July 13th, 2012
06:11 PM ET

Man gets 16 year sentence for Obama threat

From CNN's Carol Cratty

A man from Uzbekistan living in Alabama was sentenced Friday to almost 16 years in prison for threatening to kill President Barack Obama.

Ulugbek Kodirov, 22, pleaded guilty in February to threatening Obama, providing material support for terrorism and for illegally possessing an automatic weapon.

In his guilty plea, Kodirov said that in 2011 he was communicating with a person he thought was a member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a designated terrorist group, and that "Kodirov interpreted these conversations to mean that he should kill President Obama," according to the Justice Department. FULL POST

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Filed under: Obama • Terrorism • Uzbekistan
Syria cooperating, but lack of money hurting humantarian aid
A handout picture released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network on July 13, 2012 shows destruction in Homs Karm Shamsham neighbourhood on July 12, 2012.
July 13th, 2012
03:19 PM ET

Syria cooperating, but lack of money hurting humantarian aid

By Jill Dougherty

Facing a "serious escalation" of violence in Syria, the chief United Nations organization that coordinates emergency aid is warning that more Syrian civilians will die if contributing nations do not follow through and fund its relief operation.

"We have used the terminology 'appalling,' 'desperate' and 'deplorable,' says John Ging, operations director and chair of the Syria Humanitarian Forum for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"We have run out of language to describe how it is for the civilian population. It is physical and it is psychological."

Humanitarian agencies such as the World Food Program, the United Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organization, Ging says, have launched a major operation in Syria but are facing "an incredibly complex and dangerous situation to develop networks to be able to deliver to the areas that have been affected by the conflict."

July 13th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

2 indicted for allegedly trying to supply Iran with nuclear-related materials

A federal grand jury has indicted two people for their alleged attempts to supply Iran with U.S. materials for gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, the Justice Department said Friday.

The indictment charges Parviz Khaki, an Iranian citizen, and Zongcheng Yi, a resident of China, each with one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by conspiring to export the goods without the required license.

Both also face one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts of smuggling, two counts of illegally exporting U.S. goods to Iran in violation of IEEPA and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, the Justice Deaprtment said.

Khaki, 43, was arrested in the Philippines in May. Yi remains art large.


Filed under: Iran • Justice Department • Nuclear
Civilian casualties plummet in Pakistan drone strikes
A man burns the U.S. flag in protest of a drone strike in Multan, Pakistan, on July 7.
July 13th, 2012
01:51 PM ET

Civilian casualties plummet in Pakistan drone strikes

Civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan have dropped precipitously, observes CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen in a new posting on CNN's Opinion page.

According to data collected by Bergen and his colleages at the New America Foundation, the estimated civilian death rate in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan has declined dramatically since 2008, when it was at its peak of almost 50%.  Today, for the first time, the estimated civilian death rate is at or close to zero.

The data is generated by averaging the high and low casualty estimates of militant and civilian deaths published in a wide range of media outlets.

The drop in the number of civilian casualties since 2008 came as a result of several developments, one of which was a directive issued from the White House just days after President Obama took office, to tighten up the way the CIA selected targets and carried out strikes. Bergen also writes that CIA's use of smaller, more accurate munitions and improved drone capabilities have helped.

Pakistani officials now rarely base their criticism of U.S. drone strikes on the incidence of civilian casualties and instead point, quite reasonably, to another objection: the U.S. violation of Pakistan's national sovereignty, Bergen notes.  The Obama administration maintains that international law does not prohibit the use of lethal force against an active enemy "when the country involved consents or is unable or unwilling to take action against the threat."

Read Peter Bergen's whole article here

July 13th, 2012
01:13 PM ET

Syria believed to be moving "some" chemical weapons

By Barbara Starr

The United States believes Syria has moved "some" chemical weapons in recent days, a U.S. official told CNN on Friday.

The stockpile is believed to be is under the control of regime forces, the source said.

The official, who would only speak anonymously because the source was speaking about intelligence matters, said the reason behind the movement is unclear. The source could not say what types of chemical stockpiles were involved or how much was moved.

The United States has had satellite surveillance of Syria's key weapons sites since the unrest began.

But it's also likely some of the information came from communications intercepts based on conversations CNN has had with other sources knowledgeable about this matter.

Possible reasons for the move could range from whether it was to better protect the material from the fighting of the spreading revolt in Syria or more ominously to use against the population, the sources said.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report the suspicion. FULL POST

Satellite imagery shows ramped-up work at North Korea reactor
July 13th, 2012
12:46 AM ET

Satellite imagery shows ramped-up work at North Korea reactor

By Adam Levine

New satellite imagery obtained by CNN's Security Clearance shows increased activity at a North Korean nuclear facility.

The imagery, provided to Security Clearance by GeoEye with analysis by Allision Pucionni at IHS Jane's, shows the extent of construction at the Yongbyon light water reactor since construction resumed this spring on the facility.

The satellite snapshot from June 24 shows components have been added to the reactor building, including across the open roof, according to Puccioni, a senior imagery analyst at IHS Jane's. A "traveling crane" can be seen and is believed to have been added in April.


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Filed under: Asia • North Korea • Satellite imagery • Yongbyon
Clinton to Egypt - premature or the push Cairo needs?
A handout picture released by the Egyptian presidency on July 9, 2012, shows Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (C), head of the military council Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi (L) and Egyptian armed forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan (R) as they attend a graduation ceremony of military cadets, in the capital Cairo.
July 13th, 2012
12:00 AM ET

Clinton to Egypt - premature or the push Cairo needs?

By Elise Labott

On Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Egypt, the first U.S. Cabinet official to meet with newly elected president Mohamed Morsy. In some ways, the timing couldn't be worse for Clinton's visit.

Her trip will kick off what is expected to be a steady stream of high-level officials to visit Cairo in coming months, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta within the next few weeks and culminating with a possible meeting with President Obama on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September.

Recommended: Does the U.S. matter anymore in Egypt and Israel?

Egypt is in the throws of domestic political chaos and looking inward. The country's Islamist president is engaged in a tug of war with the Egyptian military. President Morsy doesn't have his own cabinet in place and there is no parliament. With no clarity or direction of what comes next or what the fundamental aspects of his government's own working relationship will be, how could he possibly be expected to articulate what the nature of the relationship with Washington might be now that he is president?