Rights report calls out Syria, Russia; Ukraine protesters praised
February 27th, 2014
03:35 PM ET

Rights report calls out Syria, Russia; Ukraine protesters praised

By Laura Koran

Syria carried out "egregious human rights violations" last year, according to a State Department assessment released on Thursday that also singled out abuses in Russia and the Ukraine.

The 2013 Human Rights Report, based on assessments from America's embassies abroad, reserved its strongest language for the Syrian government, which allegedly gassed its own people last August in an atrocity linked to the ongoing civil war.

"Hundreds were murdered in the dead of night when a disaster occurred at the hands of a dictator, who decided to infect the air of Damascus with poisonous gas," Secretary of State John Kerry said in presenting the report.

"And many more have been, unfortunately, confined to die under a barrage of barrel bombs, scud missiles, artillery and other conventional weapons," he said.
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Filed under: China • Kerry • State Department • Syria • Ukraine
February 27th, 2014
12:19 PM ET

Russian troop movements near Ukraine raise concerns, U.S. official says

By Barbara Starr

Russian military exercises near Ukraine are raising concerns that Moscow may be putting troops in position to move across the border if such orders are issued, a senior U.S. official familiar with the most recent administration assessment told CNN Thursday.

But the United States still believes that Russia doesn't plan to order its forces into its tumultuous neighbor, the official said.

U.S. officials - who are monitoring the area 24 hours a day - have not yet seen signs that Russia is preparing to secure supply and transportation routes that would be crucial to any such movement, the official said.

Russian military activity levels observed by the United States also "appear to be within normal range," the official said.

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Syria a 'top' concern for homeland security chief
February 26th, 2014
02:56 PM ET

Syria a 'top' concern for homeland security chief

By Jamie Crawford

 

The U.S. homeland security chief says chaos and instability in Syria remain a top concern for protecting the country from attack.

 

"I would say that for those of us in national security and homeland security in this government, this particular issue is at the top of the list or near the top of the list for us," Homeland Security Secretary told a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

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Pakistan launches military operation against militants
February 25th, 2014
08:21 PM ET

Pakistan launches military operation against militants

By Jim Sciutto

With Pakistan suffering from terrorist attacks "left, right and center," a senior Pakistani government official said Tuesday a massive military operation is underway in North Waziristan to "close the chapter" on the Haqqani network in Pakistan.

When the operation is complete, the Haqqani network will "reach a conclusion" in Pakistani territory, the official said.

A recent wave of terror attacks has claimed more than 200 lives in the last month alone, according to the official.

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February 25th, 2014
08:16 PM ET

No bluff: U.S. planning possible withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan

By Barbara Starr and Tom Cohen

We're not bluffing, the Obama administration told Afghanistan on Tuesday in announcing for the first time it has started planning for the possible withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of the year if no security agreement is signed.

Statements by the White House and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel showed President Barack Obama's impatience with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign the agreement that would keep several thousand American troops in the country after combat operations conclude this year.

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10 highlights from Jim Sciutto’s Reddit AMA on Iran & national security
February 24th, 2014
08:10 PM ET

10 highlights from Jim Sciutto’s Reddit AMA on Iran & national security

CNN’s Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto recently returned from Iran to cover U.S.-Iran relations. It was his 11th trip there. Sciutto also covers everything from U.S. foreign policy to defense, terrorism, and intelligence issues.

 

On Monday, he took 90 minutes to answer questions about national security during a Reddit “Ask me Anything” session.

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Filed under: Security Brief
February 24th, 2014
01:34 PM ET

Get real, Hagel tells nation in proposing military cuts

By Tom Cohen

Get real, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told America on Monday in proposing a scaled back, modern military that would cut the Army to its pre-World War II size, retire the A-10 "Warthog" attack jet and reduce some benefits for fighting forces.

"This is a budget that recognizes the reality of the magnitude of our fiscal challenges, the dangerous world we live in, and the American military's unique and indispensable role in the security of this country and in today's volatile world," Hagel said in unveiling the Defense Department spending plan for 2015 and beyond.

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Filed under: Hagel • Military
Ask Jim Sciutto anything about National Security
February 24th, 2014
12:56 PM ET

Ask Jim Sciutto anything about National Security

CNN's Chief National Security correspondent Jim Sciutto covers everything from U.S. foreign policy, including international hotspots such as Iran, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, to defense, terrorism and intelligence issues such as NSA mass surveillance.

On Monday at Noon ET, he'll be taking your questions on Reddit on anything relating to national security and his experiences covering the beat for CNN. Now is your chance to ask him anything!


Filed under: Security Brief
February 24th, 2014
10:00 AM ET

Defense Department to cut Army to pre-WW II size

By Halimah Abdullah

The Department of Defense plans to scale down the nation's Army to its pre-World War II size and do away with an entire class of Air Force attack jets in an attempt to cut military spending, which mushroomed after the attacks of September 11, 2001, according to reports.

The plan, backed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, as first reported by The New York Times, positions the military to handle any enemy but will leave the armed forces with much fewer resources to take on lengthy missions abroad. The dwindled budget also reflects the current political climate, with a President who has pledged to pull back from extended and expensive wars abroad in an era of federal funding cutbacks.

The budget is to be presented Monday.

Hagel proposes cutting the Army to 440,000-450,000 troops, according to the Times. Army troop levels already were supposed to go down to 490,000, from their height of 570,000 after the 9/11 attacks.
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Filed under: Army • Pentagon
February 23rd, 2014
05:37 PM ET

Analysis: U.S. and Russia playing chess or blood sport?

By CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott

President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin went to great lengths to portray their phone call Friday as evidence the two leaders were working together to stabilize the situation in Ukraine.

Absent were the accusations they traded the past two months over the future of the former Soviet republic.

The Obama administration continues to dismiss the notion of a new Cold War with Russia. But the louder their protests, the more apparent the chill has become.

It was on display Saturday in widely differing characterizations of a telephone conversation between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, after news broke that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych left the capital because of what he described as a "coup."

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