By Jamie Gumbrecht
He's the man who rolled into a bedroom in Abbottabad, Pakistan, raised his gun and shot Osama bin Laden three times in the forehead.
Nearly two years later, the SEAL Team Six member is a secret celebrity with nothing to show for the deed; no job, no pension, no recognition outside a small circle of colleagues.
Journalist Phil Bronstein profiled the man in the March issue of Esquire, calling him only the Shooter - a husband, father and SEAL Team Six member who happened to pull the trigger on the notorious terrorist. It's a detailed account of how the raid unfolded, and what comes after for those involved. The headline splashed across the cover reads, "The man who killed Osama bin Laden ... is screwed."
"They spent, in the case of the shooter, 16 years doing exactly what they're trained to do, which is going out on these missions, deployment after deployment, killing people on a regular basis, " said Bronstein, executive chairman of the Center for Investigative Reporting. "They finally get to the point where they don't want to do that anymore."
By Barbara Starr
While there have been months of dire predictions from the Pentagon about spending cuts, one of the most visible for the military could resonate across the Middle East at a time when uncertainty continues to grip the region.
The U.S. Navy may face the prospect of not being able to routinely keep two aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf region, which has been a longtime requirement for any ability to launch military campaigns in that part of the world.
The United States would have to scale back to one carrier in the region if Congress can't avoid deep automatic spending cuts, including some $500 billion directed at the Pentagon over 10 years, a U.S. military official directly familiar with the Navy's latest preliminary budget analysis tells CNN.
The Navy has kept an on-and-off presence with two carriers in the Gulf region during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
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.
As unrest unfolds on the streets of Tehran over Iran's collapsing currency, and international sanctions take their toll on the economy, new signs are emerging that Iran may be willing to suspend its disputed nuclear program. But that all depends on if the country gets something in return. Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty reports.
By Deirdre Walsh and Gregory Wallace
The State Department's rejection of "repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi" came amid "a clear pattern of security threats" in the five months leading up to the attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya, a Thursday letter from House Republicans obtained by CNN reads.
"The attack that claimed the Ambassador's life was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months leading up to September 11, 2012," the letter from Reps. Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reads.
The Republicans demanded answers to several questions and testimony at a hearing next Wednesday – the only hearing on any matter scheduled so far in the 35 days remaining until Election Day.
It's a frightening scenario: American troops – backing their Japanese allies – drawn into a conflict with China. And fighting over nothing more than some uninhabited islands and a few rocks. Senkaku is privately administered by the Japanese, but the Chinese claim they are the rightful owners. While officially neutral, the US defense treaty means it would have to back Japan in a military confrontation over these islands. As the U.S. and Japan begin military exercises in the region, tension is rising. Chris Lawrence reports.
Iran's economy is supposed to be in a stranglehold from international sanctions, but U.S. officials say Tehran still has access to the international banking system – thanks to Iraq. The U.S. government is looking to the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to help stop any sanctions busting. Jill Dougherty reports.
From Jill Dougherty, CNN
Syrian Prime Minister Ryad Hijab defected this week, joining the list of several other high-level members of the Syrian regime who have abandoned President Bashar al-Assad as he struggles to maintain his grip on power.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Hijab's actions are another sign that al-Assad will fall.
"I'm not going to put a timeline on it," she said. "I can't possibly predict it, but I know it's going to happen as does most observers around the world."
But the prime minister is the head of the government, and the government does not rule the country. The real power in Syria is held by the true "insiders," al-Assad's blood relatives.
Maher Al-Assad – Al-Assad's youngest brother and rumored to be Syria's second-most powerful man. He is head of the elite, rabidly loyal Republican Guard and the 4th Armored Division.
Namir Al-Assad – The president's cousin who is one of the top leaders of the Shabiha, the mercenary force used to suppress the opposition.
Rami Makhlouf – The money behind the regime, al-Assad's first cousin is believed to be the richest person in Syria. He allegedly funds the regime's violent battle against protesters and rebels who are seeking to oust the president.
Ali Mamlouk – As the head of national security, Mamlouk had U.S. sanctions leveled against him for human rights abuses and violence against civilians. Almost all members of al-Assad's inner circle are Alawites, a minority Muslim group. Alawites make up less than 15% of the population. Three-quarters of Syrians are Sunni Muslims.
Most of those who have defected are Sunni, including the prime minister.
In July, one of Syria's most senior diplomats, Nawaf al-Fares, defected, publicly embraced his country's uprising and called for a foreign military intervention. Al-Fares was Syria's ambassador to Iraq.
Syria expert Hussein Ibish said al-Assad's inner circle has only one message for its fellow Syrians. " 'It's us or the abyss,' " Ibish said. " 'Stick with us or you will be massacred in your beds.' "
The regime operates like an organized crime syndicate, he said.
"So it isn't possible to reform because what you would have to do to reform," Ibish said, "is start dismantling a mafia operation, a set of rackets, a set of interrelated criminal enterprises."
By Mike Mount
Iran is steadily improving its missile capability and could be able to test a missile that could reach the U.S. shores within three years, according to a new Pentagon report assessing the status of the Iranian military.
"Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems with accuracy improvements and new submuntion payloads," which allows missiles to drop explosives over a wider area causing more destruction, according to the report.
The missiles were part of war game exercises conducted by Iran last week. Iran's government said it was testing missiles capable of hitting U.S. bases around the Middle East.
"During the war games, long-range, medium-range and short-range missiles will be used and will be fired from different points across the country," which an Iranian spokesman said was designed to test the precision and efficiency of the warhead and missile systems.
With one hundred countries already under her belt, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on a marathon 13 day, 9 country trip that will stretch multiple continents. The issues addressed are as diverse as they are serious, and at a stop in Vietnam, the trip seemed to take a visible toll. CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty reports.