By Jill Dougherty and Pam Benson
More than a month after North Korea tested a nuclear device, the United States is unable to pinpoint whether the regime was able to use uranium to fuel the explosion, a capability that would represent a significantly enhanced nuclear program.
The lack of clarity comes as North Korea ratchets up its bellicose rhetoric each day.
New video broadcast on North Korean television showed the nation's leader, Kim Jong Un, addressing his troops along the border on Monday and issuing a blood-chilling threat, "Throw all enemies into the caldron, break their waists and crack their windpipes." It was the same location he and his late father visited in November 2010, just two days before the North shelled an island, killing four South Koreans.
The bellicose comments have been intensifying over the past months, increasing worry about Kim's unpredictability.
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 Jennifer Rizzo, with reporting from Pam Benson
Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified on Capitol Hill on Friday that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was an act of terrorism committed by al Qaeda-linked militants.
That's according to Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who spoke to reporters after the closed hearing, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes.
The account Petraeus gave was different from the description the Obama administration gave on September 14, King said.
Then, the attack was described as "spontaneous," the result of a protest against an anti-Muslim film that got out of control outside the compound.
Petraeus told lawmakers Friday that he had discussed the possibility of it being a terrorist attack in his initial briefing in September, according to King.
"He had told us that this was a terrorist attack and there were terrorists involved from the start," King said. "I told him, my questions, I had a very different recollection of that (earlier account)," he said. "The clear impression we (lawmakers) were given was that the overwhelming amount of evidence was that it arose out of a spontaneous demonstration and it was not a terrorist attack."
The "spontaneous" adjective was "minimized" during Petraeus' testimony Friday, King said.
By Pam Benson
Senior intelligence, State Department and FBI officials can expect to be grilled next week as congressional hearings resume on the terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya that killed four Americans.
Lawmakers want answers to many outstanding questions surrounding the September 11 armed assault on the diplomatic facility and a CIA annex in Benghazi.
Specifically, they want to know who was responsible, whether it was planned, the intelligence reporting on the threat to Libya prior the attack, and whether security was adequate.
The Senate Intelligence Committee will conduct a closed-door hearing on November 15. Scheduled witnesses include Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matt Olsen.
Clapper, Petraeus and Olsen will also testify behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee on the same day.
By Suzanne Kelly and Pam Benson
The classified program that arms the U.S. government with powerful authorities to monitor communications of foreigners overseas is at the heart of a debate over just how much people should trust their government.
The Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act, originally enacted in 1978, was amended after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, allowing for a dramatic expansion of the abilities of the U.S. government to collect intelligence on foreign people in foreign countries. FISA sets procedures for the intelligence community to intercept e-mails, phone conversations and other communications of foreigners overseas who are suspected of threatening the United States.
The problem is that sometimes, in the course of collecting that electronic information, data also is collected on "U.S. persons" - meaning citizens or foreign residents of the United States.
By Suzanne Kelly
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is rolling out new measures Monday aimed at ending what recently has been a spate of leaks regarding classified programs and operations.
Among Clapper's recommendations, to be instituted across the 16 intelligence agencies, are an enhanced counterintelligence polygraph test for employees who have access to classified information, and the establishment of a task force of intelligence community inspectors general that will have the ability to conduct independent investigations across agencies in coordination with the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive.
Clapper has also called for a review of current policies that relate to interaction with members of the media, and how that interaction must be reported.
The new question that will be added to the current counterintelligence polygraph test - which intelligence community employees who handle classified information are required to take - will specifically ask whether the employee has disclosed classified information to a member of the media.
By Suzanne Kelly
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wants more government employees to be subject to an enhanced lie detector test as a deterrent to leaking classified information, an intelligence source told CNN Thursday.
As he briefs top intelligence lawmakers who are outraged over a series of recent leaks of classified information, Clapper wants to widen the numbers of people across government agencies who would be required to take the “Counterintelligence Polygraph,” the source said.
The move would be aimed at government employees who hold top-secret clearance, including employees at the 16 intelligence agencies he oversees, but also at other departments, such as State and Defense, which have employees with access to similar information, according to the intelligence source. But the scope of Clapper's efforts would not include White House officials who also are privy to classified information. FULL POST
By Bill Mears
The Supreme Court said Monday that it will tackle a major national security and privacy dispute involving the government's little-known foreign surveillance program.
The justices announced they would hear an appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union, representing a coalition of "United States persons" - attorneys, journalists and labor, legal, media and human rights organizations.
Oral arguments will be heard this fall.
The larger issue involves the constitutionality of the federal government's electronic monitoring of targeted foreign people. A federal appeals court said the domestic plaintiffs who deal with overseas clients and co-workers reasonably feared the government was reading and hearing their sensitive communications, and those groups had taken costly measures to avoid such intrusions.
That New York-based three-judge panel last year ruled against the Obama administration proceeding.
The specific question now to be addressed by the high court is whether certain Americans have "standing" to challenge the federal law, without a specific showing they have been monitored. Plaintiffs say the National Security Agency has in turn refused to disclose specifics. The ACLU calls that "Catch-22" logic.
By Barbara Starr
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has ordered an internal review across the intelligence community to determine if leaks regarding a Saudi mole who infiltrated an Qaeda affiliate in Yemen came from any of the 16 intelligence agencies he oversees.
The move comes after revelations this week that a mole helped foil a plot to blow up a U.S.-bound plane by penetrating al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
"We are looking internally to determine whether or not there were unauthorized disclosures of classified information," said a U.S. intelligence official, who has direct knowledge of the review but declined to be named and was only authorized to discuss it if no name was used. FULL POST