Is Ft. Hood suspect physically fit enough to be his own lawyer?
May 29th, 2013
01:49 PM ET

Is Ft. Hood suspect physically fit enough to be his own lawyer?

By Larry Shaughnessy

The judge hearing the court-martial of Ft. Hood massacre suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan has ordered a medical evaluation to determine if the Army psychiatrist is physically fit to act as his own attorney.

Col. Tara Osborn noted at a hearing on Wednesday that a prior examination determined Hasan was mentally capable of conducting his own defense in his murder case stemming from the November 2009 shooting spree at the Texas military base.

But she ordered a doctor to administer an exam to see if he can hold up physically if he were to represent himself, according to a statement.

Hasan was shot and paralyzed from the chest down on the day of the massacre in which he is accused of killing 13 people.

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Filed under: Fort Hood • Nidal Hasan
Human error blamed in deaths of 7 Marines during training
May 29th, 2013
01:40 PM ET

Human error blamed in deaths of 7 Marines during training

By Barbara Starr

Human error is to blame for a mortar round explosion that killed seven U.S. Marines and injured eight other service members during a training exercise in Nevada this year, the Marines said on Wednesday.

An investigation of the March 18 incident at Hawthorne Army Depot revealed that "the Marines employing one of the mortars did not follow correct procedures, resulting in the detonation of a high explosive round at the mortar position," the Marines said in a statement.

"The investigation also determined that the mortar section had not conducted appropriate preparatory training leading up to" the nighttime training session, the Marines said.

Read the full story here.

May 28th, 2013
11:55 AM ET

Troops support Boston victims

CNN's Barbara Starr reports on a group of military veterans who as amputees have a message of support for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.  They created a video to raise money for the Boston victims, survivors and their families.

McCain visits rebels in Syria
May 27th, 2013
01:58 PM ET

McCain visits rebels in Syria

By CNN's Rachel Streitfeld and Kevin Liptak

Sen. John McCain visited rebels in Syria on Monday, his communications director confirmed to CNN, making the Arizona Republican the highest ranking elected official from the United States to visit the war-torn country.

Brian Rogers confirmed a report that originally appeared on The Daily Beast, which indicated McCain entered Syria through Turkey, and remained in the country for several hours.

While in Syria, McCain met with Gen. Salem Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, according to the Daily Beast. He also met with other rebel leaders who traveled the country to meet him.

McCain is the leading voice in Congress for a greater U.S. role in ending Syria's civil war, which has been waged for more than two years. He has suggested establishing "safe zones" for Syria's rebels and taking out the regime's air assets, along with providing lethal weapons to Syria's opposition.

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May 27th, 2013
01:31 PM ET

What Memorial Day means to Secretary Hagel

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spent part of Memorial Day visiting Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery where service members killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried. CNN’s Barbara Starr caught up with Hagel, a combat veteran who served in Vietnam, and asked him who he thinks about on Memorial Day.

May 27th, 2013
12:28 PM ET

Poll: Worries about Syrian war on the rise

More and more Americans are concerned about the situation in civil-war ravaged Syria, according to a new national survey.

But the CNN/ORC International poll, released Monday, also indicates the public remains cautious over charges that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its citizens.

According to the survey, 36% of Americans are very concerned about the current situation in Syria, with 43% saying they are somewhat concerned and nearly one in five not concerned. The 36% who are concerned is up seven percentage points from a CNN poll conducted last August.

There seems to be a generational divide, with 47% of those age 50 and older very concerned. That number drops to 28% for those under 50.

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Filed under: Syria
May 24th, 2013
07:10 PM ET

Hackers appear to probe U.S. energy infrastructure, suspicions about Iran

By Chris Lawrence

The United States is investigating "a string of malicious" cyber incidents that appear to be focused on probing energy infrastructure, a U.S. official familiar with the latest intelligence tells CNN.

The official, who spoke anonymously due to the sensitivity of the information, said the suspected hacking did not appear to be intended to steal trade secrets or exploit technology for commercial reasons. It appeared to be aimed at identifying weaknesses in fuel and electrical systems in the United States.

While the official did not identify any suspected origins of the apparent hacking, a U.S. lawmaker raised suspicions about Iran.

The United States has over the past year become more concerned about Iran and cyber security.

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Kerry at Mideast corner of optimism and skepticism
May 23rd, 2013
12:38 PM ET

Kerry at Mideast corner of optimism and skepticism

By Elise Labott, reporting from Jerusalem

If there is one thing Israelis and Palestinians can agree on, it's that John Kerry doesn't lack enthusiasm.

Arriving in Israel on Thursday on his fourth trip since taking office, the secretary of state seems determined that shuttle diplomacy will be enough to coax Israelis and Palestinians into restarting long-stalled talks.

Kerry has made it clear the Israeli-Palestinian issue will be the centerpiece of his tenure as America's top diplomat and hopes solving it will be his legacy.

He has spent more time on this issue than any other, is in almost daily contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas several times a week.
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Obama speech to focus on drones, Gitmo
May 23rd, 2013
12:30 AM ET

Obama speech to focus on drones, Gitmo

By Jamie Crawford, CNN National Security Producer

From the targeted killing of Americans overseas to the future of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, President Barack Obama will lay out the framework and legal rationale for his administration's counterterrorism policy in a widely anticipated speech on Thursday.

Administration officials tell CNN that Obama will use the National Defense University speech to continue to call on engagement with Congress on aspects of national security, more transparency in the use of drones, and a review of threats facing the United States.

He will make the case that the al Qaeda terror network has been weakened, but that new dangers have emerged even as the U.S. winds down operations in Afghanistan after more than a decade of war triggered by the 9/11 attacks.

Threats that have emerged come from al Qaeda affiliates, localized extremist groups, and homegrown terrorists.

The address will also build on remarks Obama made in his annual State of the Union address earlier this year when he said his administration works "tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism efforts."

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Barack Obama • drones • Gitmo
May 22nd, 2013
09:58 PM ET

Budget furloughs won't impact military sex assault prevention unit

By Larry Shaughnessy

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey face two crises - an increase in sex assault claims within the military and heavy budget cuts.

But they said on Wednesday that military staffing reductions due to forced budget cuts under sequestration would not impact an initiative aimed at combating sex assault.

Civilians central to the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention Response Program will be exempt from furloughs that are a consequence of spending cuts.

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