Ex-CIA officer pleads guilty to one charge in leak case
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou leaves court in January.
October 23rd, 2012
12:54 PM ET

Ex-CIA officer pleads guilty to one charge in leak case

[Updated at 2:20 p.m. ET] A former CIA officer accused of revealing classified information to reporters has pleaded guilty to one of the allegations - that he illegally revealed the identity of a covert intelligence officer.

John Kiriakou, 48, also admitted to other allegations, including that he illegally told reporters the name of a different CIA employee involved in a 2002 operation to capture alleged al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah, and that he lied to a review board about a book he was writing, the Justice Department said.

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Filed under: CIA • Courts • Crime • Justice
July 19th, 2012
09:09 AM ET

Is Greenpeace's prank on Shell oil a 'scam'?

By Thom Patterson, CNN

(CNN) - If there's an official ranking for snarkiness, Greenpeace and the Yes Lab have got to be near the top this summer. Their snarky social media mash-up takes Greenpeace's campaign against Shell Arctic drilling to a whole new level.

It's a fake Shell website that encourages supporters to create ads that mock Shell's offshore drilling effort and to sign an anti-drilling petition.

Greenpeace teamed up with Yes Lab in June to create the fake website.

No matter which side you favor regarding offshore Alaska oil drilling, watching this fight is just plain fascinating.  Just make sure you get out of the way when the fur starts flying.

The Greenpeace/Yes Lab social media campaign clearly points to a strategy to succeed in a cacophonous Internet where it's increasingly harder to be heard and credibility is often called into question.

Although Shell is none too happy, calling the campaign a "scam," Greenpeace says it has received no legal action from Shell nor threats of legal action.

Here's a sample of these mocking fake Shell ads:

FULL POST

May 7th, 2012
06:09 PM ET

Official: Attempt to blow up plane thwarted

Editor's note: U.S. and international intelligence agencies have broken up an attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound jetliner, a U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN. Follow further developments here.

[Updated at 6:09 p.m. ET] A U.S. official told CNN the plot was disrupted "well before it was ever a threat to the United States.‚ÄĚ

The official added that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was the group responsible for the plot.

"We believe AQAP produced the device, and we believe it was intended to be used by a suicide bomber on an aircraft," the official said. "The device and the plot are consistent with what we know about AQAP‚Äôs plans, intentions, and capabilities. They remain committed to striking targets in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the Homeland, and Europe. And AQAP is probably feeling pressure to conduct a successful attack to, from their perspective, avenge the deaths of Bin Laden and (Anwar al-Awlaki).‚ÄĚ

Terrorist's death signals U.S-Yemen cooperation

The official added, as others have, that the device has the hallmarks of their previous bombs including the failed assassination attempt on Saudi security official Mohammed Bin Nayif as well as the failed 2009 Christmas Day bombing.

"While similar, a preliminary review of this device shows that it has some significant differences from the device used in the Christmas day attack," the U.S. official said. "It is clear that AQAP is revamping its bomb techniques to try to avoid the causes of the failure of the 2009 device."

The official said the FBI was thoroughly examining the device.

The U.S. official added it believed that the threat from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is due in part to territorial gains they were able to make during Yemen's political standoff in early 2011.

"Those territorial gains have allowed the group to establish additional training camps," the official said.

[Updated at 5:58 p.m. ET] Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed the plot during a press conference on an unrelated issue.

"What this incident makes clear is that this country has to continue to remain vigilant against those that would seek to attack this country," Panetta said. "We will do everything necessary to keep America safe"

[Updated at 5:36 p.m. ET] CNN Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank says one of the key things officials will be looking at is the exact make-up of the device and how it may be similar or different to the device used in the attempted bombing of an airliner in 2009.

Cruickshank said the suspect in the 2009 attempt, dubbed the "underwear bomber" wore the device for a long time as he traveled throughout Africa and it may have become desensitized. Tests on this device may allow officials to learn more about what changes al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula may have been made following the failed bombing.

Al Qaeda's biggest threat: al Asiri

[Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET] Matt Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, released a statement saying that they had no specific threat about an active plot against the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security statement added that the incident showed that enemies still have a high interest in targeting air transportation, which underscores the continued need for increased security at airports.

The statement reads:

“We have no specific, credible information regarding an active terrorist plot against the U.S. at this time, although we continue to monitor efforts by al-Qaeda and its affiliates to carry out terrorist attacks, both in the Homeland and abroad. Since this IED demonstrates our adversaries’ interest in targeting the aviation sector, DHS continues, at the direction of the President, to employ a risk-based, layered approach to ensure the security of the traveling public.

"These layers include threat and vulnerability analysis, prescreening and screening of passengers, using the best available technology, random searches at airports, federal air marshal coverage and additional security measures both seen and unseen. DHS will continue to work with our federal, state, local, international and private sector partners to identify potential threats and take appropriate protective measures. As always, we encourage law enforcement and security officials, as well as the general public, to maintain vigilance and report suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.‚ÄĚ

[Updated at 5:16 p.m. ET] The FBI released a statement Monday afternoon saying that the device was seized abroad.

It reads in full:

"As a result of close cooperation with our security and intelligence partners overseas, an improvised explosive device (IED) designed to carry out a terrorist attack has been seized abroad. The FBI currently has possession of the IED and is conducting technical and forensics analysis on it. Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations. The device never presented a threat to public safety, and the U.S. government is working closely with international partners to address associated concerns with the device. We refer you to the Department of Homeland Security, including the Transportation Security Administration, regarding ongoing security measures to safeguard the American people and the traveling public."

[Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET]  CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellen reports that a counterterrorism official said they do not believe the attack was  planned to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden.

Officials said they believed the device never posed a threat to the public and heralded the thwarted plot and recovered device as a sign that American intelligence capabilities have improved.

FULL POST

U.S. officials confirm release of senior Taliban prisoners
May 7th, 2012
10:50 AM ET

U.S. officials confirm release of senior Taliban prisoners

Up to 20 high-level insurgent prisoners have been released from NATO custody in Afghanistan over the past two years in an effort to boost peace negotiations with the Taliban in various regions of the country, according to U.S. officials.

The insurgents, held at the jointly-run NATO-Afghan detention facility of Parwan, are considered "bad guys," said one U.S. official who did not want to be identified discussing a sensitive issue. Their release was undertaken, the official said, often at the request of the Afghan government. In all cases, they were assessed as unlikely to rejoin the insurgency.

The official added that the Taliban detainees had been in the maximum security Parwan detention center ‚Äúfor a reason‚ÄĚ ‚Äď but that NATO "does not release anyone when there is a high likelihood they will rejoin the insurgency." The official said he was aware of only two releases in the last nine months.

Some previously released Afghan detainees, especially from the U.S.-run detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have allegedly rejoined the insurgency, suggesting such programs are not without risk.

The U.S. official said the releases occur ‚Äúwhen officials determine that the benefits significantly outweigh the risks.‚ÄĚ

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Overheard on CNN.com: Politics of anarchy
FBI photos show Brandon Baxter, top from left, Anthony Hayne, Connor Stevens; bottom, Joshua Stafford and Douglas Wright.
May 1st, 2012
08:03 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Politics of anarchy

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

One of the most talked-about stories on Tuesday was about five men arrested for allegedly conspiring to blow up a bridge about 15 miles south of Cleveland, according to court documents released Tuesday. Authorities say at least three of the men are self-proclaimed anarchists, and a lot of readers pondered what kinds of philosophies the men held and how they could be classified politically.

5 arrested in alleged plot to blow up Cleveland-area bridge

Readers speculated about the political backgrounds of the men. Several readers suspected they might identify with the Occupy movement, but some had other ideas.

BobRoss: "I love how some of these leftists try to deny reality (aka lie) by saying that anarchists are from the 'far right.' All of the major anarchist movements have been led by leftists and have been closely aligned with Marxism. By the statements for these guys it is clear that they are not in any way libertarians or 'right wing,' but sincere anarchists. I can understand though. I would try to deny their affiliation if I was you also. My guess is the Occupy Wall Street crowd is going to enter into a full PR campaign to distance themselves from these guys."

djfl00d: "Two flaws with your argument: Anarchists are anti-government. This is hardly a far left ideology, rather is closer to a far right ideology, yet is still inaccurate because if anarchists are anti-government, they are anti-political. Secondly, you have to think of politics as a circular scale, not a linear one. If you lean too far to either the right or the left, you begin to incorporate ideology from the other side."

Samilcar: "I'm certain these guys aren't connected to any Occupy groups. They all look like those violent tea partiers."

We heard from a lot of people who said it's not possible to know the men's affiliations at this point. FULL POST

Overheard on CNN.com: Dear government, my omelet was delicious this morning
A surveillance program monitors "bad" words on Facebook and other social-media sites, a privacy group's lawsuit reveals.
March 9th, 2012
03:36 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Dear government, my omelet was delicious this morning

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

"Drone came by yesterday. I was sitting on the can. Asked what I was doing...snapped a few pics. I flushed. 'Why do you want to know?' 'Just doing my job, sir ... just wondering what you were doing.' 'Look suspicious?' 'Not sure ... you were sitting, not standing, right?' 'Right,' I said. 'I'll put that in my report ... why did you flush so fast?' 'I was done.' 'You know that can't be verified, sir.' 'Sorry,' I said. 'We'll be watching,' it said. Then it left. Yes, without another word, it flew away and disappeared into the blue, afternoon sky like the brilliant cyber creature that it surly was."
–Floyd Mills

Comedian Dean Obeidallah wrote a column expounding on the government's Twitter searches. Readers responded with comedic takes of their own.

The government is reading your tweets

Some suggested we ought to watch the government.

rlowens1: "Perhaps, we can clean up Washington, if we insist that all candidates for public office, should they be elected, consent to have ALL of their communications monitored for the duration they are in office? Sure, it infringes on their civil rights. But, isn't that ok, as long as it furthers the public interests and improves security for us all? That is the argument they're using on us."

Others wanted to sabotage the effort.

FoxTS: "So in short, everyone should make sure to use 5-7 of these words in at least two posts every day. Thus making this data mining project all but useless."

ENDFEDNOW: "Smallpox, virus, nerve gas, anthrax, dirty bomb, radioactive, nuclear facility, and hummus ought to do the trick... ;-)"

rlowens1: "No, that would just make it more expensive."

Imagine your breakfast on a billboard.
FULL POST

March 8th, 2012
12:31 PM ET

Lawmakers announce bill prohibiting indefinite detention in U.S.

Two Democratic members of Congress announced a bill Thursday that would prohibit the indefinite detention of any suspected terrorist apprehended in the United States, whether or not the suspect was a U.S. citizen.

Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado said the legislation would ensure that anyone captured, detained, or arrested in the United States on suspicion of terrorism will go through the civilian justice system and be provided due process rights awarded under the Constitution.

This would not apply to suspected terrorists captured overseas who are now being held at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"The goal here is to have clarity, first of all, on how these people are handled in the U.S., and second of all, to reassert the primacy and the importance of our civil justice system," Smith said. "It is our contention that our civil justice system absolutely protects us from the threat in this case."

The bill is aimed at amending a controversial provision added to the National Defense Authorization Act that gave the military the authority to indefinitely detain anyone suspected of terrorism in the United States.

"More than 10 years later, one thing has become absolutely clear: our criminal justice system in the U.S. is 100% adequate to take care of this problem," said Smith, who claimed that more than 400 terror suspects have been tried successfully by U.S. civilian courts. "But at the same time, on the books we have a law that gives the executive branch the power to indefinitely detain people here in the U.S., even U.S. citizens. And we believe that we should take that off the books."

The National Defense Authorization Act was strongly contested in Congress last year, with the issue of indefinite detention being high on the list of concerns for those who opposed its passing. President Barack Obama threatened to veto the bill, but after amendments were made, he relented.

READ FULL SECURITY CLEARANCE POST
Holder to make case for targeting Americans in terror hunt
March 5th, 2012
07:38 AM ET

Holder to make case for targeting Americans in terror hunt

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.

Another official familiar with the speech confirmed the attorney general will discuss the legal framework on the use of lethal force. The official, who asked not to be identified because the speech is still under wraps, said the targeted-killing issue is just one aspect of a broad-ranging look at national security issues from a legal perspective.

READ FULL SECURITY CLEARANCE POST
February 9th, 2012
01:41 AM ET

Official: Suspect in 'South Park' threats to plead guilty

A New York man charged with posting online threats against creators of the television show "South Park" is expected to plead guilty Thursday in a Virginia federal court, a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said.

Jesse Curtis Morton was the co-founder of Revolution Muslim, a radical group based in New York City that is supportive of al Qaeda's worldview.

The former Brooklyn resident, also known as Younus Abdullah Mohammad, was taken into U.S. custody in Morocco on October 28, according to court documents.Morton left the United States in summer of 2010 because he feared arrest after two associates from New Jersey were charged with terrorism offenses in June of that year, according to the official.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Al Qaeda • National security • Terrorism
January 23rd, 2012
12:40 PM ET

Ex-CIA officer charged with giving journalists classified information

A former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, was charged Monday with repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities, Justice Department officials announced.

‚ÄúSafeguarding classified information, including the identities of CIA officers involved in sensitive operations, is critical to keeping our intelligence officers safe and protecting our national security,‚ÄĚ Attorney General Eric Holder said in a press release. ‚ÄúToday‚Äôs charges reinforce the Justice Department‚Äôs commitment to hold accountable anyone who would violate the solemn duty not to disclose such sensitive information.‚ÄĚ

Watch CNN's interview with Kiriakou about his career from March 2010.

 

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2011: Controversial figures meet their demise
Newspaper headlines announce the death of Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011.
December 27th, 2011
05:23 AM ET
September 6th, 2011
11:16 AM ET

Petraeus sworn in as CIA director

Retired U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, who served as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, was sworn in Tuesday as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Petraeus - sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden at the White House - succeeds Leon Panetta, who is now the secretary of defense.

At a ceremony marking his retirement from the military last week, Petraeus said his journey with the military was not coming to an end, even though he and his wife were "about to begin an exciting new journey with another extraordinary organization."

FULL STORY
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On the Radar: New CIA chief, alleged hate crime, UK hacking
New CIA chief David Petraeus was the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan and Iraq.
September 6th, 2011
05:54 AM ET

On the Radar: New CIA chief, alleged hate crime, UK hacking

Three things you need to know today.

Petraeus at CIA: Retired U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, who served as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, assumes his new role Tuesday: director of the CIA.

Petraeus succeeds Leon Panetta, who is now the U.S. secretary of defense.

At a ceremony marking his retirement from the military last week, Petraeus said his journey with the military was not coming to an end, even though he and his wife were "about to begin an exciting new journey with another extraordinary organization."

President Barack Obama has cited Petraeus' experience in working with the CIA on counterinsurgency efforts in the field as a reason for his nomination as the agency's director.

Alleged hate crime: The family of James Craig Anderson, a man who was beaten and then run over in a Jackson, Mississippi, motel parking lot, will hold a news conference Tuesday morning.

The family's announcement will come the same day that a pre-trial hearing is scheduled for one of the teens accused in Anderson's death.

Prosecutors have said the killing of Anderson, who was a black man, was racially motivated.

The killing - which sparked national attention after CNN obtained and aired exclusive surveillance video that shows the attack as it took place - is also being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department.

Anderson, 49, was first beaten by the group of teens as he stood in a motel parking lot early on the morning of June 26, according to some of the teens who were interviewed by police.

After the beating, a group of teens drove a large Ford pickup truck over Anderson, according to witnesses and officials. Anderson died from his injuries later the same day.

UK phone hacking: British lawmakers will grill former newspaper executives Tuesday as they try to determine whether top News Corp. executive James Murdoch misled them about the scale of illegal eavesdropping at News of the World.

Murdoch, the son of News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, has repeatedly told lawmakers that an investigation showed no evidence of widespread phone hacking at News of the World.

But the former editor of the paper has disputed James Murdoch's account, and will testify before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Colin Myler will be joined by Tom Crone, a former top lawyer for the paper.

Former top human resources officer Daniel Cloke and ex-legal affairs director Jonathan Chapman are also due to testify.

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Filed under: CIA • Crime • Hate crime • Justice • Military • On the Radar • Politics • Rupert Murdoch
Petraeus confirmed as new CIA director
Gen. David Petraeus will succeed Leon Panetta as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
June 30th, 2011
10:41 PM ET

Petraeus confirmed as new CIA director

Gen. David Petraeus won unanimous Senate confirmation Thursday to succeed Leon Panetta as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The 58-year-old commanding general of U.S. forces in Afghanistan has said he will retire from the military before assuming his new post later this year.

Petraeus received strong support at his confirmation hearing by the Senate Intelligence Committee. He told the panel he would lead the nation's largest intelligence agency fully independent of his ties to the military.

Asked about enhanced interrogation techniques widely considered to be torture, Petraeus reiterated his past opposition to them, saying methods permitted in the military interrogation manual he helped oversee have proven effective.

However, Petraeus said enhanced techniques could be considered in a so-called "ticking bomb" scenario - such as questioning someone who planted a nuclear device in New York set to go off in 30 minutes.

"I do think there is a need at the very least to address the possibility," Petraeus said of such a scenario. He called for discussing and working out a process ahead of time that would enable authorization from top leadership in order to prevent lower-level officials from being forced to consider the matter while "reacting under extreme pressure."

Read the complete story on CNN.com

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Thursday's live video events
June 9th, 2011
07:36 AM ET

Thursday's live video events

Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the fallout over Rep. Anthony Weiner's confession.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Casey Anthony trial - Testimony resumes in the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida mother accused in the death of her young daughter.

FULL POST


Filed under: Africa • Barack Obama • Budget • Casey Anthony • Courts • Crime • District of Columbia • Dollars & Sense • Economy • Florida • Justice • National security • On CNN.com today • Politics • Security • U.S. • World
May 20th, 2011
11:01 AM ET

U.S.: al Qaeda has interest in strikes on energy infrastructure

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have warned police across the United States that al Qaeda has a "continuing interest" in attacking oil and natural gas targets, a department spokesman said Friday.

The warning came as a result of information seized during the May 2 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, a U.S. official said.

"We are not aware of indications of any specific or imminent terrorist-attack plotting against the oil and natural gas sector overseas or in the United States," said Homeland Security spokesman Matthew Chandler.

"However, in 2010 there was continuing interest by members of al Qaeda in targeting oil tankers and commercial oil infrastructure at sea."

Chandler said it is "unclear if any further planning has been conducted" since the middle of last year.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • National security • Security • U.S.
May 9th, 2011
09:30 AM ET

Pakistani official denies leak of CIA agent's name

News outlets in Pakistan have made public the name of an American they identified as the CIA station chief, but a senior Pakistani intelligence official said Monday the person named is not the station chief.

Referring to a name cited in the Pakistani newspaper The Nation, the intelligence official said, "If we were going to release the name, we would release the right one." The official said he did not know where the name came from.

A U.S. official said there is "no current plan to bring home the current chief of station" in Pakistan.

The remarks came amid reports suggesting Pakistani officials may have leaked the name of a CIA official in the country.

Tensions between the United States and Pakistan have been growing since U.S. forces found and killed Osama bin Laden in the city of Abbottabad a week ago. U.S. officials have been publicly questioning whether Pakistan did all it could to track down the world's most wanted terrorist.

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Spokesman: Bin Laden's wife said she didn't leave compound for five years
Pakistani policemen guard the compound in Abbottabad where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed.
May 5th, 2011
01:07 PM ET

Spokesman: Bin Laden's wife said she didn't leave compound for five years

[Updated at 1:07 p.m.] For years there has been speculation about the health of Osama bin Laden. A US official says at this point there is no information to suggest there was medical equipment, such as a dialysis machine, at the compound.

The official says no autopsy was done on bin Laden.

[Updated at 12:38 p.m.] Osama bin Laden's wife has told interrogators she didn't venture outside the walled compound where the al Qaeda leader was killed for five years, a Pakistani military spokesman said Thursday.

The wife, who was wounded in the raid, said she lived in the compound in Abbottabad with eight of bin Laden's children and five others from another family, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told CNN. All of them have been in Pakistani custody since the pre-dawn U.S. commando raid that killed bin Laden and will be returned to their country of origin, Abbas said.

Abbas said he wasn't sure from her questioning how long bin Laden had lived there himself or whether he had ventured outside.

[Updated at 10:54 a.m.] Pakistan has ordered U.S. military personnel on its territory drawn down to the "minimum essential" level in the wake of the assault that killed bin Laden deep within Pakistan early Monday, a military statement announced.

FULL POST

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Gotta Watch: Dissecting bin Laden's effect
A bouquet marks the remembrance of the September 11 attacks and notes "We finally got him."
May 4th, 2011
11:19 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Dissecting bin Laden's effect

As the world seeks more information about the operation that brought down the globe's top terrorist, President Obama prepares to make his first visit Thursday to the World Trade Center site since the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death.

Obama extended an invitation to former President George W. Bush to join him at the site of bin Laden's most infamous attack. But Bush, who began the hunt for bin Laden, declined, saying he'd rather stay out of the spotlight. In today's Gotta Watch, we chronicle the aftermath of bin Laden's attacks and death.
FULL POST

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Gotta Watch: Behind the scenes of bin Laden's killing
Top U.S. leaders receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden.
May 3rd, 2011
11:14 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Behind the scenes of bin Laden's killing

The hunt for Osama bin Laden that went on for almost a decade led to a final mission that was completed in a matter of minutes. But how? The mission utilized specialized troops, heavy government coordination and extreme precision. Go behind the scenes of this tactical operation in today's Gotta Watch.

Night of the killingРWhat really happened the night the U.S. killed Osama bin Laden?  Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence takes a close look at the operation that took down one of the world's most elusive and feared terrorist leaders.

FULL POST

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