By Adam Levine
There is a "high probability" that Syria deployed chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war, but final verification is needed, the chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday.
"I have a high probability to believe that chemical weapons were used," Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) told CNN. "We need that final verification, but given everything we know over the last year and a half, I would come to the conclusion that they are either positioned for use, and ready to do that, or in fact have been used."
Rogers and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, struck ominous tones in an interview on CNN's Situation Room about the possibility that Syria had crossed what President Barack Obama has said was a 'red line' that could lead to the United States getting involved militarily in the conflict.
"The White House has to make some decision in this. I think the days are becoming more desperate. The regime is more desperate," Feinstein said in the interview. "We know where the chemical weapons are. It's not a secret that they are there, and I think the probabilities are very high that we're going into some very dark times and I think the White House needs to be prepared." FULL POST
By Mike Mount
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a review of how steep military cuts that took effect this month might impact the Pentagon's overall strategy for deploying its resources globally.
Hagel instructed Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey to lead a group of civilian and military officials in conducing the review.
Last year, the Pentagon issued new guidelines on its future strategy. The blueprint called for shifting most of its emphasis toward the Asia-Pacific region while still keeping an eye on hot spots in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
The two-month review will help define major strategy decisions over the next 10 years, according to a statement from Pentagon spokesman George Little.
It will look at assumptions that guided the initial strategy shift and will build a framework that Hagel can turn to for making the next round of budget decisions.
The Pentagon is expected to absorb roughly half of $85 billion in government-wide spending cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year that took effect on March 1.
By CNN's Kevin Liptak
U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel introduced legislation Monday giving President Barack Obama the authority to provide rebels in Syria "lethal equipment," which the United States has thus far avoided doing over the course of the two-year conflict.
The New York Democrat previewed the legislation Sunday, saying in an interview it was the time for more substantial American investment in the rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"I think the Free Syrian Army needs help," Engel said on ABC. "We know who they are. And I think it's time that we make that move."
In a statement Monday, Engel wrote the United States is "long past due to arm friendly rebels and turn the tide to allow for a more hopeful Syrian future."
By CNN Staff
The United States has "pretty good indications" that a man now held in Libya may have been involved in the deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN last week that the FBI had been able to question a man identified by sources as Faraj al-Shibli. But it was still not clear what role, if any, al-Shibli may have played in the September 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. A source briefed by Western intelligence officials said al-Shibli had recently returned to Libya from Pakistan.
"We're not sure yet," U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, told CNN's State of the Union. But. Rogers added, "we have pretty good indications that he is, at least, highly suspected of being involved."
By Matt Smith CNN
A top U.S. congressman expressed concern about the "stability" of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after months of provocative statements and behavior from the nuclear-armed communist state.
"You have a 28-year-old leader who is trying to prove himself to the military, and the military is eager to have a saber-rattling for their own self-interest," said Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. "And the combination of that is proving to be very, very deadly."
North Korea launched a satellite into orbit atop a long-range rocket in December, conducted its third nuclear weapons test in February and announced earlier this month that it was abandoning the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War.
By Jill Dougherty and Pam Benson
More than a month after North Korea tested a nuclear device, the United States is unable to pinpoint whether the regime was able to use uranium to fuel the explosion, a capability that would represent a significantly enhanced nuclear program.
The lack of clarity comes as North Korea ratchets up its bellicose rhetoric each day.
New video broadcast on North Korean television showed the nation's leader, Kim Jong Un, addressing his troops along the border on Monday and issuing a blood-chilling threat, "Throw all enemies into the caldron, break their waists and crack their windpipes." It was the same location he and his late father visited in November 2010, just two days before the North shelled an island, killing four South Koreans.
The bellicose comments have been intensifying over the past months, increasing worry about Kim's unpredictability.
Editors Note: Jane Harman is director, president and chief executive officer of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She was a nine-term congresswoman from California, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee from 2002 to 2006, and a principal coauthor of the Intelligence Reform Law of 2004 and the FISA Amendments of 2008.
By Jane Harman, Special to CNN
Many disagree with Sen. Rand Paul on many issues, but he is spot-on about the need for a crystal clear framework regarding the domestic and international use of drones.
Inside the United States, without exception, an American suspected of plotting a terror attack should never be targeted by an armed drone. Period.
Rand Paul was right to end the 13-hour filibuster after getting a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder that provided modest clarification about presidential authority over drone use in the United States.
"Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?" Mr. Holder wrote. "The answer to that question is no."
Still, the letter left more questions unanswered than answered. Indeed, a simple "no" is hardly reassuring when the policy it supports is not clear.
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.
By Kevin Liptak
United States Marines are being told to preserve ammunition and gasoline as a deal softening the impact of automatic spending cuts continues to elude leaders in Washington.
Marine Corps Commandant James Amos urged personnel in a videoposted online Friday to "save every round, every gallon of gas," and to "take every single aspect or opportunity in training to get the most bang for the buck," a reminder of the cuts' immediate effect on the U.S. military.
"This is no time to do business as usual," Amos said in the video. "Things have changed. The landscape's changed. We need you to be conservative in the way you do business, I need you to think about conserving our assets, and I need you to become part of the solution as it relates to sacrifice."FULL STORY
Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday stopped short of entirely ruling out a drone strike against an American citizen on U.S. soil—without trial.
Holder’s comment came in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul. Paul had sent a letter to President Obama’s CIA director nominee John Brennan asking for the administration’s views on the president’s power to authorize lethal force.
In the letter, Holder said “It is possible I suppose to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. “
In a separate letter, Brennan told Paul that the CIA has no such authority.
The nomination passed its first hurdle Tuesday with the Senate intelligence committee voting to approve the nomination in a 12-3 vote. Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said he voted against the nomination because of inconsistencies in Brennan's testimony.
Earlier in the day, the White House agreed to provide legal documents written by Justice Department officials explaining the legal rationale for targeting Americans overseas who are involved in terror-related activities that threatened America or American interests.