By Barbara Starr
President Barack Obama made the rare move of calling the secretary of the Army on Tuesday night to express concern about reports of abuse at an Army child care facility, U.S. officials told CNN.
"The president made clear that we must have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to protecting the children of service members from abuse. The president urged Secretary (John) McHugh to conduct the investigation into its hiring practices at (Army day care facilities)," a White House official told CNN's Lesa Jansen.
It is highly unusual for the president to call a military service secretary regarding a criminal matter, said a senior U.S. defense official who has served at the Pentagon for more than a decade.
The Department of Defense is now reviewing the hiring procedures at military day care centers and other youth facilities after the September arrests of two workers at Fort Myer in Virginia. The workers were charged Tuesday with "assault on a child under the age of 16" in connection with incidents that occurred in September.
By Larry Shaughnessy
"You've got to be kidding me."
That's how Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director Leon Panetta first responded when asked about David Petraeus's sudden and unceremonial departure from the CIA.
The question was asked during an event Tuesday at the National Press Club.
"As the former head of the CIA, please explain why Gen. Petraeus was forced to resign, rather than a lesser punishment," an unidentified audience member asked.
By Barbara Starr
The Syrian president's control is crumbling at an accelerating pace but the latest assessment by U.S. intelligence finds few indications Bashar al-Assad is willing to step down, according to U.S. officials.
While Obama administration officials have said during the nearly two-year conflict that it appears al-Assad is weakened, the descriptions provided to CNN by U.S. officials familiar with the latest intelligence suggest the Syrian leader's problems have accelerated internally as the opposition continues to capture more territory.
"It's at its lowest point yet," said one senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of the latest assessments. U.S. intelligence believes the decline has accelerated in recent weeks. "The trend is moving more rapidly than it has in the past."
The officials agreed to talk on the condition their names not be used because they were not authorized to discuss the information with the media.
The description comes as a key Russian official suggested candidly that al-Assad could very well be defeated by the rising opposition fighters.
"The regime and the government in Syria are losing more and more control and more and more territory," Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bodganov told a Russian government committee. "Unfortunately, we cannot rule out the victory of the Syrian opposition."
By Jill Dougherty
President Barack Obama on Tuesday recognized the leading Syrian opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the country's people, marking a "big step" in U.S. engagement with the nearly two-year-old crisis.
"We've made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime," Obama told ABC's Barbara Walters.
"So we will provide them recognition and obviously with that recognition comes responsibilities on the part of that coalition," he said. "It is a big step."
The United States joins Britain, France, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council in recognizing the opposition.
The move will be a major psychological boost for the rebels, but it doesn't mean Washington will be arming them anytime soon.
The U.S. announcement had been anticipated to occur at some point this week with a major meeting of governments supporting a transition away from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad scheduled.
By Jamie Crawford
Amid the flurry of diplomatic congratulations over the maneuvering that led to a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas this week, the dual readouts of the roles played by President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contained some interesting language.
A written statement detailing the telephone conversation between the two after an agreement was reached included the usual language of maintaining the U.S. commitment to Israeli security. But the White House also said that Obama "commended the prime minister for agreeing to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal – which the president recommended the prime minister to do."
Netanyahu's office released a statement that said he had "acceded" to Obama's recommendation to sign the deal and thanked the president for his support of Israel during the operation.
After a few years worth of headlines bemoaning the frosty relationship between the two, could a detente of sorts be in the offing? If so, would it give Obama additional leverage with Netanyahu as they move forward on even more complex problems like the Iranian nuclear crisis and the elusive search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians?
By CNN's National Security Unit
The final debate of the presidential election was notable for all the areas of foreign policy on which the two candidates seemed to agree. But in their answers were plenty of unanswered questions about how they would handle key foreign policy issues going forward.
Where do things stand on Iran?
It was hard to see concrete differences between the candidates Monday on when it will be necessary to use military force against Iran's nuclear program - the so-called "red line."
Both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney sought to portray themselves as tough on Iran and as having Israel's back. Both suggested they would be willing to use military power if necessary to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. But neither was exactly clear about what point at which they would act to prevent that from happening.
President Barack Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney exchanged fire on foreign policy and national security Monday in their last debate before Election Day. With tension in the air and undecided voters at stake, each candidate challenged the other's claims and positions. CNN conducted fact checks on each politician’s assertions. Click on the headlines for more.
President Barack Obama asserted during Monday's presidential debate that it cost the United States less to help oust Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi than it did to run two weeks of the 2003-2011 war in Iraq.
We can attempt a comparison by examining the Defense Department's spending on the two operations.
Although it has been over for nearly a year now, the war in Iraq continued to be a flash point in Monday night's debate between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
"You say that you're not interested in duplicating what happened in Iraq," said Obama, a Democrat who opposed the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. "But just a few weeks ago, you said you think we should have more troops in Iraq right now. ... You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day."
But Romney, who supported the invasion, said Obama wanted to keep U.S. troops there longer - he just couldn't get the Iraqis to go along.
By Dan Lothian, reporting from Athens Ohio
A standard line in the president's stump speech that touts his administration's efforts to target al Qaeda has been missing from recent stops, in the wake of the Libya terror attacks.
"I said we'd refocus on the people who actually attacked us on 9/11, and today al Qaeda is on the run and Osama bin Laden is dead," the president has said.Click here for the FULL STORY
By Charles Riley, reporting from Hong Kong
President Obama and Mitt Romney each used their second presidential debate to talk tough on China.
Romney pledged that he would label China as a currency manipulator on his first day in office - a promise he frequently works into his campaign speeches. And he accused China of "stealing" designs, patents and technology pioneered by U.S. companies.
"There's even an Apple store in China that's a counterfeit Apple store, selling counterfeit goods," Romney said. "They hack into our computers. We will have to have people play on a fair basis."
Obama was more circumspect in his use of language, but he touted the trade complaints his administration has filed against China over auto parts. Obama also recently blocked the sale of American wind farm companies to a Chinese firm.Click here for the FULL STORY
By Adam Levine, CNN
Foreign policy will get increased attention in the two debates left between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, with the final debate set to be entirely devoted to the subject.
The slugfest between the vice presidential candidates highlighted the toughest challenge for the Republican ticket, namely how to differentiate from Obama administration policies. The vice presidential debate left a number of questions unanswered about how each side distinguishes itself when it comes to national security.
Here's a look at a few of those issues.