By Michael Pearson
Please, Mr. President, don't leave me behind.
That's the gist of former U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross' plea to President Barack Obama in a letter on the fourth anniversary of Gross' imprisonment in a small military prison cell in Cuba.
In the letter, Gross - convicted by a Cuban court of "acts against the independence or territorial integrity of the state" - says he spends 23 hours a day in a small cell with two other inmates, is in poor health and is largely cut off from the outside world.
"With the utmost respect, Mr. President, I fear that my government - the very government I was serving when I began this nightmare - has abandoned me," wrote Gross, a former subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. "Officials in your administration have expressed sympathy and called for my unconditional release, and I very much appreciate that. But it has not brought me home."FULL STORY
By Elise Labott, reporting from the United Nations
So what did President Barack Obama mean when he said he was instructing Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate a deal with Iran on its nuclear program?
Basically it’s to show that the United States is ready to play ball.
Senior administration officials said it wasn't to indicate a new initiative, as negotiations with Iran are already technically already taking place.
Instead, it was meant to show an increased emphasis and importance the president is putting on improved relations.
(CNN) - As a Russian proposal to strip Syria of its chemical weapons began to take shape, the White House eased off the gas on Tuesday in its drive for congressional approval to strike the Middle Eastern country.
President Barack Obama asked Senate Democrats to delay voting on authorizing military action in Syria while the diplomatic process works itself out, according to senators in a meeting with Obama.
A White House official told CNN that during his meeting on the hill, the president said that his administration would spend the days ahead pursuing this diplomatic option with the Russians and U.S. allies at the United Nations.
The Russian ambassador to the United States said any use of American military force against war-wracked Syria could carry serious consequences and hoped such an outcome would not ruin already tense relations.
While things are difficult between Washington and Moscow, Sergey Kislyak said in Washington that ties have not plunged to Cold War depths – yet.
“They’re not in good shape,” Kislyak said at an appearance in Washington for the Center for the National Interest.
By CNN's Barbara Starr and Jennifer Rizzo
The U.S. military could execute a strike against Syria very quickly, if it's ordered to, according to Pentagon sources.
President Barack Obama is still debating a limited strike after Syrian regime forces allegedly unleashed a brutal chemical attack against civilians and rebel forces earlier this month, killing at least 1,429 people, according to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Before any missiles start flying, the president would issue an "execute" order for operations to begin.
Aaron David Miller, vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, says Obama apparently has chosen the middle option on Syria (between doing nothing and the McCain option of pushing for regime change). The result is one of the most widely telegraphed military assaults ever by Washington and a situation in which the president seems to be in a corner, forced to take action or risk being considered ineffective. It’s the least bad option, Miller says.FULL STORY
By Jim Acosta and Brianna Keilar
A senior administration official stressed U.S. President Barack Obama is on an “abbreviated timeline” for making a decision on whether to launch a military strike against Syria over its suspected use of chemical weapons.
“We see this with some urgency,” the official said.
After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that chemical weapon use by the Syrian regime was “undeniable,” the senior administration official said the United States no longer requires confirmation from United Nations weapons inspectors.
“This one is a lot easier to figure out,” the official said. “This is really obvious.” FULL POST
By Jill Dougherty
Two days after calling off a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow, President Barack Obama said Friday he is re-evaluating the entire U.S./Russia relationship.
Obama, speaking at a White House news conference, seemed ready for a more rocky relationship with the Kremlin.
"It is probably appropriate for us to take a pause, reassess where it is that Russia's going, what our core interests are, and calibrate the relationship so that we're doing things that are good for the United States and hopefully good for Russia as well, but recognizing that there are just going to be some differences and we're not going to be able to completely disguise them, and that's ok."
Obama told reporters his decision not to participate in the Moscow summit next month went beyond Russia's decision to give temporary asylum to admitted National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
"It had to do with the fact that, frankly, on a whole range of issues where we think we can make some progress Russia has not moved," he said. "And so, we don't consider that strictly punitive."
By Peter Bergen, Special to CNN
There is a one-word subtext to President Obama's trip to Africa: China.
After 9/11, the United States became embroiled in more than a decade of wars in Asia and the Middle East. As a result, U.S. engagement in Latin America and Africa largely atrophied.
Meanwhile, China saw an opportunity. China has now displaced the United States as the largest trading partners of two key Latin American countries, Brazil and Chile.
China's economic rise is particularly marked in Africa; it quietly surpassed the United States as the continent's largest trading partner four years ago.
Editor's note: Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst and a director at the New America Foundation.FULL STORY
By Holly Yan, CNN
President Barack Obama will ask Russia to join the United States in slashing its supply of strategic nuclear warheads by about one-third, a senior administration official said.
Obama will announce the goal during a speech Wednesday in Berlin - a city rife with Cold War history.
The president will also outline his goal to reduce U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, the official said. The president hopes to work with NATO allies on proposals toward that goal.
It's all part of Obama's "vision of achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," the official said.
"We will seek to negotiate these reductions with Russia to continue to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures," the official added.
Obama's speech will take place almost exactly 50 years after President John F. Kennedy delivered his "Ich bin ein Berliner" - or "I am a Berliner" - speech in the city that was divided by Western and Soviet occupations during the Cold War.FULL STORY