President Obama cracks whip on cybercrime
Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
February 12th, 2013
10:50 PM ET

President Obama cracks whip on cybercrime

By David Goldman

Having run out of patience for Congress to act on a cybersecurity bill, President Obama has decided to take matters into his own hands.

Obama signed an executive order on Tuesday addressing the country's most basic cybersecurity needs and highlighted the effort in his State of the Union address.

"We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy," Obama said.

The order will make it easier for private companies in control of the nation's critical infrastructure to share information about cyberattacks with the government. In return, the Department of Homeland Security will share "sanitized" classified information with companies about attacks believed to be occurring or that are about to take place.

The order also directs the government to work with the private sector on standards that will help protect companies from cybercrime, though there is nothing in the order about how this will be enforced.

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Filed under: Cybersecurity • Obama
February 12th, 2013
03:16 PM ET

Deputy defense secretary offers pay cut ahead of sequester

By Mike Mount

The Pentagon's number two official said he will cut his pay in solidarity with the tens of thousands of civilian employees who could face temporary layoffs under looming mandatory budget cuts.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that the civilian employees could face a cut of one-fifth to their paychecks for this year if the federal budget cuts are enacted in two weeks as scheduled.

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Filed under: Security Brief
Obama to announce 34,000 troops to come home
A cloud of dust rises from an Afghan road after US troops destroy an IED in their path.
February 12th, 2013
09:48 AM ET

Obama to announce 34,000 troops to come home

By Jake Tapper

In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Obama will announce that by this time next year, 34,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will have returned home, according to sources with knowledge of the president's speech.

The move will reduce the number of U.S. forces in the country by half.

A Washington Post poll out Tuesday morning shows that 80% of registered voters support the president's policy to end the war in Afghanistan.

The White House has been considering a range of troop levels to remain in Afghanistan once the combat mission officially ends at the end of 2014, from as many as 15,000 troops to none at all.

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Filed under: Security Brief
February 12th, 2013
06:50 AM ET

North Korea gives John Kerry his first "3 AM" call

By Elise Labott and Barbara Starr

North Korea's nuclear test Tuesday set off a diplomatic scramble for America's new secretary of state as the U.S. national security community began working with other countries to try to determine what North Korea truly achieved.

The test was was not a total surprise, senior administration officials said. North Korea warned the United States and China on Monday that it would be undertaking a nuclear test, two senior administration officials told CNN. The warning came in the form of a message through the "NY channel," which is the U.S. mission to the United Nations, North Korea's typical method for passing messages to the United States. The warning was not specific on timing, but the officials said Washington took it to mean the test could happen at any moment.

After the test was detected late Monday night, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with South Korea's foreign minister. He's also expected to talk with the foreign ministers for China, Japan and Russia. The United States began coordinating its own response with inter-agency calls between Washington and Seoul, Tokyo, Moscow and Beijing. U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim and Gen. James Thurman, commander of the US-Republic of Korea Combined Forces Command, met with the South Korean defense minister.

The U.S. intelligence community and military began the process of assessing the test and North Korea's claims and by morning concluded an underground nuclear test had probably been conducted.
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World leaders react to North Korea nuclear test
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves his official residence after attending a security council meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday.
February 12th, 2013
05:26 AM ET

World leaders react to North Korea nuclear test

By Ed Payne, CNN

Reaction to North Korea's nuclear test - its third since 2006 - poured in Tuesday from around the world:

Barack Obama, U.S. president:

"This is a highly provocative act that ... undermines regional stability, violates North Korea's obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation.

North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region."

"The danger posed by North Korea's threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies."

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Filed under: Australia • Britain • China • Germany • IAEA • Japan • NATO • North Korea • Nuclear • Obama • South Korea • United Nations
February 12th, 2013
05:15 AM ET

Q&A: North Korea finally conducts nuclear test, what now?

Editor's note: Mike Chinoy, a senior follow at the University of South California, the author of Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis and a former CNN senior international correspondent explains the implications of North Korea's third nuclear test.

By Mike Chinoy

North Korea has conducted an underground nuclear test using more sophisticated technology than its previous two attempts, drawing widespread international condemnation.

It's the first test carried out under the secretive nation's young leader Kim Jong Un and threatens to undermine an already fragile security situation in the region.

How worried should we be about North Korea's nuclear test?

It's worrying but does this mean they can drop a nuclear weapon on Los Angeles? Absolutely not. The notion that they are going to target the U.S. is way off the mark.

Any time the North Koreans stage a test, it significantly improves their nuclear capabilities. This comes after they staged a rocket launch that was successful, a long range rocket which appears to have put a satellite into orbit. What they need to achieve to have the weapon they want is the capability to miniaturize a warhead and put it on a rocket. This test isn't going to do that in and of itself, but it is a significant step forward.

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Filed under: North Korea • Nuclear
February 12th, 2013
05:10 AM ET

North Korea says it conducted new, more powerful nuclear test

By Jethro Mullen

North Korea said Tuesday that it had conducted a new, more powerful underground nuclear test using more sophisticated technology, jolting the already fragile security situation in Northeast Asia and drawing condemnation from around the globe.

It is the first nuclear test carried out under the North's young leader, Kim Jong Un, who appears to be sticking closely to his father's policy of building up the isolated state's military deterrent to keep its foes at bay, shrugging off the resulting international condemnation and sanctions.

It also provided a provocative reminder of a seemingly intractable foreign policy challenge for President Barack Obama ahead of his State of the Union address later Tuesday.

"The test was carried out as part of practical measures of counteraction to defend the country's security and sovereignty in the face of the ferocious hostile act of the U.S.," the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, referring to new U.S.-led sanctions on Pyongyang in the wake of a recent long-range rocket launch.

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Filed under: North Korea • Nuclear