By Barbara Starr
The Obama administration now works under the assumption that al Qaeda in Yemen "is coming after America every day," says a U.S. official familiar with the situation in that country. The official said there are also indications the organization is seeking recruits with specific knowledge of the United States and Western targets.
The official paints a picture of an al Qaeda organization that over the last year has grown stronger, larger, more capable and more determined to attack the United States.
The assessment of al Qaeda's growing threat underscores why Obama administration and intelligence officials, as well as members of Congress, were so angered about leaks of sensitive intelligence regarding a recent U.S.-Saudi "sting" operation in Yemen to stop a suicide bomb from making its way onto a U.S.-bound airliner. The official would not comment on the leak. FULL POST
By Nic Robertson, Paul Cruickshank and Jomana Karadsheh reporting from Tripoli, Libya
A senior Libyan official told CNN that the U.S. is flying surveillance missions with drones over suspected jihadist training camps in eastern Libya because of concerns over rising activity by al Qaeda and like-minded groups in the region but said that to the best of his knowledge, they had not been used to fire missiles at militant training camps in the area.
The revelation follows a failed attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi on Tuesday night, which a shadowy jihadist group claimed was to avenge the death of al Qaeda No. 2 Abu Yahya al-Libi.
The official said that one militant commander operating in Derna, Abdulbasit Azuz, had complained that a drone strike had targeted his training camp in the east of Libya. Last month, there were reports of explosions outside the Derna area in the vicinity of the camps, according to a different source. FULL POST
Kerry adamant White House not involved in intelligence leaks
By Ted Barrett
The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he is “really upset” about recent leaks of classified information because it “endangers our long-term security” and it “begs retaliation.” But Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts was adamant that no one at the White House or in Democratic politics was involved in the leaks.
“I know that people at the White House were not involved,” he said.
Asked about suggestions from Sen. John McCain of Arizona and other Republicans that the leaks came from someone trying to boost the president’s political standing, Kerry said they are wrong. FULL POST
By Suzanne Kelly
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper wants more government employees to be subject to an enhanced lie detector test as a deterrent to leaking classified information, an intelligence source told CNN Thursday.
As he briefs top intelligence lawmakers who are outraged over a series of recent leaks of classified information, Clapper wants to widen the numbers of people across government agencies who would be required to take the “Counterintelligence Polygraph,” the source said.
The move would be aimed at government employees who hold top-secret clearance, including employees at the 16 intelligence agencies he oversees, but also at other departments, such as State and Defense, which have employees with access to similar information, according to the intelligence source. But the scope of Clapper's efforts would not include White House officials who also are privy to classified information. FULL POST
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Thursday that the United States was "reaching the limits of our patience" with Pakistan over militants that attack U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan from havens within its borders.
"It's extremely important that Pakistan take action to prevent this kind of safe haven," he said during an unannounced visit to Kabul, and that militants cannot use the country as a "safety net" from which to attack U.S. soldiers.
"We have made that very, very clear time and time again, and we will continue to do that," he said.
Most Americans say that the U.S. does not have a responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria, although the number calling for U.S. action in that country has grown from 25% in February to 33% now, according to a new national poll.
According to a CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday, six in ten continue to oppose any American intervention to halt the fighting between government and anti-government forces in Syria.
The belief that Syria is not the responsibility of the U.S. crosses party lines in the survey – 57% of Democrats and 58% of Republicans say the U.S. should take no role. Gender sometimes plays a role in public opinion of foreign issues, but in this instance, men and women agree, with 61% in each group saying that the U.S. has no responsibility to take any action in Syria.
By the CNN Wire Staff
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned a NATO airstrike this week that a provincial official says killed women and children, in a statement that came just as U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived Thursday in Kabul for talks.
A provincial official has said among the dead in the airstrike were civilians, while the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said initial reports revealed only two injuries.
ISAF is aware of the claims of civilian casualties and was looking into what took place, a spokesman for the coalition said.