August 27th, 2011
05:35 PM ET

U.S. official: Al Qaeda's No. 2 has been killed

From Pam Benson, CNN Senior National Security Producer

Al Qaeda's second-in-command, Atiya Abdul Rahman, has been killed in Pakistan, a U.S. official said Saturday.

The official would not discuss the circumstances behind his death, but did say Rahman is a key loss for al Qaeda FULL POST

Filed under: Al Qaeda • Pakistan
GeoEye view
August 26th, 2011
11:55 AM ET

View from the sky

Have you ever had the feeling someone’s watching you? Intelligence agencies routinely use satellite images as part of operation planning, but just what can they see from way out there?

CNN's Security Clearance was given unprecedented access to one of the U.S. government’s primary satellite contractors to find out just what they’re able to focus in on and how they do it.

Suzanne Kelly takes you for an exclusive sneak peek inside GeoEye’s sweep room. They won’t name their individual clients, but here’s a hint: you may have seen their handiwork in the aftermath of the Osama bin Laden raid in May.

August 26th, 2011
10:41 AM ET

U.S.-Israeli defence ties run deep

By David Schechter, Senior National Editor

Within the next month, the Palestinian Authority will ask the United Nations to recognize Palestine as a state. After eight months of upheavals across the Arab world, the world’s focus will return to the dispute at the heart of the Middle East’s troubles – and may leave the White House between the proverbial rock (Israel and its supporters in the U.S.) and hard place (Arab and Muslim nations and the “Arab street” the Obama administration has tried to court).

The United States has for decades preserved Israel’s qualitative military edge over its Arab neighbors – spending tens of billions of dollars in the process. The U.S. currently gives Israel shy of $3 billion a year in direct military aid, an amount scheduled to increase next year and the year after that, to an estimated $3.1 billion in 2013. This does not include funding for joint U.S.-Israel military projects.

It’s a policy that has had direct effects on the US defense industry. As a report for the Congressional Research Service noted last year: ”Israel can use some U.S. military assistance both for research and development in the United States and for military purchases from Israeli manufacturers.”

Nearly three-quarters of the U.S. military aid to Israel remains in the United States, financing Israeli purchases ranging from U.S.-made fighter jets and helicopters to bullets and missiles, spare parts for tanks and more. The aid agreement allows Israel to keep 26 percent of the money (making up an estimated 18 percent of Israel's defense budget) to help develop its domestic weapons industry. FULL POST

Filed under: Security Brief
August 26th, 2011
09:21 AM ET

Cyber-terrorism threat

CNN's Suzanne Kelly talks with Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and a NSA, about the cyber-terrorism threat.

Related: Europe's most pressing terrorism threat

UN reaches deal to release frozen Libyan funds
Libyan rebel celebrates on streets of Tripoli Photo By: Getty Images
August 25th, 2011
07:30 PM ET

UN reaches deal to release frozen Libyan funds

By CNN Wire Staff

An agreement has been reached in the U.N. Security Council to release $1.5 billion in frozen Libyan assets to meet the humanitarian needs of the country, diplomats said Thursday.

"Today's action demonstrates the international community's solidarity with the brave people of Libya at this historic moment," said Susan E. Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in a statement.

"The unprecedented international coalition built upon U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 prevented mass atrocities in eastern Libya, averted large-scale killings of unarmed civilians and avoided a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. Yet this is not the end of Libya's transition. It is the beginning. The United States will continue to work with our international partners to support the Libyan people as they chart a democratic, prosperous and secure future for their country."


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Filed under: Arab Spring • Diplomacy • Gadhafi • Intelligence • Libya • Military • NATO
August 25th, 2011
09:31 AM ET

Europe's most pressing terror threat?

CNN's Suzanne Kelly sat down with European Union Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove at a recent security forum in Aspen, Colorado, to talk about Europe’s most pressing terror threat.

Syria protests travel by U.S. ambassador without government permission
US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford Photo By: AFP/Getty Images
August 24th, 2011
07:01 PM ET

Syria protests travel by U.S. ambassador without government permission

By CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

The State Department says the Syrian government has delivered a diplomatic note of protest to the United States, expressing concern over U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford's visit Tuesday to the city of Jassem, 70 kilometers south of Damascus, without permission from the Syrian government.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the ambassador "wanted to see for himself what was up there. This has been another town that has been engaged in peaceful protest. He was there for about four hours. He had a chance there to talk to a number of Syrians, including those in the opposition, and then he drove back to Damascus."

The Syrian note, Nuland said, accused the ambassador of not following procedures that the government has requested U.S. diplomats follow.

Ford decided to go to Jassem, Nuland said, because the Syrian government repeatedly had denied him permission to travel. "So it was on that basis, the fact that he had been denied again and again and again permission to travel under their own system that they set up, that he made the decision ... to go."


Pentagon warns of potential problems with militarily strong China
Chinese military parade Photo By: AFP/Getty Images
August 24th, 2011
05:38 PM ET

Pentagon warns of potential problems with militarily strong China

By CNN Senior National Security Correspondent Charley Keyes

The Pentagon issued fresh warnings Wednesday that China's military expansion could stir up new tensions and provoke dangerous misunderstandings

"The pace and scope of China's sustained military investment have allowed China to pursue capabilities we believe are potentially destabilizing to regional military balances, increase the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation and may contribute to regional tensions and anxieties," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Michael Schiffer said. "Such capabilities could increase Beijing's options to use military force to gain diplomatic advantage, advance its interests or resolve military disputes in its favor."

Schiffer was speaking at the Pentagon about the annual survey of defense and security issues involving China.

A classified report was presented to Congress and an 83-page version was made public.


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Filed under: China • Military
US moves to free up assets for Libyan opposition
UN Security Council meeting Photo By: AFP/Getty Images
August 24th, 2011
03:26 PM ET

US moves to free up assets for Libyan opposition

By CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

The United States will support an effort by several members of the United Nations Security Council to override the U.N.'s sanctions committee and allow countries to free up frozen Libyan assets to speedily provide funds for the Libyan opposition's National Transitional Council.

The Obama administration has tried for days to get approval from the U.N. sanctions committee to unfreeze $1 billion to $1.5 billion worth of Libyan assets, but a diplomat told CNN privately that South Africa has been blocking that move. Gadhafi funded South Africa's African National Congress - now the ruling party - when it was a liberation movement fighting the white apartheid regime.

Wednesday, a senior Obama administration official, speaking on background because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue, said: "If we do not have sanctions committee action today, which is the best way for this to work... we will support the effort by some other countries to get this done in the Security Council."

"This has been going on for weeks and weeks," the official said.


NATO discusses protecting Libya WMD
Libya Chemical Plant: Rabta Photo By: GeoEye satellite image
August 24th, 2011
01:20 PM ET

NATO discusses protecting Libya WMD

By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

NATO has begun high level internal discussions on how to protect Libya’s mustard gas supplies if the stockpile suddenly was deemed to no longer be secure, an Obama administration official tells CNN. At this point the effort is considered “prudent planning” only, the official said, but this is the first indication the international community could be prepared to secure the stockpile currently at the Rabta site south of Tripoli.

The mustard gas is not weaponized and would be difficult to use in any immediate attack. But much of the concern is that material could be diverted or sold to third parties such as terrorist groups.

The U.S. is involved in the safeguard discussions, but there is no current consideration of sending U.S. troops the official said.

The State Department said known weapon storage sites in Libya remain secure. "We believe that these known missile and chemical agent storage facilities remain secure, and we've not seen any activity, based on our national technical means, to give us concern that they have been compromised," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday. "But that monitoring will continue."

The focus of the planning effort is what to do “if a force of some type is needed to secure the site,” he said. “The discussion is: who is best suited to do it?” Any force could include both military personnel as well as intelligence or contractor personnel with the technical expertise in monitoring chemical stockpiles. A NATO official said if there is a need to send personnel to Rabta it might be done by individual nations rather than the alliance which would have to reach a consensus on sending NATO forces on a new mission.

At the moment no one has publicly said whether Gadhafi’s forces or rebel forces are in control of Rabta, although U.S. officials have said for days they believe the stockpile is secure. The discussions have accelerated in recent days as the regime began to collapse

“We are watching the chemical weapons and SCUD missiles to make sure they are not used in the endgame,” a senior NATO official told CNN.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Gadhafi • Libya • Military • NATO • Terrorism
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