Two Marine generals lose their jobs over deadly Taliban attack
September 30th, 2013
06:41 PM ET

Two Marine generals lose their jobs over deadly Taliban attack

By Barbara Starr

In an action unprecedented during 12 years of war in Afghanistan, the commandant of the Marine Corps is firing two top generals for failing to protect troops and their base in southern Afghanistan from a Taliban attack.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos, has agreed to a finding that Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus and Maj. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant "did not take adequate force protection measures" at Camp Bastion last year, the service said on Monday.

On September 14-15, 2012, Taliban fighters got through an unguarded part of a fence and engaged in a long running gun battle with U.S. and coalition forces.
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Congress can agree on one thing: military will be paid if government shuts down
September 30th, 2013
06:36 PM ET

Congress can agree on one thing: military will be paid if government shuts down

By Ted Barrett

Despite bitter partisanship that threatened a government shutdown, Congress actually managed to come together to pass one bill on Monday –unanimously, at that.

The Senate signed off on a House-approved measure to ensure members of the military would continue to get paid if congressional wrangling over spending and Obamacare resulted in a shutdown.

But it would also shield lawmakers from having to explain why men and women on the front lines would not be paid with federal agencies spending less money or none at all, even as House and Senate members keep getting their checks.
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US intel info suggests al-Shabaab may be planning new attacks
An image grab taken from AFP TV shows Kenyan troops taking position on September 21, 2013 inside the Westgate mall in Nairobi.
September 27th, 2013
07:00 PM ET

US intel info suggests al-Shabaab may be planning new attacks

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. intelligence community is monitoring a specific stream of classified information suggesting the terror group believed to be behind the Nairobi shopping mall attack may be planning new attacks in East Africa, particularly in Kenya, CNN has learned.

Two U.S. officials said the information does not include details of a target or date. But it is the first detailed indication that they may have information to validate threats made by Somali-based al-Shabaab that more attacks were planned after the attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.

"We are concerned," one official said.

"There are data points that worry us. Our intelligence is focused on how do we prevent any more attacks," the other official said.
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Pentagon outlines how shutdown would impact operations
September 27th, 2013
02:31 PM ET

Pentagon outlines how shutdown would impact operations

By Jamie Crawford

The Pentagon issued guidance on Friday on how a potential government shutdown, which would begin on Tuesday absent a congressional agreement on spending, would impact its operations.

"All military personnel will continue in a normal duty status regardless of their affiliation" under a shutdown scenario, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter wrote in a memo to military commanders and other senior defense officials.

But continued service could present complications for the troops themselves, Carter added.

"Military personnel will not be paid until such time as Congress makes appropriated funds available to compensate them for this period of service," he wrote.
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NSA: Some used spying power to snoop on lovers
September 27th, 2013
12:27 AM ET

NSA: Some used spying power to snoop on lovers

The National Security Agency's internal watchdog detailed a dozen instances in the past decade in which its employees intentional misused the agency's surveillance power, in some cases to snoop on their love interests.

A letter from the NSA's inspector general responding to a request by Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R., Iowa), lists the dozen incidents that abused the NSA's foreign intelligence collection systems. The letter also says there are two additional incidents now under investigation and another allegation pending that may require an investigation.

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First on CNN: More U.S. Marines fortify Nairobi embassy security
Kenyan security personnel, crouched behind a ledge, watch on September 23, 2013 a column of smoke rise from the beseiged Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi following a loud explosion. Kenyan security forces were locked in a fierce, final battle with Somali Islamist gunmen inside the upmarket mall on September 23 as huge explosions and a barrage of heavy gunfire echoed out of the complex.
September 26th, 2013
03:31 PM ET

First on CNN: More U.S. Marines fortify Nairobi embassy security

By Barbara Starr

More U.S. Marines are fortifying security at the American Embassy in Nairobi following the deadly shopping mall attack there, CNN has learned.

Two U.S. officials confirmed the move in Kenya, but declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The newly arrived Marines are part of a unit specially trained in enhanced security, including providing personal protection to senior American officials.

That kind of assistance was recently added to tasks performed by the embassy guard program after the deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, last year.
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September 26th, 2013
02:03 PM ET

Iran olive branch in Kerry's hands heading into key talks

By Elise Labott, Michael Pearson, and Joe Sterling

It's been more than 30 years since high-level officials from the United States and Iran sat down together to talk face-to-face.

If everything holds, that drought ends on Thursday.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are set to meet in New York as part of a meeting between the Middle Eastern country and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. They will explore restarting talks on Iran's nuclear program.

Such a high-level meeting involving the United States and Iran hasn't happened since Iran's 1979 revolution, which sent relations between the two into a deep freeze.

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Iran drama obscures concerns over Obama approach to Mideast
September 25th, 2013
05:30 PM ET

Iran drama obscures concerns over Obama approach to Mideast

By Elise Labott, reporting from the United Nations

The drama over whether President Barack Obama would shake hands with his Iranian counterpart detracted from what diplomats at the U.N. General Assembly described as an acute disappointment with his handling of Mideast turmoil.

A perceived lack of leadership in Syria during its civil war coupled with U.S. handling of the political crisis in Egypt has forced the Obama administration to confront a growing lack of confidence among Middle East allies.

But what's most bewildered American allies in the region was Obama's abrupt decision to back away from threats to use military force over alleged Syrian chemical weapons use in favor of a diplomatic approach to divest it of those stockpiles.

They fear Obama's ambivalence foreshadows a lack of mettle in dealing with Iran.
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Filed under: Egypt • Iran • Obama • Syria • United Nations
U.S. seeks access to site of terror attack in Kenya
An image grab taken from AFP TV shows a member of the Kenyan security forces taking position inside a shopping mall following an attack by masked gunmen in Nairobi
September 25th, 2013
04:14 PM ET

U.S. seeks access to site of terror attack in Kenya

By Barbara Starr

U.S. security and law enforcement personnel are pressing for access to a Kenyan shopping mall where a terror attack and subsequent armed standoff killed at least 67 people.

A U.S. official with direct knowledge of the situation and the latest security assessment said authorities want to know whether any Americans were among the attackers in Nairobi as claimed by the Somali-based al-Shabaab terror group said to be behind the Westgate Mall attack.

“That is the million dollar question,” the official said. “We do not have much fidelity on this. We haven’t had access to the scene.”

Kenyan authorities have said the attackers were from a number of countries, but have not confirmed that any Americans were involved.
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Filed under: Al-Shabaab • Terrorism
Arms treaty draws NRA, conservative ire
Secretary of State John Kerry signs the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty.
September 25th, 2013
02:56 PM ET

Arms treaty draws NRA, conservative ire

By Jamie Crawford

The United States signed on to an international arms control treaty Wednesday that seeks to reduce global atrocities, but the road to ratification in the Senate may prove to be extremely bumpy and, possibly, insurmountable.

Secretary of State John Kerry signed the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on the sidelines of this week's gathering of the U.N. General Assembly.

The treaty, which nearly 90 countries have signed, requires signatory countries to ensure arms are not sent to countries where they could be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity or other serious human rights abuses.

"This is about keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists and rogue actors," Kerry said as he signed. "This is about reducing the risk of international transfers of conventional arms that will be used to carry out the world's worst crimes."
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