U.S. finalizing Sochi evacuation contingency plans
January 31st, 2014
05:20 PM ET

U.S. finalizing Sochi evacuation contingency plans

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. military is putting the final touches on a series of orders that will put transport aircraft on standby status to assist in the evacuation of Americans, should that become necessary, at the Olympic Games in Sochi, CNN has learned.

Two U.S. military officials confirmed to CNN the orders are expected to be issued next week and will go into effect with the opening of the Winter Games on February 7.

Both officials strongly emphasized Friday that Russia remains responsible for security and any request for U.S. military assets would have to come through the State Department, which is coordinating government security arrangements for Americans.

The military orders will ensure that in the event of a crisis, C-17 transport aircraft and medical evacuation crews will be ready to move from their base at Ramstein, Germany, to Sochi within roughly six hours of being notified.
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Air Force chief cites 'systemic problems' as nuke cheating scandal grows
January 30th, 2014
12:05 PM ET

Air Force chief cites 'systemic problems' as nuke cheating scandal grows

By Barbara Starr

A cheating scandal involving members of the Air Force nuclear command has tripled in size over the past two weeks with more people identified as investigators stepped up their probe.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said on Thursday that 92 officers from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana are now implicated in the scandal over a proficiency test administered last year.

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January 29th, 2014
07:44 PM ET

Exclusive: Iran's Zarif says Obama remarks for 'domestic consumption'

By CNN Staff

President Barack Obama had some sharp language on Iran in his State of the Union address, but Tehran saw it mainly as tough talk for a domestic audience.

 
CNN's Jim Sciutto met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Iran to get his first-hand response to Obama's speech on Tuesday night in which the President said American diplomacy - backed by pressure - has "halted the progress of Iran's nuclear program."

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U.S. intelligence chief to Edward Snowden: Turn over all documents now
January 29th, 2014
12:46 PM ET

U.S. intelligence chief to Edward Snowden: Turn over all documents now

By Tom Cohen

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Wednesday asked classified leaker Edward Snowden and his accomplices to turn over any intelligence documents they have yet to make public, warning that terrorists and other foes were "going to school" on information from disclosures so far.

Clapper spoke at a Senate hearing on the annual report of worldwide threats, and his opening statement outlined a series of crises and challenges around the world that he called the most significant he has ever experienced.

He said Snowden's disclosures have put U.S. intelligence operations and citizens at risk.

Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, is in Russia seeking permanent asylum to avoid U.S. criminal charges over the leaking of classified documents that exposed surveillance programs, including the collection of phone records for possible use in terrorism investigations.

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Air Force nuke officers cheating scandal doubled in size
January 28th, 2014
04:52 PM ET

Air Force nuke officers cheating scandal doubled in size

By Barbara Starr

A cheating scandal by Air Force nuclear weapons officers has doubled in size, a U.S. military official told CNN.

The Air Force revealed earlier this month that 34 officers were alleged to have cheated or turned a blind eye to cheating on a proficiency exam for intercontinental missile launch officers at the Global Strike Command at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana.

After further investigation, it appears another three dozen or so officers are also alleged to have cheated.

About 180 officers took the proficiency exam.
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Military strike in Somalia targeted Al-Shabaab leader, U.S. officials say
January 28th, 2014
03:13 PM ET

Military strike in Somalia targeted Al-Shabaab leader, U.S. officials say

By Barbara Starr

A U.S. military strike in southern Somalia Sunday was targeting Ahmed Abdi Godane, the leader of Al-Shabaab, the Somali-based group with ties to al Qaeda, according to three US officials.

A drone operated by the U.S. Defense Department fired a Hellfire missile at a vehicle killing those inside, the officials said. But as of Tuesday, the Pentagon was unable to confirm whether Godane was killed, although he was the intended target.

The military was authorized to try to kill Godane because of current intelligence indicating he posed an "imminent threat" against U.S. interests in the region, one official said.

"We have to be able to prove he was in the process of planning additional attacks," the official said. The official would not elaborate on what the intelligence might be.

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Homeland Security details Super Bowl safety plan
January 27th, 2014
09:56 PM ET

Homeland Security details Super Bowl safety plan

By Evan Perez

More air marshals and behavioral detection officers, radiological detection teams and random baggage checks at transit hubs are among the security measures the federal Homeland Security Department will deploy in the next few days to help local police in New Jersey and New York secure the Super Bowl.

The game will be played at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey’s Meadowlands area just outside New York City. The stadium’s location near a major airport and busy commuter train lines presents security challenges. Unlike audiences for other championship games, spectators of Super Bowl XLVIII will rely heavily on mass transit.

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U.S. commander in Afghanistan to meet with Obama on troops
January 27th, 2014
12:42 PM ET

U.S. commander in Afghanistan to meet with Obama on troops

By Barbara Starr

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is headed to Washington for an expected meeting with President Barack Obama in coming days to discuss future troop levels in Afghanistan, a U.S. military official said on Monday.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, along with the Pentagon, is proposing 10,000 American troops and 2,000 to 3,000 NATO forces be kept on duty after combat operations end at the close of the year.
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Navy's Michael Rogers expected to be Obama's next NSA choice
January 27th, 2014
12:33 PM ET

Navy's Michael Rogers expected to be Obama's next NSA choice

By Barbara Starr

Navy Vice Adm. Michael Rogers is expected to be nominated the next director of the embattled National Security Agency, a U.S. official confirmed to CNN.

The current director, Gen. Keith Alexander, is expected to retire in March.

Alexander's tenure has been most recently marked by controversy over intelligence leaks by former agency contractor Edward Snowden about electronic surveillance.

Iran's foreign minister talks of possible relief for jailed Americans
January 23rd, 2014
07:04 PM ET

Iran's foreign minister talks of possible relief for jailed Americans

By Jennifer Rizzo

A reduced sentence for two Americans jailed in Iran may be possible, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an exclusive interview with CNN's Jim Sciutto.

"We have various clemency measures in Iran that can be introduced, happened in the past, can be introduced again in these cases," Zarif said in the interview this week from Davos, Switzerland.

Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine who served in Iraq, was arrested in Iran in August 2011 and held on espionage charges.

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