July 30th, 2013
03:47 PM ET

Bradley Manning found not guilty of aiding the enemy, guilty on other charges

By Ashley Fantz and Chelsea J. Carter

A military judge has found Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history, not guilty of aiding the enemy - a charge that would have carried a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Manning was also found not guilty of unauthorized possession of information relating to national defense.

He was found guilty of most of the remaining charges against him, with the judge, Col. Denise Lind, accepting only two of the guilty pleas he had made previously to lesser charges. Those two were possession of a video that was marked classified and that he exceeded authority by obtaining a State Department cable.

Though those two counts carry a maximum sentence of two years, the rest of the charges that Manning was found guilty of could lead to a maximum sentence of 136 years in prison. Among the charges Manning was found guilty of - which carry a maximum 10-year sentence - are the theft of more than 700 U.S. Southern Command records, the possession of records pertaining to Afghanistan; the theft of State Department cables and the possession of classified Army documents.

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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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Report: Secret court order forces Verizon to turn over telephone records of millions
June 6th, 2013
03:45 AM ET

Report: Secret court order forces Verizon to turn over telephone records of millions

By Chelsea J. Carter

(CNN) – The U.S. government has obtained a top secret court order that requires Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of Americans to the National Security Agency on an "ongoing daily basis," the UK-based Guardian newspaper reportedWednesday.

The four-page order, which The Guardian published on its website, requires the communications giant to turn over "originating and terminating" telephone numbers as well as the location, time and duration of the calls. The order, published on the newspaper's website, does not require the contents of conversations to be turned over.

CNN has so far been unable to independently verify the authenticity of the document.

If genuine, the order gives the NSA blanket access to the records of millions of Verizon customers' domestic and foreign phone calls made between April 25, when the order was signed, and July 19, when it expires.

Verizon spokesman Edward McFadden declined to comment on the report.

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Filed under: FBI • NSA
U.S. Marine general takes over NATO forces in Afghanistan
U.S. General Joseph F. Dunford (right) pictured with former NATO commander U.S. General John Allen in Kabul.
February 11th, 2013
04:41 AM ET

U.S. Marine general takes over NATO forces in Afghanistan

By Chelsea J. Carter and Aliza Kassim

U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford took command Sunday of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, where he will oversee the final two years of the war and the withdrawal of nearly all troops.

"Today is not about change, it's about continuity," Dunford said at a change-of-command ceremony in Kabul attended by his predecessor Marine Gen. John Allen and other senior NATO and Afghan officials.

"I'll endeavor to continue the momentum of the campaign and support the people of Afghanistan as they seize the opportunity for a brighter future."

Dunford replaces Allen, whose final days as ISAF commander were marred by an investigation linked to the scandal that led to the resignation of his predecessor David Petreaus as the director of the CIA.

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Source on U.S.-Iraq talks: "discussions on numbers are over"
October 17th, 2011
07:23 AM ET

Source on U.S.-Iraq talks: "discussions on numbers are over"

From Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

The United States and Iraq have been unable to come to agreement on key issue regarding legal immunity for U.S. troops who would remain in Iraq after the end of the year, effectively ending discussion of maintaining a significant American force presence after the end of 2011, a senior U.S. military official with direct knowledge of the discussions told CNN on Monday.

About 40,000 U.S. troops left in Iraq remained in Iraq as of last week. The United States will continue with its plan to draw down troops with almost no troops remaining by year's end, as was agreed upon with the government of Iraq.

A brigade that originally was scheduled to be among the very last to leave Iraq is being pulled out of the country months ahead of its planned departure, CNN reported on Saturday. Family members were told that the early departure was because there was no deal between the Iraqis and Americans.

A U.S. military official in Iraq, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to CNN Saturday the early withdrawal of this brigade, citing a number of possible reasons, including the lack of a deal on the legal immunity issue and the fact that the State Department is "standing up" its operations faster than expected.

The two governments have been negotiating maintaining a small presence, perhaps several thousand, in order to advise, assist and train Iraqi troops after the end of 2011.

Those talks have not progressed, the source said. The Iraqi government's insistence that any troops that stay after the current Status of Forces Agreement ends in 2011 not be given legal immunity has been an issue for the Obama administration, which insisted that immunity is necessary.

"Iraqis could not come to meet important terms for the U.S," according to the senior U.S. official. "I think the discussions on numbers are over." FULL POST

Ready to be last ones out, brigade gets pulled early
U.S. soldiers patrol a a newly dug ditch in Iraq. The country's leaders said U.S. soldiers won't receive Iraqi immunity after 2011.
October 15th, 2011
09:02 PM ET

Ready to be last ones out, brigade gets pulled early

By CNN's Chelsea J. Carter reporting from El Paso, Texas

A brigade of U.S. troops originally scheduled to be among the very last to leave Iraq is being pulled out of the country months ahead of its planned departure, military officials said Saturday.

The announcement follows news this month that a deal to keep American troops in Iraq past a December 31, 2011, deadline to withdraw was on shaky ground after Iraqi leadership said any remaining U.S. forces would not be granted immunity from Iraqi prosecution. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and other top brass have repeatedly said any deal to keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the withdrawal deadline must require a guarantee of legal protection for American soldiers.

The Fourth Brigade Combat Team, First Armored Division, based at Fort Bliss, deployed to Iraq in August to replace two withdrawing brigades. The troops were sent with the understanding they would be among the last to leave the country and were told to expect up to a 12-month deployment, though it wasn't clear how long they would stay in Iraq. But brigade officials informed hundreds of military families gathered Saturday at its headquarters that their troops would begin returning home within weeks.

When family members inquired why soldiers were returning early, they were told by a military official: "Basically, what's happened ... is that the United States and Iraq have not come to an agreement," according to a CNN reporter who attended the meeting.

Additionally, the brigade official told families: "We were over there for a couple of missions. Those missions are finished."

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Filed under: Diplomacy • Foreign Policy • Fourth Brigade • Iraq • Military life