Last Uyghur captives leave Guantanamo Bay
December 31st, 2013
12:16 PM ET

Last Uyghur captives leave Guantanamo Bay

By Jamie Crawford

The United States has transferred the final three ethnic Chinese Uyghur captives from the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Yusef Abbas, Saidullah Khalik and Hajiakbar Abdul Ghuper were sent to Slovakia where they were "voluntarily" resettled, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

"The United States is grateful to the government of Slovakia for this humanitarian gesture and its willingness to support U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility," he added.
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Filed under: China • Gitmo
NSA team spies, hacks to gather intelligence on targets, report says
National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.
December 31st, 2013
07:58 AM ET

NSA team spies, hacks to gather intelligence on targets, report says

By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd

A top-secret National Security Agency team uses spyware and hacking to gather intelligence on targets, according to a new report based on internal agency documents.

According to Der Spiegel, a German magazine that published some of the documents, the unit's interception techniques are worthy of James Bond: intercepting a computer being shipped to a target and installing spyware before it is delivered; supplying an altered monitor cable that transmits everything on a computer's screen to the NSA; or planting a USB plug with a secret radio transmitter.

The unit, called Tailored Access Operations, also uses hacking in addition to spy craft. The most basic method involves phishing, sending an e-mail that lures a target into clicking on it and unknowingly downloading NSA spyware. More sophisticated techniques include identifying exploitable computer vulnerabilities by eavesdropping on a target's error messages; tracking a target's cookies to shadow their Internet use; and even surreptitiously diverting a target's web surfing to phony replica web pages of commonly used sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Agents could use such fake sites both to see what a target is typing and to try to insert spyware on the target's computer, according to cybersecurity expert Michael Sutton at ZScaler, a California-based information technology security company.

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Filed under: NSA
Second deadly blast hits Russian city of Volgograd ahead of 2014 Sochi Olympics
A handout picture taken and released on December 30, 2013 by the Volgograd regional Interior Ministry department's press service shows the wreckage of a trolleybus following a suicide attack that destroyed the packed trolleybus killing 14 people in the southern Russian city of Volgograd.
December 30th, 2013
09:00 AM ET

Second deadly blast hits Russian city of Volgograd ahead of 2014 Sochi Olympics

By Jethro Mullen

Another deadly blast has struck the southern Russian city of Volgograd, killing at least 14 people and further highlighting Russia's security challenges as it readies to host the Winter Olympics in less than six weeks.

An explosion hit a trolleybus near a busy market during the morning rush hour Monday, a day after a blast at Volgograd's main train station killed 17 people and wounded at least 35 others.

Like Sunday's attack, the blast Monday was a terrorist act, Vladmir Markin, a spokesman for the country's federal investigation agency, told the state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

No one claimed responsibility for the explosions. But they come several months after the leader of a Chechen separatist group pledged violence to disrupt the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

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Filed under: Russia
NSA gets win in court over bulk data collection
December 27th, 2013
12:15 PM ET

NSA gets win in court over bulk data collection

By Evan Perez

The National Security Agency notched a much-needed win in court, after a series of setbacks over the legality and even the usefulness of its massive data collection program.

A federal judge in New York ruled Friday that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of data on nearly every phone call made in the United States is legal.

The ruling contrasts with another ruling last week by a federal judge in Washington, who called the same program "almost Orwellian" and likely unconstitutional.

In his ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge William Pauley said that while the NSA's program under Section 215 of the Patriot Act has become the center of controversy since it was revealed by leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, it is legal.

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December 26th, 2013
10:12 AM ET

Captive American Warren Weinstein feels 'totally abandoned and forgotten'

By Ed Payne

Saying he feels "totally abandoned and forgotten," kidnapped U.S. government contractor Warren Weinstein called on President Barack Obama to negotiate for his freedom in a video released by al Qaeda on Christmas.

The 72-year-old Weinstein was abducted from his home in the Pakistani city of Lahore in August 2011.

In the 13-minute video provided to the Washington Post, Weinstein appeals to the President, Secretary of State John Kerry, the American media, the American public and finally his family.

"Nine years ago, I came to Pakistan to help my government and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here," he said. "And now, when I need my government, it seems I have been totally abandoned and forgotten."
2012: Video released of American captive

This is the second video with him making a direct plea to the Obama administration. The first was released in May 2012.

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Filed under: Pakistan
Christmas Day attacks show security challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan
December 25th, 2013
11:04 AM ET

Christmas Day attacks show security challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan

By Lateef Mungin

Two car bombs targeting Christians killed at least 38 people in southern Baghdad on Christmas.

In Afghanistan, two rounds of "indirect fire" hit the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul, but no one was hurt.

The incidents highlight the security challenges with which both Iraq and Afghanistan are grappling.

Both countries have had a heavy U.S. military presence until recently.

The departure of U.S. forces from Iraq has done little to curb the near-daily cycle of violence. In Afghanistan, U.S. and Afghan officials are working on an important security pact to outline the future of American troops in Afghanistan.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Iraq • Terrorism
Israel decries U.S. snooping; presses for spy's release
December 23rd, 2013
01:53 PM ET

Israel decries U.S. snooping; presses for spy's release

CNN Justice Reporter Evan Perez

Israeli officials are protesting revelations of National Security Agency snooping on their leaders, while also taking the opportunity to press for the United States to release an Israeli spy.

Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who spied for Israel in the 1980s, is serving a life sentence for espionage; Israel has acknowledged he was an intelligence asset and has pushed for years to have him released.

The NSA allegations surfaced in the New York Times last week based on a leak from former agency contractor Edward Snowden.

After a few days of silence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a political party gathering Monday that he had asked the United States to explain the reports, adding that spying among close allies is unacceptable.

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First on CNN: Lawmakers pushes State Department to take action on Russian diplomats
December 23rd, 2013
12:16 PM ET

First on CNN: Lawmakers pushes State Department to take action on Russian diplomats

CNN Justice Reporter Evan Perez

A senior U.S. lawmaker is pushing the State Department to take action against a group of current and former Russian diplomats who prosecutors allege ran a nine-year scheme that bilked $1.5 million from Medicaid, the U.S. health benefits program for the poor.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter on Monday to Secretary of State John Kerry, expressing concern that the government may not be doing enough to ensure diplomats aren’t improperly getting taxpayer-funded benefits.
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Newly declassified documents released on post-9/11 surveillance
December 21st, 2013
08:39 PM ET

Newly declassified documents released on post-9/11 surveillance

The Obama administration has released more once-secret national security documents, this time detailing the origins of increased electronic surveillance to collect foreign intelligence in the months after the 9/11 attacks.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Saturday in a statement that the material shows that President George W. Bush authorized spy agencies to collect contents of some overseas communications, as well as the bulk collection of domestic phone calls and e-mail metadata.

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Report: U.S. nuclear general drank too much, misbehaved in Russia
December 20th, 2013
10:31 AM ET

Report: U.S. nuclear general drank too much, misbehaved in Russia

CNN's Faith Karimi

A U.S. general who oversaw nuclear weapons boozed, fraternized with "hot women" and disrespected his hosts during an official visit to Russia this year, an investigative report shows.

Maj. Gen. Michael Carey led the 20th Air Force responsible for three nuclear wings.

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