U.S.-Pakistan spy talks called productive
CIA Director David Petraeus
August 2nd, 2012
08:47 PM ET

U.S.-Pakistan spy talks called productive

By Pam Benson

The first meeting between the head of the Central Intelligence Agency and his new Pakistani counterpart was labeled "substantive, professional and productive" by a senior U.S. official.

CIA Director David Petraeus and Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Zahir ul-Islam met Thursday at CIA headquarters in suburban Washington in an effort to bring the contentious relationship back on track.

The U.S. knows little about Islam, who rose through the ranks of the Pakistani military before being appointed to head the ISI in March by Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

The Pakistani government has been reassessing its relationship with Washington after a number of high-profile incidents last year, particularly the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, of which the Pakistanis had no prior knowledge, and the accidental killing of Paksitani soldiers operating along the Afghanistan border by U.S. airstrikes in November.
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Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Central Intelligence Agency • CIA • Haqqani • ISI • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Petraeus • Terrorism
Pakistan: Let us hit drone targets
July 24th, 2012
10:46 AM ET

Pakistan: Let us hit drone targets

By Nasir Habib, reporting from Islamabad

The new chief of Pakistan's spy agency will urge the United States to end drone strikes on Pakistani soil and identify targets that the country's security forces can then attack, a senior intelligence official said.

Lt. Gen. Zahirul Islam will deliver the message during a meeting with the head of the CIA on August 2, said the Pakistani intelligence official, who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

"You (the U.S.) develop a target and let us hit it," Islam will tell CIA Director David Petraeus, the official said. "It would be ideal if the U.S. provides drone technology to Pakistan."

Islam's call will continue an ongoing refrain from Pakistan about the CIA's controversial drone program. Pakistani officials and lawmakers have demanded an immediate end to the drone strikes, saying they have led to civilian deaths. FULL POST

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Filed under: CIA • drones • Intelligence • ISI • Pakistan • Petraeus
July 6th, 2012
07:00 PM ET

Allegations: American generals delayed Kabul hospital abuse probe

By Barbara Starr
CNN Pentagon Correspondent

Wounded Afghan soldiers, lying in dirty beds, with unchanged bandages and festering wounds. Some starving because their families have no money to pay for their food. Some beaten when they tell the staff they need pain medication. These are examples of alleged abuse that one Pentagon official described to CNN as "atrocities."

It is said to have happened in 2010 at the Afghan National Military Hospital in Kabul, a hospital in large part funded by the United States and a place where U.S. military personnel were training Afghan medical staff in how to properly treat patients.

It is those U.S. personnel who first brought the alleged abuse to light by taking photos and documenting what happened. Two years later, the United States insists conditions have dramatically improved after two investigations by the Pentagon's inspector general.

But for one man, that's not enough.

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Out of the shadows in death: the CIA honors its fallen
May 22nd, 2012
07:38 PM ET

Out of the shadows in death: the CIA honors its fallen

By Suzanne Kelly

When you're a spy, you have to accept the fact that everything you do will go unnoticed by most people during your life. Sometimes that secrecy even follows you in death, with a simple star carved into a marble wall at Langley being the only memorial to your service.

Sometimes though, in death, the names come out, along with just enough information to piece together a glimpse of what life - and death - have been like for CIA spies over the past three decades.
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Analysis: The Afghan balance sheet – a transition to ‘good enough’
U.S. soldiers keep watch at the entrance of a military base near Alkozai following the shooting of Afghan civilians this month.
March 30th, 2012
10:46 AM ET

Analysis: The Afghan balance sheet – a transition to ‘good enough’

By Tim Lister, CNN

The balance sheet for the first quarter of 2012 in Afghanistan does not make for cheerful reading. In fact, it is steeped in red.

In the debit column: a spike in attacks on NATO troops by Afghan soldiers, the Kandahar massacre allegedly carried out by a U.S. soldier and deadly protests prompted by the burning of Qurans.

Add to that slow progress in subduing the Taliban (especially in east Afghanistan), the glacial revival of the U.S. relationship with Pakistan and the growing impatience of NATO members, from Ottawa to Paris, to head for the exit and the outlook doesn’t seem bright.

On the credit side, some of the goals laid out by President Barack Obama in his 2009 speech at West Point, when he announced an increase of 30,000 in U.S. troop numbers, are within sight. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Karzai • Military • Petraeus • Taliban
Iran nukes: How would the world know?
Fordow enrichment plant near Qom, Iran
March 26th, 2012
03:00 AM ET

Iran nukes: How would the world know?

By Pam Benson

American officials are adamant. The U.S. will respond - possibly with military force - if Iran crosses a red line and decides to actually make nuclear weapons.

But will the U.S. know with an degree of certainty that a line has been crossed?

The decision itself to push ahead really comes down to one person, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Clapper told a Senate hearing recently that any decision would be based on "the supreme leader's world view and the extent to which he thinks that would benefit the state of Iran or, conversely, not benefit."

Clapper was referring to Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the supreme leader of Iran.

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Filed under: CIA • Clapper • IAEA • IAEA • Intelligence • Iran • Iraq • Khamenei • Nuclear • ODNI • Petraeus • Petraeus • Stuxnet • weapons
New spy chief for Pakistan
March 9th, 2012
01:48 PM ET

New spy chief for Pakistan

By Reza Sayah and Nasir Habib in Pakistan and Pam Benson and Adam Levine in Washington

Pakistan's prime minister named a new head of Inter-Services Intelligence, the country's most powerful spy agency and a critical element in the U.S. fight against insurgents in both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. Zahir Ul-Islam, who is currently serving as an army corps commander in the region of Karachi, steps into the new post, the office of Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Friday. The current ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, is retiring March 18, Gilani's office said.

Islam was in the ISI as a two-star general before being promoted to three-star general in 2010 and being appointed to one of nine coveted corps commander posts. Each of Pakistan's corps commanders oversees a large army formation in a specific part of the country.

The appointment has been approved by the head of Pakistan's military, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Kayani submitted three names to the prime minister to select from for the appointment. FULL POST

February 2nd, 2012
04:23 PM ET

Catastrophic cyberattack looms

By Pam Benson

The United States will soon suffer a catastrophic cyberattack if it doesn't act now to prevent it, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee warned Thursday.

"The clock is ticking and winding down," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, said at a hearing on the security threats facing the United States.

Speaking to the nation's top intelligence officials, Rogers said that, "given classified briefings that we've had, discussions with all of you and your counterparts ... that a cyberattack is on its way. We will suffer a catastrophic cyberattack."

The committee's top Democrat, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, said foreign governments - in particular China and Russia - steal American intellectual property to gain a competitive edge.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper accused China of "the greatest pillaging of wealth in history, if you tote up the value of the intellectual property that has been stolen."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Central Intelligence Agency • CIA • Clapper • Congress • Cybersecurity • Detainees • Intelligence • ODNI • Panetta • Panetta • Petraeus • Petraeus • Sanctions • Security Brief • Terrorism
Iran nuclear program stokes US concern
DNI James Clapper and CIA Director David Petraeus testify at the world threats Senate hearing.
January 31st, 2012
06:51 PM ET

Iran nuclear program stokes US concern

By Pam Benson, Jamie Crawford and Joe Sterling

Iran took center stage on Tuesday as top U.S. intelligence officials and senators discussed what could trigger a military response to the Islamic Republic's nuclear activities.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, speaking to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats, said Iran continues to develop its nuclear capabilities but has not yet decided to make weapons.

When asked by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, what would be the "red line" for Iran to cross to trigger a more forceful U.S. response, Clapper said, "enrichment of uranium to a 90 percent level would be a pretty good indicator of their seriousness." Clapper added there were "some other things" Iran would need to do, but did not elaborate.

CIA Director David Petraeus agreed further enrichment would be a "telltale indicator." FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Central Intelligence Agency • China • CIA • Clapper • Cybersecurity • Detainees • Gitmo • Intelligence • ODNI • Pakistan • Petraeus • Russia • Senate Select Committee on Intelligence • Syria • Terrorism
Intel chief: "Question of time" for Syria leader
January 31st, 2012
01:35 PM ET

Intel chief: "Question of time" for Syria leader

By Jamie Crawford

It’s only a “question of time” before Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is removed from power, the top U.S. intelligence official told a Senate committee on Tuesday.

“I do not see how [Assad] can sustain his rule of Syria,” James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, told the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. But the fall of the strongman could be still a “long” way off given the fragmented nature of the Syrian opposition, he said.

CIA Director David Petraeus said the Syrian opposition is “growing” and showing a “considerable amount of resilience and indeed is carrying out an increasing level of violence,” as it engages with the Syrian military on the outskirts of Syria’s two largest cities.
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