April 3rd, 2013
08:14 PM ET

Albright: Must take North Korea seriously

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says the U.S. must take North Korea seriously.


Filed under: North Korea
Hagel quotes Eisenhower, cites fiscal pressures in major policy speech
April 3rd, 2013
06:40 PM ET

Hagel quotes Eisenhower, cites fiscal pressures in major policy speech

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel quoted President Dwight D. Eisenhower Wednesday, telling rising military officers "the wise and prudent administration of the vast resources required by defense calls for extraordinary skill."

In his first major policy speech since taking over the Pentagon, Hagel focused on the budget problems facing the Defense Department and the rest of the government.

"A combination of fiscal pressures and a gridlocked political process has led to far more abrupt and deeper reductions than were planned for or expected. Now DoD is grappling with the serious and immediate challenge of sequester - which is forcing us to take as much as a $41 billion cut in this current fiscal year," Hagel said at the National Defense University at Fort McNair.
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Filed under: Budget • China • Hagel • Japan • Military • Military life • Missile launch • North Korea • Secretary of Defense • Security Brief • South Korea
U.S. Embassy in Cairo takes timeout in Twitter war with Egypt's president
Egyptian satirist and TV host Bassem Youssef surrounded by supporters in Cairo
April 3rd, 2013
05:43 PM ET

U.S. Embassy in Cairo takes timeout in Twitter war with Egypt's president

By Elise Labott

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo temporarily shut down its Twitter feed Wednesday as part of a public spat with the Egyptian president's office and the Muslim Brotherhood over the arrest of an Egyptian television comic.

The move came after a tweet from @USEmbassyCairo with a link to an episode of "The Daily Show" in which host Jon Stewart mocked the Egyptian president for the arrest of satirist Bassem Youssef, saying it was undemocratic to prosecute the Egyptian satirist.

On his comedy show Youssef, who is often compared to Stewart, takes on everything from President Mohamed Morsy's policies to hardline Islamic critics. He was questioned by Egyptian state authorities last week and fined for insulting Islam and Morsy.

"It's inappropriate for a diplomatic mission to engage in such negative political propaganda," the Egyptian president's office shot back on its official Twitter feed.

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U.S. sending defensive missiles to Guam
This handout image provided by the US Department of Defense Missile Defense Agency, shows aTerminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor being launched from Meck Island on its way to an intercept of a ballistic missile target during a 2012 test
April 3rd, 2013
03:34 PM ET

U.S. sending defensive missiles to Guam

From Barbara Starr

The U.S. military is sending a land-based missile defense system to Guam to defend against possible North Korean ballistic missile launches, according to a news release from the Department of Defense.

The statement said the missiles, a truck-mounted launcher, and radar and target acquisition systems will be deployed in the "coming weeks."

The system, called the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, fires missiles at enemy targets in the "terminal phase" as they approach defended territory.

"They have missile delivery capacity now," Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Wednesday in a speech at the National Defense University. 

"They have ratcheted up (their) bellicose, dangerous rhetoric - and some of the actions they've taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger and threat to the interests, certainly of our allies, starting with South Korea and Japan; and also the threats that the North Koreans have leveled directly at the United States regarding our base in Guam,"

Guam is about 2,000 miles from North Korea. Most observers say North Korea is still years away from having the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead on a missile, but it does have plenty of conventional military firepower, including medium-range ballistic missiles that can carry high explosives for hundreds of miles.

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Filed under: Security Brief
Kerry to Israel, Turkey in bid to boost peace process, solidify ties
April 3rd, 2013
12:54 PM ET

Kerry to Israel, Turkey in bid to boost peace process, solidify ties

By Elise Labott

Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Israel and Turkey this weekend to try to jumpstart the long-stalled Mideast peace process and build on the two nations' efforts to repair ties, U.S. and Turkish officials said Wednesday.

Kerry moved up his Monday departure for London and then South Korea, China and Japan in order to capitalize on the reconciliation President Barack Obama brokered between Turkey and Israel during his visit to the region last month, according to the officials, who spoke on anonymity because the trip had not been announced. He will also discuss the crisis in Syria.

Obama scored a diplomatic success during his visit to Israel last month when he persuaded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize to Turkey for a 2010 commando raid that killed nine activists on a Turkish vessel in a Gaza-bound flotilla.

The apology, long sought by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, eased strained feelings between the two vital U.S. allies in the Middle East.

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Defense chief cites Eisenhower, fiscal pressures in first major policy speech
April 3rd, 2013
12:45 PM ET

Defense chief cites Eisenhower, fiscal pressures in first major policy speech

By Larry Shaughnessy

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel quoted President Dwight Eisenhower Wednesday, telling rising military officers "the wise and prudent administration of the vast resources required by defense calls for extraordinary skill."

In his first major policy speech since taking over the Pentagon, Hagel focused on the budget problems facing the Defense Department and the rest of the government.

"A combination of fiscal pressures and a gridlocked political process has led to far more abrupt and deeper reductions than were planned for or expected. Now DoD is grappling with the serious and immediate challenge of sequester - which is forcing us to take as much as a $41 billion cut in this current fiscal year," Hagel said at the National Defense University at Fort McNair.

He warned that much of the burden of that fiscal pressure will fall on DoD employees.

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Filed under: Defense Spending • Hagel • Sequestration
North Korea's elaborate game of chicken with U.S.
April 3rd, 2013
08:54 AM ET

North Korea's elaborate game of chicken with U.S.

By Elise Labott

Kim Jong Un’s latest threats against the United States may be even more apocalyptic than Kim Jong Il’s. But the Obama administration still believes the young North Korean leader is reading from a page in his father’s playbook.

One senior administration official described the tried-and-true play as something like this: “Talk tough and scare people. Follow that with some kind of provocation. Then at some point of your choosing, step back, put your weapons down and say, ‘Well, we won that round. What are you going to do for us?’ It’s the classic North Korea provocation-extortion cycle.”

U.S. officials can’t guarantee the North Koreans will play it this way now. They do fully expect some type of tactical action from the North in the form of anything from a nuclear test to a computer hacking to a shelling of South Korea. But they point to natural biorhythms in North Korea that suggest the regime cannot sustain the current tempo. With the spring planting season approaching in a few weeks, North Korean soldiers will have to return to their fields and the regime will be forced to choose between target practice on paper maps of the United States and feeding their people.

“The operating assumption is that we don’t think he is going to stay too far from this pattern,” the official said of the new North Korean leader. “There may be lower lows and sharper threats that come thick and faster now, but a lot is driven by the North’s own internal requirements. At some point, this will end because they need help. And we expect to be finding ourselves hearing the North Korea sweet sounds asking for economic help. If we can get there without real bloodshed, this is not overly concerning.”
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