First female chief for spy satellite agency
Launch of National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite
April 25th, 2012
06:50 PM ET

First female chief for spy satellite agency

By Pam Benson

The glass ceiling has cracked a bit further as another woman is appointed to lead one of the big five U.S. intelligence agencies.

James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, announced Tuesday that Betty Sapp will take the helm of the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency that oversees the nation's supersecret satellite systems.

Sapp, who joined the intelligence community in 1997, has served as the NRO deputy director for the past two years. She will replace Bruce Carlson, who announced his departure will be July 20.

In a written statement, Clapper praised Sapp as "a smart, exceedingly professional and unflappable leader ... who has already established herself as an expert in her field."

The DNI also touted Carlson's accomplishments, noting the NRO had launched six satellites in just seven months last year.

Sapp becomes the second woman to head a key intelligence agency. Letitia "Tish" Long was appointed director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in August 2010.

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Filed under: Clapper • Intelligence • ODNI • Satellite imagery
Israeli general: Iran not building a nuclear bomb
April 25th, 2012
06:16 PM ET

Israeli general: Iran not building a nuclear bomb

Israel's top general said Iran is led by "very rational people" and doesn't appear poised to build a nuclear bomb that would threaten his nation.

Iran "is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb," Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told Israel's Haaretz newspaper in Wednesday editions. "It hasn't yet decided whether to go the extra mile."

The head of Israeli Defense Forces set a different tone than that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who suggested to CNN on Tuesday that time is running out for Western sanctions on Iran to have a meaningful effect on Tehran's nuclear program.

The sanctions "are certainly taking a bite out of the Iranian economy," Netanyahu said in an interview broadcast Tuesday on CNN's "OutFront." But "they haven't rolled back the Iranian program - or even stopped it - by one iota."

Read more here

Filed under: Iran • Israel • Middle East
Marine discharged for Facebook comments
April 25th, 2012
04:11 PM ET

Marine discharged for Facebook comments

A Marine who used his Facebook page to criticize President Barack Obama has been discharged, a Marine Corps spokesman said Wednesday.

Sgt. Gary Stein was given an "other-than-honorable" discharge, said Capt. Brian Block, a spokesman for the Marines.

Among other comments posted to his Facebook page, Stein called Obama a liar and suggested he would not follow some orders issued by the president.

An other-than-honorable discharge is given to a Marine who commits a "serious offense" that significantly differs from conduct expected of a Marine, the Corps said.

Read the whole story here

Filed under: Marines • Military • Obama
April 25th, 2012
04:02 PM ET

McCain: Cartagena briefing was a "waste of time"

Two veteran senators complained Wednesday that military officials may have been slow to react to an alleged prostitution scandal in Colombia and have not been forthcoming with Congress so far in reporting exactly what happened.

The incident this month before President Barack Obama's trip to the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena involved Secret Service and U.S. military members who allegedly consorted with prostitutes.

After their first briefing by military officials on the investigation, Senate Armed Services Committee veterans Carl Levin of Michigan and John McCain of Arizona expressed dissatisfaction Wednesday with the military's response. FULL POST

Filed under: Colombia • Levin • McCain • Military • Senate Armed Services Committee
Military reviewing training material to remove anti-Islamic content
Soldiers taking cultural sensitivity training
April 25th, 2012
02:42 PM ET

Military reviewing training material to remove anti-Islamic content

By Chris Lawrence

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs has ordered the entire U.S. military to remove all anti-Islamic content from its training materials.

Gen. Martin Dempsey sent a letter to the directors of military education institutions, combatant commanders and the heads of all branches of service instructing them to review all relevant training materials to make sure it does not have anti-Islamic content.

The order was precipitated by an elective course called "Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism," offered at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia. FULL POST

Military judge rejects dismissing charges in WikiLeaks case
April 25th, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Military judge rejects dismissing charges in WikiLeaks case

A military judge denied a request Wednesday to dismiss all the charges against the Army intelligence analyst accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military and State Department documents while serving in Iraq.

The charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning include aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, transmitting national defense information and theft of public property or records.

His trial date is set for September 21. He could go to prison for life if convicted.

In asking the court to dismiss all charges, Manning's lawyer alleged "widespread discovery violations" by military prosecutors, but the judge, Col. Denise Lind, rejected the dismissal motion.

Manning's lead lawyer, David Coombs, argued this week that because prosecutors did not understand the discovery rules, he and his fellow attorneys have not been given information that could help in Manning's defense.


Filed under: Bradley Manning • WikiLeaks
U.S. team to Pakistan for talks on ties
Marc Grossman, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. AFP/Getty Images
April 25th, 2012
11:29 AM ET

U.S. team to Pakistan for talks on ties

By Elise Labott

American officials arrive in Pakistan Wednesday for negotiations over parliamentary recommendations on how Islamabad wants to deal with Washington in the future, as the two countries seek to repair their frayed ties, senior U.S. officials told CNN.

The inter-agency delegation, led by Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, also will include officials from the Pentagon, CIA and other U.S. agencies, the officials said. Tri-lateral talks with an Afghan delegation will be part of the trip as well.

The talks would be the first in-depth engagement since Pakistan's parliament rolled out a set of new guidelines for its relations with the United States, in which it agreed to re-engage with Washington after months of tension over deadly airstrikes on a Pakistani border post by NATO forces and other issues. Grossman had tried to visit Pakistan a few months ago, but the Pakistani government delayed the visit until the parliamentary process could be completed.

Officials were careful not to raise expectations for the talks, saying they weren't sure what could be accomplished in the first meeting. But they said it was important to try to renew the working relationship between the two countries.

April 25th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

EXCLUSIVE: Up close with America's Border Patrol Chief

by Suzanne Kelly

Since 9/11, the task of securing the U.S. border has changed significantly. Today, the number one threat that Customs and Border Protection officials worry about is terrorism. That doesn't mean it's the only threat. The continuous problems associated with illegal immigration, human smuggling, drug smuggling and gun running remain the primary focus for border patrol agents.

In an exclusive interview with Security Clearance, Customs and Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher explains how new technologies honed on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan are being used on the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

See also the up close tour of border patrol security operations.

April 25th, 2012
12:33 AM ET

Operative details al Qaeda plans to hit planes in wake of 9/11

By CNN Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank

Within weeks of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Osama bin Laden was planning follow-up operations to bring down airliners in the United States and south-east Asia, according to a convicted al Qaeda operative testifying in a terror trial in New York.

Saajid Badat was speaking via a video deposition from the United Kingdom, where he is serving a jail sentence for his role in plotting to blow up a U.S. bound aircraft in December 2001.

It's the first time that an al Qaeda operative has provided such detail about plans to bring down airliners in the wake of 9/11.