Pentagon expects to spend less next year in Afghanistan even before drawdown savings calculated
US Soldiers on patrol recently in Afghanistan. DoD photo
June 24th, 2011
03:55 PM ET

Pentagon expects to spend less next year in Afghanistan even before drawdown savings calculated

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Pentqagon said Friday it needs billions less for operations in Afghanistan next year, and that's even before the officials figure out how much the newly mandated troop drawdown in Afghanistan will save taxpayers.

Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said that in fiscal fear 2011 the Department of Defense is authorized to spend $113 billion in Afghanistan. He said for FY 2012, which starts October 1st, the budget request for Afghanistan is $107 billion, a $6 billion decrease.

And those numbers come before the withdrawal of 33,000 U.S. troops that President Obama ordered Wednesday be completed by the end of next summer. "We don't, at this point, have drawdown related costs or savings."

The FY 2012 request still hasn't passed Congress and could be changed before it's finalized.

The Pentagon, as of this April, is spending $6.2 billion per month for operations in Afghanistan, Lapan said. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mullen had testified Thursday on Capitol Hill that the military was spending $10 billion a month in Afghanistan. "That's incorrect," Lapan said.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Congress • Military
Petraeus: " the end of the day, this is not about me"
Gen. David Petraeus testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Photo: Getty Images
June 24th, 2011
03:22 PM ET

Petraeus: " the end of the day, this is not about me"

This week’s confirmation hearing for General David Petraeus left plenty to chew over.

It is a foregone conclusion that he will stroll into the job that he now says he has been angling for over the past year - CIA Director.

But a lot of the questions before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday focused on his present role as the U.S. commander in Afghanistan and especially what advice he provided to President Obama on the drawdown of U.S. forces there.

Petraeus acknowledged the President came up with “a more aggressive formulation” than he had proposed – diplospeak for taking out more troops on a faster timetable than he and his fellow generals wanted. FULL POST

As Congress debates Libyan pullback, U.S. continues attacks
A US F-16 taking part in Libyan operations recently. DoD Photo
June 24th, 2011
02:05 PM ET

As Congress debates Libyan pullback, U.S. continues attacks

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the House of Representatives debated about possibly cutting funding for the U.S. military's role in support of the NATO campaign in Libya, American warplanes, manned and unmanned, continue to attack targets inside the north African nation, the Pentagon said Friday.

Just since Monday, the U.S. has dropped bombs and fired missiles in a dozen missions over Libya, according to the Pentagon. The DoD will not give specifics on the attacks or the intended targets, but the U.S. has been using F-16 and F/A 18 manned warplanes and Predator UAVs to attack Libya since NATO took over the mission there on March 31st.

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Filed under: Gadhafi • Libya • Military • NATO
June 24th, 2011
01:32 PM ET

Obama follows in Bush's footsteps on War Powers

By Michael V. Hayden, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who was appointed by President George W. Bush as CIA director in 2006 and served until February 2009, is a principal with the Chertoff Group, a security consulting firm, and a distinguished visiting professor at George Mason University. He formerly was director of the National Security Agency and held senior staff positions at the Pentagon.

Although it was slow in building, there is now a serious constitutional and political "game on" in Washington. It all revolves around the meaning of hostilities as envisioned by the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

The Obama administration has reasoned itself into a position where it hardly consulted with Congress before committing U.S. forces to Libya and now believes that congressional approval for continued operations is not required under the War Powers statute. FULL POST

Filed under: Libya • Military
Clinton talks tough on Pakistan
Secretary Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
June 24th, 2011
12:02 PM ET

Clinton talks tough on Pakistan

By CNN National Security Producer Jamie Crawford

As the United States and Pakistan continue to pick up the pieces of their relationship following the May 2 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, Secretary of State Clinton pulled no punches in her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday over the difficulty in assessing who in Pakistan may have known the whereabouts of the terrorist leader.

"With respect specifically to bin Laden, we have looked very hard and we have scrubbed all of the intelligence that we have," Clinton said in testimony to update the committee on the situation in Afghanistan following President Obama's announcement of a drawdown in U.S. forces there. "But we do believe that at the highest levels –however, I have said and I know other members of the administration have said, we do not in any way rule out or absolve those who are at lower levels who may very well have been enablers and protectors."

But it was Clinton's follow-up to that statement that underscored the challenging nature of determining the extent of bin Laden's support network inside Pakistan. "Now, the - the fair question is: Well, were they protecting their higher-ups? Could be. You know, was it one of these kind of a wink-and-a-nod? Maybe so," Clinton said in response to a question from Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on the effectiveness of U.S. taxpayer assistance to Pakistan. "But in looking at every scrap of information we have, we think that the highest levels of the government were genuinely surprised."

The New York Times reported on a recovered cell phone belonging to one of bin Laden's couriers, seized in the raid that killed him, that contained contacts to a militant group used as an asset by Pakistan's intelligence agency. FULL POST

June 24th, 2011
10:22 AM ET

Militant group did not help Osama bin Laden, source says

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) - A member of a Pakistani-based militant group is denying a New York Times report that a cellphone found during the raid of Osama bin Laden's compound contains information that links his group to bin Laden.

The member of Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen said he was not aware of support his group gave bin Laden during the years the al Qaeda boss hid at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The statement by the man, who did not want his name used because no one in his group is authorized to speak to the media, differs from a recent New York Times report.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that a cellphone belonging to a bin Laden courier contained contact information for members of Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen.

The Times report says that Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen also has ties to Pakistani intelligence services.

That information on the cellphone could raise questions about who supported bin Laden when he was in Pakistan, the report said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Islamabad declined comment on the situation Friday, saying, "We don't discuss intelligence issues."

In recent weeks diplomats from the United States and Pakistan have been meeting to help repair the relationship between the two countries, which has been strained since the May 2 raid on the compound that left bin Laden dead.

The relationship between the two countries has been in a downward spiral over disputes about how to pursue counterterrorism efforts.

The United States believes Pakistan is not doing enough to go after al Qaeda and other extremists, while the Pakistanis are upset with what they consider to be unilateral steps taken by the United States within their borders.

Journalist Nasir Dawar contributed to this report

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Intelligence • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan
June 24th, 2011
10:08 AM ET

What was on the cellphone recovered in raid?

A member of a Pakistani-based militant group Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen is denying a New York Times report that a cellphone found during the raid of Osama bin Laden's compound contains information that links his group to bin Laden.

What is Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen and what is its background? And what exactly was on the cellphone? CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson explains.

Filed under: Intelligence • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan
June 24th, 2011
09:14 AM ET

Security brief – June 24, 2011

Compiled by Tim Lister

Phone from OBL compound shows contacts with militants close to Pakistan Intelligence

Pakistan military in crisis as anti-American sentiment surges

Pakistan issues visas for CIA staff – report

Karzai surrounded by "religiously conservative" advisers

Gadhafi "may leave Tripoli" – report

House set to vote on War Powers – Dems desert Obama

Syria: protests in several cities...watching Aleppo.....economy key to regime survival

Yemen: economic crisis worsening fast

Egypt: Salafist groups enter politial fray

The boat that rotted: new US Navy ship disintegrating FULL POST

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Filed under: Security Brief