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 Jill Dougherty, reporting from Cairo
Calling it a "good-faith effort" to help the Egyptian people, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released $250 million in economic aid Sunday, with a pledge of more if President Mohamed Morsy implements economic and political reforms.
Kerry's announcement came after a series of weekend meetings in Cairo with a cross-section of Egyptians and a two-hour session with Morsy on Sunday.
"When Egypt takes the difficult steps to strengthen its economy and build political unity and justice, we will work with our Congress at home on additional support," Kerry said in a written statement on the talks. But right now, Kerry said, Egypt needs help.
"In light of Egypt's extreme needs" and assurances by Morsy that he will take the steps necessary to obtain a major loan package from the International Monetary Fund, Kerry said the United States would provide the first $190 million of $450 million in already-promised support funds to the Egyptian government budget.
By Jill Dougherty and Joe Sterling
Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking to reporters in Egypt on Saturday, said "there must be a willingness on all sides" in Egypt to make "meaningful compromises on the issues that matter most to all of the Egyptian people."
And, Kerry said, Egyptians must stay focused on economic and political opportunities to succeed in forging a successful democracy. The United States wants to help all it can but not interfere in Egypt's affairs.
"We come here as friends," Kerry said - not as proponents of a particular group, person or ideology.
By CNN's Jill Dougherty
At a roundtable with business leaders in Cairo, Secretary of State John Kerry said it is "paramount, essential, urgent that the Egyptian economy get stronger, that it get back on its feet."
Sidestepping political divisions that are holding back reform, Kerry said he was not supporting any party or any political view.
He said that in order for the economy to revive, there needs to be a sense of security and "an IMF agreement needs to be reached," he told the business leaders.
Sunday, when he meets with Egyptian president Mohamed Morsy, Kerry said he will speak about "very specific ways" in which President Obama wants to engage, including economic assistance, support for private business, increasing Egyptian exports to the U.S. and investing in Egypt's people through education.
He said he has spoken with the leaders of Great Britain, France, Germany and Turkey and all want to be helpful "but all of them believe Egypt must make some fundamental economic choices."
By Jill Dougherty
Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo at a critical stage as political divisions are preventing crucial economic reform.
In an intense 24-hours on the ground, Kerry has a packed schedule of meetings with Egypt's political and military leadership, business leaders and non-governmental organizations.
"It is very important to the new Egypt for there to be a firm economic foundation on which the new Egypt can operate. It will be important for the government to make an agreement with the [International Monetary Fund]," explains a senior State Department official who briefed reporters on Kerry's plane as he flew from Ankara, Turkey, to Cairo. FULL POST
By Elise Labott
Incoming Secretary of State John Kerry plans to include stops in the Middle East as his first official trip, according to a US official. The trip, which is expected as early as mid-February, is likely to include stops in Israel and Egypt, the official said.
A western diplomat said Kerry has already been invited by some European capitals to visit later this month. Kerry indicated interest in going, but did not commit given he has not been sworn in yet.
By Jamie Crawford
As the political turmoil in Egypt continues, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she's concerned about an Egyptian military official's assertion that the current situation could lead to the collapse of the Egyptian state.
"I think that would lead to incredible chaos and violence on a scale that would be devastating for Egypt and the region," Clinton said in a CNN interview Tuesday at the State Department. "There has to be some understanding by the new government that the aspirations that the people were expressing during the revolution in Egypt have to be taken seriously. And it - it cannot in any way be overlooked that there is a large number of Egyptians who are not satisfied with the direction of the economy and the political reform."
Thousands of anti-government protesters have clashed with police and troops in three Egyptian cities, and defied President Mohamed Morsy's curfew orders. Demonstrators are upset with recent political moves by Morsy, and charge that the country's first democratically elected president is a throwback to former dictatorships.
Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt's defense minister, warned Tuesday that continued instability could have grave consequences.
By Susan Candiotti, Ross Levitt and Mohamed Fadel Fahmy
American authorities are examining whether the leader of a post-revolution terror network in Egypt played a role in the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, according to a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the investigation.
Muhamed Jamal Abu Ahmed has been detained by Egyptian authorities; however, the FBI has not yet had access to him, the official said.
By Jill Dougherty
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy's bid for more power blindsided Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who, as her spokeswoman told reporters Monday, had no forewarning about his upcoming political maneuverings.
Clinton met with Morsy in Cairo last Wednesday in an effort to broker a cease-fire in Gaza but there was no discussion about Morsy's plans for his own government.
"She heard about it when everybody else heard about it," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday.
By Jill Dougherty
For both President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the bid to broker a cease-fire in Gaza was high-profile, high-risk diplomacy.
“It’s a significant decision to send the secretary of state into an uncertain situation that puts American credibility and influence on the line,” a senior State Department official tells CNN. “I have the beginnings of ulcers to show that this was not a done deal when we left” for the Middle East.
Planning for Clinton’s possible “shuttle diplomacy” trip to the Middle East – cutting short a trip with Obama to Southeast Asia – began Sunday, the official says. When Clinton and her staff arrived in Thailand, they began conversations with the president’s senior staff. Did the potential benefits of going outweigh the risks?
Over lunch in Myanmar, Obama and Clinton discussed gaps between Egyptian and Israeli proposals for a cease-fire and how the U.S. might most effectively play a supporting role.
On Monday, the president called key players, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy. By Tuesday, the decision had been made: Clinton would fly to the region. The staff began putting the wheels in motion for a mid-afternoon departure from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She would arrive in Israel at 10 p.m. local time and go directly to a meeting with Netanyahu.