Defense Secretary tells enemies "we will not back down"
Defense Secy Leon Panetta being sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden Photo by: AFP/Getty Images
July 22nd, 2011
06:03 PM ET

Defense Secretary tells enemies "we will not back down"

Three weeks into the job, new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was like a high-tech weapons systems Thursday, firing off messages in all directions.

The setting was his ceremonial swearing in at the Pentagon by Vice President Joseph Biden.

To America’s enemies – “We will not back down when our homeland is threatened. We will do whatever it takes to defend this country. And no one attacks the United States of American and gets away with it.”

To al Qaeda – “We are within reach of achieving the strategic defeat of al Qaeda but to do that we have to continue to put pressure wherever they are. And if we do, and continue that commitment, then ultimately we will succeed.”

To Congress – “I can’t do this job without you, it’s that simple. I really believe Congress has to be a full partner in The Department’s mission of protecting America.”

To taxpayers and the national debate over defense cuts … “We will face the fiscal challenges that confront us but we will do it in a way that maintains the strength of our country. Based on my long experience in government and with working with budgets I really believe we don’t have to make a choice between fiscal discipline and national security.”

To the fans of his straight talk – Panetta said that like Vice President Biden, his immigrant parents had taught him to speak plainly and directly. “And sometimes that’s gotten us in trouble. (laughter from the audience) As a result there was some talk here of trying to put a seven-second delay on the microphones for this ceremony, (more laughter) but I can’t imagine why the hell that should be necessary. (laughter)

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Filed under: Congress • Military • Panetta • Secretary of Defense • Terrorism
July 22nd, 2011
04:58 PM ET

Q&A: Why Norway?

Norway came under attack with a massive bombing in the heart of its power center and a shooting at a youth camp. Police say the attacks are linked, but no one has claimed responsibility so far.

The attacks are the largest in Europe in six years. What's behind it all? CNN's Tim Lister explains the possibility of terrorism, the potential reasons why Norway may have been a target and who may have been behind it. FULL POST

Filed under: Norway
July 22nd, 2011
02:49 PM ET

Analyst: Increased 'chatter' about Norway in recent months

CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank says the Oslo blast has all the hallmarks of a major attack, although the exact cause is not known.

It's too early to draw any conclusions on whether it was terrorism and who would carry it out, says Cruickshank. But, he said, by looking at the extent of the damage, it was plain to see the hallmarks of a major attack.

Cruickshank said that in recent months, there had been increased "chatter" about Norway, which had been investigating militants suspected of being linked to al Qaeda.

Norway also drew the ire of al Qaeda for publishing the controversial political cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that originally appeared in a Danish newspaper and sparked outrage in the militant Islamic community. FULL POST

Filed under: Norway
July 22nd, 2011
02:33 PM ET

Security expert: Norway a 'soft target'

Norway came under deadly attack Friday with a massive bombing in the heart of its power center and a shooting at the ruling party's youth camp outside the capital.

Security expert Will Geddes says Norway could be a terror target because it's seen as a "soft target."

Filed under: Norway
July 22nd, 2011
11:08 AM ET

U.N. report on Iraq: ‘Cautious optimism” about the country’s future

After years of war and recent security setbacks, Iraq is making steady strides politically and economically ahead of the U.S. troop withdrawal scheduled for the end of the year, according to the special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Iraq.

"Are you optimistic or are you pessimistic?” has been the question I have been asked most by many," said Ad Melkert, the head of the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq. He briefed the U.N. Security Council this week on the secretary-general’s latest report of the mission's activities in Iraq.

"In most of what I have witnessed in Iraq there is ground for cautious optimism, provided that determined leadership within the country and a stronger spirit of cooperation in the region with Iraq prevail."

Challenges persist, Melkert said but "real progress" has been made in replacing Iraq’s "ruthless" Saddam Hussein regime "with institutions mandated by constitutional principles." FULL POST

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Filed under: Iraq • United Nations