December 21st, 2012
10:50 AM ET

Obama nominates Kerry for Secretary of State

President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Sen. John Kerry, the former presidential candidate who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to be the next secretary of state.

The senior senator from Massachusetts is noted for the experience, gravitas and relationship-building skills that could help him succeed Hillary Clinton, the outgoing top U.S. diplomat.

Kerry has traveled the globe on behalf of the Obama administration to mend frayed relationships. Most notably, he traveled to Pakistan after a series of incidents, including the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, that had set relations back.

He has support from Republicans as well as Democrats. The nomination will be sent to the Senate for confirmation.


Filed under: Kerry • Secretary of State
Sizing up Kerry as secretary of state
December 15th, 2012
11:45 PM ET

Sizing up Kerry as secretary of state

From CNN’s Elise Labott and Jill Dougherty

Sen. John Kerry, who sources say has been tapped by President Barack Obama to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, will come to the post with a full plate of foreign policy crises, from the civil war in Syria, to the nuclear antics of North Korea, to a looming showdown with Iran over its nuclear program.

Anybody who follows Clinton would have some pretty big shoes to fill. Clinton was not just the most popular member of the president’s Cabinet for the past four years, she had celebrity status and respect almost everywhere she went around the world.

But as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for almost 30 years, the past four as chairman, Kerry himself is a highly respected figure on the world stage. While Obama is not close to a lot of world leaders, Kerry has deep relationships with many heads of state that he can draw on as the nation’s top diplomat. Sources close to Kerry note that the increasing partisanship on Capitol Hill has disillusioned Kerry and he is ready to leave the Senate.

He is no stranger to diplomacy and has often traveled overseas on behalf of the Obama administration as a diplomatic troubleshooter and to mend frayed relationships. Kerry persuaded Afghan President Hamid Karzai to agree to an election runoff in 2009 and has traveled Pakistan after a series of incidents, including the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

“There are very few people with greater experience over a longer period of time,” notes Nicholas Burns, a former career ambassador who has served every secretary of state since Warren Christopher, and was most recently undersecretary for political affairs under Condoleezza Rice.“He would be a very, very impressive choice."

“You really need someone who is a renaissance person with a tremendous range of skill, both political and substantive, with a deep reservoir of knowledge” Burns said in an interview. “You need someone who can drill several layers deep on foreign policy issues.” FULL POST

Rice vs. Kerry: Weighing the odds of being secretary of state
December 3rd, 2012
08:28 PM ET

Rice vs. Kerry: Weighing the odds of being secretary of state

By Jamie Crawford

It's a favorite game in Washington to weigh the odds of each potential nominee to a president's cabinet and that game is in full swing - especially in trying to anticipate President Barack Obama's choice for replacing Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

With speculation mounting that President Obama may soon announce his nominee, two very well-known names - Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, and Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice - remain the two top possibilities. Each comes with strengths but with baggage as well.

Rice's name has been floated in recent weeks as being Obama's preferred candidate for the top diplomatic post.

Twice in recent weeks the president has voiced support for her as she has been at the receiving end of a barrage of criticism over how she presented the administration's explanation for the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya. Her appearance on Sunday talk shows the weekend after the attack that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador has led to questions as to whether she is too controversial now to be chosen by the president.

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Filed under: Kerry • Susan Rice
Officer says not pressured over jailing of accused WikiLeaker
U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning arrives for a court hearing in Fort Meade, Maryland.
November 28th, 2012
06:43 PM ET

Officer says not pressured over jailing of accused WikiLeaker

By Larry Shaughnessy

The officer who oversaw security at the military base where Army private Bradley Manning was held for a time said on Wednesday he was not pressured by superiors to keep the accused WikiLeaker in a high-level lockup and under constant watch.

Marine Col. Robert Oltman said his decision to maintain maximum-security status for Manning during his eight-month confinement in Quantico in Virginia was borne out of caution.

Oltman said at a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, for Manning that he recognized the case was high profile but told subordinates at the Marine base to "do what's right" and not "worry about somebody looking over your shoulder."

Manning's lawyers are trying to get the case thrown out - or at least any sentence reduced, if he's convicted - by claiming he was mistreated at the Quantico brig from July 2010 until he was moved to the military prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, in April 2011.


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Filed under: Afghanistan • Kerry • Security Brief • WikiLeaks
Kerry:  White House: "Not involved" in leaks
June 7th, 2012
05:50 PM ET

Kerry: White House: "Not involved" in leaks

Kerry adamant White House not involved in intelligence leaks

By  Ted Barrett

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he is “really upset” about recent leaks of classified information because it “endangers our long-term security” and it “begs retaliation.” But Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts was adamant that no one at the White House or in Democratic politics was involved in the leaks.

“I know that people at the White House were not involved,” he said.

RECOMMENDED: Intel chief wants more lie detector tests to deter leaks

Asked about suggestions from Sen. John McCain of Arizona and other Republicans that the leaks came from someone trying to boost the president’s political standing, Kerry said they are wrong. FULL POST

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Filed under: Congress • Intelligence • Kerry
Budget Super Committee, friend or foe of Defense Department?
The Pentagon Photo By: CNN's John Bodnar
August 12th, 2011
06:52 AM ET

Budget Super Committee, friend or foe of Defense Department?

By Pentagon Producer Larry Shaughnessy

The final three members of the 12-member so-called "super committee" on deficit reduction were announced Thursday, but there are not a slew of pro-defense lawmakers on the panel charged with tackling the next stage of the national debt debate.

Two are well-known supporters of defense issues, but only one of the 12 is a member of an armed services committee.

Aviation Week magazine's website pointed out, "despite the hopes of U.S. defense industry advocates to stave off steep cuts to the Pentagon, the military-minded have scant representation" on the committee.

Should that be a cause for concern in the halls of the Pentagon?


Filed under: Congress • Kerry • Military • Panetta • Secretary of Defense
July 3rd, 2011
04:12 PM ET

McCain: Afghan drawdown is an 'unnecessary risk'

Two leading voices in the Senate on foreign policy continued their criticism of President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw roughly 30,000 American troops from Afghanistan over the next 14 months.

Republican Sen. John McCain, speaking from Kabul, Afghanistan, said Sunday the president’s plan creates an “unnecessary risk” in the region.

“What I have seen and heard here, both from Afghans as well as a number of Americans, is that it is an unnecessary risk, it’s not recommended by any of the military,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And I hope that it will work out, but it certainly deprives us of the necessary troops that we need for the second fighting season.”


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Filed under: Afghanistan • Foreign Policy • Homeland Security • Kerry • McCain • Military • Senate
June 21st, 2011
01:51 PM ET

Growing divide in Congress over Libya campaign

Two influential U.S. senators introduced a resolution Tuesday expressing support for limited American involvement in the NATO-led military campaign in Libya - part of an effort to counter rising pressure in the House of Representatives to withdraw backing for the mission.

The resolution, introduced by Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry and Arizona Republican John McCain, authorizes the commitment of U.S. forces for one year while stressing the lack of support for any use of American ground troops.

"I believe the president did the right thing by intervening to stop a looming humanitarian disaster," McCain said. "I believe we will find a strong, bipartisan majority that is in favor of authorizing our current military operations in Libya and seeing this mission through to success." FULL POST

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