Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on reaction and fallout to the death of Osama bin Laden.
Today's programming highlights...
10:00 am ET - Bin Laden death briefing - Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, briefs reporters on the U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
The federal government on Wednesday implements a new terror alert system that will replace the color-coded terror alerts put in place after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"The National Terrorism Advisory System, which was developed in close collaboration with our federal, state, local, tribal and private sector partners, will provide the American public with information about credible threats so that they can better protect themselves, their families, and their communities," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement.
While the color-coded system had five levels of alerts, the new NTAS will have only two - "elevated threat," which "warns of a credible terrorist threat" to the U.S., and "imminent threat,"¬† which "warns of a credible, specific and impending terrorist threat," according to a Department of Homeland Security statement.
We thought we'd bring you some of our most memorable awkward airport pat-down moments after hearing all the buzz from this video. Here, a 6-year-old is filmed by her parents as she gets the full TSA pat-down treatment at an airport in New Orleans.[cnn-video¬†url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2011/04/13/dnt.tsa.pats.down.child.wwl"%5D
Libya - Violence in Moammar Gadhafi's Libya was increasing Wednesday as forces loyal to the strongman unleashed bombs and artillery on makeshift rebel forces in the eastern oil city of Ras Lanuf. The latest fighting followed another defiant speech from Gadhafi that aired Tuesday night on state television, in which he again insisted that youths misled and drugged by al Qaeda were to blame for the fighting.
Peter King - The New York Republican congressman says he is determined to use his powerful post as House Homeland Security Committee chairman to hold a highly controversial hearing on what he has dubbed radicalization of Muslims in the United States. Dana Bash, CNN's senior congressional correspondent, profiles the man who says he thinks every day about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Rare earth elements - They are the elements which occupy those two¬†orphaned rows at the bottom of the periodic table. They're essential for our cell phones, our computer hard drives, our HDTVs. And they are running short. China, which controls supplies of 97% of these materials, doesn't like sharing them with the West. And the only U.S. mine for rare earth elements went out of production after a radioactive waste accident in the 1990s. CNN's John Sutter looks at what rare earth elements mean to us.
Bitter cold, with some more snow and ice mixed in, will follow the monster storm that dominated much of the country earlier in the week. Wisconsin can expect wind-chill values between 20 and 25 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, and parts of Maine and New Hampshire can expect several inches of new snow, the National Weather Service said. Sleet and freezing rain are expected along the Gulf Coast. All of this is coming as vast areas try to clear streets and restore electricity after the massive storm that brought as much as 2 feet of snow to some locales.
Australians are still feeling the effects of Cyclone Yasi, whose torrential rain and high winds have knocked out power to large portions of the country's northeast.
Middle East protests
Demonstrations continue in Cairo, Egypt, after anti-government protesters held their ground overnight in the capital city's Tahrir Square. Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said Wednesday's attacks on demonstrators would be investigated.
Meanwhile, in Jordan, the main Islamist¬† group says it plans further street demonstrations Friday in the capital to protest the appointment of a new prime minister by King Abdullah II. The Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, has rejected talks with new Prime Minister Marouf al Bakhit, who is forming a new government. But several of its representatives will be meeting the king later Thursday.
And in Yemen, thousands of anti-government protesters gathered near Sanaa University, indicating many in the country were not satisfied with President Ali Abdullah Saleh's recent announcement that he would not seek re-election. About a kilometer away, a large crowd of government supporters gathered for a demonstration.
Fort Hood report
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman and Ranking Member Susan Collins will hold a news conference at noon to release their bipartisan report on the failures of the U.S. government to prevent the November 5, 2009, shooting at Fort Hood Army Post that killed 13 people and wounded 32 others.
Chinese New Year
Today marks the beginning of year 4709 on the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Rabbit. Celebrations were taking place across Asia.
Winter weather - A winter storm is causing power outages and airport runway closings in the Northeast. New York and Boston are expected to receive 8 to 12 inches of snow before it's done, CNN meteorologist Sean Morris said. Both the District of Columbia government and¬†district public schools will be closed all day Thursday.
Financial crisis final report - The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission will release its report on the causes of the financial and economic crisis. The report will be delivered to the president and Congress and will be available to the public on the commission's website, through the Government Printing Office, and as a paperback and an e-book. The commission reviewed millions of pages of documents, interviewed more than 700 witnesses, and held 19 days of public hearings in New York, Washington and communities across the country.
Senate Tea Party Caucus - Tea Party activists from around the country will gather on Capitol Hill on Thursday for a question-and-answer session with three senators at the first official gathering of the Senate Tea Party Caucus. "What we're trying to do, with Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and I'm sure eventually others, is to make sure all the activists know that we're still listening," Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, told CNN. "We want to get their input, we want to keep them up to date with what we're doing. So it's more a forum than a caucus to keep that interaction going." DeMint, along with Paul of Kentucky and Lee of Utah, are currently the only three members of the Senate Tea Party Caucus.
State of homeland security - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to officially announce Thursday that the color-coded threat alert system in place for nine years will go away in April. It will be replaced by a new system, which Napolitano will unveil at what the department is calling the "State of America's Homeland Security address" at George Washington University.
Uprising in Egypt - Egyptian Nobel Peace Prize laureate and opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei is returning Thursday to the country, which has been convulsed by unprecedented protests for the past two days. ElBaradei will participate in protests himself on Friday, calling on longtime President Hosni Mubarak to retire, ElBaradei's brother says. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood has called for its followers to demonstrate after Friday prayers - the first time in the current round of unrest that the largest opposition bloc has told supporters to go out on the streets.
Davos World Economic Forum - CEOs, world leaders and economists from all over the world are gathered in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss the future of the global economy. This year's theme is "The New Reality." Have CEOs changed the way they run their companies? Is the new reality that growth will be stuck in single digits? A forum spokesman said "a small firework went off at the back entrance" of¬†the host¬†hotel Thursday, causing a brief scare. Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to attend a party Thursday night at the hotel, one of the most prestigious in Davos.
Challenger anniversary events - The 25th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger accident is Friday, and several events are planned for Thursday:
NASA remembers the crews of Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia, and all those who have given their lives for the sake of exploration and discovery. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia at 10 a.m.
A wreath will be laid at 10:30 a.m. at the Space Mirror Memorial at Kennedy Space Center. Kennedy Center director and former astronaut Bob Cabana will take part in the ceremony.
At NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Center Director Michael L. Coats will be joined by astronaut family members to lay a wreath at the Astronaut Memorial Tree Grove at 12:30 p.m. ET.
The Department of Homeland Security is ending its color-coded terror threat level system in April, as expected, CNN's National Security Contributor Fran Townsend has confirmed.
The system was established in 2002 to inform the public of the current risk of terrorist acts through a five-level, color-coded "Threat Condition" indicator. Today's terror threat level for the U.S. government is elevated, or yellow, and for all domestic and international flights, the U.S. threat level is high, or orange, according to DHS.
In its place, DHS will move to a system that focuses on specific threats in geographical areas. It will be called the National Terror Advisory System. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano will officially make the announcement tomorrow at a "State of America's Homeland Security" speech at George Washington University.FULL STORY
It's no secret that WikiLeaks' cable document dumps have caused ripples of concerns and speculation about how well the United States can keep secrets - its own and those of other countries.
It's been embarrassing to both U.S. diplomats and foreign leaders mentioned in the cables, but there haven't been any bombshells from the small percentage of documents released so far. The CIA, known for its ability to keep secrets, is taking no chances of being pulled further into the fray. The CIA has only been mentioned a few times in the cables, and has not been hit nearly as hard as other agencies and diplomats, but it does not appear willing to wait on the sidelines.
And it has an answer for WikiLeaks: WTF. Seriously.
The border patrol's lenient enforcement of a law requiring U.S. citizens to have passports when re-entering the country at land crossings has heightened the risk that an imposter might get in, according to a government report released Monday.
Under the law, which took effect in June 2009, U.S. citizens must show passports or some other authorized travel documents like a military ID when returning to the United States. Those who don't are supposed to undergo further screening to confirm their citizenship.
But, during a phase-in period that now has stretched over 18 months, very few travelers have been referred to secondary screening, the report from the Homeland Security department's inspector general's office found. That assertion, the study concluded, "increases the risk that someone could enter the U.S. under false pretense of citizenship."
The federal Customs and Border Protection agency, though, contends that the program is working, adding that it believes it is better to encourage compliance gradually then to enforce it right away.FULL STORY
U.S. security is "particularly vigilant" to terror threats over the holidays, the president's counterterrorism adviser said Friday, striking a confident note that the United States is ready.
"We always have to remain on guard," said John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser said at an event for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The holidays are a particularly sensitive time because of the increased pace of travel, Brennan noted.
"I'm feeling good that we have appropriate resources in place" to deter attack this Christmas.
Last Christmas a young Nigerian man named Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab allegedly tried to detonate an explosive device sewn into his underwear as his flight headed toward Detroit, Michigan. More recently, al Qaeda operatives in Yemen tried to ship bombs disguised as printer parts to synagogues in the United States. The plot was discovered and stopped before the packages were flown into U.S. territory.
U.S. officials say they have no specific and credible information about planned terror attacks on the United States this holiday season, but they have issued an intelligence bulletin to state and local law enforcement warning terrorists could target large crowds at holiday gatherings.FULL STORY
The Argentine Football Association president is at the center of widespread allegations of FIFA corruption after soccer‚Äôs governing body awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.
Grondona has emphatically denied the allegations, telling the Argentine new outlet Telam, ‚ÄúThere has to be an end to playing with my good name,‚ÄĚ according to ESPN.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, a former employee of Qatar‚Äôs bid team said that an adviser recommended the Qatar Football Association pay $78.4 million to help the Argentine Football Association cope with a financial crisis. The payment¬†reportedly was meant to help Qatar‚Äôs relationship with Grondona, who is on FIFA‚Äôs executive committee, which determines host cities.
According to ESPN, Grondona questioned why¬†the Argentine group¬†would have a debt so large and further told Telam, ‚ÄúI am not going to give any credence to whatever people say. The fact is the AFA has a solid contract with the Argentine government, and it is all going quite well.‚ÄĚ
This allegation, of course, is not the first involving corruption by FIFA officials. BBC‚Äôs "Panorama" aired an investigation last month in which ‚Äúreporter Andrew Jennings exposes new evidence of bribery, and accuses some executives of taking kickbacks.‚ÄĚ
You have only to Google ‚ÄúFIFA World Cup bribe‚ÄĚ to find a slew of allegations.
It‚Äôs worth noting that no FIFA official has been charged with any wrongdoing, and though many commenters have angrily vented about their country not being selected, few such complaints seem to originate in Russia or Qatar.
When WikiLeaks first caused an international uproar this summer by publishing reams of classified U.S. intelligence, possibly stolen by a 23-year-old soldier using a CD and a memory stick, the Pentagon pledged to fix loopholes in its computer systems.
So how is that going?
Sixty percent of the Defense Department's computer system is now equipped with software capable of "monitoring unusual data access or usage." That's according to an e-mail Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman sent to reporters on Sunday, a few hours before WikiLeaks published diplomatic cables that revealed a spiderweb of secrets covering nearly every crisis, controversy and diplomatic headache involving the U.S.
"Only 60 percent? That's ridiculous. You would never hear a corporation saying they have anything less than 90 percent cyber security," said Hemu Nigam who has worked for two decades in computer security.
He has collaborated with the U.S. Secret Service, Interpol and the FBI to implement a hacker identification program for Microsoft. Nigam was also one of the first Justice Department Internet predator prosecutors. He left that job, he said, because the Motion Picture Association of America recruited him to help launch its anti-piracy department. He now runs SSP Blue, an advisory firm that tells major corporations how to protect against hackers and insiders looking to leak.
Nigam's take on the measures the Pentagon says its taken: "It's all very basic, and very late."
North and South Korea conflict - North Korea is blaming South Korea for driving the¬†two "to the brink of war," a day after the North shelled a South Korean island and killed four people.¬† North Korea said the South provoked the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island by holding a military drill off their shared coast in the Yellow Sea.¬†One Korea historian called the¬†situation a manufactured crisis on the part of North Korea.
Now we're hearing from survivors of the attack, who said they were dazed and shocked. We also take a look at Seoul, a metropolis that lives in the gun sights of North Korea, one of the most dangerous states on the planet.¬†The border is just 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of downtown Seoul, and although no strangers to North Korean hostility, Seoul residents see this attack as different. And as the story continues to develop, all eyes are on China, after its neighbor North Korea provoked threats of "enormous retaliation."
'Opt Out' day and the TSA - The controversy over Transportation Security Administration measures may peak Wednesday, one of the nation's busiest travel days every year, as a group is urging air travelers to protest at airports nationwide.
At the heart of the uproar over full-body scans is that people are creeped out by the idea that a stranger would see a picture of them naked, much less that those images would be recorded and stored somewhere.
A noted nuclear scientist affiliated with the prestigious¬†Lawrence Livermore National¬†Laboratory in California says that a relatively inexpensive and simple tweak could be made to body scanners that would assuage passengers' anxiety.
The technology - a tool that could be added without much fuss to 385 body scanners in 68 U.S. airports - would automatically distort the body's image so that something almost cartoon-like would be produced, said Bill Wattenburg, a former member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and a University of California Berkeley electrical engineering professor. He has designed anti-terror devices that the U.S. military uses - imaging that can see around walls, for example.
Wattenburg¬†said he spoke with U.S.¬†Department of Homeland Security officials in 2006 about the tool but¬†the talks¬†went nowhere. "We tried, we really did, anticipating that this kind of¬†embarrassment people are feeling would eventually be heard. But¬†no one listened," he said.
In recent weeks there has been growing vocal anger regarding the Transportation Security Administration's procedures relating to pat downs and the use of full-body scanners. But amid all of the noise, what are the real complaints, and how much of the outrage is simply that - a growing chorus of bandwagon anger.
There certainly has been no shortage of horror stories - a shirtless boy receiving a pat down,¬† a flier had to show her prosthetic breast, a bladder cancer survivor whose urine bag broke during a pat down - and countless other stories of uncomfortable encounters with the TSA.
The coverage of the isolated incidents being reported raises the question of whether they paint a picture that isn't the reality for the vast majority of travelers.
The concerns: Fact vs. fiction
Polls have found a majority of Americans support the scans,¬†though they aren't as supportive of the TSA pat downs.
A CBS News survey showed 81 percent of people polled approve of the use of full-body X-ray machines. A Washington Post/ABC News survey found 64 percent of people supported the use of the machines, while 32 percent were opposed. When it comes to the use of pat downs, respondents¬†were practically split down the middle.¬† However, 37 percent of all Americans said they "feel strongly" that the pat downs are overly intrusive. Still 70 percent of Americans questioned in the Washington Post/ABC News poll said the new TSA rules made no difference in their decision to fly.
Our partners at Time.com, who are taking a look at the¬†TSA procedures, report that the head of the agency John Pistole has said the outcry has partially been fueled by media-fed misperceptions.¬†¬†He said that only a ‚Äúvery small percentage‚ÄĚ of the 34 million Americans who have flown since the new procedures took effect have been subjected to the pat downs.
The TSA even released a list of "myths and facts" about pat downs and other security measures.
No doubt passengers still have some concerns. What about their 4th amendment rights? Are the scanners safe? Do they even work? Can they actually stop terror attacks? How far is too far when it comes to a pat down? What are the medical implications of the procedures? And who exactly should be getting the pat downs?
For some, it‚Äôs a question of¬† pat down or blown up?
An Orlando, Florida, airport official wants to do away with the Transportation Security Administration and use a private firm to screen passengers.
Larry Dale, president of the Sanford Airport Authority in Orlando, is considering ditching TSA security personnel and replacing them with a private firm.
"Airports are unique...one size doesn't fit all," Dale told CNN's American Morning on Friday. Dale says his board and staff have been looking at other airports that provide their own security in preparation for making the switch at Orlando Sanford International Airport. Dale says his research shows that using a private security screening company would be "more efficient and more enjoyable to the public."
Dale's comments come during a week in which the TSA has been under fire for it's airport screening procedures, including imaging technology and pat downs. TSA is in charge of protecting the nation's transportation systems.
Private airport security is not uncommon. The TSA lists 17 airports that are currently participating in its Screening Partnership Program.
To pat or not to pat? - Amidst a flurry of complaints from passengers who said they'd been inappropriately touched while airport¬†security screeners patted them down, the chief of the Transportation Security Administration is expected to¬† defend the method Wednesday. John Pistole will testify before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. His appearance was scheduled before this week's "Don't touch my junk" controversy, during which a passenger videotaped his pat-down experience.¬†Two pilots who refused full body scans and pat-downs¬†are suing the Department of Homeland Security.¬†Former¬†commercial pilot C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger, who famously landed a plane in the Hudson River, says pat-downs for flight crews aren't¬†"an efficient use of our resources."¬†The organization suing TSA on behalf of the¬†pilots said the agency is "forcing travelers to consent to a virtual strip search."
Movie publicist killed -¬†Hollywood is reeling¬†after a well-known publicist was¬†gunned down in Los Angeles, California, early Tuesday after¬†a party celebrating¬†the new Cher/Christina Aguilera movie, "Burlesque."¬† Ronnie Chasen, 64, died¬†after "multiple shots" were fired into her Mercedes, seconds after she drove past the¬†Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, police said.¬†Chasen crashed the car into a light pole at 12:20 a.m.¬†She died later at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.
"We were all on such a high," songwriter Diane Warren said. "And then she left - I'm guessing about 10 minutes before I did. What on earth? What happened? Why?"
Passengers and pilots have already expressed discomfort with TSA‚Äôs revealing full-body scanners and too-close-for-comfort pat downs. Now, at least one is doing so publicly.
Over the weekend, a 31-year-old man refused a pat down at a San Diego airport. After threatening a TSA agent, he left the airport with a $10,000 fine. The cell phone video where he tells a TSA agent, don't "touch my junk," has gone viral.
Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano is speaking out, too. She wrote a USA Today column defending pat downs and scanners and asking passengers for their patience.
TSA Administrator John Pistole, who meets with Napolitano Monday, told American Morning's John Roberts how TSA is changing its tone with passengers.
Pistole responds to passengers planning a "National Opt-Out Day" in protest of the scanners and Capt. Sully Sullenberger's recent comments that he didn't understand the purpose of screening pilots.
A senior administrator with the Federal Air Marshal Service has been removed from his leadership position while the agency investigates a "culturally insensitive" remark he made on a recent conference call, CNN confirmed Tuesday.
John A. Novak, assistant director of the service, dismissed a black colleague's suggestion that the agency hold regional meetings to improve communications by saying such meetings are "nothing but traveling minstrel shows with people with banjos and guitars," said a senior government official familiar with the investigation.
The reference to minstrel shows, in which white performers in blackface lampooned African Americans, was offensive, the senior official said.
"It was dumb. It was stupid. It was egregious," added the official, who spoke on condition of not being identified by name. The official was not authorized to speak about the case publicly.
Read the full story on CNN.com.