Terror alert spurs extra screening of cargo flown into U.S.
August 6th, 2013
10:30 PM ET

Terror alert spurs extra screening of cargo flown into U.S.

By Mike M. Ahlers

All in-bound cargo on commercial flights from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa - and quite possibly other areas of the world - is getting screened twice, as a result of the recent terror threats, according to a cargo industry official.

The Department of Homeland Security late last week ordered airlines to increase inspections of cargo at the last point of departure for the United States, said Brandon Fried, executive director of Airforwarders Association, a trade group.

"They said, until further notice, this is what you're going to do," Fried said.

"Nothing unscreened gets on the plane," Fried said. "Basically they said, 'If you used one method, or several methods (of inspecting cargo), you need to do it again. It's redundant, dual screening."

 

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Filed under: Homeland Security • Terrorism
Despite Snowden debacle, US-Russian meeting Friday to go ahead
August 6th, 2013
07:07 PM ET

Despite Snowden debacle, US-Russian meeting Friday to go ahead

By Jill Dougherty

Putting to rest doubts that it might be cancelled, the State Department announced Tuesday that senior United States and Russian officials will hold a meeting on Friday in Washington to discuss issues leading up to September’s G-20 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet with their Russian counterparts, Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoigu, at the State Department.

Washington’s anger over Russia’s granting temporary asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, as well as disagreements between the two countries on other issues, including Syria, led the White House to question whether the meeting was worth holding.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the officials will discuss the New Start nuclear treaty, Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear program and efforts to end the conflict in Syria.

The White House is also reviewing whether President Barack Obama will still hold a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That meeting would be held around the G-20 in Moscow.

U.S. push aimed at helping Egypt overcome political crisis
August 6th, 2013
06:56 PM ET

U.S. push aimed at helping Egypt overcome political crisis

By Elise Labott

The United States is launching a full court press to help dig Egypt out of the crippling political crisis prompted by the military ouster of President Mohamed Morsy, with Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham and Deputy Secretary William Burns on the ground in Cairo.

They all share the same goal. Both Burns and the senators are trying to ease tensions between Morsy’s supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s military, and create the atmosphere for some sort of negotiation between the two sides.

McCain and Graham arrived at the behest of President Barack Obama to press Egypt’s military  for a quick return to civilian rule.

Burns is joining EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the foreign ministers of Germany, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to meet with a number Egyptians.

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First on CNN: U.S. files first criminal charges in Benghazi attack
August 6th, 2013
04:14 PM ET

First on CNN: U.S. files first criminal charges in Benghazi attack

By Evan Perez

Federal agents and prosecutors investigating the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi have filed charges against Ahmed Khattalah, leader of a Libyan militia that officials believe was involved in the assault, people briefed on the investigation said. The charges under seal are the first criminal counts to emerge from the probe.

The investigation of the attack last September 11 that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others continues, these people said, as investigators try to build their case against Khattalah and others who authorities believe were involved.

Attorney General Eric Holder had earlier this year promised congressional lawmakers the Justice Department would soon make public what actions it would take.

With the anniversary of the attack looming, the Justice Department has come under criticism for the lack of public progress in the case.

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Filed under: Benghazi • Libya
Defense trims furloughs to 6 days from 11
August 6th, 2013
03:24 PM ET

Defense trims furloughs to 6 days from 11

By Jennifer Liberto

The Defense Department is giving its employees a break by trimming furlough days.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday that furloughs for workers would be cut to 6 days, from 11. Employees will take their last furloughs next week, instead of late September.

Hagel said he was able to win the reprieve by finding savings and cuts in other areas.

Ever since July 8, some 650,000 defense workers have been taking one unpaid day off each week. It has effectively cut employee pay about 20% for nearly three months. The savings from 11 furlough days was only about $1.8 billion, a sliver of the $40 billion that the Pentagon had to cut as part of the sequester, or forced federal spending cuts.

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Manning's possible maximum sentence cut
August 6th, 2013
03:20 PM ET

Manning's possible maximum sentence cut

(CNN) - A military judge on Tuesday consolidated certain criminal convictions in Bradley Manning's national security leak case, reducing his maximum possible prison sentence from 136 years to 90.

Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, was convicted of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of classified documents and videos to WikiLeaks.

The leaks dealt with U.S. military strategy in Iraq to State Department cables outlining foreign relationships. They also included a secret military video from the Iraq war.

Col. Denise Lind acquitted Manning of the most grievous charge of aiding the enemy, which carried a maximum life sentence.

But she found him guilty of other counts that include violations of the Espionage Act. He earlier had pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Lind could decide not to slap him with the maximum for each count. She may rule that he'll serve the sentences concurrently, rather than consecutively.

It may take several days for a sentencing decision.

Manning's lawyers had asked the court martial to merge several of the convictions because they represented "prosecutorial overreach" and "unreasonable multiplication of the charges."

The government is still presenting witnesses during the sentencing phase at Fort Meade, Maryland.

The defense is expected to present several witnesses as well.

What al Qaeda wants to do
August 6th, 2013
02:13 PM ET

What al Qaeda wants to do

By Tim Lister and Paul Cruickshank

The revelation that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been communicating directly with the group's Yemeni franchise about future operations is causing plenty of consternation among western counter-terrorism officials.

It suggests a heightened level of co-ordination between al Qaeda 'central' and its branches, and an initiative by Zawahiri to leverage instability in places far away from his hideout – thought to be somewhere along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

There are still few confirmed specifics about the nature of the plot that Zawahiri was supposedly discussing with Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But he has clearly identified that group as an effective affiliate, possibly the one best placed to attack U.S. interests directly.

U.S. officials were concerned that a plot was timed to go into operation to coincide with the end of Ramadan, which has often been a period of increased terrorist activity. The Muslim holy month ends on Wednesday.

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August 6th, 2013
10:31 AM ET

Fort Hood witness on Hasan: 'His punishment will come'

By Matt Smith and Jason Morris

The court-martial of U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan began Tuesady morning at Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan is accused of opening fire on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in 2009, killing 13 people and wounding dozens more.

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. Prosecutors hope to show that the devout Muslim had undergone a "progressive radicalization," giving presentations in defense of suicide bombings and about soldiers conflicted between military service and their religion when such conflicts result in crime.

A military judge ruled last week that the prosecution can introduce evidence of Hasan's Internet searches on jihad and the Taliban in the days and hours before the rampage, but has deferred a ruling on whether they can introduce other materials.

Hasan will represent himself in his court-martial. He told the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, that he plans to call two witnesses during the proceedings.

John King: Why Benghazi matters
August 6th, 2013
10:24 AM ET

John King: Why Benghazi matters

By John King

Nearly a year later, Benghazi remains a flashpoint in Washington for two very different reasons: indefensible pre-attack policy decisions and irresistible post-attack politics.

The Obama White House, from the president on down, complains of "phony" Republican-led congressional investigations. Yet the administration's own reluctant, and at times inaccurate, responses to congressional inquiries have contributed to the GOP charge that the administration, at a minimum, has been less than transparent.

"We need to get to the bottom of what happened that terrible night, why it happened, and how we can prevent similar tragedies in the future," House Speaker John Boehner said last week in serving notice the House Benghazi investigations would continue into the fall, and include new subpoenas for documents and testimony if necessary.

Erin Burnett Out Front: Benghazi attack timeline

Program note: Was there a political cover up surrounding the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans? Erin Burnett anchors a CNN special investigation: The Truth About Benghazi, Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.

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