First on CNN: More on NSA surveillance programs to be declassified
July 29th, 2013
08:44 PM ET

First on CNN: More on NSA surveillance programs to be declassified

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. intelligence community plans to declassify additional information about surveillance programs of the National Security Agency, possibly as soon as Tuesday, CNN has learned.

A senior U.S. official tells CNN the information includes "white papers" on surveillance programs but also previously undisclosed information about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The official declined to be identified because the information has not been made public yet and because of the sensitive nature of the information. He would not offer further details in advance of the declassification process, which could extend into later this week.

It is unclear how the additional information would be released. FULL POST

FIRST ON CNN: Top Marine’s alleged comments in Taliban desecration case draw scrutiny
An image captured on You Tube shows what appear to be U.S. Marines urinating on bodies of dead Taliban.
July 25th, 2013
02:43 PM ET

FIRST ON CNN: Top Marine’s alleged comments in Taliban desecration case draw scrutiny

By Barbara Starr

A senior Marine general said in an extraordinary sworn statement obtained by CNN that the head of the corps wanted several Marines kicked out of the service for their alleged roles in urinating on Taliban corpses - even before any charges were brought.

Lt. General Thomas Waldhauser told military authorities in the sworn statement on Tuesday that he had a private meeting in February 2012 with Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos, who had just named him to lead the investigation and possible prosecution.

"I do not remember the exact words or sequence of what was said, but the CMC did make a comment to the effect that the Marines involved needed to be 'crushed,'" Waldhauser said, adding that the "CMC went on to say he wanted these Marines to be discharged from the Marine Corps when this was all over."

Waldhauser's statement was made as part of the record for upcoming court martial proceedings against two Marines involved in the case.


First on CNN: Navy, Marine Corps hope some publicity helps deter sexual assaults
July 18th, 2013
02:07 AM ET

First on CNN: Navy, Marine Corps hope some publicity helps deter sexual assaults

The Navy and Marine Corps will begin publishing their own versions of a sex offenders list as part of an effort to crack down on sexual assaults, CNN has learned.

Both branches will start posting the results of courts-martial, including sexual assault proceedings in the services, on their home pages.

Convictions and acquittals will be listed, according to a Navy official who described the plan to CNN. He declined to be named until it is officially announced.

FIRST ON CNN: Panetta to keep security detail in retirement
February 13th, 2013
12:12 PM ET

FIRST ON CNN: Panetta to keep security detail in retirement

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will have a full detail of security agents assigned to him for the foreseeable future after he leaves office, an administration official confirmed to CNN Wednesday.

Federal security personnel will be assigned to Panetta due to concerns about potential future threats against him both as a result of his time as CIA director and secretary of defense, the official said.


February 6th, 2013
10:16 AM ET

FIRST ON CNN: Panetta to recommend pay cut for military

By Barbara Starr

Just days before he leaves office, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is recommending military pay be limited, effectively decreasing troop salaries next year.

Panetta will recommend to Congress that military salaries be limited to a 1% increase in 2014. The Pentagon has calculated that the Labor Department's 2014 Employment Cost Index is expected to be above 1% but wants to still cut back on pay because of "budget uncertainties," a department official told CNN. In 2013, a 1.7% increase was approved, based on the index, which has been the basis for military pay for the last several years.

Three Pentagon officials have confirmed details of the plan to CNN. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have also agreed to Panetta's proposed pay plan. Final approval for the pay would come from Congress in the form of the 2014 budget.

The recommendation is tied to the Defense Department's 2014 budget recommendation, which was expected to be sent to Congress this month, one of the officials said. But the officials acknowledge it is going to be seen as an effort to push Congress to stop the automatic budget cuts that could go into effect if no deal is reached on spending reductions. FULL POST

November 27th, 2012
04:17 PM ET

After Petraeus scandal, Broadwell grapples with 'normal life'

By Suzanne Kelly

In the aftermath of the affair that led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus, his biographer and paramour Paula Broadwell has remained publicly silent, turning instead to family and friends as she tries to assess just how news of the affair might impact her future.

"It's been hard for her family and her to see the picture that's being painted of her," says Broadwell's brother, Steve Kranz, a Washington-based attorney. "Her real focus is her family and her husband and her boys and trying to restore the trust she had with her husband and trying to protect her children from the publicity."

After weeks of media portrayals that have ranged from spurned lover to obsessed stalker, both family and friends of Broadwell have begun to present a fuller picture of her as she grapples with the shock of her affair being thrust into the public spotlight.  Part of that outreach included providing  photos from the family collection, given first to CNN, of Broadwell with her family and in Afghanistan.

"She's trying to live as normal a life as possible, but there are moments of realizing all that has happened," says a source close to Broadwell who asked not to be identified.

Early on, Broadwell began quietly returning emails from well-wishing friends, but she hasn't done much beyond that, according to sources who have said she is very focused on how the news has affected loved ones. But that strategy appears to be shifting somewhat with the hiring of a Washington-based public affairs group and friends who have known Broadwell for years now going public to combat images of her that they feel are unfair. FULL POST

November 8th, 2012
02:00 PM ET

FIRST ON CNN: Iranian jets fire on U.S. drone

By Barbara Starr

Two Iranian Su-25 fighter jets fired on an unarmed U.S. Air Force Predator drone in the Persian Gulf on November 1, the Pentagon disclosed on Thursday.

The incident, reported first by CNN, raised fresh concerns within the Obama administration about Iranian military aggression in crucial Gulf oil shipping lanes.

The drone was on routine maritime surveillance in international airspace east of Kuwait, 16 miles off the coast of Iran, U.S. officials said. The Predator was not hit.

Also: U.S. adds to Iran sanctions

"Our aircraft was never in Iranian airspace. It was always flying in international air space. The recognized limit is 12 nautical miles off the coast and we never entered the 12 nautical mile limit," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in responding to questions from reporters after CNN reported the incident.

Little said the United States believed this was the first time an unmanned aircraft was shot at by the Iranians in international waters over the Gulf.  In December of 2011, a U.S. surveillance drone crashed in eastern Iran.  Iranians claimed to have shot it down, and created a toy model of the drone to celebrate its capture.

Little stopped short of calling the incident an act of war although the Pentagon was concerned.


September 21st, 2012
10:50 AM ET

First on CNN: Clinton to remove Iranian exile group from terror list

By Elise Labott

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to notify Congress on Friday that she plans to take Iranian exile group Mujahedin-e-Khalq, or MEK, off a State Department terror list, three senior Obama administration officials told CNN.

Notification will be followed by formal removal in coming days from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, which includes more than 50 groups like al Qaeda and Hezbollah. Clinton recently designated the Pakistani-based Haqqani network a foreign terrorist organization.

Such a listing attaches a certain stigma and allows the United States to legally go after financing and take other steps against individuals associated with these groups.

MEK was put on list in 1997 because of the killing of six Americans in Iran in the 1970s and an attempted attack against the Iranian mission to the United Nations in 1992.

FIRST ON CNN: Pentagon double checked actions of SEALs during bin Laden raid
September 7th, 2012
06:06 PM ET

FIRST ON CNN: Pentagon double checked actions of SEALs during bin Laden raid

By Barbara Starr CNN Pentagon Correspondent

The head of U.S. special operations has contacted members of the covert Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden to reconfirm some details of the al Qaeda leader's last moments conveyed in a new book, and military officials have concluded the author's account was not accurate, CNN has learned.

Adm. William McRaven took the extraordinary action more than a year after the May 2011 raid in Pakistan in response to "No Easy Day," authored by former SEAL Matt Bissonnette, who tells about his participation in the operation.

In a dramatic passage, Bissonnette said that bin Laden was on the floor when he and other SEALs entered his room in the safe house in Abbottabad, having been shot by another SEAL when he had peeked his head into the hall as the team approached.


July 23rd, 2012
10:58 AM ET

EXCLUSIVE: Iran in "open war" with Israel

By Elise Labott and Michael Schwartz

Iran is in an "open war" with Israel, President Shimon Peres said Monday, as he pointed the finger at Iran and Hezbollah for last week's bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israelis.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Peres said Israel will act to prevent further attacks.

Peres said Israel has "enough" hard intelligence to link the Bulgaria attack to Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, and believes more attacks are being planned as part of what he called an "open war against Israel."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Iran and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah movement were responsible for a number of attacks and attempted attacks against Israeli targets in Thailand, Georgia, India, Greece, Cyprus and other countries.

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