American charged in Russia Greenpeace protest
A handout photo taken by Greenpeace on September 18, 2013, shows a camouflage clad mask wearing officer of Russian Coast Guard pointing a gun at a Greenpeace International activist during an environmentalists' attempt to climb Gazproms Prirazlomnaya Arctic oil platform somewhere off Russia north-eastern coast in the Pechora Sea.
October 2nd, 2013
08:19 PM ET

American charged in Russia Greenpeace protest

By Jill Dougherty

When Greenpeace activists tried to scale an oil platform in the Barents Sea owned by the Russian energy giant Gazprom on September 19, the group called it a peaceful protest against the "slow but unrelenting destruction of the Arctic."

Russian prosecutors, however, did not agree and Wednesday they began charging the protesters with piracy, which could mean up to 15 years in prison.

The State Department confirms that one of the activists charged is an American, Dmitry Litvinov. Greenpeace says he has dual U.S. and Swedish citizenship.

One other American, according to the State Department, has not been charged. Greenpeace said his name is Peter Willcox, the captain of the Greenpeace boat.
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Filed under: Russia
Shutdown could affect embassy security, Mideast aid
Security blocks at the US Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen.
October 2nd, 2013
06:39 PM ET

Shutdown could affect embassy security, Mideast aid

By Elise Labott

Compared to other U.S. government agencies, the State Department has been relatively lucky.

Because many of its accounts are appropriated more than a year at a time, there is money in most to keep almost all employees at work and all offices and overseas posts open for the near future.

But it isn't business as usual.

Although U.S. embassies and consulates overseas remain open now, officials say an extended government shutdown will delay augmenting embassy security abroad.
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Iranian vice president calls for new ‘ping-pong diplomacy’ with U.S.; promises expansion of Internet freedom in Iran
Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif last week on Iran's nuclear program.
October 2nd, 2013
04:34 PM ET

Iranian vice president calls for new ‘ping-pong diplomacy’ with U.S.; promises expansion of Internet freedom in Iran

By Tara Kangarlou and Jim Sciutto

From wishing Jews a Happy Rosh Hashanah to an historic phone call with President Barack Obama, Iran’s president is pursuing a new kind of outreach. One of his vice presidents compared it to Richard Nixon’s ping pong diplomacy, credited with opening relations between the United States and China more than 40 years ago.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Mohammad-Ali Najafi, Iranian vice president and head of Iran’s richly funded Cultural Heritage and Tourism institution, said he believes such outreach could do the same for relations between the United States and Iran today.

“I adamantly believe in cultural diplomacy and believe the thing that could improve relations between (the) U.S. and Iran after the years and soften the harshness of this relationship is cultural diplomacy,” Najafi said.

Najafi, who reportedly planned to run for president and is considered part of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s inner circle, invited all Americans to visit Iran and regarded tourism as a primary tool to create “long-lasting and effective” engagement between the two countries.

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Significant lapses led to attack on military base in Afghanistan, report finds
Image from video posted online by a group associated with the Afghanistan Tailban purporting to show the September 2012 attack on Camp Bastion.
October 2nd, 2013
03:43 PM ET

Significant lapses led to attack on military base in Afghanistan, report finds

By Jamie Crawford

The top U.S. commanders of a coalition base in southern Afghanistan "failed to take adequate force protection" measures prior to a September 2012 attack by the Taliban that led to the deaths of two Marines and the destruction of military aircraft, according to a report on the incident.

Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos fired the two senior commanders of the base at the time, Maj. Gen. Charles Gurganus and Maj. Gen. Gregg Sturdevant, essentially forcing them into retirement.

The investigation was directed by Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, who leads Central Command, to determine any potential accountability for the attack.

Army Lt. Gen. William B. Garrett III was the investigating officer for the report released Wednesday and his deputy was Marine Maj. Gen. Thomas M. Murray.
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Filed under: Afghanistan • Marines • Military • Taliban • US Central Command
Government shutdown 'extremely damaging' to U.S. intelligence operations
October 2nd, 2013
01:29 PM ET

Government shutdown 'extremely damaging' to U.S. intelligence operations

By Josh Levs

The government shutdown is "extremely damaging" to U.S. intelligence operations, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Wednesday.

Clapper noted that he has worked in the intelligence field for 50 years, and "never seen anything like this."

The shutdown "seriously damages our ability to protect the safety and security of this nation," he told a Senate panel.

The law allows intelligence agencies to hold on to the employees needed to protect against "imminent threat to life or property," he noted. Following that guide, approximately 70% of employees were furloughed, he said.

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Filed under: Clapper • Congress • Graham • ODNI