By Larry Shaughnessy
(CNN) - An F-22 fighter jet crashed Thursday afternoon near Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle. The pilot ejected safely, according to Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the U.S. Air Force.
Tyndall AFB is a training base for F-22 pilots. There's no confirmation that the plane took off from Tyndall before the crash, but that would be logical, Dorrian said.
The F-22 has been the focus of years of investigations about a problem that causes some of the stealth fighter's pilots to become dizzy or black out. The exact cause of the problem still hasn't been identified.
Last year, the Government Accountability Office put the cost per F-22 (including research and development) at $412 million.
By Jamie Crawford
The U.S. government sanctioned a senior Taliban official on Thursday for his alleged role in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and across the region, saying illicit drugs are used to finance violence.
Mullah Naim Barich, who operates as the "shadow governor" of the Taliban movement in Helmand Province, was singled out by the Treasury Department for his alleged role in the production and trafficking of heroin and opium.
The action freezes any of Barich's assets held under U.S. jurisdiction and bars anyone in the United States from conducting any financial or commercial transactions with him.
"Today's action exposes the direct involvement of senior Taliban leadership in the production, manufacturing, and trafficking of narcotics in Afghanistan and underlines the Taliban's reliance on the drug trade to finance their acts of terror and violence," David Cohen, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
By Larry Shaughnessy
(CNN) - Gen. Joseph Dunford told Congress on Thursday that he was not involved in recent discussions about the future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan even though he is in line to become the top commander there.
"I have not been included in those conversations," Dunford said at his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing.
"I think I have an understanding of the framework within which that decision ought to be made. I have certainly identified what I think are the most important variables that need to be considered," Dunford, who is assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, said.
By Barbara Starr
Former CIA Director David Petraeus knew “almost immediately” after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi it was the work of Ansar Al-Sharia, a loosely-formed group that has some members sympathetic to Al Qaeda, according to a source who has spoken to him and is directly familiar with his analysis of the situation.
According to this source, Petraeus says the stream of intelligence from multiple sources, including video at the scene, indicated the group was behind the attack. But a separate stream of intelligence also emerged indicating ongoing riots in Cairo over an anti-Islamic film might have motivated the attacks.
The source says there were some 20 different intelligence reports indicating the Cairo film might be responsible. The CIA eventually disapproved all those reports, but not until after Petraeus’ initial briefings to Congress in which he discussed all possibilities, the source said. “All those other reports got disproved over time,” the source says Petraeus told him.
By Suzanne Kelly
In yet another twist in the aftermath of the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus last Friday, the CIA is now opening an investigation into his conduct as Director of the spy agency. The investigation will be led by the CIA Inspector General.
"At the CIA we are constantly reviewing our performance. If there are lessons to be learned from this case we'll use them to improve. But we're not getting ahead of ourselves; an investigation is exploratory and doesn't presuppose any particular outcome," said CIA Spokesman Preston Golson.
Petraeus resigned a week ago citing an extramarital affair as the reason for his stepping down. According to friends of Petraeus, he began an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell shortly after taking the job as Director of the Agency last fall. Ms. Broadwell has not responded to CNN requests for comment.
The announcement of the internal investigation comes on the eve of closed door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Petraeus is expected to offer his thoughts to the committee members on what the Agency knew and when it knew it in the days after the attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on September 11.
By Jennifer Rizzo
An all-out U.S. war with Iran, including an invasion by American troops, would cost the global economy close to $2 trillion in the first three months and could go as high as $3 trillion, according to a Washington think tank.
A full-scale ground operation to dismantle Iran's nuclear program is unlikely but the scenario is just one of a handful that a group of nine experts, assembled by the Federation of American Scientists, examined to explore how the global economy would be impacted by U.S. action against Iran.
"There had been talks about oil spikes, about what would happen with the Iranian nuclear program, damage to Iran itself but there had been no, at least in the open sources, large-scale looks at what was going to happen globally," said Charles Blair who co-authored the report.
From CNN Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak this week about the latest Israeli military moves in Gaza after increased rocket attacks from there.
A senior U.S. defense official confirmed the conversation had taken place in the last few days while Panetta was traveling in Asia.
"They spoke about unacceptable attacks by Hamas and other groups in Gaza, and Panetta expressed the U.S. view that Israel has the right to defend itself," the official said.
Right now, the United States largely believes the situation will remain contained between Israel and Gaza, according to U.S. and Israeli officials CNN has spoken with.
There is a belief that Hamas will pull back its rocket attacks, avoiding a full-blown Israeli air and ground assault into Gaza.
Israeli forces are going after Hamas weapons and storage bunkers near the Israeli border as part of the attacks in Gaza, an Israeli official told CNN. Israel also expects to hit weapons labs and workshops, said the official, who has direct knowledge of Israeli plans but declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information.
The Israeli army is moving nearly a division's worth of troops - perhaps 1,500 to 2,000 - to the border and will move into Gaza if Hamas continues its rocket attacks on Israel, he said, even as airstrikes already have begun. Further air and any ground operations, he said, would be against Hamas weapons and leadership.
Israel says it's been hit by 800 rockets fired from Gaza so far this year. The official said that's twice as many as were fired in 2011 and three times as many as in 2010.
Israel estimates there are still 12,000 rockets in Gaza and that 1.5 million Israelis are in striking range. Hamas, the Israeli official said, can strike as far as Tel Aviv with portions of its inventory. He said that Hamas elements in Gaza fired more than 100 rockets this week.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
In the wake of a number of financial and sexual scandals involving generals and admirals, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered a review of existing ethics training programs “to determine if they are adequate,” according to a memo from Panetta to General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“I seek your views on how to better foster a culture of value-based decision-making and stewardship among senior general and flag officers,” Panetta said. Panetta said he wants to send an interim report to President Obama by December 1. While he expressed confidence in the current military leadership he also said “our challenge is to make sure that we do everything possible to maintain the highest standards of behavior.”
While the secretary did not offer specifics, he is known to be concerned not just about the Petraeus scandal and the current inspector general investigation into the conduct of General John Allen, but also events surrounding other generals. In particular Panetta this week announced the demotion of General William Ward, the former commander of Africa Command and ordered him to repay the government more than $80,000 in unauthorized travel expenses.