By Jamie Crawford, CNN National Security Producer
From the targeted killing of Americans overseas to the future of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, President Barack Obama will lay out the framework and legal rationale for his administration's counterterrorism policy in a widely anticipated speech on Thursday.
Administration officials tell CNN that Obama will use the National Defense University speech to continue to call on engagement with Congress on aspects of national security, more transparency in the use of drones, and a review of threats facing the United States.
He will make the case that the al Qaeda terror network has been weakened, but that new dangers have emerged even as the U.S. winds down operations in Afghanistan after more than a decade of war triggered by the 9/11 attacks.
Threats that have emerged come from al Qaeda affiliates, localized extremist groups, and homegrown terrorists.
The address will also build on remarks Obama made in his annual State of the Union address earlier this year when he said his administration works "tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism efforts."FULL STORY
By Gabriella Schwarz
President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday nuclear aggression from North Korea has further isolated the region and vowed to use all means to deter further provocations.
"If Pyongyang thought its recent threats would drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States or somehow garner the North international respect, today is further evidence that North Korea has failed again," Obama said during a joint press conference with the two leaders. "The United States and the Republic of Korea are as united as ever ... North Korea is more isolated than ever."
Obama said North Korea's manufactured crises will no long elicit concessions and committed to protecting the United States and its allies.
"The United States is fully prepared and capable of defending ourselves and our allies with the full range of capabilities available, including the deterrence provided by our conventional and nuclear forces," Obama said. "The commitment of the United States to the security of the Republic of Korea will never waver."
President Park, South Korea's first female president, said she will "by no means tolerate North Korea's threats and provocations, which have recently been escalating further."FULL STORY
The growing strength of extremist groups across the Middle East and Africa has led the Obama Administration to begin a classified review of just who it can go after under its targeted killing program.
The current congressional authorization to use military force, allows the President to "use all necessary and appropriate force" against any persons or organizations involved in planning or carrying out the September 11th attacks–its been interpreted to include al Qaeda affiliates.
But emerging terrorist groups sympathetic to al Qaeda do not necessarily have a direct link to the core Al Qaeda network responsible for the September 11th attack, CNN's Barbara Starr reports.
By Jessica Yellin
President Barack Obama has spent large chunks of the last six months dealing with matters of foreign policy, from Benghazi to Afghanistan to drones.
But the topic won’t be the centerpiece of his State of the Union address Tuesday. Administration officials say he’ll focus instead on jobs and the economy, the topics that still rank as the most important for Americans, according to polls.
While Obama won't spend as much time on foreign policy Tuesday as he does on the economy, that isn't unusual. In his last four addresses to Congress, this president spent an average of seven minutes on foreign policy and an average 22 minutes on the economy, according to analyses from the Washington Post and National Journal.
He will address the ongoing drawdown of the American military presence in Afghanistan, and last week Vice President Joe Biden indicated at a security conference in Munich that Obama could talk about his commitment to reducing the stockpile of nuclear weapons around the world.
By Elise Labott
The State Department has reassigned the special envoy dealing with closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and has no plans to replace him, two senior State Department officials tell CNN.
Daniel Fried's office has been closed and his duties will now be handled by the State Department's legal adviser's office, according to a State Department internal announcement.
The decision leaves little indication that the administration has pressing plans to follow through on a chief promise of President Barack Obama regarding the "Gitmo" facility in Cuba.
It was established in 2001 within a remote U.S. naval base to house those classified as enemy combatants.
Fried's post was created in 2009 shortly after Obama announced his intention to close Guantanamo Bay within his first year in office.
Fried has traveled the world since negotiating the repatriation of about 30 low-level detainees and resettling about 40 more eligible for release but unable to return to their home countries due to fears of abuse.
But significant congressional restrictions on further detainee transfers left Fried's job less demanding. Most recently, he spent some of his time working to help resettle a group of Iranian exiles, known as the MEK, living in a refugee camp in Iraq.
"Guantanamo hasn't been a full time job for a year," one senior official said, citing the new congressional restrictions.
Obama signed the limits into law as part of a 2013 defense spending bill.
Administration officials initially said he might veto the defense measure if the legislation included detainee transfer restrictions, which would undercut his pledge to close the facility.
Officials insist the administration still is intent on closing it.
Fried, a career diplomat, will now become the State Department's coordinator for sanctions policy, which includes prohibitions against Iran, North Korea and Syria.
By Kevin Liptak
President Barack Obama is still grappling with what role the United States should play in Syria's bloody conflict, which began nearly two years ago and has claimed the lives of 60,000 people.
In interviews released Sunday, the president pushed back on criticism from political rivals that his administration has been overly detached from foreign unrest, including the ongoing Syrian civil war.
"Muammar Qaddafi probably does not agree with that assessment," Obama told "60 Minutes."
"Syria's a classic example of where our involvement, we want to make sure that not only does it enhance U.S. security, but also that it is doing right by the people of Syria and neighbors like Israel that are going to be profoundly affected by it," he explained later. "And so it's true sometimes that we don't just shoot from the hip."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, appearing alongside the president on "60 Minutes," called the situation in Syria a "wicked problem," but argued there was no clear blueprint for American involvement in the country. FULL POST
By Adam Aigner-Treworgy
Nearly three weeks after nominating chief White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, President Barack Obama on Friday announced a replacement.
Lisa Monaco will serve as the new assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism and deputy national security adviser - a long title for a job that up to this point has been filled by the president's closest adviser in the fight against foreign and domestic terrorism.
Monaco comes from the Justice Department, where she has served as assistant attorney general for national security since July 2011. Prior to that assignment, Monaco served as deputy attorney general, chief of staff to FBI Director Robert Mueller, special counsel at the FBI, and during an earlier stint at the Justice Department adviser to Attorney General Janet Reno on national security issues.
A graduate of Harvard University and University of Chicago Law School - where Obama was a professor before entering politics - Monaco spent many years as a prosecutor. FULL POST
President Barack Obama said Monday he will nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican, to become Defense Secretary and tapped his chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency. CNN's Barbara Starr reports on the message Obama is sending about foreign policy in his second term with these two top national security post nominations.
By Pam Benson
If President Barack Obama's selection to lead the CIA is confirmed, it will be a homecoming of sorts.
John Brennan, the president's chief homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, spent 25 years at the Central intelligence Agency distinguishing himself as a Mideast and terrorism expert.
But moving back to Langley would be a big change.
He's spent the past four years at the White House, where he has had Obama's ear.
If there is an act of terrorism against Americans anywhere in the world or a mass shooting at home, Brennan is often the one who picks up the phone or walks into the Oval Office, day or night, to tell the president about the calamity.
He has been the president's trusted counterterrorism and homeland security aide who can be seen in photographs briefing Obama on such incidents as the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, or the Times Square bombing attempt in 2010. He's with the president in the Situation Room during crisis deliberations.
Two former caregivers at an army day care center at Ft. Myer, Virginia are charged with assaulting children at the facility just next door to the Pentagon.
And at least 30 other childcare workers have been taken off the job after background checks found criminal records including sexual assault and drug use.
Military families are shocked and telling CNN’s Barbara Starr that the military kept them in the dark about many of the problems at Ft. Myer.