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
(CNN) - President Barack Obama said Tuesday he continues to believe the United States should close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"I think it's critical for us to understand Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe, it's expensive, it's inefficient, it hurts us in terms of international standing, it lessens cooperation with our allies in counter-terrorism efforts. ... It needs to be closed."
Obama vowed to close the prison when he first came into office, but Congress blocked him from doing so.
Dozens of prisoners at that detention camp are currently on their tenth week of a hunger strike.
U.S. authorities said last week that 84 – half of the prisoners – were not eating.
Carlos Warner, a public defender who represents 11 of the detainees, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week that multiple sources told him the number was actually higher.
By Mike Mount
The U.S. Navy has ordered commercial flights to the military base at Guantanamo, Cuba canceled because of a regulation that had been overlooked for years, outraging lawyers who use the flights to visit their clients at the detention facility.
The order comes as lawyers of detainees held at Guantanamo sent a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel complaining of tougher treatment of detainees by the base commander who arrived last summer. At least 25 suspected terrorists held at the detention facility are participating in a hunger strike, which lawyers say is a result of the treatment they are receiving.
Navy Capt. John Nettleton, the Naval Station Commanding Officer , notified the small airline, IBC Travel, in late February, according to military officials. The airline was directed to stop flying into Guantanamo by April 30th, but the airline said it would halt flights as of April 5th, according Navy officials.
By Mike Mount and Larry Shaughnessy, CNN
A photo of a listening device in a room where attorneys met with terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay caused a stir this month, but a senior military official says it is a relic from the days when interrogations occurred in the facility.
A military judge hearing the case against the September 11, 2001, terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others ordered the photo released earlier this month.
The device baffled defense lawyers who speak with their Guantanamo clients in the room where the device, which looks like a smoke detector, was hanging.
One of the top military lawyers for the Gitmo detention facility said he looked into the matter and found no one was listening in on privileged conversations, The Miami Herald reported.FULL STORY
By Mike Mount
More prisoners have joined a hunger strike at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The number of suspected terrorists involved has risen to 24 as of Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale said.
There were 14 last week. U.S. military officials deny detainee lives are in danger.
Breasseale said eight require feeding tubes that are administered through the mouth.
There are 166 suspected terrorists being held at the detention facility.
By Larry Shaughnessy
Attorney-client privilege is a bedrock legal principle.
But on Monday, a U.S. military commission released a photo of what appeared to be an ordinary smoke detector on the ceiling of a room where attorneys met with terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The smoke detector was actually a listening device that could have been used to eavesdrop on conversations that were supposed to be private.
But the Miami Herald reported that one of the top military lawyers for the Gitmo detention facility said he looked into the matter as soon as he learned about it and found that no one was listening in on privileged conversations.
A military judge hearing the case against accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others ordered the photo released.
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 Jennifer Rizzo
Federal prisons and Defense Department correctional facilities in the U.S. would need myriad operational changes if detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were transferred into the country, according to a Congressional investigative report released Wednesday.
However, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who ordered the report in 2008, touted it as proof the U.S. prison system could handle the detainees, many of whom are accused of terrorist acts.
"This report demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantanamo without imperiling our national security," Feinstein said.
According to the Government Accountability Office report, there are six Defense Department facilities within the U.S. and more than 2,000 facilities holding individuals convicted of federal crimes that could hold Gitmo detainees.
The report found that many issues would need to be considered if those detainees were transferred to one of the facilities located in the U.S.
From Carol Cratty
A former CIA officer accused of revealing classified information to reporters has pleaded guilty to one of the allegations - that he illegally revealed the identity of a covert intelligence officer.
John Kiriakou, 48, also admitted to other allegations, including that he illegally told reporters the name of a different CIA employee involved in a 2002 operation to capture alleged al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah, and that he lied to a review board about a book he was writing, the Justice Department said.
But in a deal with prosecutors, Kiriakou pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, only to the charge that he illegally revealed the first intelligence officer's name, the Justice Department said.
Kiriakou and prosecutors agreed to a prison sentence of 30 months. Judge Leonie Brinkema said she accepted the agreement, but sentencing will take place January 25. FULL POST
By Paul Courson
Accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed asserted on Wednesday that the U.S. government sanctioned torture in the name of national security, and compared the scale of the terror attack that killed nearly 3,000 people to the "millions" he said have been killed by America's military.
"Many can kill people under the name of national security, and torture people under the name of national security," Mohammed said during a pretrial hearing at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"This is a resilient definition," he said in open court, as military censors stood ready to interrupt the video and audio.
"Every dictator can put on shoes to step on this definition, every law, every constitution, with this definition any can evade the rule and also go against it," he said.
He also compared the nearly 3,000 victims killed in the 9/11 hijack attacks in New York, Washington and western Pennsylvania to killings he blamed on the American military that he said number in the "millions."