiness for the launch because of intelligence and that North Korea had announced a window, according to a defense official.
One U.S. official disputed the suggestion that the launch was a surprise saying that, "North Korea's launch occurred during the anticipated window."
By Jill Dougherty
Russia’s foreign minister is criticizing President Barack Obama’s decision to recognize the Syrian opposition, saying “the U.S. apparently has decided to bet solely on the armed victory of this national coalition.”
Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Moscow was “somewhat surprised” by Obama’s statement that the U.S. recognizes the Syrian opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, in opposition to the Assad regime.
“None of the U.S. decisions here should be of any surprise to the Russian Federation. We have been very clear at all levels, publicly and privately, that we would continue to look for ways to support the political opposition in Syria,” a Senior State Department offical told CNN.
Announcing his decision in an interview Tuesday with ABC’s Barbara Walters, Obama said, "We've made a decision that the Syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population” to recognize them. But the Russian foreign minister argues that U.S. recognition “contradicts the agreements in the Geneva communiqué, which presume beginning an all-Syrian dialogue among representatives named by the government, on the one hand, and the opposition, on the other.”
By Elise Labott and Jethro Mullen
The United States will push for a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea for launching a rocket Wednesday, senior administration officials told CNN.
"We will go to New York with a full head of steam and work hard with our partners on the council to get a tough, swift reaction," one official said.
Washington may push for sanctions similar to those imposed on Iran over its nuclear program, the officials said. The measures would target financial institutions and would designate specific members of the North Korean government for sanctions as well.
"There is a pretty strong commitment to go with a seriousness of purpose," one official said.
It is unclear whether such tough measures would be approved by the Security Council. North Korean allies China and Russia, two of the council's permanent members, could exercise their veto power.
By Mike Mount
Pakistan is taking steps to try to limit terrorist safe havens inside the lawless western part of that country where various insurgent groups operating in Afghanistan find sanctuary, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Speaking to reporters traveling with him overseas, Panetta said recent meetings between the United States and Pakistan yielded encouraging signs that Pakistan is working on the long-standing problem.
"My sense is that they're in a better place, that they understand their responsibility," Panetta said. "General Kiyani [Pakistan's military chief], in particular, has indicated a willingness to try to put more pressure on the safe havens," Panetta said.
The United States and Pakistan have had a frosty relationship over the past few years during which time Pakistan closed border crossings or supply routes following a series of incidents.
These included U.S. troops firing into Pakistan while chasing insurgents, the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by American special forces in May 2011 in Pakistan, and NATO shelling that killed a number of Pakistani soldiers in November of that same year.