November 27th, 2012
08:45 PM ET

Second North Korean missile launch would be unprecedented

By Jennifer Rizzo

While new satellite images show preparations for what is believed to be a coming long-range missile launch by North Korea, a second attempt in 2012 would be unprecedented, a top satellite image analyst told Security Clearance.

There have been four launches of this scale since 1998, including a failed attempt in April of this year. A second launch in 2012 would be the first time North Korea has launched two systems of this class, their largest missile class, in less than three years.

"The fact that they are now apparently preparing for a second launch in 2012 indicated that the decision to do this was made at the highest level," said DigitalGlobe analyst Joe Bermudez.

The North Koreans are looking for "maximum political impact" domestically, regionally and internationally with a test launch such as this, according to Bermudez, calling it a "very politically motivated event."

The timing of a launch at the end of this year would coincide with many consequential events, said Bermudez.

South Korea will be launching a rocket into space by the end of this week. North Korea and Japan will be holding another set of bilateral talks early in December and the South Korean presidential election will take place in less than a month. North Korea watchers say new leader Kim Jung Un may be responding to internal political pressure from hard-liners to send a message.
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U.S. asks court to deny Fort Hood shooter's appeal
November 19th, 2012
03:47 PM ET

U.S. asks court to deny Fort Hood shooter's appeal

By Jennifer Rizzo

The U.S. government has asked a military appeals court to deny accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan's request to keep a beard he has grown and to reject his bid to have the judge overseeing his court martial removed from the case.

Army regulations prevent most soldiers from wearing facial hair while in uniform. Hasan, a practicing Muslim, maintains he has the right to wear the beard under federal law protecting religious rights.

Involuntarily shaving a person is "not a novel concept" and is within the court's rights, the Appellate Government Counsel of the Judge Advocate General's office wrote in a brief for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Hasan did not prove that wearing his beard was "based on a sincerely held religious belief," the filing said.

The brief also raised the concern that Hasan's decision to grow a beard was to make it difficult for witnesses to identify him, calling the timing "questionable."
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Filed under: Legal • Military • Nidal Hasan • Terrorism
Iraq releases prisoner accused of killing U.S. soldiers
November 16th, 2012
03:07 PM ET

Iraq releases prisoner accused of killing U.S. soldiers

By Jennifer Rizzo

Ali Mussa Daqduq, a Lebanese militant accused of involvement in the murder of several U.S. soldiers in Iraq, was released by Iraqi authorities Friday morning, Daqduq's lawyer, Abdulalmehdi al-Mutairi, told CNN.

Daqduq has arrived in Lebanon, his lawyer said.

"Thank God, he arrived in Lebanon a few hours ago after he left Iraq this afternoon" al-Mutairi told CNN. "There is no legal reason for his detention. He should have been released months ago".

An Iraqi court cleared Daqduq in May, saying there wasn't enough evidence against him, an official with Iraq's judicial council told CNN.

The automatic appeal following that ruling affirmed the acquittal in June, according to al-Mutairi.

U.S. officials say Daqduq organized a kidnapping in the Iraqi city of Karbala in January 2007 that left five U.S. soldiers dead.
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Filed under: Hezbollah • Iraq • Lebanon
Putting a price on war with Iran
This satellite image made available to AFP/Getty Images on September 26, 2009 by Digitalglobe shows the suspected Iranian nuclear facility of Fordo near the holy Shiite city of Qom, where Iran is has begun enriching uranium to 20 per cent, according to the UN atomic watchdog agency IAEA.
November 15th, 2012
03:52 PM ET

Putting a price on war with Iran

By Jennifer Rizzo

An all-out U.S. war with Iran, including an invasion by American troops, would cost the global economy close to $2 trillion in the first three months and could go as high as $3 trillion, according to a Washington think tank.

A full-scale ground operation to dismantle Iran's nuclear program is unlikely but the scenario is just one of a handful that a group of nine experts, assembled by the Federation of American Scientists, examined to explore how the global economy would be impacted by U.S. action against Iran.

"There had been talks about oil spikes, about what would happen with the Iranian nuclear program, damage to Iran itself but there had been no, at least in the open sources, large-scale looks at what was going to happen globally," said Charles Blair who co-authored the report.
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Filed under: Iran • Military • Sanctions • Think tank • Treasury
November 12th, 2012
03:00 AM ET

Tests may pave way for future missile-firing drone boats

By Jennifer Rizzo

Future unmanned ships could be retrofitted with missile-firing systems following successful prototype tests, but how long before the technology can be deployed remains a question, U.S. Navy officials say.

Six long-range missiles were fired during three days of testing last month, marking the first time missiles have been fired from any unmanned ship.

The seafaring drone, called the NUWC-4, is a smaller craft developed to defend against a potential attack of ships swarming toward naval vessels, according to the Navy. Terrorists and pirates have been known to use these tactics.

The "project was developed in response to recent world events involving swarms of small attack craft, as well as threat assessments outlined in recent studies conducted by the Naval Warfare Development Command," said NAVSEA Special Warfare Program Manager Capt. Thomas D. Gajewski. "Technology demonstrated in this project can provide a capability to combat terrorists who use small low-cost vehicles as weapons platforms."
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Filed under: drones • Military • Navy • Technology • weapons
Military flies power trucks, crews to states hard-hit by Sandy
Marines and sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepare to deploy aboard the USS Wasp, in support of Sandy disaster relief efforts in New York and New Jersey.
November 1st, 2012
06:21 PM ET

Military flies power trucks, crews to states hard-hit by Sandy

UPDATE:
The USS Wasp has anchored about five miles off the coast of New York and New Jersey and is bringing aboard a number of helicopters and about 250 Marines in case they are needed, according to Navy spokesman Lt Cdr Chris Servello.

The ship is now visible to those on land as opposed to earlier Navy reporting that said the ship would remain over the horizon.

There is still no official request by either the NY or NJ governor to the federal government for the Navy's assistance. The other two ships should arrive in the next day.

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Military cargo jets flew power trucks and crews from California to New York on Thursday to assist with Superstorm Sandy recovery in hard-hit states.

The move by the Air Force came as three U.S. Navy ships neared the coast of New York and New Jersey where they would be ready to help, if asked by those state governments.

The steps compliment thousands of National Guard troops activated throughout the mid-Atlantic to deal with flooding, massive power outages and debris cleanup from the deadly storm that swept through the region on Monday.

Sixty-nine vehicles belonging to Southern California Edison were flown from the West Coast to New York's Stewart Air National Guard Base on five C-5 Galaxys and 12 C-17 Globemaster jets.

Those areas have already been getting help from power companies closer to New York, but the cargo flights meant the trucks could get to the heart of the region in a matter of hours.
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Military helps pump water, restore power
Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., NORAD and USNORTHCOM commander, and his staff, receive an update on weather conditions in the areas affected by super storm Sandy during a commander’s assessment meeting--Oct. 30.
October 31st, 2012
07:05 PM ET

Military helps pump water, restore power

By Jennifer Rizzo

The U.S. military is continuing to provide support in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, focusing particularly on pumping water out of flooded areas and restoring power.

In New York, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to deploy 100 high-volume water pumps, supplementing 100 units provided by the Defense Department.

More than 200 power generators have been set up in New York and New Jersey. They will be deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as needed.

According to the Pentagon, approximately 10,000 National Guard forces have been activated to support these states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.

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Filed under: Military • US Northern Command
Gates says defense secretary role was his life's 'highest calling'
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (right) and his predecessor Robert Gates share a laugh during the unveiling ceremony.
October 29th, 2012
08:30 PM ET

Gates says defense secretary role was his life's 'highest calling'

By Jennifer Rizzo

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates evoked laughter during the unveiling of his official portrait Monday, but said his time heading up the military was the most important job in a long career in Washington.

“As America's Secretary of Defense during two wars was the singular honor and highest calling of my professional life,” Gates said at the Pentagon

Sending troops to war weighed on him every day, he said, so much so that he worried his devotion to protect them was clouding his judgment.

“Towards the end of my time in office, I could barely speak to the troops or about them without becoming over, without being overcome with emotion,” Gates said.

These feelings he says played a role in his decision to retire.

Gates began his role as Defense Secretary in 2006 under President George W. Bush. When President Barack Obama was elected in 2008 Gates stayed on in his role, despite plans of retiring—something he jokingly said he had current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to thank for.
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Filed under: Gates • Military • Panetta • Panetta • Pentagon • Secretary of Defense
Court says Hasan can be shaved
October 18th, 2012
08:08 PM ET

Court says Hasan can be shaved

By Jennifer Rizzo

A military appeals court decided Thursday that accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan can be forcibly shaved, despite his assertion that his religion requires he wear a beard.

Siding with the judge overseeing the trial, Col. Gregory Gross, the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not allow Hasan to wear a beard during his upcoming court martial, as Hasan did not prove his beard was an expression of a sincerely held religious belief.

"We agree with the military judge's conclusion that petitioner's wearing of the beard denigrates the dignity, order, and decorum of the court-martial and is disruptive under the current posture of the case," the decision says.

Even if Hasan did wear the beard out of a sincere religious belief, the decision found that "compelling" government interests justified the judge's order for Hasan to be shaved.

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Filed under: Military • Nidal Hasan
October 18th, 2012
05:58 PM ET

Thousands of US troops arrive in Israel

Thousands of US troops arrive in Israel to begin a joint military exercise with Israeli forces, testing the country's missile defense systems. In all, the exercise will involve 3,500 US troops at a cost of $30 million. They'll be training over three weeks, in parts of Israel, Europe and the Mediterranean. Chris Lawrence reports on whether this exercise is sending a message to Iran on the strength of ties between the U.S. and Israel.

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Filed under: Dempsey • Iran • Israel • Military
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