McGurk's wife: I've become 'collateral damage'
Brett McGurk during testimony before the Senate.
June 15th, 2012
05:29 PM ET

McGurk's wife: I've become 'collateral damage'

The wife of Brett McGurk, the president's pick to be ambassador to Iraq, whose nomination is in jeopardy following recent revelations of questionable conduct, said Friday she feels "targeted" over recent reports that led to her resignation as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

"I've never felt so vulnerable, so targeted and so exposed as I have in the last two weeks," Gina Chon wrote in an email to friends, obtained by CNN. "I feel like I have become collateral damage in this process."

McGurk, who served in the administrations of  President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush, has come under scrutiny since salacious emails with Chon were made public, revealing the two carried on an affair while they were stationed in Baghdad in 2008. They later married, but the emails and ensuing revelations led to Chon's resignation from her post Tuesday at the Journal and Senate leaders have indicated they may delay a vote on McGurk's confirmation.

Read the whole story on CNN's Political Ticker


Filed under: Diplomacy • Iraq • Security Brief
Iraq ambassador nomination in jeopardy over affair, racy emails
June 14th, 2012
05:21 PM ET

Iraq ambassador nomination in jeopardy over affair, racy emails

The nomination of the president's pick to be ambassador to Iraq appeared to be in jeopardy Thursday as Senate Democrats raised concerns about recent revelations of questionable conduct, reports CNN's Ted Barrett and Paul Courson.

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he is "evaluating" controversies surrounding Brett McGurk and may postpone a scheduled committee vote on the nomination next Tuesday.

"I need to talk to senators and evaluate where we are," Sen. John Kerry told CNN. "People have become aware of things they weren't, so we have to evaluate."

Read the whole story on CNN's Political Ticker

GOP senators oppose choice of nominee for Iraq envoy
June 14th, 2012
04:14 AM ET

GOP senators oppose choice of nominee for Iraq envoy

By the CNN Wire Staff

Six Republican senators are recommending Brett McGurk's name be withdrawn from consideration for the Iraq ambassador post a week after racy e-mails emerged suggesting he allegedly had an affair with a reporter.

"Recent information has surfaced to call into question the prudence of moving forward with the nominee at this time," said the letter to President Barack Obama signed by six GOP members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"As members of the Committee, with the responsibility of providing advice and consent, we write to respectfully urge you to reconsider this nomination. There are strong concerns about Mr. McGurk's qualifications, his ability to work with Iraqi officials, and now his judgment."

FULL POST

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Filed under: Congress • Iraq
Clinton ordered to make terror list decision
Iranian-Americans rally outside the White House to urge the administration to remove the MEK, from the State Department's Foreign Terrorist Organizations List.
June 1st, 2012
02:20 PM ET

Clinton ordered to make terror list decision

By Jamie Crawford

A federal appeals court has ordered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a prompt decision on whether to remove an Iranian dissident group from the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia gave Clinton four months from Friday to deny or grant Mujahedeen-e-Khalq's request for removal from the list, or the court would issue a so-called writ of mandamus and remove the group itself.

"We have been given no sufficient reason why the secretary, in the last 600 days, has not been able to make a decision which the Congress gave her only 180 days to make," the court said in its ruling. "If she fails to take action within that (four month) period, the petition for a writ of mandamus setting aside the (foreign terrorist organization) designation will be granted."

The State Department had argued for an open-ended decision-making process.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Iran • Iraq • M.E.K. • Security Brief
U.S. drone intel led to deadly attack on civilians by Turkish military
Predator drone
May 17th, 2012
04:35 PM ET

U.S. drone intel led to deadly attack on civilians by Turkish military

By Mike Mount

Video surveillance provided by a U.S. drone and given to the Turkish military was used in a Turkish airstrike that killed 34 civilians late last year, according to Pentagon officials.

The airstrike, meant to hit rebel fighters, sent shockwaves and ignited protests throughout Turkey, which is a NATO ally of the U.S.

The airstrike also raises questions on how U.S. partners use information given to them by U.S. drones.

During a routine air patrol over northern Iraq last December, a U.S. military team monitoring a Predator drone video feed identified a number of people and pack animals moving suspiciously toward the Turkish border with Iraq where Turkey has been battling the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

The U.S. team, working jointly with Turkish military in Ankara, passed the information over to the Turkish officials for analysis, according to Pentagon officials.
FULL POST

Bin Laden documents: Tension with the branch offices
May 3rd, 2012
03:21 PM ET

Bin Laden documents: Tension with the branch offices

By Tim Lister

After years of isolation at his Abbottabad compound, Osama bin Laden's frustration was growing. He couldn't rein in groups that had taken the al Qaeda name but took little or no notice of "headquarters."  He seemed even envious of their freedom to operate and of the money they had, and he was still yearning to get operatives into the United States.

Read:  Security Clearance's coverage of the Osama bin Laden documents

Among the letters seized during the Abbottabad raid a year ago and released Thursday by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, there's plentiful evidence that bin Laden was distressed by the behavior of affiliates in Iraq, Yemen and Pakistan - and especially the casualties among Muslim civilians they were inflicting.

By 2010, the al Qaeda leader was even suggesting a fresh start. FULL POST

Iran nukes: How would the world know?
Fordow enrichment plant near Qom, Iran
March 26th, 2012
03:00 AM ET

Iran nukes: How would the world know?

By Pam Benson

American officials are adamant. The U.S. will respond - possibly with military force - if Iran crosses a red line and decides to actually make nuclear weapons.

But will the U.S. know with an degree of certainty that a line has been crossed?

The decision itself to push ahead really comes down to one person, according to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Clapper told a Senate hearing recently that any decision would be based on "the supreme leader's world view and the extent to which he thinks that would benefit the state of Iran or, conversely, not benefit."

Clapper was referring to Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the supreme leader of Iran.

FULL POST

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Filed under: CIA • Clapper • IAEA • IAEA • Intelligence • Iran • Iraq • Khamenei • Nuclear • ODNI • Petraeus • Petraeus • Stuxnet • weapons
March 19th, 2012
03:08 PM ET

U.S. was told American businessman was missing in Iraq

The U.S. embassy in Baghdad was informed an American businessman had gone missing in the same month the businessman said he was kidnapped by Iraqi militia, the State Department spokeswoman said.  The revelation is the latest twist in the case of Randy Hultz who was freed by militia loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr this weekend but nobody seemed to know he had been abducted.

On Monday, the State Department's Victoria Nuland  said there was an attempt to find Hultz when he went missing last June, but after a search the U.S. embassy assumed he had left the country and stopped the inquiry.

Here is what Victoria Nuland said at Monday's State Department briefing: FULL POST


Filed under: Iraq • Middle East • State Department
OPINION: America's Achilles' heel
March 8th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

OPINION: America's Achilles' heel

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mike Breen is Vice President of Truman National Security Project and a former US Army Captain. Breen is a national security expert and the founding director for the Iraqi Refugee Assistant Project.

From Mike Breen, Special to CNN

As a young Lieutenant on my first combat tour, I served on an isolated fighting camp south of Baghdad in an area known as the “Triangle of Death.” My unit was entirely dependent on daily fuel convoys to power our generators and fuel our vehicles. Recognizing this, Iraqi insurgents consistently ambushed the convoys while my infantry company fought to protect them. That meant almost daily firefights which we jokingly called “fighting for our supper.” FULL POST

Guess who's coming to the Iraq dinner
February 23rd, 2012
07:28 PM ET

Guess who's coming to the Iraq dinner

By Chris Lawrence

The Pentagon released the list of the 78 members of the armed forces who are invited to next week's White House dinner to honor Iraq veterans. (Read the list here)

The February 29 dinner, hosted by President Barack Obama and the first lady, will "recognize the significant contributions of the men and women in uniform who served" and their families, according to the Pentagon statement.

But how to select fewer than 100 people to represent the hundreds of thousands who served in Iraq? That was the dilemma facing the Pentagon, as it tried to come up with a list of American soldiers, sailors, Marines and airman who would be invited. FULL POST

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Filed under: Iraq • Military • Obama
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