US mulling option for 3000 troops to remain in Iraq
September 6th, 2011
06:27 PM ET

US mulling option for 3000 troops to remain in Iraq

By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

Despite adamant statements that no final decisions have been made about future U.S. troop levels in Iraq, discussions within the administration have included a potential option for keeping just 3,000 forces there beginning next year, according to a senior Pentagon official.

The official emphasized strongly that no final decisions have been made and that discussions with the Iraqis continue. He suggested strongly that the 3,000 number was the low end of any "prudent planning" and if approved by both sides would only allow for minimal training to take place.

There are currently more than 40,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The current agreement is for all troops to withdraw by year's end. However, the U.S. expects the Iraqis to request some U.S. troops to remain to aid in training and security.

A senior defense official told CNN, "Any kind of post-2011 presence would have to be agreed to by the Iraqis. The discussions with the Iraqis have hardly gotten off the ground, so anyone who says they know precisely how many, if any, U.S. troops will remain in Iraq beyond the end of the year is speculating."

The 3,000 figure was originally reported by Fox News, which said it was signed off on by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The official CNN spoke to said he was unaware of Panetta signing off on any troop numbers.

Panetta's spokesman, George Little, denied any decision had been made on troop levels in Iraq. FULL POST

Filed under: Iraq • Military • Panetta
Goverment can't do cybersecurity alone
September 6th, 2011
03:18 PM ET

Goverment can't do cybersecurity alone

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ed Stroz is a former Special Agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he was responsible for the formation of the FBI’s Computer Crime Squad in New York City. Currently he is co-president and founder of Stroz Friedberg, a cybersecurity consulting firm. Carl Young is managing director at the same firm. Prior to joining Stroz Friedberg, Mr. Young was a risk strategist and Global Head of Physical Security Technology at Goldman Sachs, and previously held a succession of senior posts at the FBI.

By Ed Stroz and Carl Young, for CNN

The attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001 signified the unofficial start of the U.S. war on terror.  Although the images of that day remain fixed in our memories, the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 is an opportunity to examine how we have changed the way we think about the importance of security in our lives.

At the same time, the ten years since 9/11 have witnessed an explosive dependency on information technology around the world.  One statistical indicator of this growth is the 480% increase in the global use of the Internet since 2001, where the number of Internet users comprises nearly a third of the seven billion inhabitants of the planet.

Much of the U.S. information technology infrastructure and associated software is owned and operated by private organizations that conduct business using web applications that can be accessed through the Internet or utilize network devices with similar risk exposure to computer viruses.  Such viruses, also known as malware, are increasingly sophisticated and have become ubiquitous on the Internet.  A computer system that is infected by such malware can still work perfectly well with no signs of infection.  The malware can sit silently waiting for instructions to take destructive action later.  For the first time, the number of new computer viruses introduced in a single year (2011) is expected to exceed two million. FULL POST

Filed under: Cybersecurity • Living With Terror
September 6th, 2011
12:27 PM ET

Sources: Gadhafi not in Niger convoys

By Senior State Department Producer Elise Labott

Former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is not believed to be part of a convoy believed to be carrying former regime officials and valuables belonging to the former regime and the Libyan people, State Department officials tell CNN.

The officials said US Ambassador to Niger Bisa Williams has met with the Nigerien government to discuss reports that the convoy, believed to be carrying Libyan officials and valuables belonging to the Gadhafi family and the Libyan state, has entered Niger and is headed to the capital of Niamey.

The officials said the Nigerien government is searching vehicles in the reported convoy for arms, contraband and valuable materials belonging to either the convoy members or the Libyan state. Based on available information, ousted Libyan leader Qaddafi is not believed to be among the members of the convoy, the officials said. It was unclear whether any other members of the Gadhafi family were in the convoy.

Ambassador Williams told the Nigerians that the US expects that the Nigerien government will comply with requests from the NTC to have individuals who have sought refuge in Niger returned toLibyaupon request of the new Libyan government and to ensure that the arriving individuals will be held accountable for any acts conducted under the Gadhafi regime.

Filed under: Gadhafi • Libya
Petraeus transitions from "Peaches" to "Dave"
September 6th, 2011
11:54 AM ET

Petraeus transitions from "Peaches" to "Dave"

By CNN's Barbara Starr

As he takes the helm of the CIA on Tuesday, David Petraeus—now retired from the US Army—isn’t the first intelligence director who wore a uniform—but he may be the best known and that could dog the one time four-star general for months to come.

Even at his Senate confirmation hearings back in June, Petraeus acknowledged his military career—and the influence of the military– may loom large at the CIA. “There have also been concerns voiced over militarization of the intelligence community in general and the CIA in particular. One reason I will retire before assuming the directorship, if confirmed, is to allay such concerns. Beyond that, I have no plans to bring my military brain trust with me to the agency. There is no shortage of impressive individuals at the agency, and I look forward to interacting with them and populating my office with them. If confirmed, I will, in short, get out of my vehicle alone on the day that I report to Langley.”

Petraeus comes to the agency with the vast expertise of having run wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as serving as head of US Central Command where he came to know virtually every leader and head of intelligence services across the Middle East. Those areas, well as North Korea and China are likely to remain top priorities.

The Petraeus era at the CIA is likely to look very different however than his time commanding both those wars when he often granted interviews to reporters and television cameras. “Petraeus is going to disappear from view” says one close colleague. “The White House doesn’t want him out there.” The colleague asked not to be identified because he still works with Petraeus offering private advice. But he and others say the sensitivity stems from the continuing rumors Petraeus may decide to run for office, even though Petraeus has said he has no plans for that option. FULL POST

September 6th, 2011
07:58 AM ET

Planes on round-the-clock guard for Washington and other U.S. cities

By CNN Senior National Security Producer Charley Keyes

Every minute of every day pilots and support crews at this Air Force Base just outside Washington, D.C. remember the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

Unlike 10 years ago, they now – always - are on guard to stop future attacks.

“We shall never forget,” says a plaque attached to a piece of the Pentagon wreckage from the 9/11 devastation. “This fragment of the Pentagon is placed here in honor of the 3,087 innocent men, women and children from across America and around the world killed by terrorists on 11 September 2001 and the capital guardians who bravely answered our nation's call to duty,” the inscription says. “Again, the sleeping giant awakes…”

CNN Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence visited Andrews in the days leading up to the 9/11 anniversary and heard the story of how pilots rushed to respond in the first chaotic moments ten years ago.