White House official: President has taken no Syria options off the table
John Brennan, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor, speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations
August 8th, 2012
10:47 PM ET

White House official: President has taken no Syria options off the table

By Pam Benson

President Barack Obama is keeping all options on the table to help the Syrian opposition in its battle to oust the regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the possibility of implementing a no-fly zone, Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser said Wednesday.

John Brennan, deputy national security adviser, said the administration already is providing support in various ways to the rebels, including humanitarian aid. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Brennan said the United States is looking at scenarios and making contingency plans as the situation evolves in Syria.

"These are things that the United States government has been looking at very carefully, trying to understand the implications, trying to understand the advantages and disadvantages of this, and the president has kept us all quite busy making sure that we're able to do everything possible that's going to advance the interests of peace in Syria and not again going to do anything that is going to contribute to more violence," Brennan said.


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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Assad • Congress • McCain • Middle East • Syria • Terrorism
August 8th, 2012
08:48 PM ET

Wis. shooter's racism was evident while in military

By Tom Cohen

When Wisconsin temple gunman Wade Michael Page arrived at Fort Bragg in 1995, the sprawling Army base in North Carolina already was home to a small number of white supremacists including three soldiers later convicted in the murder of an African-American couple.

The killings launched a military investigation that tightened regulations against extremist activity, but some say such influences persist in today's armed forces.

"Outside every major military installation, you will have at least two or three active neo-Nazi organizations actively trying to recruit on-duty personnel," said T.J. Leyden, a former white power skinhead in the U.S. Marines who now conducts anti-extremism training.

Page died in a shootout with police responding to his attack Sunday on a Sikh temple in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Hill that killed six people and wounded four, including a police officer.

He had ties to white supremacist groups and the FBI acknowledges it knew of him, though no formal investigation ever took place.

Click here for the full story

U.S. sweetens offer to Taliban to swap Bergdahl for prisoners
U.S. is offering to transfer Taliban prisoners to Qatar in exchange for captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl
August 8th, 2012
02:57 PM ET

U.S. sweetens offer to Taliban to swap Bergdahl for prisoners

By Elise Labott

In an effort to revive peace talks with the Taliban, the Obama administration has sweetened a proposed prisoner swap under which it would transfer five Taliban prisoners to Qatar in exchange for a U.S. soldier held by the Taliban, senior U.S. officials said.

The new proposal involves sending all five Taliban prisoners to Qatar first, before the Taliban releases Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the sources said. The original offer proposed transferring the Taliban prisoners into two groups, with Bergdahl being released in between.

The new offer was first reported by Reuters.

The officials stress that the exchange, should it take place, would be implemented in accordance with U.S. law, which requires consultations with Congress before any detainees are transferred from Guantanamo. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Diplomacy • Gitmo • Qatar • Taliban • Terrorism
August 8th, 2012
02:42 PM ET

Al Qaeda leader designated as global terrorist

By Wesley Bruer

A senior al Qaeda leader who trained militants in Afghanistan and who has close ties to other top members of the group has been designated by the State Department as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist."

The designation also comes with sanctions against Azaam Abdullah Zureik Al-Maulid, better known as Mansur al-Harbi.

Though the United States is just now turning its attention to al-Harbi, he has long been a wanted man in his home country of Saudi Arabia.

In early 2009, al-Harbi was among the 83 Saudis and two Yemenis named on Saudi Arabia's list of most wanted terrorists for engaging in extremist activities abroad. FULL POST

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Sanctions • State Department • Terrorism • Treasury
August 8th, 2012
03:10 AM ET

Appeals court dismisses lawsuit over warrantless wiretap program

By Bill Mears

A one-time American-based Islamic group cannot sue the government over claims it was targeted by the government's once-secret Terrorist Surveillance Program, a federal court has ruled.

The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday unanimously tossed out a lawsuit by the now-closed Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation. The federal government had listed the Ashland, Oregon, chapter as a supporter of terrorism in 2004.

The group sued, saying its private overseas communications were unconstitutionally being monitored under the Bush administration's warrantless wiretap program. That spy program was unveiled in a 2005 New York Times article that said government officials were working with private telecom companies to secretly monitor telephone and e-mail traffic of targeted individuals and groups, both domestic and international.

Federal officials later publicly acknowledged the existence of the program, which was then officially authorized by Congress in 2008.

"This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs' ongoing attempts to hold the Executive Branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization," said the appeals court.

Read the full CNN.com story here.

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Filed under: Justice Department
August 8th, 2012
01:00 AM ET

Grim conditions for Syrian refugees fleeing to Jordan

By Barbara Starr, reporting from the Al-Zaatri refugee camp in Jordan

Thirteen-year-old Amani has only been living in Al-Zaatri refugee camp in Jordan for a few days, after fleeing with her family from her home in Daraa, Syria. She left with eight other family members, many of whom are young children.

Amani is just one of the thousands of refugees fleeing the bloodbath back home, but not everyone in her family made it across the Jordanian border safely. Her mother was a martyr caught in a bomb explosion. She was hit by shrapnel and died.

"She was everything (to me) - she brought us up, and died. She would take us wherever we wanted to go, I was the one most attached to her," Amani said.

In Daraa, Amani and her family were plagued with shelling every night before they fled. The rebel Free Syrian Army finally helped Amani and her family escape to Jordan and to the refugee camp.