American jihadi booted out of Somali branch of al Qaeda
Screen grab from al-Amriki's March video message. (From IntelCenter)
December 17th, 2012
07:34 PM ET

American jihadi booted out of Somali branch of al Qaeda

By Larry Shaughnessy

It turns out al Qaeda has the same problem as ordinary companies with employees who spout off on the Internet, making their bosses look bad.

Al-Shabaab, the Somali branch of al Qaeda, booted Abu Mansour al-Amriki out of the group after he posted video messages contrary to the terrorist organization's teachings.

Al-Amriki, who was born Omar Hammami in a suburb of Mobile, Alabama, had become a highly visible member of the group that once dominated central and southern Somalia.

For a time, al-Amriki was a key recruiter for the group, attracting Americans of Somali heritage to the country to fight for the terrorist group.
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Filed under: Al-Shabaab • Somalia • Terrorism
FIRST ON CNN: Clapper to stay on as intel chief
December 17th, 2012
05:44 PM ET

FIRST ON CNN: Clapper to stay on as intel chief

By Barbara Starr

With the president expected to soon name his choices for leadership at the State Department, Pentagon and CIA, one key position will remain consistent - the director of national intelligence.

James Clapper has told colleagues he will be staying as director of national intelligence (DNI), according to a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of Clapper's plans. The official said Clapper will stay at the head of the Office of Director of National Intelligence "for the foreseeable future."

President Barack Obama requested that Clapper stay on, amid an expected second-term overhaul of the other key national security posts. The official, who could not be identified because no official announcement has been made about Clapper, said word of the director staying at the request of the White House began to filter through the intelligence community on Monday.

Because the DNI's job does not have a fixed term of office, Clapper will not face a new confirmation hearing by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The official said the director had told colleagues and the White House he did not want to go through another hearing.

Clapper has proven to be a key bulwark for the Obama administration in the face of Republican criticism over response to the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, in particular after he acknowledged it was the intelligence community that was responsible for the substantive changes made to the talking points distributed for government officials who spoke publicly about the attack.

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December 17th, 2012
06:39 AM ET

Benghazi attack back in the spotlight

By Elise Labott

After months of accusations and political recriminations, the State Department is getting ready to present the most detailed explanation yet regarding the circumstances surrounding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Monday, the State Department is expected to get a report on the incident from the independent Advisory Review Board, sources in the State Department told CNN Sunday. The review was ordered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Congress will receive the report from the board ahead of a classified briefing for members on Wednesday by Thomas Pickering, who led the Advisory Review Board. Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was also on the panel, will be part of the briefing as well.

The State Department is also expected to present recommendations on improving security. That's likely to include an explanation of measures that have already been put in place since the September 11 attack on the consulate, which left four Americans - including U.S. Amb. Chris Stevens - dead.

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Filed under: Benghazi • Congress • Diplomacy • Hillary Clinton • Libya • Secretary of State • State Department • Susan Rice