What the terror raids say about an 'Obama Doctrine'
October 7th, 2013
04:09 PM ET

What the terror raids say about an 'Obama Doctrine'

By Josh Levs

U.S. raids in pursuit of two terrorists over the weekend threw a question surrounding President Obama into the spotlight: Does he have a guiding doctrine for foreign policy?

The operations in Somalia and Libya, only one of which went as planned, come after the Obama administration silenced its drumbeat toward a possible military attack on Syria.

Some analysts say the developments make Obama's "doctrine" more clear than ever. Others say what's more clear than ever is that this president doesn't have one - which may, or may not, be a good thing.

"The two raids over the weekend show that President Obama remains very comfortable deploying special operations forces in countries the United States is not at war with as a means to combat terrorist groups, just as he is comfortable with the use of CIA drones for the same purpose in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen," says CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen.

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Filed under: Obama • Terrorism
Government shutdown 'extremely damaging' to U.S. intelligence operations
October 2nd, 2013
01:29 PM ET

Government shutdown 'extremely damaging' to U.S. intelligence operations

By Josh Levs

The government shutdown is "extremely damaging" to U.S. intelligence operations, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Wednesday.

Clapper noted that he has worked in the intelligence field for 50 years, and "never seen anything like this."

The shutdown "seriously damages our ability to protect the safety and security of this nation," he told a Senate panel.

The law allows intelligence agencies to hold on to the employees needed to protect against "imminent threat to life or property," he noted. Following that guide, approximately 70% of employees were furloughed, he said.

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Filed under: Clapper • Congress • Graham • ODNI
'Red line' debate: Are chemical weapons in Syria worse than conventional attacks?
August 27th, 2013
01:58 PM ET

'Red line' debate: Are chemical weapons in Syria worse than conventional attacks?

By Josh Levs

The U.S. and international effort to respond to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria begs the question: Why intervene now, and not earlier in the civil war?

More than 100,000 people have died in the conflict, which has raged for more than two years.

There have been massacres. Populated areas have been bombed. Blasts have targeted people lining up for food at bakeries. People have been decapitated.

Millions of Syrians are displaced.

But a single, horrifying attack has crossed what U.S. President Barack Obama called a "red line." Rebel officials say more than 1,300 people, including many women and children, died recently as a result of chemical weapons.

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Filed under: Syria
June 30th, 2013
08:41 AM ET

Europe furious, 'shocked' by report of U.S. spying

By Josh Levs

European officials reacted with fury Sunday after a report that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on EU offices.

The European Union warned that if the report is accurate, it will have tremendous repercussions.

"I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations," European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a statement. "If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations. On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the U.S. authorities with regard to these allegations."

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Filed under: Edward Snowden • EU • NSA
Ecuador to U.S.: Argue against Snowden asylum in writing
June 26th, 2013
05:54 PM ET

Ecuador to U.S.: Argue against Snowden asylum in writing

By Josh Levs, Jethro Mullen and Michael Pearson

Edward Snowden may have no trouble staying longer in a Russian airport, and Ecuador wants the United States to argue in writing why he should not be given political asylum, the two countries said Wednesday.

The Ecuadorian government also took a swipe at Washington, rejecting what it called false and "detrimental" claims the U.S. government has made about Ecuador.

Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked U.S. surveillance secrets, is in the transit area, between arrival gates and passport checkpoints, at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described Snowden Tuesday as a "free man."

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Audit: U.S. Defense Department can't account for billions for Iraq
January 29th, 2012
10:52 AM ET

Audit: U.S. Defense Department can't account for billions for Iraq

By CNN's Josh Levs

The U.S. Defense Department cannot account for about $2 billion it was given to cover Iraq-related expenses and is not providing Iraq with a complete list of U.S.-funded reconstruction projects, according to two new government audits.

The reports come from the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

The Iraqi government in 2004 gave the Department of Defense access to about $3 billion to pay bills for certain contracts, and the department can only show what happened to about a third of that, the inspector general says in an audit published Friday.

Although the Department of Defense (DoD) had "internal processes and controls" to track payments, the "bulk of the records are missing," the report says, adding that the department is searching for them.

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Filed under: Iraq • Military
UN report: torture in Afghan prisons
October 10th, 2011
02:05 PM ET

UN report: torture in Afghan prisons

By CNN's Josh Levs

Authorities in some Afghan prisons are torturing detainees into confessions, using methods that meet the international definition of torture, according to a new U.N. report.

The practices documented "are among the most serious human rights violations under international law, are crimes under Afghan law and are strictly prohibited under both Afghan and international law," the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says in the report.

"Detainees described experiencing torture in the form of suspension (being hung by the wrists from chains or other devices attached to the wall, ceiling, iron bars or other fixtures for lengthy periods) and beatings, especially with rubber hoses, electric cables or wires or wooden sticks and most frequently on the soles of the feet.  Electric shock, twisting and wrenching of detainees' genitals, stress positions including forced standing, removal of toenails and threatened sexual abuse were among other forms of torture that detainees reported.

"Routine blindfolding and hooding and denial of access to medical care in some facilities were also reported. UNAMA documented one death in government custody due to torture in April 2011, the report says.

The report contains quotes from various prisoners, not identified by name, describing their experiences in detail. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Kabul • Karzai • NATO • United Nations