Kerry lands in Afghanistan for talks on security pact
October 10th, 2013
07:21 PM ET

Kerry lands in Afghanistan for talks on security pact

Updated 8:45 a.m. ET, 10/11/2013

By Elise Labott

Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday for talks with President Hamid Karzai.

The United States hopes to make progress on a long-stalled security deal with Afghanistan that would leave some U.S. forces in the country beyond NATO's scheduled departure at the end of 2014.

U.S. officials say they hope to conclude a deal on the Bilateral Security Agreement, or BSA, in the "coming weeks" and before Karzai meets with a council of tribal elders next month.

Without a deal, the United States would keep no military forces in Afghanistan once the combat mission ends.

Military academies sports to go ahead despite government shutdown
October 10th, 2013
03:29 PM ET

Military academies sports to go ahead despite government shutdown

By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Thursday approved a plan that would allow all military academy college sports, including high profile football games, to continue until the end of October, even as a partial government shutdown continues, according to a Defense Department official directly familiar with the plan.

The official tells CNN that all of the sports programs have been able to ensure they will pay their expenses with funds not appropriated by Congress, such as ticket and merchandise sales.

"The concept of the student athlete is important," said the official, adding that Hagel made the decision after consulting with the service secretaries. He said one factor playing into the decision is that if the Defense Department had halted sporting activities, such as the academy football games, it might have been in violation of broadcast contracts it has signed, and could have faced fines.

More furloughed intelligence officers to return to work
October 10th, 2013
03:44 AM ET

More furloughed intelligence officers to return to work

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) will begin calling more of its furloughed employees back into the office this week despite the ongoing partial government shutdown.

70% of the intelligence community has been furloughed as a result of the shutdown, leaving the leaders of all intelligence agencies scrambling to carry out their core missions.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a statement Wednesday telling employees he had "authorized the recall of some employees who perform functions that directly support efforts to protect against imminent threats to life or property, and help provide the President with the intelligence he needs to carry out his core constitutional functions related to national security."

Typically, the president receives a daily intelligence briefing in the morning hours.

The CIA made a similar announcement earlier in the week, with CIA Director John Brennan saying in a letter to employees that "keeping our staffing at the dramatically reduced levels of the past week would pose a threat to the safety of human life and the protection of property."

Like Clapper, Brennan also cited the need to provide intelligence information to the president as a reason why more employees would be returning to work.

One U.S. intelligence official told CNN that managers at all agencies are currently "in the process of determining exactly who will be recalled under revised staffing plans" and said the process of determining who can be brought back into work "will continue over the coming days."

Clapper testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, warning Congress the damage from the shutdown would be "insidious" on the intelligence community.

"Each day that goes by, the jeopardy increases. This is a dreamland for foreign intelligence services to recruit," he said.

Since the shutdown first took effect, various U.S. intelligence services have retained the right to call back essential staff in cases where it affected national security. This allowed for management to call in specific experts if, for example, there were reports of terrorist chatter that were particularly concerning.

But as the shutdown drags on with no clear ending in sight, leaders in multiple intelligence agencies are being forced to revise their plans and are recalling a wider circle of employees.

One intelligence official summed up the current situation, saying, "In the beginning of the shutdown, only those CIA employees working imminent threats were on the job. But it's been determined that the CIA not performing its core missions for an extended period of time itself presents the risk that real threats to our national security will go undetected."

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Filed under: Brennan • CIA • Clapper • ODNI