FIRST ON CNN: U.S. considering whether to extend stay of aircraft carriers in waters around Iran
The USS Abraham Lincoln, left, is one of two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf region.
July 12th, 2012
01:52 AM ET

FIRST ON CNN: U.S. considering whether to extend stay of aircraft carriers in waters around Iran

By Mike Mount

The U.S. is deciding whether to keep two aircraft carriers in the waters around Iran through the end of the year in a move that risks inflaming tensions with the regime, according to U.S. officials.

The decision entails extending the mandate to maintain an extra carrier in the region by three months, according to U.S. officials.

A 2010 directive by then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates added an additional carrier to the Persian Gulf region where the U.S. typically has kept only one carrier while not in actual full combat operations.

The directive is set to expire in September of this year, but the officials said the White House, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and top Navy officials are mulling over whether to extend the presence at a time when Iran continues its saber rattling with threats to close the main oil tanker route out of the Arabian Gulf at the Strait of Hormuz as well as its continued insistence to pursue a nuclear program.

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Filed under: FIRST ON CNN/EXCLUSIVE • Iran • Middle East • Military • Navy
First on CNN: Scoop on inside discussions over proposed leak provisions
Top leadership of Senate and House intelligence committees discuss concerns over leaks
July 5th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

First on CNN: Scoop on inside discussions over proposed leak provisions

by Suzanne Kelly

Discussions are ongoing over just how stringent new provisions should be as the Senate targets leakers in its upcoming Intelligence Authorization bill, according to a government source.

Many of the options up for consideration put far stricter limits on communications between intelligence officials and reporters, according to the source, who told CNN that early proposals included requiring government employees who provide background briefings to reporters to notify members of Congress ahead of time.

Such background meetings are not widely seen as opportunities to discuss classified programs. Reporters routinely use background briefings to gather contextual information on stories they are covering.

According to the government source, there were also discussions about consolidating some of the press offices within the intelligence community, limiting the number of people who are available to answer common media inquiries.

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June 28th, 2012
02:15 PM ET

FIRST ON CNN: China, Singapore to be exempted from Iran sanctions

by Jamie Crawford

China and Singapore will receive exemptions from U.S. sanctions scheduled to go into effect Thursday that would have cut off banks in those countries from the U.S. financial system for handling Iranian oil transactions, a source in the office of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) tells Security Clearance.

Secretary of State Clinton called Senator Menendez earlier today to inform him.

Under legislation signed by President Barack Obama In December, the United States will take action against countries that continue buying large volumes of Iranian oil through Iran's Central Bank by cutting off financial institutions engaged in those transactions from the U.S. banking system. FULL POST

June 18th, 2012
05:55 AM ET

EXCLUSIVE: Israel's president warns "time is out" for Iran

Editor's note: Watch Elise Labott's interview with Shimon Peres at 1pET on CNN's Newsroom with Suzanne Malveaux

By Elise Labott, reporting from Jerusalem

Time is running out for a diplomatic solution to Western concerns about Iran's nuclear program, Israeli President Shimon Peres said Monday in an interview with CNN.

He said Iran continues to flout the United Nations and world leaders by pushing forward with work on its nuclear program - including, he said, work on a nuclear weapon. But he said Iranian leaders would be making a costly mistake in believing the threat of military action is an empty one.

"You cannot provoke the world, assuming the world is made of fools only," Peres said.

His comments come at the start of talks in Moscow between Iran and the group of nations that have taken the lead on the issue: the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany. Peres is not attending the meetings.

The International Atomic Energy Agency and Western leaders have expressed concern about Iran's nuclear effort, including its uranium enrichment program and possible work toward a nuclear weapon. Iranian leaders have repeatedly said the work is purely peaceful. FULL POST

EXCLUSIVE: Romney intel briefings to start after official nomination
June 1st, 2012
02:00 AM ET

EXCLUSIVE: Romney intel briefings to start after official nomination

By Barbara Starr

The Obama administration will stick with the election-year tradition of both Democratic and Republican White Houses in offering presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney classified intelligence briefings only after he formally secures his party's nomination at the convention this summer.

"It's a long-standing practice for presidential candidates and select advisers to be provided intelligence briefings following the party's nominating convention," Shawn Turner, the spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told Security Clearance. "During the last presidential campaign, all the candidates began receiving briefings in September following the conventions."

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Internal reports highlight threats to Afghan police force
May 30th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Internal reports highlight threats to Afghan police force

By Mike Mount

An Afghanistan government assessment of its own police force raises concern that unresolved issues are undermining the ability to take over security in the country, according to a report obtained by Security Clearance.

The report by the Afghan Interior Ministry looks at five major threats facing the Afghan National Police. They range across the spectrum of long-time problems inside Afghanistan and include outside terrorist threats and armed opposition to the Afghan government, unlawful governance and corruption, illegal drug trade, organized crime and illegally armed groups. Resolving the threats is critical not just for the police force but also for overall stability as the country seeks to take over security from U.S. and NATO forces by the end of 2014.

The threats, narrowed down from "a list of numerous others," according to NATO officials, are identified in the Afghan National Police Strategy report obtained by Security Clearance.

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May 25th, 2012
05:54 PM ET

Exclusive: U.S. and Jordan forces share secrets

Now more than ever Jordan's elite special forces are a key ally for US troops. CNN's Barbara Starr was granted exclusive access to see US anti-terrorism troops and Jordian special forces learn lessons from each other and share the latest secrets on how to capture or kill terrorists.

Exclusive interview Afghan President Hamid Karzai
May 21st, 2012
01:25 PM ET

Exclusive interview Afghan President Hamid Karzai

CNN's Wolf Blitzer sits down with Afghan President Hamid Karzai for an exclusive interview at the NATO summit in Chicago. This will air Monday during the 5pm ET hour on CNN.

On Monday, NATO countries are expected to sign off on President Obama's exit strategy from Afghanistan that calls for an end to combat operations next year and the withdrawal of troops by the end of 2014.

Karzai met with President Obama on Sunday and both agreed that the end of the war is close. Karzai reiterated his commitment to the withdrawal timetable, "so that Afghanistan is no longer a burden on the shoulder of our friends in the international community, on the shoulders of the United States and our other allies."

Blitzer is anchoring "The Situation Room" live from Chicago today from 4-6pm ET on CNN.

Editor's note: Read all of Security Clearance's coverage of the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.  Follow our reporting and other key NATO tweets with our NATO summit Twitter list.


Filed under: Afghanistan • Chicago NATO summit 2012 • FIRST ON CNN/EXCLUSIVE • ISAF • Karzai • NATO
Spy chief orders review of bomb plot leaks
May 9th, 2012
02:08 PM ET

Spy chief orders review of bomb plot leaks

By Barbara Starr

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has ordered an internal review across the intelligence community to determine if leaks regarding a Saudi mole who infiltrated an Qaeda affiliate in Yemen came from any of the 16 intelligence agencies he oversees.

Recommended:  Mole infiltrated al Qaeda plot

The move comes after revelations this week that a mole helped foil a plot to blow up a U.S.-bound plane by penetrating al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"We are looking internally to determine whether or not there were unauthorized disclosures of classified information," said a U.S. intelligence official, who has direct knowledge of the review but declined to be named and was only authorized to discuss it if no name was used. FULL POST

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Filed under: CIA • Clapper • FIRST ON CNN/EXCLUSIVE • Intelligence • ODNI
May 8th, 2012
06:48 AM ET

BREAKING: New border strategy to be unveiled Tuesday

By Suzanne Kelly

The Chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is expected to lay out his new strategy for securing the border Tuesday morning on Capitol Hill.

Testifying before a Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Michael J. Fisher will try to convince lawmakers that a strategy focused less on blanket resources and more targeted to areas of risk is the best way to keep the country from terrorists, drug smugglers and human smugglers while still curbing the numbers of undocumented immigrants trying to cross.

Recommended: Suzanne Kelly's exclusive interview with Chief Fisher

Changing strategy does not mean that CBP will require less resources in the future. It now has nine unmanned aerial surveillance systems in its fleet, better known as drones, and it is expected to take delivery of a 10th this year. FULL POST

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