By Jamie Crawford
The United States is providing Syrian opposition groups specialized equipment to help the opposition organize and communicate outside of the watchful eye of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
The equipment comes in addition to the increase in financial contributions that were announced this past weekend.
"The United States is going beyond humanitarian aid and providing additional assistance, including communications equipment that will help activists organize, evade attacks by the regime, and connect to the outside world - and we are discussing with our international partners how best to expand this support," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday in Istanbul at a meeting of the so-called 'Friends of Syria.'
With the uprising in Syria entering its second year, the administration said the communications assistance is needed to supplement the $25 million in humanitarian assistance already pledged.
She proved to be an important ally for President Obama on the campaign trail in 2008, but CNN's Alex Mooney writes that Clinton won't be making a return performance in 2012.
A senior administration official said Monday Clinton would be sitting out the 2012 election, as has been customary for past secretary of states during the campaign season, Mooney reports on CNN's 1600 Report. The position is an apolitical one, the senior administration official explained, and dispatching Clinton on the campaign trail would compromise that.
Clinton did breach protocol in February when she told an audience in Tunisia that the president would be re-elected. She later defended her comment in an interview with CNN's Elise Labott. FULL POST
By Adam Levine
Osama bin Laden continues to assert an "almost spiritual leadership," even after his death, according to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in an interview with CBC over the weekend.
Materials seized from the Pakistan compound where bin Laden was found suggest bin Laden was pushing for further attacks on the United States and other countries, Panetta told Peter Mansbridge in an interview aired over the weekend on CBC's "Mansbridge One on One" and on CBC's newscast "The National."
U.S. pressure on al Qaeda in Pakistan makes it difficult for the organization to function effectively there, but the terror group has spread to other countries and continues to be a concern, Panetta said.
Here's an excerpt from the interview: FULL POST
From Shaan Khan
A Pakistani judge on Monday sentenced Osama bin Laden's three widows and two other family members to a month and a half in prison for illegally living in Pakistan, the widows' lawyer said.
The judge ordered that after their prison term, the five relatives of bin Laden be deported back to their countries of citizenship, said Amir Khalil, the lawyer.
The three widows - identified by U.S. and Pakistani officials as Amal Ahmed Abdul Fateh, Khairiah Sabar and Siham Sabar - have been in Pakistani custody since U.S. Navy SEALs raided bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad and killed the al Qaeda leader in May 2011.
By Adam Levine
With North Korea's anticipated launch of a satellite-topped long-range missile set for within the next two weeks, more activity should soon be evident from the satellite images being collected from the skies above.
The expected launch is meant to commemorate what would have been the the 100th birthday of Kim Il Sung , who founded communist North Korea and is grandfather to current leader, Kim Jong Un. The regime informed the International Maritime Organisation that the satellite will be launched between April 12 and April 16.
Some activity has already been seen in commercial imagery made available of the Tongchang-dong Space Launch Center, although the latest image showed no sign of the actual rocket. FULL POST
By Elise Labott and Jamie Crawford
Over the weekend, a team from the United States mission to the United Nations moved computers and phones across the street and set up shop in a small suite of offices adjacent to the U.N. Security Council.
During April, the United States will assume the rotating presidency of the council. For the next 30 days, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice will lead all council meetings and will be referred to as madame president.