Navy says sex at root of more than a third of its court cases
July 23rd, 2013
09:26 PM ET

Navy says sex at root of more than a third of its court cases

By Larry Shaughnessy

No other crime, not even drugs, leads to more court cases in the U.S. Navy than sex offenses, according to an internal report out this week.

The Navy reported there had been 135 courts-martial involving sailors around the world in the first six months of 2013 and about 36% involved a sex-related charge.

The report covers charges like adultery or attempted indecent acts up to sex assault and rape.

The report was conducted at the insistence of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

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James Clapper 'very concerned' by proposed limits on NSA phone surveillance
July 23rd, 2013
08:59 PM ET

James Clapper 'very concerned' by proposed limits on NSA phone surveillance

By Paul Courson and Ted Barrett

A day before the House is expected to vote on restrictions to the National Security Agency's controversial phone surveillance program, the director of national intelligence told CNN Tuesday he would be "very concerned" if the measure were to pass.

James Clapper commented briefly as he left a classified hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which also is exploring changes to the program in the wake of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Clapper and NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander spent hours on Capitol Hill Tuesday answering questions from lawmakers about the data collection effort.

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Report: Contract waste and fraud in Afghanistan put troops at risk
Culvert Denial System
July 23rd, 2013
05:16 PM ET

Report: Contract waste and fraud in Afghanistan put troops at risk

By Larry Shaughnessy

Contract fraud and waste has been an ongoing problem in Afghanistan almost since the start of the war, but a new report finds one kind of contract screw-up could well have caused deaths and injuries among U.S. troops.

The problem revolves around “culvert denial systems.” Essentially they are grates made of heavy steel rods that keep the Taliban from putting Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in culverts under roads traveled by U.S. military vehicles.
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Source: Obama to move forward with plan to arm Syrian rebels
July 23rd, 2013
05:00 PM ET

Source: Obama to move forward with plan to arm Syrian rebels

By Brianna Keilar, Jessica Yellin and Tom Cohen

Reluctant approval from Congress for providing military support to Syrian rebels allows the Obama administration to move forward with plans first announced almost six weeks ago.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday that the goal of the military aid expected to include small arms, ammunition and perhaps anti-tank weapons is to keep the Syrian opposition going against forces aligned with President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Noting al-Assad's forces have been helped by Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as Iran, Carney said Syrian rebels need the help of the United States and allied nations to withstand an increased assault.

"The aid is intended to help the opposition resist Assad and eventually prevail," Carney said, adding that any resolution of Syria's civil war will require a political transition.

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Did North Korea stop work on launch site?
Satellite imagery of the Tonghae launch site shows construction halt continues through May with grass growing in the foundation of the new assembly building.
July 23rd, 2013
03:09 PM ET

Did North Korea stop work on launch site?

By Jamie Crawford

North Korea appears to have stopped work on a long-range missile launch site, according to newly released satellite imagery.

The analysis by 38 North, a blog run by the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, shows construction at the Tonghae launch site appears to have stopped eight months ago.

But as with everything when it comes to the opaque workings of North Korea, the search for a definitive reason behind the stoppage remain elusive.

"It's almost certain they are not going to stop developing long-range missiles. I don't think that's what is going on here," says Joel Wit, a former State Department official who manages the blog and studied the images. "We have to be very careful about trying to say what is going on, because the fact is we really don't know."
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Filed under: North Korea
Opinion: We need transparency on domestic spying
July 23rd, 2013
09:44 AM ET

Opinion: We need transparency on domestic spying

By Al Franken, Special to CNN

Last month, when Edward Snowden began leaking highly classified documents to the press, many Americans were shocked by what they read.

I don't blame them. For years, the architecture of the programs designed to keep us safe have been a secret to all but a few members of the intelligence community and select legislators. The companies that were involved in these programs were under strict gag orders. And while members of Congress had the opportunity to be briefed on these programs, it would have been a crime, literally, for us to have talked about them publicly.

As a result, when Snowden's leaks became public, Americans had no way of knowing the scope of these programs, their privacy protections and the legal authorities they were operating under. It was just Snowden and his documents on the one side and the government on the other, saying "trust us."

Editor's note: Al Franken represents Minnesota in the U.S. Senate and is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party.

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Filed under: Edward Snowden • Edward Snowden • NSA • Opinion • PRISM