Medal of Honor recipient settles lawsuit
December 15th, 2011
07:52 PM ET

Medal of Honor recipient settles lawsuit

By Charley Keyes

Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer and defense contractor BAE announced Thursday an "amicable" end to their dispute.

Meyer filed a lawsuit in Texas in June claiming BAE, his former employer, had punished him for objecting to a weapons sale to Pakistan, and had prevented him from finding other work by portraying him as unstable and a problem drinker. The lawsuit against the company and his former supervisor has been dropped.  (Also read: Marines stand by version of Medal of Honor battle)

"BAE Systems OASYS and I have settled our differences amicably," Meyer said in a joint statement issued by the company, referring to the company by its full name. Meyer praised the defense firm's support for veterans and generosity to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.

There were no details of any possible monetary settlement.

"During my time there I became concerned about the possible sale of advanced thermal scopes to Pakistan. I expressed my concerns directly and respectfully," Meyer said. "I am gratified to learn that BAE Systems OASYS did not ultimately sell and does not intend to sell advanced thermal scopes to Pakistan."

The company faced the difficult task of a potentially drawn-out legal battle against an American hero. FULL POST

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Filed under: Lawsuit • Medal of Honor • Military
State: Pressure on Iran could backfire
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waves to supporters Wednesday.
December 15th, 2011
07:19 PM ET

State: Pressure on Iran could backfire

By Jamie Crawford and Elise Labott

While the Obama administration has shown signs of supporting legislation that would increase pressure on the Iran's central bank, the administration is taking a cautious approach to how the provision should be implemented.

At issue is a section of the giant $662 billion defense authorization bill that would prevent foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran's Central Bank from operating in or doing business with the United States.

The administration initially feared such a move would drive up prices on the global oil market while the U.S. trudged through a sluggish economic recovery. It could have the unintended effect of adding money to Iran's coffers with the spike prices, further allowing it to continue financing its nuclear program.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 86-12 Thursday evening, and was sent to the White House for President Obama's signature.

NEW IMAGE: Chinese aircraft carrier at sea
In this exclusive image from the DigitalGlobe Analysis Center, the Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag is seen from space during its second sea trial in the Yellow Sea, approximately 100 kilometers south-southeast of the port of Dalian.
December 15th, 2011
06:37 PM ET

NEW IMAGE: Chinese aircraft carrier at sea

By Adam Levine

China's refurbished Russian aircraft carrier was snapped at sea in this exclusive image taken by DigitalGlobe's satellite. The Varyag aircraft carrier image was grabbed while the carrier was on its second sea trial in the Yellow Sea on December 8, 2011, according to DigitalGlobe Analysis Center. The location is approximately 100 kilometers south-southeast of the port of Dalian.

The carrier had previously been seen in dry dock.

The aircraft carrier is a partially refurbished version of the old Soviet Admiral Kuznetsov Class and was left over from the Cold War.  A Macao-based casino group initially arranged for the purchase but ulimately it was taken over by the Chinese military, according to a Stratfor analysis which posits they were likely the original buyer. (WATCH A VIDEO OF THE STRATFOR/DIGITAL GLOBE ANALYSIS HERE)

While its appearance has gotten a lot of attention, Stratfor notes "its actions seem threatening long before there is a capability to match" because it will be years before China can add additional carriers to keep one active at all times.  The carrier also appears to lack surface-to-surface missiles and other air defense systems, according to Strafor, and the intention seems to be to use the Varyag as a training vehicle.

"The focus on naval development, which goes far beyond the work on the Varyag, reflects less a desire to be considered one of the “big” players than a response to a fundamental threat to its economic system, and thus to social and political stability," Stratfor observes.

China's rapid growth has led to a heavy dependence on resources that must be shipped in via the sea. FULL POST

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Filed under: Analysis • China • Military • Satellite imagery • Stratfor
Marines stand by version of Medal of Honor battle
December 15th, 2011
03:21 PM ET

Marines stand by version of Medal of Honor battle

By CNN's Charley Keyes

The Marine Corps is fighting back against a newspaper report that it exaggerated the bravery of a hero of the Afghanistan war who received the nation's highest military honor.

President Barack Obama awarded Cpl. Dakota Meyer the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony in September and spoke about Meyer's heroism in trying to rescue fallen comrades, returning again and again to the middle of an ambush to aid both Americans and Afghan troops.

McClatchy Newspapers, which conducted an investigation into the accounts, said on its website that parts of the Marine Corps' account of the battle were "untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated."  The article noted the exaggerations probably were unnecessary and that Meyer did deserve the medal for his heroic acts.

In a statement Wednesday, the Marine Corps said it firmly stands behind "the Medal of Honor (MOH) process and the conclusion that this Marine rightly deserved the nation's highest military honor."

The Marines say the award is "entirely appropriate and well-deserved," and that their investigation as part of the award process focused on direct eyewitness accounts and other recorded information.

But the Marines do admit that over the course of a six-hour battle, not every witness had "equal and accurate visibility or situational clarity on every activity." FULL POST

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Filed under: Marines • Medal of Honor • Military
December 15th, 2011
02:57 PM ET

Top military officer looks back on Iraq war

CNN's Barbara Starr spoke with Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey in Baghdad Thursday as the U.S. military mission came to an official close. Dempsey discusses the "surreal" feeling of leaving Iraq.

See also: An overwhelming silence in Bagdhad

SecDef Herman Cain?
December 15th, 2011
02:30 PM ET

SecDef Herman Cain?

By Adam Levine

He's out of the race to be the Republican presidential candidate, so Herman Cain is on the hunt for a new job.  His dream job? Secretary of Defense.  That's what he told ABC News' Barbara Walters in an interview that aired Wednesday night.

Cain said he was "totally hypothetically" interested in the job.

"If I could influence rebuilding our military the way it should be, that would be a task I would consider undertaking," Cain said in the interview.

The answer might seem surprising given Cain's proud declaration that he lacked a full grasp on international matters.  It certainly seemed to take Walters by surprise.

"What?," she spat out. "Why Department of Defense?"

She then asked him about his lack of familiarity with countries around the world.

"I have been doing my homework ever since that difficulty," he explained.

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Filed under: Cain • Secretary of Defense
December 15th, 2011
01:53 PM ET

Crashed drone was looking at Iran nuclear sites

By Tim Lister, with reporting by Kathleen Johnston and Pam Benson

The Sentinel drone that crashed in Iran last week was on a surveillance mission of suspected nuclear sites in the country, U.S. military officials tell CNN.

Previously, U.S. and NATO officials had said the drone was on a mission to patrol the Afghan-Iran border and had veered off course.

The officials say the Afghan government was unaware of the use of its territory to fly surveillance drones over Iran, and that the CIA had not informed the Defense Department of the drone's mission when reports first emerged that it had crashed.  One official told CNN that the U.S. military "did not have a good understanding of what was going on because it was a CIA mission."

In Kabul Wednesday U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta refused to comment directly on the specifics of the drone's mission but did not deny that it had been spying on Iran and said the drone program carried out "important intelligence operations which we will continue to pursue."

The RQ-170 Sentinel is one of the United States' most sophisticated drones and flies at up to 50,000 feet.  It is designed to evade sophisticated air defenses.  One former intelligence official told CNN that it's "impossible to see" and discounted Iranian claims that it had been brought down by some form of electronic counter-measures.

"It simply fell into their laps," he said - after satellite communication was lost. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Central Intelligence Agency • drones • Intelligence • Iran • Kabul • Nuclear
Putin lashes out at U.S. role in Gadhafi killing
December 15th, 2011
11:22 AM ET

Putin lashes out at U.S. role in Gadhafi killing

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused U.S. drones and special forces of involvement in the death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in comments Thursday.

He also attacked U.S. Sen. John McCain over a warning that Russia might follow the same path as Libya, suggesting McCain was not of sound mind following his time as a prisoner during the Vietnam War.

Putin's comments were prompted by a question during his traditional year-end question-and-answer program, broadcast live by state media.

Responding to a question about McCain purportedly predicting Putin would meet the same fate as Libya's leader, the Russian prime minister described the televised images of Gadhafi's final moments as "horrible, disgusting scenes" and pointed to U.S. involvement in his death.

"Is that democracy? Who did this? Drones, including those of the U.S., struck his motorcade and then commandos, who were not supposed to be there, called for the so-called opposition and militants by the radio, and he was killed without an investigation or trial," Putin said.

Read the whole story here

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Filed under: drones • Libya • McCain • Putin • Russia
An overwhelming silence in Baghdad
Army armored vehicles in Kuwait City wait to be shipped to the next destination after they leave Iraq Thursday.
December 15th, 2011
07:12 AM ET

An overwhelming silence in Baghdad

By Barbara Starr reporting from Baghdad

We are traveling with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.

We landed in Baghdad airport about four hours before the ceremony that would mark the end of nearly nine years of war.

It's a cold dusty morning. What is so striking is the silence. The U.S. military is down to just a few thousand troops in Iraq and maybe just a few hundred in Baghdad.

We are led across a now empty basketball court, past an empty gym and deserted chapel-all once elements of home away from home for the thousands who served here.

The silence is overwhelming, people speak almost in whispers.

But some things haven't changed. The ceremony is in a small courtyard surrounded by blast walls. Before the formal ceremony starts, everyone is told which bunker to go to if we take indirect fire.