June 20th, 2013
08:40 PM ET

Could Taliban prisoner exchange free captured U.S. soldier?

By Melissa Gray

When U.S. negotiators raise the issue of captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl with the Taliban in the coming days, it won't be the first time. The two sides held meetings in 2011 and 2012 that included the topic of Bergdahl's release, with sporadic discussions since then.

The first series of talks took place in 2011 with the State Department's top representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He met Taliban representatives again the next year. An American proposal for Bergdahl's release was a topic each time, U.S. officials told CNN in May 2012.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Taliban
Senator: Firm that vetted Snowden under criminal investigation
June 20th, 2013
04:05 PM ET

Senator: Firm that vetted Snowden under criminal investigation

By Kevin Liptak

The private firm that vetted Edward Snowden in 2011 is under criminal investigation for routine failures in properly investigating the backgrounds of people in line for security clearances, Sen. Claire McCaskill said during a Senate hearing Thursday.

Additionally, a government watchdog told lawmakers his agency believes the check into Snowden's background conducted by USIS, a Virginia-based government contractor, may have been faulty.

Snowden, who held a top secret clearance, admittedly leaked documents this month detailing two government surveillance programs. At the time of the leaks, he was an employee of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.

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Filed under: Security Brief
A cereal imposter: Is Cap’n Crunch really a captain?
June 20th, 2013
04:00 PM ET

A cereal imposter: Is Cap’n Crunch really a captain?

By Dan Merica

Another case of stolen valor?

After over 50 years of reported service, the U.S. Navy said Wednesday that Cap’n Crunch, one of the Navy’s most recognizable captains, has no record of service with the military branch.

A number of blogs noticed this week that the jolly, cereal selling caricature who has graced the front of Cap’n Crunch boxes since 1963 was actually wearing a commander’s uniform, the rank below a captain. The U.S. Navy uses bars on a uniform’s cuff to signify the rank of the person wearing the uniform. Cap’n Crunch’s uniform has only three bars – the sign of a commander – not four bars – the sign of a captain.

Blogs like Gawker and Consumerist recognized the missing bar and labeled Cap’n Crunch a liar.

“In other words, the Cap'n is nothing but a lousy Commander,” Neetzan Zimmerman of Gawker wrote. “Our entire cereal-eating lives could be based on a lie because of one little yellow stripe,” wrote Mary Beth Quirk of Consumerist.

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Filed under: Navy
June 20th, 2013
01:20 AM ET

Trust low, but U.S. says talks with Taliban will go on

By CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

The U.S. still anticipates that talks with the Taliban will take place “in the next few days” despite the announcement by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that he was backing out of security talks with both sides, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

Karzai, upset about how the Taliban portrayed themselves in opening their Doha, Qatar office, said that he was pulling out of the peace talks with the Taliban and canceling security talks with the United States.

U.S. officials say the decision by the Taliban to call themselves the “Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan” was a violation of the explicit guidelines the Qataris set for the office. The Taliban, they say, used it as a kind of slogan implying that it represented a sovereign entity in opposition to the Afghan government. Ground rules of the Doha meetings were worked out almost a year ago and the Taliban were supposed to limit themselves to simply “The Political Office of the Afghan Taliban.” Instead, they emblazoned the “emirates” name on a banner, on their office door, and used it in their public announcements.

The move caught the United States and Qataris by surprise. The Qatari government took down the sign Wednesday, the State Department says, and took steps to ensure that the political office was respecting the ground rules.

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