December 22nd, 2011
06:11 PM ET

Deadly Pakistan border incident worsened by lack of trust

By Adam Levine

The investigation into the deadly November airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani troops found that the problems and miscommunications were exacerbated by a lack of trust between the Pakistanis and International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon statement regarding the investigation noted that lack of goodwill is undermining a critical element of the Afghanistan war, shutting down the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region to insurgent traffic.

"We must work to improve the level of trust between our two countries.  We cannot operate effectively on the border - or in other parts of our relationship - without addressing the fundamental trust still lacking between us," the statement read.

The lack of trust, which plays out on a much more substantial level between the US and Pakistani governments, has only been exacerbated by the border attack.  While there are signs that the relationship is slowly being revived, including a return of Pakistani officers to liaison headquarters also staffed by ISAF and Afghanistan, Pakistan has yet to open up the border crossings to let NATO send supplies into Afghanistan.

"There never has been trust from the start," said Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  "To talk about trust or friendly relations has been a myth since 2001." FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • ISAF • Military • Pakistan
Did WikiLeaks pay for the documents?
December 22nd, 2011
03:55 PM ET

Did WikiLeaks pay for the documents?

By Charley Keyes

Pfc. Bradley Manning allegedly suggested to someone at the Kansas military prison where he is being held that WikiLeaks paid for the hundreds of thousands of leaked documents, according to a legal document filed in the Article 32 proceedings for Manning.

This suggestion of payment for secrets could be a pivotal issue in the Manning case, and down the road in any potential effort by the government to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The heavily censored legal document filed by the defense lawyer for espionage suspect Bradley Manning suggests the admission came up in conversation between Manning and an unidentified person at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The existence of the document was first reported by Politico.

"He will testify that he explained the purpose of his visit and asked PFC Manning who he was and why he was at the JRCF (Joint Regional Correction Facility)," the document says. The name and details were blacked out out in the document by the Army Criminal Court of Appeals before it was provided to CNN as the result of a Freedom of Information Request.

"PFC Manning allegedly responded with, 'I sold information to WikiLeaks,' " according to the defense document. FULL POST

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Filed under: Bradley Manning • WikiLeaks
December 22nd, 2011
03:12 PM ET

A vacuum for terrorists to exploit

By Arwa Damon and Tim Lister

Nature abhors a vacuum but terrorism relishes one. And Iraq appears to be offering new space for al Qaeda and other militant groups, as political rivalries and sectarian animosities deepen.

The coordinated bomb explosions across Baghdad Thursday - which killed more than 60 people - bear the hallmark of Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), which is closely associated with al Qaeda.

No other group in Iraq has shown itself capable of such synchronized suicide attacks. Some, but not all, of the bombings were in Shiite neighborhoods; frequently al Qaeda's targets appear indiscriminate as part of a strategy to sow fear and stir sectarian tensions.

The attacks come as Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, demands the surrender of Iraq's Sunni Vice-President, Tareq al Hashimi, on charges that he ordered bombings and assassinations.

Hashimi has taken refuge in the northern Kurdish-administered part of Iraq, and the country's always-fragile tripartite balance now appears to be in grave danger - with the restraining effect of a U.S. military presence gone. FULL POST

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Filed under: Iraq
December 22nd, 2011
03:06 PM ET

$10 million reward for terror financier

The United States is offering up to a $10 million reward for the capture of Iranian al Qaeda financier Yasin al-Suri, the State Department said Thursday.

The Syrian-born al-Suri is a senior al Qaeda operative based in Iran, officials say.

He is suspected of moving money and terrorist recruits from across the Middle East into Iran, and then to Pakistan to aid the terrorist group's leadership.

Back in July, the United States accused Iran of providing sanctuary to an al Qaeda network that provides help to jihadists moving between the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Al-Suri, also called Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, was named as the leader of a network that used Iran as a “critical transit point for funding to support al-Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

According to U.S. authorities, Khalil requires each operative to deliver $10,000 to al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

The U.S. Treasury said Khalil has collected funding from donors and fundraisers throughout the Gulf and is also responsible for moving significant amounts of money via Iran for onward passage to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Filed under: Al Qaeda • Iran • Pakistan • State Department • Terrorism
"They have overcharged" – Wiki-leaker hearing day 7
December 22nd, 2011
02:38 PM ET

"They have overcharged" – Wiki-leaker hearing day 7

From Larry Shaughnessy in Ft. Meade, MD

(Read also: Bradley Manning and the need to share)

238p update -"unfettered access" for the enemy
Pfc. Bradley Manning's attorney told the officer overseeing his case Thursday that the Army prosecutors have overcharged the young soldier, accused of the largest intelligence leak in American history.  (See the rest of our Bradley Manning coverage here)

"Provide the U.S. government with a reality check," David Coombs asked in his closing arguments. "Tell them, they have overcharged in this case."

But Capt. Ashden Fein, the lead prosecutor, said all the charges are justified and that Manning "gave the enemy of the United States unfettered access to" the classified documents he leaked.

Manning currently faces 22 charges and potentially a death sentence or life in prison without parole if convicted of all of them.

Coombs argued that the charge of "knowingly giving intelligence to the enemy" should be thrown out because there is no evidence that harm came from the leaks.

He said the U.S. government, beginning with former Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, acted like "Chicken Little" yelling that "the sky is falling." FULL POST

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Filed under: Bradley Manning • WikiLeaks
US admits fault in Pakistan border attack
December 22nd, 2011
06:21 AM ET

US admits fault in Pakistan border attack

By Chelsea J. Carter

The US military investigation into a November airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani troops found poor coordination between the two militaries and incorrect information played a significant factor, according to a Department of Defense statement released early Thursday.

The finding is likely to further erode relations between the United States and Pakistan, which have steadily declined since a secret raid by American commandos that killed Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan's military has repeatedly insisted the November 26 airstrike near the Afghan border was deliberate, and the Pakistani government ordered the American military to vacate an air base used to launch drone strikes.

"The investigating officer found that U.S. forces, given what information they had available to them at the time, acted in self defense and with appropriate force after being fired upon," the Department of Defense said in a statement posted on its web site.


Filed under: Afghanistan • NATO • Pakistan • Pentagon
Bradley Manning and the need to share
December 22nd, 2011
04:00 AM ET

Bradley Manning and the need to share

By Libby Lewis

Listen to Libby Lewis' report for CNN Radio:

So many questions are swirling around Bradley Manning as the military holds a hearing to present evidence about his alleged crimes. (See the rest of our Bradley Manning coverage here)

Perhaps the biggest question raised about Manning is: How did this troubled young man - and a low-ranking one at that - get to handle such sensitive information with the ease of a kid pirating Lady Gaga?

Ron Marks, who spent 16 years with the CIA, says that to understand what made it possible for Manning to get his hands on so much, you have to go back to Vietnam.

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Filed under: Bradley Manning • Intelligence • Military • WikiLeaks