Pfc. Manning admits leaking classified material that 'upset' him to WikiLeaks
February 28th, 2013
02:09 PM ET

Pfc. Manning admits leaking classified material that 'upset' him to WikiLeaks

Pfc. Bradley Manning pleaded guilty Thursday to 10 of the 22 charges against him, but not the major one, in what the government says is the largest leak of classified documents in the nation's history. And, for the first time, he offered his rationale for the crimes.

In court, Manning detailed why and how he sent classified material to WikiLeaks, a group that facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information through its website.

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U.S. to give additional $60 million in aid to Syrian opposition
February 28th, 2013
08:40 AM ET

U.S. to give additional $60 million in aid to Syrian opposition

By Jill Dougherty

The United States will provide an additional $60 million in nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition over the coming months, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Thursday.

"The United States' decision to take further steps now is the result of the continued brutality of a superior armed force propped up by foreign fighters from Iran and Hezbollah, all of which threatens to destroy Syria," he said.

Kerry announced the aid after he met with Syria's national opposition coalition leader, Moaz Al-Khatib, in Rome.

"This funding will allow the opposition to reach out and help the local councils to be able to rebuild in their liberated areas of Syria so that they can provide basic services to people who so often lack access today to medical care, to food, to sanitation," he said.
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Rubio advocates for arming Syrian opposition
February 27th, 2013
05:58 PM ET

Rubio advocates for arming Syrian opposition

By Elise Labott

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, proposed the U.S. provide ammunition to the Syrian opposition Wednesday, warning that the rebels feel "abandoned" by the West.

"I think it behooves us to do everything we can to ensure that the strongest elements in Syria post-Assad are those that are listening to us, can be influenced by us and have a desire not just to keep the Syrian nation together but to respect the rights of the diverse country that Syria is," he said, told an audience at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Rubio said that while there are "plenty of weapons in Syria, what the opposition really needs is access to ammunition. And I think one of the things we can consider, if we can identify a couple of responsible groups, or more responsible groups, that we feel have built capacity, ammunition is something we can provide, which is not weaponry, per se, but is essential to the weaponry."

"I think that's a step that I'm prepared to advocate for, the provision of ammunition to resistance groups within Syria that we think we can build a long-term dialogue with," added Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who just returned from the Middle East.

Rubio, who is frequently mentioned as a possible contender for Republican presidential nomination in 2016, said the Syrian opposition felt the West in general, "and the US in particular has abandoned them." FULL POST

Iran and world powers agree to expert talks on Tehran's nuclear program
February 27th, 2013
05:17 AM ET

Iran and world powers agree to expert talks on Tehran's nuclear program

By Ivan Watson

Diplomats emerged Wednesday from an unusually secretive round of talks over Iran's controversial nuclear program with a joint announcement to hold a follow-up meeting within weeks.

In a joint statement, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and the chief Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, announced that technical experts would meet in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 18.

Political directors would later reconvene in this snowbound Kazakhstani city on April 5.

Iranian negotiators and representatives of the P5 plus 1 nations - the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany - entered into the talks Tuesday in Almaty, Kazakhstan, before the backdrop of fresh international economic sanctions against Iran.

Their crippling effect has fueled resentment in Tehran.

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Filed under: Iran • Nuclear
February 27th, 2013
03:13 AM ET

U.S. weighing nonlethal aid to Syrian opposition

By Elise Labott

The Obama administration is moving toward increasing aid to the Syrian opposition, including providing nonlethal military equipment and possibly strategic military training, sources told CNN Tuesday.

The changes are under discussion with allies as well, as part Secretary of State John Kerry's meetings this week in Europe, a senior administration official said.

The sources said the United States is not considering providing weapons.

The administration is also moving toward giving humanitarian aid directly to the Syrian Opposition Coalition, the official said, adding that this was already happening in limited amounts.

The consideration was first reported on Tuesday by The Washington Post.

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February 27th, 2013
02:59 AM ET

Iranian arts experts visit counterparts in United States

By Elise Labott

Expectations are low for a breakthrough with Iran in the latest round of nuclear negotiations in Kazakhstan, but relations between the Unites States and the Iranian people are proving much more promising.

U.S. wrestlers visited Tehran last week to compete in the World Cup, where they received a warm welcome by Iranian fans at the capital's Azadi Stadium.

And now, CNN has learned, eight Iranian museum specialists on Monday began a three-week visit to the United States as part of a State Department cultural exchange program.

The five-city tour includes stops in Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles, where the group will learn about best practices in securing and displaying art exhibits from curators and archeologists at some of the most popular American museums including the National Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. They will also visit universities and meet with other art-related organizations.

The U.S. does not have government-to-government exchanges with Iran, so the visitors will not meet with any American officials.

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Sending top secret information? There's an app for that
February 26th, 2013
06:34 PM ET

Sending top secret information? There's an app for that

By Mike Mount

Combat troops to four-star generals will soon be able to use cell phones or mobile tablets to quickly share classified information anywhere in the world.

The program soon to be rolled out by the Pentagon will allow the more than 600,000 Defense Department employees who use government-issued "smart" mobile devices to send top-secret information on those units or computers.

Until now, classified and other highly sensitive information has only been allowed to be shared by specially designated desktop systems.

Most Defense Department mobile device users peck away at Blackberries. Another 41,000 use Apple devices and a much smaller number use Android-based technology, according to statistics provided by the Pentagon.
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Filed under: Military • Pentagon
Senate panel drops 'Zero Dark Thirty' probe
"Zero Dark Thirty" screen writer Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow
February 26th, 2013
04:38 PM ET

Senate panel drops 'Zero Dark Thirty' probe

By Pam Benson

The Senate Intelligence Committee has dropped its probe of the CIA's contacts with the makers of "Zero Dark Thirty."

The step was taken after the CIA responded to the panel's questions about whether the agency may have contributed to the movie's suggestion that harsh interrogations of a suspected terrorist helped find Osama bin Laden, a congressional aide said.

News of the decision came just one day after the movie was shut out of any significant Academy Awards, a snub many felt came in part because of criticisms, including from members of Congress, that the movie glorified torture.

A bipartisan group of senators expressed concern the CIA may have provided information about the search for the al Qaeda leader that might have "misled" the filmmakers.

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Filed under: Security Brief
White House providing Benghazi e-mails to Senate panel
Damage at US Mission in Benhgazi, Libya
February 26th, 2013
12:50 PM ET

White House providing Benghazi e-mails to Senate panel

By Pam Benson

Senate Intelligence Committee members will have access Tuesday to the e-mails associated with the development of the intelligence community's talking points on the attack at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, a committee aide said.

The Obama administration will provide the e-mails for members and some committee staff to read, take notes and ask questions in the committee's classified hearing room, the aide said. Members will not get copies of the documents.

Republican senators have threatened to hold up the nomination of John Brennan to be the next CIA director until they receive e-mails exchanged between the White House and the CIA concerning the public talking points used by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice for her appearances on Sunday talk shows the weekend after the September attack.

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Justices block lawsuit over foreign intelligence surveillance
February 26th, 2013
12:31 PM ET

Justices block lawsuit over foreign intelligence surveillance

By Bill Mears

The Supreme Court rejected an effort by a group of attorneys, journalists and others to proceed with a lawsuit over the federal government's sweeping electronic monitoring of foreigners suspected of terrorism or spying.

The 5-4 conservative majority on Tuesday concluded that the plaintiffs lacked "standing" or jurisdiction to proceed, without a specific showing they have been monitored. The National Security Agency has in turn refused to disclose monitoring specifics, which detractors call "Catch-22" logic.

Justice Samuel Alito said plaintiffs "cannot demonstrate that the future injury they purportedly fear is certainly impending."

The justices did not address the larger questions of the program's constitutionality, and this ruling will make it harder for future lawsuits to proceed.

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