By Jamie Crawford
The Obama administration believes it will reach a deal with the government of Afghanistan that would allow American troops to remain in the country after the current NATO mission ends next year, the top U.S. diplomat in the region said Thursday.
The disclosure follows reports this week the administration was seriously considering an option of leaving no forces in the country after 2014.
"We do not believe that that's the likely outcome of these negotiations," James Dobbins, special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Pressed about reports on the so-called "zero option," Dobbins labeled them "unbalanced and unhelpful."
By Barbara Starr
The Obama administration tentatively plans to deliver four F-16 aircraft to Egypt, but is reviewing all U.S. military aid arrangements, according to a Pentagon official.
The planes were scheduled to be shipped by the end of August, but the delivery could be made more complicated if there is no Egyptian military plan to transition to civilian rule and the United States were compelled to formally declare a military coup had taken place, the official said.
If that declaration were made, it most likely would result in aid being halted. The official declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information.
Until Thursday, all indications had been that the deliveries would go through as part of a $1.3 billion 2010 military aid package that called for 20 F-16s and Abrams tank parts to be sent to Egypt. A second Pentagon official had previously said the deliveries "were on track."
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the latest in a series of stories and opinion pieces previewing the upcoming Aspen Security Forum. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event which is taking place from July 17-20 in Aspen, Colorado. Follow the event on Twitter under @aspeninstitute and @natlsecuritycnn #AspenSecurity.
By Larry Shaughnessy
Jeh Johnson recently stepped down as the Pentagon’s top attorney. Now in private practice as a partner at PaulWeiss law firm in Washington, Johnson recently spoke to CNN about some of the issues he faced overseeing the Defense Department’s 10,000 uniformed and civilian lawyers, issues he may be asked about when he speaks at the Aspen Security Forum.
CNN: What is the biggest legal hurdle the Defense Department and Intelligence community face?
Johnson: “I would say that the biggest legal challenge that DoD and the intelligence community face right now is to settle upon a new legal architecture for, what I perceive to be, the next phase of our counterterrorism efforts against al Qaeda and other terrorism efforts.
“We’ve been through 12 years of what some people would characterize as conventional armed conflict. And most intelligence experts would agree that core al Qaeda has been decimated and we’re at an inflection point now. And it is most likely the case that the traditional approach to armed conflict is no longer the best approach and so we need, in my view, to develop a legal architecture and a legal strategy that is a whole of government approach that deals with the new terrorist threats in forms that are not necessarily al Qaeda and it’s affiliates.”
By Jamie Crawford
North Korea appears to be moving ahead with efforts to improve and possibly modernize its long-range rocket capabilities, according to an analysis of new satellite photos.
Engine tests for the North's long-range rocket program appear to have taken place in late March or early April of this year, analysts at 38 North, a blog run by the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, have concluded.
"They conducted at least one test of an engine for a long-range rocket, and there may have been more," says Joel Wit, a former State Department official who manages the blog and studied the images.
Over the course of several weeks, the images show the appearance of possible fuel tanks, burned vegetation and a seven-car train parked near the rocket assembly building that might have been used to transport equipment and propellants to the test site.