February 9th, 2009
11:35 AM ET

The dissenter who changed the war

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Thomas E. Ricks

Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno was an unlikely dissident, with little in his past to suggest that he would buck his superiors and push the U.S. military in radically new directions.

A 1976 West Point graduate and veteran of the Persian Gulf War and the Kosovo campaign, Odierno had earned a reputation as the best of the Army's conventional thinkers - intelligent and ambitious, but focused on using the tools in front of him rather than discovering new and unexpected ones. That image was only reinforced during his first tour in Iraq after the U.S. invasion in 2003.


Filed under: First 100 Days • Iraq • War on Terror
February 5th, 2009
04:37 PM ET

Making the Afghanistan fight even harder

Editor's Note: The State Department confirmed that Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns arrived in Moscow on Wednesday and will discuss the use of the Manas military base in Central Asia with Russian officials.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/02/03/kyrgyz.base/art.manas.base.afp.gi.jpg caption="AA U.S. troop guards the main access checkpoint to the Manas Air Base on December 18, 2008."]

Alexandra Poolos
AC360° Editorial Producer

You might never have heard of it, but there's a tiny, impoverished Muslim country that's been playing a crucial role in America's "war on terror." And now it says it doesn't want to do that any more.

Kyrgyzstan, lodged between China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, says it will close a key U.S. airbase that supports operations in Afghanistan. The country’s president says the U.S. base will have to find a home elsewhere.

After the so-called 2005 Tulip Revolution, Kyrgyzstan became known as an islet of democracy in a region that is home to some of the world’s most entrenched dictatorships. The largely peaceful protests swept to power a new president who promised to liberalize the press, fight corruption and bring more democracy to Kyrgyzstan.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Afghanistan • Pentagon • War on Terror
February 5th, 2009
08:20 AM ET

AC360° Panel: Cheney speaks out

Anderson talks to his panel about former Vice President Cheney criticizing President Obama and his administration.

Filed under: David Gergen • Dick Cheney • War on Terror
February 4th, 2009
01:53 PM ET

Cheney warns of new attacks

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John F. Harris, Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei

Former Vice President Dick Cheney warned that there is a “high probability” that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will make it more likely the attempt will succeed.

In an interview Tuesday with Politico, Cheney unyieldingly defended the Bush administration’s support for the Guantanamo Bay prison and coercive interrogation of terrorism suspects.

And he asserted that President Obama will either backtrack on his stated intentions to end those policies or put the country at risk in ways more severe than most Americans — and, he charged, many members of Obama’s own team — understand.

Keep Reading...

February 4th, 2009
09:26 AM ET

Al Qaeda's #2 mocks President Obama's "concern"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/02/03/al.qaeda.audio.message/art.al.zawahiri.jpg caption="Ayman al-Zawahiri criticized President Obama for failing to mention the Gaza conflict at his inauguration."]

Octavia Nasr
AC360° Contributor
CNN Arab Affairs Editor

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number 2 man of al Qaeda, allegedly released an audio message today titled, “Gaza Sacrifices and The Conspiracies.” The voice on the audio sounds very much like Zawahiri; the intonation and accent are consistent with earlier messages by the Egyptian doctor. Two references indicate that the message was recorded on or after January 20th. This is significant as it gives an idea of how quickly these messages are turned around and released online. Zawahiri references Israeli forces pulling out of Gaza and he indicates his knowledge that President Obama didn't mention Gaza in his inauguration speech.


Filed under: Arab Affairs • Global 360° • Octavia Nasr • War on Terror
January 23rd, 2009
06:06 PM ET

The worst of the worst?

Program Note: Tune in to hear more from CNN National Security Expert Peter Bergen tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.

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Ken Ballen, Terror Free Tomorrow
Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Expert

Controversy over the Bush Administration’s policy to detain “enemy combatants” at the military’s Guantanamo Bay prison has raged since the facility first opened in 2002. The controversy has been fueled primarily by the lack of legal protections afforded the detainees and allegations of their mistreatment, much of which was subsequently confirmed by the FBI.

Now that President Obama has ordered the prison camp to be closed, additional new controversy swirls around the claim made earlier this month by the Pentagon that 61 Guantanamo detainees are believed to have returned to terrorism.

But that number became a little less alarming when the Pentagon clarified that only 18 of the 61 have been confirmed to be engaging in terrorism, while 43 are “suspected of returning to the fight.”


January 23rd, 2009
03:57 PM ET

Musharraf on U.S. attacks

Pervez Musharraf gives his thoughts on U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan.

Filed under: Pakistan • War on Terror
January 23rd, 2009
03:02 PM ET

Detainee went from Gitmo to al Qaeda

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/23/gitmo.detainee/art.gitmo.filer.gi.jpg caption="Ali al-Shiri was released in 2007 from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."]

A Saudi national released from U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in September 2007 is believed to be a key leader in al Qaeda's operations in Yemen, according to a U.S. counterterrorism official.

The Defense Department recently estimated that more than 60 terrorists released from Guantanamo may have returned to the battlefield.

According to the counterterrorism official, freed detainee Ali al-Shiri traveled to Yemen after being released to Saudi Arabia and may have been involved in recent al Qaeda attacks in Yemen, including a car bombing outside the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa last year that killed nearly a dozen people.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: al Qaeda • President Barack Obama • War on Terror
January 23rd, 2009
10:52 AM ET

The truth about torture

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/22/obama.interrogations/art.obama.orders.gi.jpg caption="President Obama on Thursday signs several orders, one of which dealt with interrogating terror suspects."]

Ken Robinson | BIO
Former Special Operations and Intelligence Officer

"In war, truth is the first casualty." Aeschylus said it 2500 years ago. Yet we are rediscovering this lesson all over again in the debate over torture.

Yesterday, President Obama signed an executive order unequivocally stating that the United States will not condone torture of any human being.


For years, there will be partisan arguments on both sides of this opposition to torture, some claiming it is Pollyannaish and giving up the only effective tool we have at our disposal.

But people on both sides seem to have forgotten a key detail – the truth.

And the truth is - torture doesn't work.


January 23rd, 2009
09:45 AM ET

What's the end game?

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Suzanne Simons
CNN Executive Producer

When it comes to the war on terror, President Barack Obama is wasting no time changing the way the war is waged, in fact he isn't even using the term "war on terror" anymore. By signing four executive orders that deal with the way the U.S. confronts terrorism, or even the suspicion of it, he is beginning to unravel much of what was put into place by the Bush Administration in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

One of the four executive orders specifically bans torture and will bring an end to the "enhanced methods" made available to the CIA under Mr. Bush. Those enhanced methods include water boarding, the practice of strapping a suspect to a board, gagging them, and pouring water over his face in an effort to simulate drowning. A ban on the act that some see as torture and others deem effective, is welcomed by some intelligence sources who insist the Agency never asked for those powers, but says they were pushed on them by an administration eager to show strength under threat. Just last week, CIA Director Michael Hayden, in parting comments to reporters, said "The Agency did none of this out of enthusiasm. It did it out of duty. It did it with the best legal advice it had." Some inside the Agency, including Hayden, still insist the methods were effective and one former official points to information gleaned from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that led to the detention of other top-ranking members of al Qaeda as proof. The Agency has made progress against al Qaeda namely by taking out many of its top operatives. It's no longer the same terror network that it was in the days after 9/11. Clearly the mindset in fighting terrorism has changed, too.


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