All options on the table regarding Syria, US officials
April 30th, 2013
10:17 PM ET

All options on the table regarding Syria, US officials

By CNN Staff

All options remain on the table as the Obama administration considers what, if any, military action to take in Syria following the suspected use of chemical weapons there, U.S. officials tell CNN.

They say this includes the possibility of providing arms to rebels even though the administration has opposed this step and several caution that its resistance to doing so is unlikely to change.

So far, the United States has provided communications and other non-lethal aid to the rebels fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a two-year civil war.


Filed under: Chemical Weapons • Security Brief • Syria
April 30th, 2013
08:01 PM ET

Why is North Korea cooling it?

By Elise Labott

After weeks of fiery rhetoric, military saber rattling and threats against the United States and South Korea, North Korea seems downright quiet and willing to dial back the tension.

Fears Kim Jong Un would test a long-range missile have given way to an easing of his daily war threats, and North Korea has produced a list of conditions for dialogue.

In exchange for returning talks, North Korea wants the lifting of U.N. sanctions, the end of the U.S.-South Korea military drills, the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear strike capabilities from the region and a halt on criticism of the North. It also wants a South Korean apology for offending its leadership.

Still, even the subtle shift in tone is an improvement to the war footing Pyongyang was on just weeks ago.

So what gives?

April 30th, 2013
07:48 PM ET

Benghazi 'whistleblowers' intimidated, lawyer says

By CNN's Elise Labott and Dana Bash

At least four State Department and CIA employees are being intimidated and blocked from cooperating with a congressional investigation into the deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year, according to an attorney for one of the officials.

The officials consider themselves whistleblowers and feel threatened with career damage if they decide to give testimony to Congress, according to Victoria Toensing, an attorney for one of the State Department officials.

Filed under: Benghazi • Libya
Intel chief says review of bombing suspect investigation prudent
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
April 30th, 2013
03:12 PM ET

Intel chief says review of bombing suspect investigation prudent

By Pam Benson

The nation's top intelligence official believes an independent review of how the government handled its investigation of a Boston Marathon bombing suspect prior to the attack is a prudent step "to ensure that nothing was missed."

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, believes that all of the agencies involved in collecting and sharing information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev "took all the appropriate steps," says Clapper spokesman Shawn Turner.

The Intelligence Community inspector general, a watchdog that investigates risks, vulnerabilities and deficiencies within 16 intelligence-related agencies and departments across the government, is leading the review.

That office will work with similar officials at the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.


Filed under: Security Brief
President Obama: Gitmo should be closed
April 30th, 2013
11:53 AM ET

President Obama: Gitmo should be closed

(CNN) - President Barack Obama said Tuesday he continues to believe the United States should close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"I think it's critical for us to understand Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe, it's expensive, it's inefficient, it hurts us in terms of international standing, it lessens cooperation with our allies in counter-terrorism efforts. ... It needs to be closed."

Obama vowed to close the prison when he first came into office, but Congress blocked him from doing so.

Dozens of prisoners at that detention camp are currently on their tenth week of a hunger strike.

U.S. authorities said last week that 84 – half of the prisoners – were not eating.

Carlos Warner, a public defender who represents 11 of the detainees, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week that multiple sources told him the number was actually higher.

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Filed under: Gitmo • Obama
April 29th, 2013
09:57 PM ET

Expert: Intelligence system made 'mistakes' ahead of Boston

A former federal official who led information sharing efforts between intelligence agencies after September 11 says that system failed ahead of the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks earlier this month.

“We didn’t connect the dots that we had. Few though they might have been, they were serious enough that they should have been connected,” Ambassador Thomas McNamara said Monday on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”


Filed under: CIA • FBI • Security Brief
April 29th, 2013
05:10 PM ET

U.S. official: American detained in North Korea had proper visa

From Jill Dougherty

The Korean-American who has been held in North Korea since November entered the country on a valid tourist visa, a senior U.S. official told CNN on Monday.

The U.S. State Department on Monday publicly called on the North to release Kenneth Bae on humanitarian grounds.

Spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters that Swedish diplomats, who represent U.S. interests in North Korea because Washington has no diplomatic relations with the North, were able to visit Bae, a U.S. citizen, on Friday.

Some Americans have previously crossed the border without a visa, either knowingly or by mistake, but in this case, the official said, "This was somebody who was a tour operator who has been there in the past and has a visa to go to the North."

April 29th, 2013
04:38 PM ET

Better bomb detector – dogs or machines?

From the aftermath of the attack in Boston to the frontlines of the war in Afghanistan, a debate of dog versus machine is taking place over which is better equipped in the life and death challenge of detecting bombs.

CNN's Barbara Starr takes a look at both sides of the issue.

Filed under: Security Brief
Daughter of Cuban president to get visa to attend conference in U.S.
Mariela Castro is the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro.
April 29th, 2013
03:23 PM ET

Daughter of Cuban president to get visa to attend conference in U.S.

By Jill Dougherty

Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, will be granted a U.S. visa to attend a conference on lesbian and gay civil rights in Philadelphia in May, a U.S. official tells CNN.

Initially not expected to receive a visa, the official said the case was "looked at again" and "the restriction on her visa has been lifted, which will allow her to travel" to the event on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

Mariela Castro is the director of Cuba's National Center for Sex Education and the niece of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Although she is not gay, she has lobbied for gay rights in Cuba, including the right for same-sex couples to marry and for AIDS awareness.

Pentagon steps up planning for potential military intervention in Syria
A Syrian rebel distributes bullets to comrades in the Karm al-Jabal district of the northern city of Aleppo.
April 29th, 2013
03:04 PM ET

Pentagon steps up planning for potential military intervention in Syria

By Barbara Starr

The Pentagon has in recent days stepped up planning for potential military intervention in the Syrian civil war, specifically because of growing evidence the regime may have used chemical weapons, CNN has learned.

"There is intensified planning in the works as more precise information comes in on the Syrian regime's potential use of chemical weapons and the body of evidence grows," a senior administration official said.

The official, who has direct knowledge of the effort, declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.

If President Barack Obama were to order action, it could involve thousands of U.S. troops. But all of the options face serious military challenges.

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