Opinion:  Obama leak 'scandal' is wildly overblown
June 20th, 2012
12:32 PM ET

Opinion: Obama leak 'scandal' is wildly overblown

With all the accusations and demands for investigations over national security leaks, CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen considers how much did the leaks really hurt U.S.

After all, Bergen notes on CNN's Opinion section, when it comes to revelations about how U.S. and Israel planted the Stuxnet virus, the Iranians know that their problems with the centrifuges at Natanz are caused by cyberattacks and have publicly said so for the past two years.

Another story that has critics of the Obama administration steamed is that it has allowed to become public that the president personally approves "kill lists" for CIA drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.  Perhaps these concerns are also overblown, Bergen writes: FULL POST

Far-away Father’s Day for parents in uniform puts focus on balancing military, family life
June 17th, 2012
05:58 PM ET

Far-away Father’s Day for parents in uniform puts focus on balancing military, family life

Opinion by Tova Neugut, Kate Rosenblum, and Mike Erwin
Special to CNN

As Americans celebrated Fathers Day, few were likely aware that close to 2 million children have at least one parent who serves in the armed forces. Forty-three percent of American troops are parents, most of them fathers.

While many acknowledge the sacrifices made by our servicemen, women, and their families, our appreciation for the significance of these sacrifices has deepened as we’ve heard the voices of military dads. Like this one: FULL POST

With Iran, the courage to do...nothing
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
April 13th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

With Iran, the courage to do...nothing


Editors Note: Art Keller is a former case officer in the CIA's Counter Proliferation Division. He currently is a writer on intelligence and national security issues and recently published his first novel,  "Hollow Strength."

By Art Keller, special to Security Clearance

As a new round of nuclear negotiations with Iran is set to begin this month, it brings up the question: In the not-unlikely event that this round of diplomacy collapses, as all previous rounds have, where would that leave the West? Is bombingIran's nuclear facilities the unavoidable final recourse?

Despite an abundance of saber-rattling, Western leaders have yet to convincingly explain why policy toward Iran should differ from policy toward the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Did we start bombing the Soviets because they acquired nuclear capability in 1949? Even though the Soviets regularly claimed their objective was the defeat of the West? Even though Soviets gave arms and money to proxies around the world, including direct support to terrorists? Even though they posed a far greater threat than Iran ever could? Are we doing that with North Korea? Even though the North Koreans have "the bomb" and have often used rhetoric that is even harsher than the Soviets?



Filed under: IAEA • IAEA • Iran • Military • Nuclear • Opinion • Security Brief • weapons
OPINION: America's Achilles' heel
March 8th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

OPINION: America's Achilles' heel

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mike Breen is Vice President of Truman National Security Project and a former US Army Captain. Breen is a national security expert and the founding director for the Iraqi Refugee Assistant Project.

From Mike Breen, Special to CNN

As a young Lieutenant on my first combat tour, I served on an isolated fighting camp south of Baghdad in an area known as the “Triangle of Death.” My unit was entirely dependent on daily fuel convoys to power our generators and fuel our vehicles. Recognizing this, Iraqi insurgents consistently ambushed the convoys while my infantry company fought to protect them. That meant almost daily firefights which we jokingly called “fighting for our supper.” FULL POST

Rational or not, Iran is a real danger
March 1st, 2012
03:31 PM ET

Rational or not, Iran is a real danger

Editor's note: James Jay Carafano is director of The Heritage Foundation's Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies.

By James Jay Carafano, Special to CNN

Trying to understand largely closed regimes is never easy.  Consider North Korea or Iran. How are we to understand decision-making as opaque and unexpected as Lady Gaga's dress choices?

It's always tempting to avoid the difficulty of understanding foreign powers' seemingly unfathomable decisions by adopting simplistic explanations. Enemies we think we understand are dubbed "rational." Those whose behavior puzzles us we deem "irrational." FULL POST

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Filed under: Iran • Middle East • Opinion
Step carefully in Syria
A protester in the flashpoint Syrian city of Homs throws a tear gas bomb back toward security forces last week
January 4th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

Step carefully in Syria

By Robert G. Rabil, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Robert G. Rabil is associate professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University.

The popular uprising in Syria against the Alawi-led minority regime of Bashar al-Assad poses a serious challenge to U.S. national security in the Middle East.

As it fights for its survival amid escalating violence, the Syrian regime risks not only the deepening of civil strife in the country, but also provoking sectarian strife in the region, potentially drawing in U.S. military involvement. Washington has thus far been cautious in dealing with Syria, favoring strong words and sanctions against the regime and supporting Arab efforts to stop the violent military crackdown. But this could change as conditions in Syria deteriorate.

The recent arrival in Syria of Arab observers, as part of a Syrian-endorsed Arab League plan to stop the violence, has been met with mixed emotions. Syrian opposition members rejected the plan, which was mediated by Iraq, on the grounds that it will give the bestial regime another chance to continue its brutal policies.

Read Rabil's full opinion piece in CNN's Opinion section

Filed under: Assad • Diplomacy • Foreign Policy • Opinion • Syria
Analysis: Al Qaeda vs. the West: 2012 and beyond
December 27th, 2011
11:42 AM ET

Analysis: Al Qaeda vs. the West: 2012 and beyond

Mitchell D. Silber is the author of 'The Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the West'. He is also the Director of Intelligence Analysis for the NYPD. His thoughts do not necessarily represent the opinions of the New York City Police Department.

Just over two years since al Qaeda Core launched the most serious plot on American soil since 9/11 (the Najibullah Zazi NYC Subway Plot of September 2009), al Qaeda’s leader and founder Usama bin Laden, al Qaeda’s most recent “Number 3” Attiyah Abd al Rahman, and the al Qaeda instigators of the Zazi Plot – Saleh al Somali and Rashid Rauf – are all dead - a result of a combination of efforts by U.S. Special Forces and drone strikes. In addition, this fall, Anwar al Awlaqi, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s dual-hatted English language propagandist and chief of external operations, was also killed in a drone strike. The natural question to ask, as the calendar approaches 2012, is: wither the al Qaeda threat?

The recent past may provide some useful insights. One of the most important findings of a forensic study of the sixteen most serious al Qaeda plots against the West since 1993 is that al Qaeda plots against the West are almost always underpinned and manned by Westerners - who travel overseas to al Qaeda or an al Qaeda ally/affiliate and then are turned around opportunistically and sent back to target the West. Whether it was the 1999 LAX Millennium Bomber (Montreal), 9/11 Pilots (Hamburg), Shoe Bombers (London), July 7 and 21 2005 London transit system bombers (Leeds and London), 2009 NYC Subway Bombers (New York) or 2009 Underwear Bomber (London), the key operatives from the plot originated in one of the great cities of the West.


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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Al-Shabaab • Al-Zawahiri • AQAP • Opinion • Sudan • Terrorism • Yemen
Dear candidates, don't cut foreign aid
November 22nd, 2011
04:00 AM ET

Dear candidates, don't cut foreign aid

By General Michael Hagee, USMC (Ret.) and Admiral James Loy, USCG (Ret.), Special to CNN

EDITOR'S NOTE: General Michael W. Hagee, USMC (Ret.), was the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps from 2003 to 2006, and Admiral James M. Loy, USCG (Ret.), was the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard from 1998 to 2002, and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security from 2003 to 2005. They are co-chairs of the National Security Advisory Council of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

The next Commander in Chief will face a complex and difficult set of global challenges.  Recently, many candidates for president have spoken of the need to listen to the advice of military leaders on national security, and we appreciate the respect shown to our men and women in uniform.  As former Commandants of the U.S. Marine Corps and Coast Guard, we believe our nation needs a smart power approach to national security that embraces a strategic investment in our foreign assistance programs.

When both of us entered uniformed service more than 40 years ago, the primary threats to America’s security were nation states with advanced militaries.  Today, our country faces a different array of threats and potential adversaries – from rising powers and rogue nations to terrorist and militia groups that thrive in environments of deprivation and stunted development. FULL POST

Filed under: Afghanistan • Analysis • Arab Spring • Diplomacy • Foreign Aid • Foreign Policy • Middle East • Military • Opinion
Finally, a word about national security (a debate, actually)...
November 7th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Finally, a word about national security (a debate, actually)...

Without question, the public's attention in the race for the White House has centered on the economy and domestic issues.  It’s a sign of how things have changed since the start of these post-September 11th times.  In 2004 and 2008, a good portion of the discussion focused on keeping American safe and foreign policy. But things began to shift as the 2008 election was wrapping up and the economy was hurting.

Now there is no question the campaign talk has moved from 9/11 to 9-9-9 (and other economic plans). A fact not lost on the Republican candidates who spend little time talking about national security issues.  Debate after debate, interview after interview, domestic issues have dominated the campaign so far.  Until now.

On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics.

In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address. From Afghanistan toIraq,ChinatoSyria, cybersecurity to defense spending, the folks at Heritage Foundation and AEI will make sure you are fully prepped for the big debate.

The first in the series will publish today on Security Clearance.  For more coverage of the campaign, don't forget to read CNN's Political Ticker and our political section on CNN.com.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • 9/11 • Afghanistan • Africa • Al-Shabaab • Analysis • Anwar al-Awlaki • Arab Spring • Asia • Bachman • bioterrorism • Budget • Cain • China • CIA • Congress • Cybersecurity • debate • Debate Preps • Defense Spending • Diplomacy • drones • Egypt • EU • Foreign Policy • Gingrich • Gitmo • Haqqani • Homeland Security • Huntsman • Iran • Iraq • ISI • Israel • Libya • Living With Terror • Middle East • Military • NATO • Nuclear • Obama • Opinion • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Palestine • Paul • Pentagon • Perry • Politics • Republican • Romney • Russia • Santorum • Saudi Arabia • Secretary of State • South Korea • Spying • State Department • Syria • Taliban • Terrorism • Think tank • United Nations • weapons
Opinion: Justice for Libya, and Pan Am victims
October 20th, 2011
05:06 PM ET

Opinion: Justice for Libya, and Pan Am victims

By Brian Flynn, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Brian Flynn is the brother of Lockerbie victim J.P. Flynn and vice president of Pan Am 103, an advocacy organization. He is a business adviser.

Many times I've watched in dismay as crowds of Moammar Gadhafi supporters gathered to wave flags in front of Libya's former dictator - in particular, two years ago, when the convicted murderer Abdul Al Megrahi returned to his home country under the guise of near-death, to be welcomed as a hero, banners waving, Gadhafi embracing the man who helped him kill my brother.

We watched in jaw-dropped horror as these two conspirators embraced in front of what we believed to be a throng of paid political cheerleaders.

We'd often heard that part of the way Gadhafi kept up the sparkly image of a happy, well-led people was to pay them to show up and look as though they were viewing a god. It's classic imperial propaganda: Make sure the little people show the love when the cameras are on. It's a method designed by Joseph Goebbels and painstakingly perfected by Gadhafi.

READ Brian's commentary in CNN's Opinion section

Filed under: Gadhafi • Libya • Living With Terror • NTC • Opinion • Terrorism
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