U.S. may end drone strikes in Pakistan
August 1st, 2013
04:39 PM ET

U.S. may end drone strikes in Pakistan

The US is looking to end drone strikes in Pakistan, Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday. Kerry told a Pakistani television station that President Barack Obama has "very real timeline".

"We hope it's going to be very very soon," according to a transcript of the interview provided by the State Department.

"I believe that we're on a good track. I think the program will end as we have eliminated most of the threat and continue to eliminate it," Kerry said. He added that the cessation depends on "a number of factors" and the US is working with the Pakistani government.

After ramping up strikes in the tribal region in the first few years of Obama's presidency, the number of drone strikes in Pakistan has dropped significantly, in part due to the deterioration of al Qaeda in the country and more focus on threats from al Qaeda groups in other countries like Yemen.

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Filed under: Central Intelligence Agency • CIA • drones • Pakistan • Security Brief
Top CIA official departing
June 12th, 2013
07:07 PM ET

Top CIA official departing

By Pam Benson

Seemingly the perennial bridesmaid, Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell is retiring after a 33-year career.

His successor is Avril Haines, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama who will become the first woman to occupy the No. 2 spot.

Morell, 54, has been deputy director for the past three years and twice has been called to serve as acting chief.

The first time he covered a two-month gap in the summer of 2011 between the departure of Leon Panetta and the arrival of David Petraeus.
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Controversial officer passed over for CIA spy chief post
May 7th, 2013
05:55 PM ET

Controversial officer passed over for CIA spy chief post

By Pam Benson

The undercover officer temporarily running the CIA's spy division who had ties to the agency's controversial interrogation program will not get the job permanently.

CIA Director John Brennan said on Tuesday the first female to lead the National Clandestine Service will be replaced by a man, a nearly 30-year veteran who served covertly overseas, including a stint as station chief in Pakistan.

The identities of these undercover officials were not made public.

Whether the acting director would get to keep the job was in question due to opposition from a number of senior lawmakers concerned about her ties to the CIA's controversial interrogation and detention program.

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Filed under: Brennan • Central Intelligence Agency • CIA • Congress • Intelligence • Security Brief • Terrorism
April 29th, 2013
09:57 PM ET

Expert: Intelligence system made 'mistakes' ahead of Boston

A former federal official who led information sharing efforts between intelligence agencies after September 11 says that system failed ahead of the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks earlier this month.

“We didn’t connect the dots that we had. Few though they might have been, they were serious enough that they should have been connected,” Ambassador Thomas McNamara said Monday on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

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Filed under: CIA • FBI • Security Brief
Woman heads CIA spy unit for first time
March 29th, 2013
05:33 PM ET

Woman heads CIA spy unit for first time

By Pam Benson

Another glass ceiling has been cracked at least temporarily with a woman now running the CIA's spy division.

The long time CIA veteran leading the National Clandestine Service on an acting basis cannot be publicly named because she is still a covert officer.

The question is whether she will get the job permanently. But her background could be problematic for new CIA boss John Brennan.

According to sources familiar with her career, she was assigned to a senior position at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

In that role, she was involved in the controversial interrogation and detention program set up as the agency tracked and captured suspected al Qaeda terrorists.

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March 27th, 2013
05:47 AM ET

Petraeus apologizes for affair, says 'it was my own doing'

From CNN Staff

In a rare public appearance since admitting to an extramarital affair, David Petraeus apologized Tuesday night for the scandal that led to his resignation as head of the CIA last year.

Petraeus, a retired four-star general, has stayed out of the limelight since the affair was revealed in November.

"Please allow me to begin my remarks this evening by reiterating how deeply I regret and apologize for the circumstances that led to my resignation from the CIA and caused such pain for my family, friends and supporters," Petraeus told a crowd gathered at a Los Angeles hotel ballroom. "I am also keenly aware that the reason for my recent journey was my own doing."

His comments came at an annual University of Southern California dinner to honor the military. It was one of the fist major public appearance since the scandal derailed the illustrious career of the decorated Army general.

Petraeus, who once ran the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned from his CIA post in November.

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Filed under: Petraeus
Military takeover of lethal drone operations under consideration
The U.S. MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle has been used to take out key targets in the war on terror.
March 20th, 2013
11:32 PM ET

Military takeover of lethal drone operations under consideration

By Chris Lawrence and Barbara Starr

The Obama administration is considering shifting lethal drone operations run by the Central Intelligence Agency over to the military, U.S. officials tell CNN.

The proposal is under "serious consideration," one U.S. official said. The official said no final decision has been made, and that there is no specific time frame in place, but that the change is being considered "due to a desire for greater transparency in who is being targeted."

By law, the military is not able to act covertly the way the CIA can, and it must answer to Congress.

The Daily Beast website first reported on the potential shift.

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Court: CIA denial of drone records a "fiction"
March 15th, 2013
06:25 PM ET

Court: CIA denial of drone records a "fiction"

By Bill Mears

A federal appeals court panel has ruled the CIA must acknowledge the existence of any records related to military unmanned drone strikes aimed at people such as terror suspects overseas.

It called the agency's previous denials "fiction."

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups had filed a Freedom of Information Act request, but the spy agency - citing national security - refused to confirm or deny it had any such records.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia did not buy the argument, giving the outside groups a partial legal victory Friday.

"The CIA asked the courts to stretch that doctrine too far - to give their imprimatur to a fiction of deniability that no reasonable person would regard as plausible." FULL POST

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Filed under: CIA • drones • Intelligence
March 12th, 2013
04:02 PM ET

Cyberattacks, N. Korea, jihadist groups top U.S. threats

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.

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Holder: Drone strike against Americans in the U.S. possible
March 5th, 2013
04:46 PM ET

Holder: Drone strike against Americans in the U.S. possible

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.

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Filed under: CIA • Congress • Intelligence • Justice Department
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