January 7th, 2013
07:52 PM ET

Taking to the air on hunt for dirty bomb threats

By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd

Residents of Washington may be surprised by a helicopter flying low overhead this week, endlessly prowling the city to map its radiation signature.

The helicopter is crisscrossing the city, like a lawn mower covering a lawn, flying as low as just 150 feet off the ground. CNN spotted it northwest of downtown on Monday, flying low over the buildings, back and forth, east to west.

The purpose: to produce a baseline scan of the natural radiological readings in the capital. Once the map is done, any new anomalies - or suspicious radioactive activity - could be more easily detected.


January 4th, 2013
04:19 AM ET

Report: Iranian spies have global reach

CNN's Brian Todd looks at a new report on Iran's 30,000-strong intelligence service and its international activities.

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Filed under: Iran • Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer • Spying
December 4th, 2012
03:10 AM ET

U.S. embassy targeted in Jordan

One of the biggest American embassies was the target in a large al Qaeda plot. Brian Todd has the details.

October 19th, 2012
04:51 AM ET

Drunk contractors cause harm in Afghanistan, lawsuit alleges

By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd

The amateur video shows men, shirtless and seeming dangerously drunk, rolling on the ground or staggering near a counter top covered with booze bottles. Another part of the video shows a man babbling incoherently with a syringe nearby.

This is not a scene at a college frat house. It is a video of employees of an American security contractor working in Kabul, Afghanistan.

"It reminded me of times I'd visit my friends going to college that were in fraternities," said John Melson, a former employee of Jorge Scientific who was based at that villa in Kabul on assignment to support efforts to train Afghan security personnel.

The images in this video are now part of a lawsuit by two former employees of Jorge Scientific who allege that contractors with the firm were careless with their guns, abused local staffers, wrecked cars, destroyed furniture, and often could not perform their duties due to drunkenness.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Contractors • Kabul • Lawsuit
May 23rd, 2012
06:20 PM ET

Filmmakers' access to bin Laden info

By Brian Todd and Dugald McConnell

Newly released documents have reignited the debate in Washington over whether Obama administration officials granted too much access to filmmakers making a movie about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden - and whether national security was compromised in the process.

The documents show, for example, that a defense official offered the filmmakers access to a planner from SEAL Team Six, the super-secret special ops division that successfully executed the high-stakes raid in Pakistan last year.

It is not clear if any such access eventually took place. But according to a transcript from the meeting, on July 14 of last year, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers told screenwriter Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow that the defense department would offer up a plum interview.

"They'll make a guy available who was involved from the beginning as a planner; a SEAL Team 6 Operator and Commander," Vickers said, according to the transcript.

February 14th, 2012
10:28 AM ET

Bin Laden's advice to his children

CNN's Brian Todd reports on advice Bin Laden gave to his children and grandchildren: don't follow my path.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Terrorism
December 16th, 2011
10:10 AM ET

BREAKING: Wikileak suspect wants recusal

From Brian Todd and Larry Shaughnessy at Fort Meade

A hearing for Bradley Manning, the Army private suspected of being behind the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history, began Friday morning but almost immediately went into recess after Manning's attorney asked the investigating officer to recuse himself.

Attorney David Coombs said Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, the presiding officer, should step down.

Among Coombs four objections was that Almanza, an Army reservist, had a conflict of interest with his civilian job with the Justice Department, which is investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

WikiLeaks posted hundreds of thousands of classified documents on Afghanistan, Iraq and diplomatic exchanges.

The United States accuses Manning, who turned 24 on Saturday, of violating military code, ranging from theft of records to aiding the enemy.

The latter charge is likely, experts say, to land Manning in prison for life. But, if a general sees fit, the law allows that Manning could be eligible for the death penalty.

Manning's Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing that will determine whether enough evidence exists to merit a court-martial, was expected to last a week but could be delayed if Almanza recuses himself. FULL POST

December 13th, 2011
10:26 PM ET

Hezbollah claims to reveal 10 CIA spies in Lebanon

By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd

The militant group Hezbollah claims it has blown the cover of 10 alleged CIA officers working in Lebanon.

In the latest round of an escalating spy war, Hezbollah's media arm, al Manar, posted a video Friday accusing the CIA of running espionage operations from the diplomatic cover of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.  It discloses the alleged names of the current CIA station chief (including his birthdate), the former station chief, and three other officers, as well as code names for five others.

If those are indeed the names of CIA officers, their covert abilities have been compromised, and they will likely leave the country, according to two former CIA agents.

"The truth is, almost everybody probably knows who the station chief in Beirut is - at least if you're the bad guy," said former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht.  But if the identities of officers have been publicly revealed, he said, "they (agency officials) most definitely yank you." FULL POST

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Filed under: CIA • Hezbollah • Intelligence • Lebanon