How the State Department reaches out to U.S. citizens abroad
Police disperse rioters in Birmingham, England Photo by: Getty Images
August 9th, 2011
06:19 PM ET

How the State Department reaches out to U.S. citizens abroad

As riots sweep several British cities, the U.S. State Department is cautioning Americans in the U.K. to avoid areas of civil unrest, monitor local media reports and not engage in any debates that might turn violent.

The guidance, carried on the website of the U.S. Embassy in London, is part of a well-oiled warning system the State Department has used for decades to alert Americans living or traveling in countries around the world of everything from terrorist threats to hurricanes.

Monday, the State Department issued an updated travel warning on Pakistan, cautioning U.S. citizens that Americans in the country have been "arrested, deported, harassed, and detained" for visa violations and noting that the number of U.S. citizens arrested, detained and prosecuted for overstaying their Pakistani visas "increased markedly across the country."

How does the State Department decide when to issue a travel warning as opposed to simple guidance?


Military Commanders want crash victims' names kept secret
Navy SEAL Tommy Ratzlaff was one of 30 US service members killed last Saturday in the deadliest battle of the Afghan war. Family photo via KNWA.
August 9th, 2011
01:02 PM ET

Military Commanders want crash victims' names kept secret

By Barbara Starr

CNN Pentagon Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been asked by Special Operations commanders to not release the names of the 22 SEALS killed in a helicopter crash Saturday because they belonged to a covert unit, two US military officials confirm to CNN.

Even though many of the families have come forward and publicly identified their loved ones, the concern is that families and friends could be tracked down if they are identified, officials said. If the names are not published by the Pentagon, it would appear to be precedent setting. Officials said they can not recall a time when names were not released 24 hours after next of kin are notified following an incident.

A separate US military official also confirmed that the SEALS were called in as an ‘immediate reaction force” when the Rangers who were on the ground in a firefight saw some Taliban break off and begin to escape. The Rangers wanted the SEALS to go after those insurgents. The official said the Rangers were “not pinned down” but simply wanted more combat power.

Not just SEALs: Son wants father recognized
August 9th, 2011
12:21 PM ET

Not just SEALs: Son wants father recognized

By CNN's Ashley Fantz

A week ago, 10-year-old Braydon Nichols started to think about his dad and how much he missed him.

Army Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nichols, a helicopter pilot, had been deployed for two months in Afghanistan.

The little boy, in the car with his mother running errands, brushed back his dirty-blond hair and ran his hand over his cheek.

Jessica Nichols looked over when she heard sniffles. Her son was crying.

"When is Dad coming back so we go camping?" he asked her.

Soon, she assured him. "Your dad is off fighting for this country."

The boy replied, "As soon as he gets home, we're going to go on a camping trip, just me and him."

Jessica Nichols cannot stop replaying that scene in her mind. That's because only a few days later, on Saturday night, she was cradling her boy who was crying once again. Except this time she could not tell him that his father was coming home. She had just received a call informing her that Bryan Nichols was one of the 30 Americans who died that afternoon when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Wardak province in east-central Afghanistan.

Continue reading the story

August 9th, 2011
10:49 AM ET

Gupta in Somalia: "The most desperate place on earth"

On Tuesday night, Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta report live from Somalia with more on the disturbing hunger situation. "AC360º" is now at 8 and 10 p.m. ET weeknights on CNN.

By Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta

Dadaab, Kenya (CNN) - Right now, this may be the most desperate place on Earth.

A drought, not seen in 60 years, compounded with near complete lawlessness and utter disregard for human life has made it so.

It is hard to imagine, but dust and starvation are nearly everywhere you look, and the world's largest refugee camp is thick with misery on this night. The smell is a combination of the acrid sweetness associated with malnourishment, anxious sweat and diesel fuel.

The fuel is used to keep away the swarming flies. It stinks more than it repels.