April 9th, 2014
05:01 PM ET

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Filed under: Security Brief
Alan Gross, held in Cuba for four years, launches hunger strike
April 8th, 2014
10:09 AM ET

Alan Gross, held in Cuba for four years, launches hunger strike

By Kevin Liptak

Alan Gross, the former American subcontractor who's spent four years imprisoned in Cuba, launched a hunger strike last week in a bid to spur both the United States and Cuba to resolve his case.

Gross has called on President Barack Obama to become personally involved in securing his release from the small Cuban jail where he's been incarcerated since 2009. Gross' lawyer on Tuesday said the U.S. government had put a resolution to his case in jeopardy after secretly setting up a social media network designed to help Cubans communicate.

"I am fasting to object to mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments, not only regarding their shared responsibility for my arbitrary detention, but also because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal," Gross wrote in a statement distributed by his U.S.-based public relations firm.
FULL POST

Nuke negotiators aim to start crafting Iran deal in May
April 4th, 2014
08:17 PM ET

Nuke negotiators aim to start crafting Iran deal in May

By Laura Koran

Talks will resume next week on the future of Iran's nuclear program with the goal of beginning to draft a comprehensive agreement in May, a senior Obama administration official said on Friday.

The next round of negotiations will seek to build on the work that has been done since January, when an interim deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council took effect.

That deal eased some economic sanctions in return for Iran rolling back parts of its nuclear program, which the United States and others believe is designed to produce a weapon. Iran says its nuclear intentions are peaceful.

While officials in Washington are optimistic that negotiations are progressing on track, a number of significant potential roadblocks need to be worked through if a long-term agreement is to be reached.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Arms Control • Iran • Nuclear
Report: U.S. created a Cuban Twitter to overthrow government
April 3rd, 2014
02:52 PM ET

Report: U.S. created a Cuban Twitter to overthrow government

By Jose Pagliery

The U.S. government secretly created a Twitter-like social media service to subvert Cuba's communist government, according to an investigative report by the Associated Press.

The AP says U.S. government officials developed an app called ZunZuneo - named after the chirping sound of a hummingbird - to cause social unrest.

U.S. efforts to undermine the Castro regime in Havana are nothing new. There was a poison cigar, an exploding seashell, lethal pills and a fungus-ridden diving suit. But cooking up a tech startup with - literally - revolutionary intentions? That's something else.

To get around Cuba's iron grip control on technology and outside influence via the Internet, ZunZuneo was a low-tech version of Twitter fed by cell phone text messages, the AP reported.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Cuba • Technology
Fort Hood shooting spree: 'Texans' hearts are once again very heavy'
April 3rd, 2014
01:24 PM ET

Fort Hood shooting spree: 'Texans' hearts are once again very heavy'

By Tom Watkins, Ben Brumfield and Josh Rubin

A day after a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, left three soldiers dead and 16 wounded, a profile emerged Thursday of the killer as an experienced soldier who was grappling with mental illness, but no answers were forthcoming as to a possible motive.

The incident began Wednesday at 4 p.m., when Spc. Ivan Lopez, 34, went from one building at the sprawling Texas military base to a second, firing his .45-caliber handgun.

Lopez then put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger, ending his life.

Investigators have downplayed the possibility that terrorism may have been involved, but said they were keeping open minds.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Army • Fort Hood • Military
Carlin confirmed for Justice national security post
April 1st, 2014
08:05 PM ET

Carlin confirmed for Justice national security post

By Evan Perez

The Senate voted 99-1 on Tuesday to confirm John Carlin as assistant attorney general for national security, a job that has been vacant for more than a year.

The time it took to fill the post illustrates how, with a slow-moving bureaucracy in the White House and partisan bickering that occupies the Senate, even noncontroversial nominees for national security jobs can take a while.

FULL POST

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Filed under: NSA
March 30th, 2014
08:42 PM ET

Kerry: Russia supports finding a diplomatic solution to crisis in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday after four hours of talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Russia had reaffirmed its commitment to finding a diplomatic solution in Ukraine but had not agreed to move Russian troops from the Ukraine border.

"We both made suggestions as to how that will be achieved ... and I will return to Washington to consult with President Obama on his choices," Kerry said at a news conference in Paris. "We are trying to find a way to defuse this."

Kerry said Lavrov indicated Russia "wants to support" Ukraine in its move toward independence but said the massing of Russian troops has created "a climate of fear and intimidation."

"Is it smart at this moment in time to have that number of troops amassed on a border when you are sending a message that you want to de-escalate and move in the other direction?" Kerry said.

FULL STORY
March 30th, 2014
01:28 PM ET

Senate Intel chair: Crimea’s gone

Washington (CNN) - Some U.S. lawmakers are ready to say that it's futile to try to persuade Russia to give up control of Crimea.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on Sunday that the debate over the Crimean Peninsula is "done" and the region is now under Moscow's control.

FULL STORY
March 26th, 2014
07:02 PM ET

U.S. intel assessment: greater likelihood Russia will enter eastern Ukraine

By Barbara Starr

A new classified intelligence assessment concludes it is more likely than previously thought that Russian forces will enter eastern Ukraine, CNN has learned.

Two administration officials described the assessment but declined to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the information.

The officials emphasized that nothing is certain, but there have been several worrying signs in the past three to four days.

“This has shifted our thinking that the likelihood of a further Russian incursion is more probable than it was previously thought to be,” one official said.

FULL POST

Controversy stirs anew over Saudi textbooks with Obama set to visit
March 25th, 2014
08:55 PM ET

Controversy stirs anew over Saudi textbooks with Obama set to visit

President Barack Obama's trip to Saudi Arabia this week comes amid accusations the State Department has hidden the results of a study that concludes textbooks in the Kingdom remain rife with Islamic extremism.

Since the September 11, 2001, attacks, successive U.S. administrations have attempted to curb Saudi indoctrination of students through hateful extremist material in its textbooks.

In addition to teaching the material to its own students, Saudi Arabia runs academies in about 20 countries, which use some of the same texts.

The Kingdom has repeatedly claimed that it has revised its textbooks.

FULL POST

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