Amid NSA surveillance uproar, Congress starts crafting some limits
October 31st, 2013
11:46 PM ET

Amid NSA surveillance uproar, Congress starts crafting some limits

The global uproar over the National Security Agency's surveillance programs is prompting Congress to begin making some legal changes.

Most of the changes under way are focused on data collected on Americans, and little is expected to change in foreign intelligence collection.

The Senate Intelligence Committee approved a bill Thursday to make some limited changes to the law that governs the NSA's surveillance activities, focusing mostly on the program that gathers so-called metadata on nearly every call made by American telephone company customers. The data include the number called, and the time and length of the call, and are gathered under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
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Filed under: Edward Snowden • NSA
October 30th, 2013
07:21 PM ET

Drone attack survivors take their story to Washington

By Chris Lawrence

Her voice is tiny and soft but has the strength of a survivor.

Nabila ur-Rehman, 9, has come to Washington to talk about how she survived a U.S. drone strike on her neighborhood in Pakistan.

"I saw in the sky that it became dark, and I heard a 'dum-dum' noise. Everything became dark, and I couldn't see my grandmother, couldn't make out anything," she told CNN through an interpreter.

Nabila's family said her grandmother, Momina Bibi, was killed in that strike.

"I saw two missiles come down and hit, and at that moment, everything went dark," said Nabila's brother, Zubair, 13. "I just remember seeing an explosion and everything became dark, maybe because of the smoke from the drone."
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Obama, al-Maliki to address Iraq's violence spike at White House meeting
October 30th, 2013
04:52 PM ET

Obama, al-Maliki to address Iraq's violence spike at White House meeting

By Kevin Liptak

President Barack Obama's meeting Friday with Iraq's leader will include discussion of how to counter a fresh rise in suicide bombers affiliated with al Qaeda, a senior U.S. official says.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is slated to visit the White House at the end of the week for a meeting with the President as tensions rise between Iraq's Shiite majority and its Sunni minority. Violence has been on the upswing - on Wednesday, a suicide bomber killed at least nine people and wounded 25 others at a police checkpoint west of Mosul. In all, more than 6,000 people have been killed in attacks this year.

A bipartisan group of senators harshly criticized Maliki in a letter to Obama on Tuesday, writing that the recent security deterioration in Iraq was partially the Prime Minister's fault.

"Unfortunately, Prime Minister Maliki's mismanagement of Iraqi politics is contributing to the recent surge of violence," the senators wrote. Signatories included Republicans John McCain, James Inhofe and Bob Corker, and Democrats Carl Levin and Robert Menendez.

"By too often pursuing a sectarian and authoritarian agenda, Prime Minister Maliki and his allies are disenfranchising Sunni Iraqis, marginalizing Kurdish Iraqis, and alienating the many Shia Iraqis who have a democratic, inclusive, and pluralistic vision for their country," the lawmakers continued.
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Filed under: Iraq • Obama
October 29th, 2013
05:40 PM ET

First on CNN: US commandos were poised for raid to capture Benghazi suspect

By Barbara Starr

When U.S. commandos grabbed a former al Qaeda operative in Tripoli this month, American forces were just hours away from potentially launching a more dangerous covert raid to capture a militia figure facing charges in the deadly Benghazi terror attack, U.S. officials tell CNN.

U.S. special operations forces were ready, if ordered, to enter Benghazi and capture Ahmed Abu Khattalah, a leading figure in the Ansar Al-Sharia militia. But the mission never materialized.

The United States believes Ansar Al-Sharia was behind the September 2012 armed assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
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House committee questions spy chiefs about phone tapping allegations
October 29th, 2013
02:03 PM ET

House committee questions spy chiefs about phone tapping allegations

By CNN Staff

The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday afternoon is questioning U.S. spy chiefs about accusations that the National Security Agency has tapped not only the phone calls of millions of Americans, but those of top U.S. allies.

Tuesday's hearing, billed as a discussion of potential changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, comes amid claims, reported last week by German magazine Der Spiegel, that the NSA monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.

It's the latest in a series of spying allegations that stem from disclosures given to news organizations by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who describes himself as a whistle-blower. Comments by President Barack Obama's administration claiming that he did not know of the practice until recently have drawn criticism from both the right and the left.

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Filed under: NSA
U.S. Navy's new stealth destroyer
October 29th, 2013
01:44 PM ET

Bigger, Lighter, Deadlier! Navy launches new stealth destroyer

By Larry Shaughnessy

(CNN) - The Navy's newest warship slipped out of dry dock this week into the waters of Maine, marking a new era for war fighting at sea.

The USS Zumwalt, the first of the DDG-1000 class of destroyers, is longer, faster and carries state-of-the-art weapons that will allow it to destroy targets at more than 60 miles, according to the Navy.

At 610 feet long and 81 feet wide, the Zumwalt is longer and thinner than the USS Arizona, a battleship sunk at Pearl Harbor. But it weighs about half as much.
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Filed under: Contractors • drones • Navy • Pentagon • weapons
U.S. weighs how to expand role in Kony hunt
October 29th, 2013
01:26 PM ET

U.S. weighs how to expand role in Kony hunt

By Barbara Starr

In a sign of a potentially expanded role for U.S. special forces in Africa, the Pentagon is considering sending V-22 Osprey aircraft to a base in Uganda for American and African forces to use in assaults on The Lord's Resistance Army, a messianic group led by Joseph Kony, a warlord African forces are trying to capture with the help of the United States.

The V-22, which takes off like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, would increase the distance ground forces can operate, and transport them to targets faster than conventional helicopters, said two U.S. military officials who confirmed details to CNN.

Special forces commanders are making the case the operation needs more mobility than a small number of conventional helicopters can provide currently.

At the same time, the role of U.S. special forces in the Kony hunt has been expanded under a new authorization approved by the White House, both officials said.
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October 29th, 2013
11:47 AM ET

Terrorist attacks and deaths hit record high, report shows

By Daniel Burke

As terrorism increasingly becomes a tactic of warfare, the number of attacks and fatalities soared to a record high in 2012, according to a new report obtained exclusively by CNN.

More than 8,500 terrorist attacks killed nearly 15,500 people last year as violence tore through Africa, Asia and the Middle East, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.

That’s a 69% rise in attacks and an 89% jump in fatalities from 2011, said START, one of the world’s leading terrorism-trackers.

Six of the seven most deadly groups are affiliated with al Qaeda, according to START, and most of the violence was committed in Muslim-majority countries.

The previous record for attacks was set in 2011 with more than 5,000 incidents; for fatalities the previous high was 2007 with more than 12,800 deaths.

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House committee to question spy chiefs about phone tapping allegations
October 29th, 2013
09:40 AM ET

House committee to question spy chiefs about phone tapping allegations

By CNN Staff

The House Intelligence Committee is set to question U.S. spy chiefs about accusations that the National Security Agency has tapped not only the phone calls of millions of Americans, but those of top U.S. allies.

Among those on the hot seat will be Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Germany's interior minister said Monday that his country's confidence in the United States is shaken, amid claims the NSA monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.

"If the Americans intercepted cell phones in Germany, they broke German law on German soil," Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, adding that he wants "complete information on all accusations."

"The confidence in our ally, U.S.A., is shaken," Friedrich said, according to Bild am Sonntag.

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Filed under: NSA
Documents detail congressional notice on NSA phone program
October 28th, 2013
08:35 PM ET

Documents detail congressional notice on NSA phone program

By Evan Perez

The Obama administration declassified a new batch of National Security Agency documents on Monday, many of which deal with the effort to inform members of Congress about NSA programs that collect call data on nearly every U.S. telephone user.

The documents released by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper date mostly to 2009, when the administration was pushing lawmakers to reauthorize sections of the Patriot Act that were set to expire.

One document from 2011, notifies the House and Senate intelligence and judiciary committees, of the NSA's testing in 2010-11 of a program to collect cell phone tower data that could track mobile phone users. The NSA earlier this month acknowledged it tested such collection but discontinued it.
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