January 25th, 2013
08:10 PM ET

How dangerous is North Korea's nuke capability?

A defiant North Korea is threatening both the United States and South Korea in response to the United Nations decision to invoke additional sanctions on Pyongyang for it's rocket launch late last year.

Calling the U.S. a sworn enemy of North Korea, the government of Kim Jong Un vowed to launch more missiles and conduct a nuclear test.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr looks into how dangerous the North's nuclear capability really is.


Filed under: Asia • Kim Jong Un • Kim Jong-un • Missile launch • North Korea • Nuclear • South Korea • United Nations • weapons
Big shoes to fill: Replacing John Brennan
January 25th, 2013
05:00 PM ET

Big shoes to fill: Replacing John Brennan

By Adam Aigner-Treworgy

Nearly three weeks after nominating chief White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, President Barack Obama on Friday announced a replacement.

Lisa Monaco will serve as the new assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism and deputy national security adviser - a long title for a job that up to this point has been filled by the president's closest adviser in the fight against foreign and domestic terrorism.

Monaco comes from the Justice Department, where she has served as assistant attorney general for national security since July 2011. Prior to that assignment, Monaco served as deputy attorney general, chief of staff to FBI Director Robert Mueller, special counsel at the FBI, and during an earlier stint at the Justice Department adviser to Attorney General Janet Reno on national security issues.

A graduate of Harvard University and University of Chicago Law School - where Obama was a professor before entering politics - Monaco spent many years as a prosecutor. FULL POST

Former spy sentenced for leaking another spy's identity
January 25th, 2013
11:24 AM ET

Former spy sentenced for leaking another spy's identity

By Carol Cratty and Mark Morgenstein

A former CIA officer who pleaded guilty to identifying a covert intelligence officer was sentenced on Friday to 30 months in prison.

John Kiriakou and prosecutors agreed on the term as part of the plea agreement he struck in October.

Kiriakou, 48, declined to make a statement at the Alexandria, Virginia, federal court prior to sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema.
"Alright, perhaps you've already said too much," Brinkema said.

She rejected defense attempts to characterize Kiriakou as a whistle-blower.

The judge was bound by the plea agreement, but said she would have handed down a tougher sentence had Kiriakou been convicted at trial.

"This case is not a case about a whistle-blower. It's about a person who betrayed a very solemn trust," Brinkema said. FULL POST

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Filed under: CIA • Intelligence • Legal
January 25th, 2013
05:38 AM ET

By the numbers: Women in the U.S. military

More than 200,000 women are in the active-duty military, including 69 generals and admirals. A quick look at women in the military, according to Pentagon figures:

Total numbers:

– About 203,000 in 2011, or 14.5% of the active-duty force of nearly 1.4 million.

– That number comprises about 74,000 in the Army, 53,000 in the Navy, 62,000 in the Air Force and 14,000 in the Marine Corps.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Military
January 25th, 2013
05:29 AM ET

The Syrian crisis: Where's U.S. aid going?

It has been more than a year since the United States government withdrew its ambassador to Syria and closed its embassy in Damascus.

On Thursday, that ambassador returned to the region along with a U.S. delegation, touring a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey to bring more attention to the growing humanitarian crisis. As the civil war has intensified in Syria, hundreds of thousands of people have sought refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and other neighboring countries.

Ambassador Robert Ford gave an exclusive interview to CNN's Ivan Watson and described what the U.S. is doing to help the refugees and the Syrian opposition.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Foreign Aid • Robert Ford • Syria • US Ambassador
Kerry says Iran must come clean on nuclear program
January 25th, 2013
05:25 AM ET

Kerry says Iran must come clean on nuclear program

By Joe Sterling, Jessica Yellin and Holly Yan

Sen. John Kerry, the president's nominee for secretary of state, put America's anxiety over Iran front and center during his confirmation hearing, saying the "questions surrounding Iran's nuclear program" must be resolved.

"The president has made it definitive," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday during what is expected to be an easy confirmation process.

"We will do what we must do to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and I repeat here today, our policy is not containment. It is prevention, and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance."

FULL STORY
More signs al Qaeda in Mali orchestrated Algeria attack
A general view shows an oil installation on the outskirts of In Amenas, deep in the Sahara near the Libyan border.
January 25th, 2013
02:59 AM ET

More signs al Qaeda in Mali orchestrated Algeria attack

By Barbara Starr

The Obama Administration now believes the attack and hostage-taking at a natural gas plant in Algeria last week is the work of al Qaeda operatives based out of northern Mali.

U.S. officials say al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was behind the attack and may also have operated a communications network from northern Mali. Despite the recent French intervention, large areas of Mali remain in the hands of jihadist groups.

One senior U.S. official said "elements of AQIM" may have carried out the offensive in tandem with fighters loyal to Moktar Belmoktar, a veteran militant based in northern Mali who has claimed responsibility for the assault.

Last year, Belmoktar was said to have been demoted by the Emir of AQIM, Abdel Malek Droukdel, but is thought to have retained links to the organization.

One U.S. official told CNN that American intelligence gatherers are trying to determine if the two factions had reunited for the attack. If so, that would indicate greater communications among North African elements of al Qaeda affiliates and splinter groups than previously thought.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Algeria • Mali • Terrorism
January 25th, 2013
01:30 AM ET

Yemen: No. 2 al Qaeda leader in Arabian Peninsula killed

By Michael Martinez, CNN

The second-in-command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was killed in a recent counter-terrorism operation, the Yemeni government confirmed Thursday.

Abu Sufyan al-Azdi, also known as Saeed al-Shahri, died after being wounded in the governorate of Saadah on November 28, said the Supreme National Security Committee of Yemen. He was also one of the most wanted men in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Azdi was buried by militants linked to al Qaeda at an undisclosed location inside Yemen, the government said in a statement.

The confirmation comes a day after a prominent jihadist announced that al-Azdi died "after a long journey in fighting the Zio-Crusader campaign."

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Al Qaeda • AQAP • Yemen