March 18th, 2013
07:25 PM ET

Chinese contractor at NASA makes court appearance

By Terry Frieden

A Chinese aerospace contractor, who one senior lawmaker suspects is a spy, made his first appearance in federal court on Monday.

Bo Jiang worked at NASA's Langley's Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and was seized over the weekend as he boarded a flight to Beijing at Dulles airport outside Washington.

Jiang was charged with making false statements to U.S. authorities by failing to disclose all of the electronic devices he was carrying on his one-way flight.

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Filed under: Security Brief
Holder: Drone strike against Americans in the U.S. possible
March 5th, 2013
04:46 PM ET

Holder: Drone strike against Americans in the U.S. possible

Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday stopped short of entirely ruling out a drone strike against an American citizen on U.S. soil—without trial.

Holder’s comment came in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul. Paul had sent a letter to President Obama’s CIA director nominee John Brennan asking for the administration’s views on the president’s power to authorize lethal force.

In the letter, Holder said “It is possible I suppose to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. “

In a separate letter, Brennan told Paul that the CIA has no such authority.

The nomination passed its first hurdle Tuesday with the Senate intelligence committee voting to approve the nomination in a 12-3 vote. Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said he voted against the nomination because of inconsistencies in Brennan's testimony.

Earlier in the day, the White House agreed to provide legal documents written by Justice Department officials explaining the legal rationale for  targeting Americans overseas who are involved in terror-related activities that threatened America or American interests.

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Filed under: CIA • Congress • Intelligence • Justice Department
January 10th, 2013
11:51 PM ET

Report: DEA agent made prostitute arrangement for Secret Service agent

By Terry Frieden

A Drug Enforcement Administration agent stationed in Cartagena, Colombia, arranged for a prostitute to have an encounter with a U.S. Secret Service Agent only days before a visit there by President Barack Obama, the Justice Department's inspector general has found.

In a December 20 letter to the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, the inspector general said the agent admitted his role in hiring the woman, while a second DEA agent said he was intoxicated that night and was unable to "recall specifically his involvement."

A third DEA special agent was present for a dinner with the Secret Service agent but was not present at a residence where the sexual encounter took place and played no role in facilitating it, the report said.

Justice Department won't prosecute CIA interrogators in two prisoner deaths
August 31st, 2012
11:18 AM ET

Justice Department won't prosecute CIA interrogators in two prisoner deaths

By Terry Frieden

The Justice Department on Thursday closed its criminal investigation of the deaths of two prisoners in CIA custody, ending a controversial investigation that Attorney General Eric Holder had approved more than a year ago.

The investigation, conducted by veteran Justice prosecutor John Durham, examined alleged CIA interrogation abuses in connection with prisoner deaths at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003 and at a secret prison in Afghanistan in 2002.

If the probe had led to criminal charges against CIA officers or contractors, it could have ignited a firestorm of objections by Republican lawmakers and the national security community.

Holder acknowledged that he made a controversial decision to appointed Durham in 2009 to examine allegations of CIA interrogation abuses in about 100 cases. His aides say he was aware the Obama White House wanted the torture controversies put behind it, but Holder pressed on. Republican lawmakers and the CIA were upset about the new review of alleged detainee mistreatment. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • CIA • Iraq • Justice Department • Legal • Petraeus
June 27th, 2012
04:54 PM ET

Saudi student convicted in Texas bomb plot

By Terry Frieden

A 20-year-old Saudi student in Texas has been convicted by an Amarillo federal jury of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Although Khalid Ali Aldawsari had not yet constructed a bomb or selected a target, a jury found him guilty of the WMD charge and of illegally buying chemicals on line. The jury was unanimous in its decision.

The arrest focused attention again on the danger posed by "lone-wolf" terrorists.

Prosecutors told jurors the defendant's journal showed he had intended to cause violence and that he believed "it is time for jihad."  The government said Aldawsari had a target list that showed he considered trying to blow up hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants. His list also included the Dallas home of former president George W. Bush. FULL POST

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Filed under: Living With Terror • Lone wolf • Terrorism
U.S. officials deny Russian spy was trying to seduce Obama Cabinet official
April 3rd, 2012
09:15 PM ET

U.S. officials deny Russian spy was trying to seduce Obama Cabinet official

By Terry Frieden and Adam Levine


U.S. officials are denying a claim in a British documentary that accused Russian spy Anna Chapman was close to seducing an Obama Cabinet official.

A BBC documentary about modern sleuths included the allegation along with an interview with a top FBI official, who says that the United States cracked down on the spy ring because "they were getting close enough to a sitting U.S. Cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue."


Holder to make case for targeting Americans in terror hunt
March 5th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Holder to make case for targeting Americans in terror hunt

By CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden

After months of promises from the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder Monday will finally lay out at least some of the legal arguments that the Justice Department developed to support its targeted killing of a U.S. citizen with alleged terrorist ties in Yemen last year.

One official familiar with the speech said it was doubtful Holder would mention by name Anwar al-Awlaki, who was targeted in a September drone attack. Another American who was active in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Samir Khan, was not the target of the strike but was with al-Awlaki and killed at the same time.

Both the operation and the legal opinion that supported it remain classified.


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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Anwar al-Awlaki • Terrorism
January 25th, 2012
12:04 PM ET

Somalia rescue – on the timing and FBI

From Larry Shaughnessy at the Pentagon, with reporting from Justice Producer Terry Frieden

Timing of the raid

The president authorized the operation on Monday, according to Pentagon spokesman George Little and “the military commanders decided to move ahead with this yesterday.”

"We're confident that there was enough of a sense of urgency and there was enough actionable intelligence to take the action that we did for the President to make the decision that he did,” said Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby.

"Well there are a variety of factors that you consider when you are planning an operation that you hope will contribute to success. And I'm not going to get into specifics, but those factors can range from weather to other considerations,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said.

When Obama said “good job” as he strode to the podium for his State of the Union address, the military “had indications at that point that the two hostages were secured,” Little said.

"I think it's safe to say at that point we knew that we had recovered the hostages and that they were in good condition. But there was still work to do to complete everything. Meaning making sure everybody is out and safe,” added Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby. FULL POST

Syrian-born American pleads not guilty to spying on protesters
Court exhibit showing Mohamad Soueid with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
October 28th, 2011
03:15 PM ET

Syrian-born American pleads not guilty to spying on protesters

By CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden and CNN Sr. Producer Carol Cratty

A Syrian-born naturalized U.S. citizen pleaded not guilty Friday to charges he spied on anti-Syrian government protesters in the United States.

Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid, 47, allegedly provided video and audio recordings of demonstrators to Syrian intelligence officials, according to the indictment against him.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton ruled that Soueid could be a flight risk and will remain in jail pending his trial, which is scheduled for March 5, 2012.

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Filed under: Assad • Security Brief • Spying • Syria
September 9th, 2011
07:05 PM ET

Rare display of bipartisanship as Justice Dept remembers 9/11

By CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden

Reminiscent of the national unity which followed the 9/11 attacks, a rare bipartisan embrace highlighted the 9/11 memorial tribute at the Justice Department Friday.
Members of Attorney General Eric Holder's team and a substantial delegation of GOP officials from former Attorney General John Ashcroft's administration joined to pay tribute to the victims and their families. The event also marked a celebration of the Justice Department and FBI efforts over 10 years to reform the nation's response to combating international terrorism.

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Filed under: 9/11 • FBI • Terrorism
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