By Suzanne Kelly
In the aftermath of the affair that led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus, his biographer and paramour Paula Broadwell has remained publicly silent, turning instead to family and friends as she tries to assess just how news of the affair might impact her future.
"It's been hard for her family and her to see the picture that's being painted of her," says Broadwell's brother, Steve Kranz, a Washington-based attorney. "Her real focus is her family and her husband and her boys and trying to restore the trust she had with her husband and trying to protect her children from the publicity."
After weeks of media portrayals that have ranged from spurned lover to obsessed stalker, both family and friends of Broadwell have begun to present a fuller picture of her as she grapples with the shock of her affair being thrust into the public spotlight. Part of that outreach included providing photos from the family collection, given first to CNN, of Broadwell with her family and in Afghanistan.
"She's trying to live as normal a life as possible, but there are moments of realizing all that has happened," says a source close to Broadwell who asked not to be identified.
Early on, Broadwell began quietly returning emails from well-wishing friends, but she hasn't done much beyond that, according to sources who have said she is very focused on how the news has affected loved ones. But that strategy appears to be shifting somewhat with the hiring of a Washington-based public affairs group and friends who have known Broadwell for years now going public to combat images of her that they feel are unfair. FULL POST
By Suzanne Kelly
The latest James Bond movie, "Skyfall," delves into some tantalizing personal details about the world's favorite British spy, from formative events in his childhood to an up-close look at his relationship with M, the chief of the super-secret British spy service where Bond works.
The new film offers plenty of the heart-thumping chase scenes one expects from a Bond movie, and it also gives glimpses of Bond's well honed art of spycraft. Which begs the question: How realistic is today's Bond?
Some real-life former spies offered to help bust through some of the myths created by the movie:
From Suzanne Kelly
A senior U.S. intelligence official emphatically denied that the CIA refused repeated requests from its officers on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, to assist the Americans under attack at the U.S. mission there.
Just five days before the presidential election and in a rare briefing to reporters, the official Thursday offered almost a minute-by-minute account of what happened that night.
According to a Fox News report last Friday, citing an unnamed source, CIA officers working at an annex about a mile from the mission were told by officials in the CIA chain of command to "stand down" after receiving a call from the mission asking for help.
"There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support," the senior intelligence official said, offering a passionate defense of the actions taken by the CIA officers on the ground during the September 11 attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
The official insisted the agency operators at the annex were in charge of their movements and the safety of those who were preparing to respond to the initial attack on the mission compound.
By Mike Mount, with reporting from Suzanne Kelly and Pam Benson
Although officials have not made such an assertion publicly, they have characterized the attacks that occurred in recent months as initiated by a "state actor." The U.S. intelligence apparatus observed and tracked the attacks as coming out of Iran, a third official said Monday. The official would not describe further what was observed but said the belief is the perpetrators were surrogates working with the Iranian government.
“We strongly believe there is a relationship between the people typing the code and people running the government,” according to the official.
"It certainly is the case that Iran is improving its capabilities in the cyber field. We're paying attention. We are concerned about their increasing ability to operate in this realm," a U.S. intelligence official said.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta noted the attacks in a speech last week and warned that United States must beef up its cyber defenses or risk a potentially devastating strike. FULL POST
by Suzanne Kelly
The small theater in Washington was packed with friends and admirers of Antonio Mendez. The highly-decorated former CIA officer, played by Ben Affleck in the movie 'Argo,' is the real-life mastermind behind the once-classified 1979 operation to sneak six Americans out of Iran in the aftermath of the Embassy siege in 1979.
But this screening was markedly different than the premiere. Instead of the film stars like Ben Affleck and John Goodman, the Washington screening was mainly filled with the people who live their lives in the shadows.
While the movie definitely invokes a pulse-pounding pace that typically only exists in Hollywood, the extent to which Mendez was able to pull off the daring real-life rescue is impressive. Impressive enough to not only earn him a place on the silver screen, but he was also awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor, one of the highest honors a CIA Officer can receive.
The Spy Museum's Director, Peter Earnest (a former CIA Officer himself) paid tribute, as did the audience, with a standing ovation after the movie. Proof enough that coming out of the shadows can have it's perks
By Suzanne Kelly
The top U.S. intelligence official said on Tuesday there was no obvious warning ahead of the deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and rebuffed criticism of the intelligence community's initial assessment of the incident.
James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, said in raw and revealing remarks to a group of intelligence professionals and contractors in Orlando that there is a "message" the intelligence community has learned since the September 11 attack that is "applicable to the executive and legislative branches of government" as well as to members of the media.
U.S. intelligence has been sharply criticized by some members of Congress who allege the Obama administration did not come out soon enough and identify the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans as a planned, terrorist assault.
Clapper said an increased security risk is the new normal overseas, and that people need to understand what intelligence can and cannot do.
By Suzanne Kelly
It's hard to say that looking like a terrorist would be a good thing, but it hasn't gone so badly for Navid Negahban.
The Iranian-born actor, who has played a range of bad guys during his career, currently plays terrorist Abu Nazir on the Showtime hit series "Homeland," and the success of the series has made him one of the world's best-known non-terrorists.
That may be a good thing for his acting career. Turns out it's not so good at airports.
"What happens is that I'm playing all of these different characters and my facial hair changes and I have different looks," said Negahban on a recent cell phone call from Los Angeles. "When I'm at the airport, the agents look at my passport and they look at me and there is something in their eyes, and you can see them thinking, 'I know this guy. Where have I seen him before?'"
CNN's Suzanne Kelly reports on a scathing report from a Senate Homeland Security Sub-committee which is critical of the way fusion centers–the post 9/11 groups set up to share information among local, state and federal law enforcement–operate.
The Cybersecurity adviser to the White House, Michael Daniel, gave a candid assessment today of the cyber risks the U.S. faces. This comes as there are rumblings that the President is getting ready to issue an executive order on cybersecurity in light of Congress failing to pass legislation on this issue. CNN's Suzanne Kelly reports on what the government is doing to protect the U.S. from the threat of cyber attacks.
By Tim Lister and Suzanne Kelly
It might seem like Libya's Islamist militias are reeling in the face of the popular backlash that followed the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11. But Libya analysts say these groups are well-entrenched and used to operating in hostile environments. They may have melted away for now - but maybe not for long.
Before the consulate attack, there was already growing resentment against these groups in Benghazi and places like Derna further east, as reported previously by CNN.