By Bill Mears
U.S. intelligence officials would not rule out the possibility on Tuesday that admitted National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has been meeting secretly with Russian authorities, who have given him asylum from U.S. prosecution.
The subject of Russia dominated a House Intelligence Committee hearing, featuring testimony from the director of national intelligence, as well as the heads of the CIA, FBI, and Defense Intelligence Agency.
DNI James Clapper told lawmakers it was "certainly a possibility" Russian intelligence services have spoken with Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whose disclosure of sensitive surveillance methods has caused a political uproar.
"I would find it incredulous if they didn't," said Clapper, about any efforts to influence Snowden by the FSB, Russia's state security organization.
By Barbara Starr
The U.S. military is putting the final touches on a series of orders that will put transport aircraft on standby status to assist in the evacuation of Americans, should that become necessary, at the Olympic Games in Sochi, CNN has learned.
Two U.S. military officials confirmed to CNN the orders are expected to be issued next week and will go into effect with the opening of the Winter Games on February 7.
Both officials strongly emphasized Friday that Russia remains responsible for security and any request for U.S. military assets would have to come through the State Department, which is coordinating government security arrangements for Americans.
The military orders will ensure that in the event of a crisis, C-17 transport aircraft and medical evacuation crews will be ready to move from their base at Ramstein, Germany, to Sochi within roughly six hours of being notified.
By Barbara Starr
Top U.S. and Russian military officials on Tuesday discussed the potential for the United States to share high-tech equipment to counter any use of improvised explosives by terrorists during the Sochi Olympics, a U.S. official told CNN.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, met in Brussels, Dempsey spokesman Col. Edward Thomas said.
By Jill Dougherty
The Sochi Olympics have become the "Holy Grail" for terrorists, experts on Russia say, and they don't even have to attack the Games directly to claim success.
"You don't necessarily have to hit Sochi to spoil the Games," says Andrew Kuchins of the Center for Strategic & International Studies. "A series of Volgograd-caliber attacks would virtually terrorize all of Russia."
By Barbara Starr
The U.S. military will have up to two warships and several transport aircraft on standby under a contingency plan to help evacuate American officials and athletes from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, if ordered, a U.S. official said.
The State Department would take the lead in organizing and evacuating Americans, if necessary, the official with direct knowledge of the plan told CNN.FULL STORY
By Jethro Mullen
Another deadly blast has struck the southern Russian city of Volgograd, killing at least 14 people and further highlighting Russia's security challenges as it readies to host the Winter Olympics in less than six weeks.
An explosion hit a trolleybus near a busy market during the morning rush hour Monday, a day after a blast at Volgograd's main train station killed 17 people and wounded at least 35 others.
Like Sunday's attack, the blast Monday was a terrorist act, Vladmir Markin, a spokesman for the country's federal investigation agency, told the state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
No one claimed responsibility for the explosions. But they come several months after the leader of a Chechen separatist group pledged violence to disrupt the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.FULL STORY
By Elise Labott
The protests in Ukraine against President Viktor Yanukovich's last-minute decision not to sign a political and trade agreement with the European Union are the biggest in the country since the 2004 Orange Revolution that booted Yanukovich, then Prime Minister, from office.
And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was tough Tuesday in his criticism of the government's use of force against the peaceful demonstrators, saying "violence has no place in a modern European state."
But his decision to skip a visit to Kiev and attend a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe wasn't necessarily a response to the political upheaval and a voice of support for the protesters, nor was it an indictment of the government's heavy-handed methods to combat it.
The snub was, in effect, a U.S. protest of the government's moves to align its trade interests with Moscow by deciding not to join the EU agreement. The so-called Eastern Partnership is designed to forge closer EU ties to Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
By Jill Dougherty
Lyudmila Romodina and Oleg Klyuenkov, LGBT activists from the northern Russian port city of Arkhangelsk, hate Russia's anti-gay "propaganda" law but they don't support the idea of a boycott of the Sochi Olympics in Russia as a way of protesting it.
The two members of the LGBT rights organization "Rakurs," which means "Perspective" in Russian, say they hope the Olympics, which will be held in February in the southern Russian city of Sochi, might help to shine a light on discrimination against gay people in Russia, as well as spur discussion.
"We don't want any extra rights" but gay people in Russia do want rights that are equal to those of their fellow Russians, Klyuenkov told CNN in an interview in Washington during a 10-day visit to the United States.FULL STORY
By CNN’s Greg Clary
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has now been in Moscow for more than five months while Russia considers whether to grant his request for permanent asylum. But his day-to-day activities remain largely a mystery.
One person who knows more than most about Snowden’s situation is Jesselyn Radack, who met with him recently in Moscow.
Radack is a member of the whistleblower-support organization, Government Accountability Project, and a former ethics adviser to the Justice Department. She became a whistleblower herself after raising concerns about the interrogation of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh.
Radack says security is still paramount for Snowden—she and the other visitors weren’t told the location of their meeting because of security concerns.
“It appeared to be a hotel, somewhere, but I don't know Moscow, so I didn't recognize where we were really,” Radack said.