December 21st, 2012
08:13 PM ET

CIA challenges accuracy of 'Zero Dark Thirty'

By Pam Benson

The CIA joined on Friday the chorus of those challenging the accuracy of a new movie on the Osama bin Laden raid that suggests that harsh interrogation techniques used on suspected terrorists helped the agency find the man considered behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

In an unusual move, the acting director of the CIA , Michael Morell, issued a statement to employees on Friday that emphasized that "Zero Dark Thirty" is not a historically accurate film.

Of particular concern are the harrowing scenes at the beginning of the movie that depict a suspected terrorist being interrogated at a secret CIA prison overseas with waterboarding and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. The suggestion in the movie is that those coercive techniques aided in identifying the courier who eventually led to the compound in Pakistan where bin Laden was living.
FULL POST

December 11th, 2012
09:29 PM ET

Osama bin Laden movie puts CIA analyst in spotlight

Controversy surrounds a CIA analyst that was crucial to the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. CNN's Barbara Starr reports on how some are calling her head strong and combative.

December 5th, 2012
06:44 PM ET

Bracing for a chemical weapon attack

Sources tell CNN’s Barbara Starr that the Pentagon and US intelligence services are consulting with Syria's neighbors Turkey, Israel and Jordan about what to do if it looks like Assad is about to launch a chemical attack on his own people.

A senior US official says all the allies are now considering how to keep Syria from putting chemical warheads on its artillery or missiles.

But an airstrike to stop it, could cause havoc if residual chemicals escape.

What if Assad leaves? US officials say they have long been planing for 'the day after Assad" – such as training Jordanian troops to provide security – but for now they just hope Syrians troops will keep those chemical weapons under lock and key.

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

Official: Changes to Benghazi talking points made by intel community
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice on State of the Union on September 16
November 19th, 2012
07:32 PM ET

Official: Changes to Benghazi talking points made by intel community

By Pam Benson

The intelligence community - not the White House, State Department or Justice Department - was responsible for the substantive changes made to the talking points distributed for government officials who spoke publicly about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, the spokesman for the director of national intelligence said Monday.

The unclassified talking points on Libya, developed several days after the the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, were not substantively changed by any agency outside of the intelligence community, according to the spokesman, Shawn Turner.

Republican criticism of the talking points intensified last Friday following a closed door hearing with former CIA Director David Petraeus.

Rep. Peter King, R-New York, told reporters after the hearing that the original talking parts drafted by the CIA had been changed and it was unclear who was responsible.

"The original talking points were much more specific about al Qaeda involvement and yet final ones just said indications of extremists," King said.

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Filed under: Benghazi • Central Intelligence Agency • CIA • Intelligence • Libya • Libya • ODNI • Peter King • Petraeus • Rep. Mike Rogers • Terrorism
Benghazi talking points omitted link to al Qaeda
November 16th, 2012
12:36 PM ET

Benghazi talking points omitted link to al Qaeda

By Jennifer Rizzo, with reporting from Pam Benson

Former CIA Director David Petraeus testified on Capitol Hill on Friday that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was an act of terrorism committed by al Qaeda-linked militants.

That's according to Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who spoke to reporters after the closed hearing, which lasted an hour and 20 minutes.

The account Petraeus gave was different from the description the Obama administration gave on September 14, King said.

Then, the attack was described as "spontaneous," the result of a protest against an anti-Muslim film that got out of control outside the compound.

Petraeus told lawmakers Friday that he had discussed the possibility of it being a terrorist attack in his initial briefing in September, according to King.

"He had told us that this was a terrorist attack and there were terrorists involved from the start," King said. "I told him, my questions, I had a very different recollection of that (earlier account)," he said. "The clear impression we (lawmakers) were given was that the overwhelming amount of evidence was that it arose out of a spontaneous demonstration and it was not a terrorist attack."

The "spontaneous" adjective was "minimized" during Petraeus' testimony Friday, King said.
FULL POST

November 15th, 2012
05:31 PM ET

CIA launches internal investigation into Petraeus conduct

By Suzanne Kelly

In yet another twist in the aftermath of the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus last Friday, the CIA is now opening an investigation into his conduct as Director of the spy agency. The investigation will be led by the CIA Inspector General.

"At the CIA we are constantly reviewing our performance. If there are lessons to be learned from this case we'll use them to improve. But we're not getting ahead of ourselves; an investigation is exploratory and doesn't presuppose any particular outcome," said CIA Spokesman Preston Golson.

Petraeus resigned a week ago citing an extramarital affair as the reason for his stepping down. According to friends of Petraeus, he began an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell shortly after taking the job as Director of the Agency last fall. Ms. Broadwell has not responded to CNN requests for comment.

The announcement of the internal investigation comes on the eve of closed door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Petraeus is expected to offer his thoughts to the committee members on what the Agency knew and when it knew it in the days after the attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on September 11.

November 14th, 2012
11:19 AM ET

Jill Kelley, honorary consul

From Jill Dougherty, CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent

In a 911 call, aspiring socialite Jill Kelley demands that police in Tampa, Florida, help remove people from her property, describing herself as an “honorary consul general.”

"I am an honorary consul general,” the 911 recording says. “… I have inviolability. They should not be on my property. I don't know if you want to get diplomatic, uh, protection involved as well. It's against the law to cross my property …"

Kelley, it turns out, is an “honorary consul” for the South Korean government, according to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The official South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that Kelley had "good connections and network and a willingness to develop Korea-U.S. relations, including the free trade agreement between the two nations."

South Korean officials tell CNN that “an honorary consul can generally play a role of promoting trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.”

South Korean Presidential Decree No. 23706 describes the duties as anything from “work(ing) to protect Korean national/resident living abroad” to “promoting interacting of trade, economy, art, science and education.”

The honorary post, however, has no official responsibilities, in spite of Kelley’s attempts to invoke “inviolability.” Yonhap cites a South Korean official as saying that “she will be relieved from the symbolic post if she is found to be problematic.”
FULL POST

November 13th, 2012
06:34 PM ET

Affairs, embezzlement and scandals

An affair that caused the resignation of CIA director General Petraeus is just the latest in a list of scandals to engulf the military's highest ranking officials. CNN's Chris Lawrence reports on how some at the top have strayed from the military's code of ethics.

November 9th, 2012
02:59 PM ET

BREAKING: CIA'S PETRAEUS RESIGNING

David Petraeus stepped down as the director of the CIA on Friday, citing an affair.

"After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours," he said in a statement.

Read all of CNN's reporting on the Petraeus resignation

A retired U.S. Army general who served as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, Petraeus was sworn in as the head of the CIA in September 2011.

President Barack Obama accepted his resignation.

"By any measure, he was one of the outstanding general officers of his generation, helping our military adapt to new challenges, and leading our men and women in uniform through a remarkable period of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he helped our nation put those wars on a path to a responsible end," the president said.

"As director of the Central Intelligence Agency, he has continued to serve with characteristic intellectual rigor, dedication and patriotism."
Obama expressed confidence that the CIA will move forward under the direction of Acting Director Michael Morell.

Here's Petraeus' letter to the CIA staff: FULL POST

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