By Cristy Lenz
(CNN) – The family of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier captured by the Taliban in 2009, received a letter from him recently - reviving their hopes that the 27-year-old army sergeant is still alive.
Bergdahl's father mentioned receiving the letter in an e-mail exchange with Dwight Murphy, the spokesman for the local POW/MIA group in Boise Valley, Idaho.
"We have received a letter from Bowe through the Red Cross!" the father says in the exchange. "He was scripted and redacted but he was no doubt alive and his faculties fully functioning as of two months ago."
He did not say when he got the letter, but Murphy copied and pasted the exchange with the father on his Facebook page after receiving his permission to do so.
The father's letter goes on say, "They are being very careful with him. He is still highly valued at high levels.
"Guantanamo, drones and politics in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Washington are still the big issues."FULL STORY
CNN's Barbara Starr reports on an extraordinary allegation being leveled against the nation's top Marine, Gen. James Amos, stemming from that infamous video of Marines urinating on corpses in Afghanistan. The complaint against Amos was first reported by the Marine Corps Times.
Warning: the images contained in this piece may be disturbing.
Did shifting cargo throw a Boeing 747 off balance and cause it to crash? CNN's Chris Lawrence looks at possible causes. A warning: the video purporting to show the Monday crash in Afghanistan is disturbing.
By Elise Labott reporting from Brussels
Secretary of State John Kerry brought together Afghan and Pakistani leaders on Wednesday to help soothe tensions between the two countries and try to breathe life into the reconciliation process with the Taliban.
Keeping expectations low for any immediate progress in the process, Kerry said all sides still have "homework" to do.
"We have agreed that results will tell the story, not statements at press conferences," Kerry told reporters in Brussels before returning to Washington. "We are not going to raise expectations or make any kind of promises that can't be delivered."
Kerry hosted Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani at Truman Hall, the secluded estate of the U.S. Ambassador to NATO outside Brussels.
By Elise Labott
(CNN) - Anne Smedinghoff’s idea of fun wasn’t what most people would consider a good time. In January 2012 while in Venezuela as a Foreign Service officer, she wrote to her friends about a holiday to the Delta del Orinoco, one of the world’s great river deltas.
“Two Belgians, four Germans, a Swiss-Venezuela, a Norwegian and I trekked into the jungle on Saturday,” Smedinghoff wrote. “Sounds like the start of a bad joke, but in fact it's how I spent my Martin Luther King Day weekend. We lived in huts built over the river on stilts, fished for and ate piranhas, paddled around the delta in canoes made from tree trunks, cut down a palm tree and ate the fresh heart-of-palm from the inside, visited an indigenous family who kept a crocodile on a leash as a pet, saw anacondas and macaws and monkeys, used machetes to cut our way through the jungle, ate termites that tasted like menthol, and watched the sunset while drinking rum and Tang in a boat.”
Overcome with grief at her death in a suicide bombing Saturday while delivering books to an Afghan school, her family and friends are celebrating the life of what they describe as a fearless and positive woman with an infectious smile who was devoted to helping others. And they are trying to find solace in the fact that she died doing what she loved.
“She was a woman who loved life, who was adventuresome, really wanted to make a difference in the world,” says her father, Thomas Smedinghoff. “She was someone that really embraced life to the fullest.”
By Ben Brumfield and Michael Martinez
Secretary of State John Kerry took a moment out of his trip to the Middle East Sunday to lament the killing of a Foreign Service member, who was one of six Americans recently killed in Afghanistan.
Kerry met Anne Smedinghoff less than a month ago, he told journalists in Istanbul, Turkey. She was part of his team at the time.
"I remember her as vivacious, smart, capable, often chosen by the ambassador for her capabilities," Kerry said.
By Michael Martinez
Two attacks in Afghanistan killed six Americans - four service members and two civilians - on Saturday as a top U.S. military official arrived to assess the country's security, officials said.
The deadliest attack was the bombing of a military convoy delivering books to a school in southern Afghanistan's Zabul province in which three service members, a State Department civilian and a Department of Defense civilian were killed, according to U.S. officials.
Afghan civilians also died in that incident, said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Four more State Department personnel suffered injuries, one of them critically, Kerry said.
By CNN Staff
There's a new one-week deadline for handing over control of a U.S.-run detention center near Bagram Air Base to Afghan authorities, Afghanistan's president said Sunday.
On Sunday, Hamid Karzai's office said in a statement that he had agreed to a request from U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for one week "to carry out the full handover the prison."
"President Karzai agreed with the new time request and reminded Secretary Hagel that the transfer has been delayed several times in the past and that this time, the handover should take place," the statement said.
By Barbara Starr
The commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan is warning his top commanders of new risks of attacks due to rising tensions between NATO forces and the Afghan president, an ISAF official told CNN Thursday.
The personal e-mail Gen. Joseph Dunford sent Wednesday is not a formal threat advisory, said the official, who did not want to be identified.
The tensions between the NATO-led coalition forces - especially those from the United States - and President Hamid Karzai escalated after a bomb blast in Kabul last weekend that killed nine people.
Karzai said afterward that there are "ongoing daily talks between Taliban, American and foreigners in Europe and in the Gulf states."
Dunford quickly denounced Karzai's remark.
"We have fought too hard over the past 12 years. We have shed too much blood over the past 12 years. We have done too much to help the Afghan Security Forces grow over the last 12 years to ever think that violence or instability would be to our advantage," he said.
In the e-mail sent Wednesday, Dunford told commanders that Karzai's recent statements "could be a catalyst for some to lash out against our forces - he may also issue orders that put our forces at risk."
ISAF is currently in discussions with the Afghan government about the terms for the turnover of the detention facility at Bagram to the Afghans, as well as the withdrawal of U.S. special forces from Wardak Province following still unsubstantiated complaints about U.S. troop misconduct there.
Dunford met with Karzai Wednesday to discuss the transfer of the detention center. The general said it "must be done in a way that meets the needs of Afghan sovereignty while mitigating the real threats that some of these detainees pose to Afghan and coalition forces.
"We will complete the transfer when the remaining issues have been resolved," Dunford said in a statement on ISAF's website.
Several media reported Karzai gave a speech Tuesday in which he suggested the government would take unilateral actions to assume control of the detention center if the transfer was delayed much longer.
In his e-mail, Dunford calls Karzai's remarks about Bagram "inflammatory speech."
ISAF called the general's warning "prudent given increased coalition casualties in recent days."
"ISAF routinely conducts assessments and adapts its protection posture to ensure our forces are prepared to meet potential threats and that they have a common understanding of the situation here in Afghanistan," the ISAF statement said. "General Dunford's e-mail is simply an example of this vigilance."
By Mariano Castillo and Chelsea Carter
Cyberattacks pose more of an eminent threat to the United States than a land-based attack by a terrorist group, while North Korea's development of a nuclear weapons program poses a "serious threat," the director of national intelligence told Congress on Tuesday.
The warning by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper came in his annual report to Congress of the threats facing the United States. It was one of the rare times since the September 11, 2001, attacks that terrorism was not the leading threat facing the nation.
"Attacks, which might involve cyber and financial weapons, can be deniable and unattributable," Clapper said prepared remarks before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "Destruction can be invisible, latent and progressive."
The Internet is increasingly being used as a tool both by nations and terror groups to achieve their objectives, according to Clapper's report.