Official: Damage assessment over U.S. intelligence-gathering leaks
June 8th, 2013
11:34 PM ET

Official: Damage assessment over U.S. intelligence-gathering leaks

By Chelsea J. Carter and Jessica Yellin

Following the furor over revelations the U.S. government is collecting telephone records and data mining popular online services, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper took the unusual step Saturday of declassifying some details about the programs.

In doing so, Clapper reiterated President Barack Obama's position that the programs are necessary to fight terrorism, while one of his deputies said the administration was looking into possible repercussions caused by leaks to the media about programs.

"We are doing an assessment of the damage that has been done to U.S. national security by the revelation of this information," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters during a news briefing in Rancho Mirage, California, where President Barack Obama was meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"...Currently, there's a review underway to understand what potential damage may be done."

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Economy, not foreign policy, will be focus of State of the Union
February 10th, 2013
03:39 PM ET

Economy, not foreign policy, will be focus of State of the Union

By Jessica Yellin

President Barack Obama has spent large chunks of the last six months dealing with matters of foreign policy, from Benghazi to Afghanistan to drones.

But the topic won’t be the centerpiece of his State of the Union address Tuesday. Administration officials say he’ll focus instead on jobs and the economy, the topics that still rank as the most important for Americans, according to polls.

While Obama won't spend as much time on foreign policy Tuesday as he does on the economy, that isn't unusual. In his last four addresses to Congress, this president spent an average of seven minutes on foreign policy and an average 22 minutes on the economy, according to analyses from the Washington Post and National Journal.

He will address the ongoing drawdown of the American military presence in Afghanistan, and last week Vice President Joe Biden indicated at a security conference in Munich that Obama could talk about his commitment to reducing the stockpile of nuclear weapons around the world.

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Hagel to focus on present, not past, in testimony
January 31st, 2013
12:34 AM ET

Hagel to focus on present, not past, in testimony

By Jessica Yellin and Adam Aigner-Treworgy

When former Sen. Chuck Hagel appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, don’t expect him to dwell on controversial statements from his past. Instead, allies say, he’ll focus on the present.

He will testify that if confirmed to be the next Secretary of Defense, he will be fully supportive of the president’s policies, including a preference for diplomacy but a willingness to use force, an Obama administration official working on the senator’s confirmation hearing told CNN.

Hagel has been slammed for his past opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran, and critics have questioned his support for Israel. This official says Hagel will testify Thursday morning that he believes Iran is a state sponsor of terror; he supports the president’s sanctions strategy against Iran and believes all options should be on the table including the military option. He’ll also testify that it’s his view that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.

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