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10:04 am, November 26, 2014

Pentagon & Beyond

National Security Correspondent J.J. Green has traveled three continents covering intelligence, terrorism, and security issues. From Afghanistan to Africa, Iraq to Ireland, there isn't anywhere J.J. won't go, nor anyone he won't talk with, to get the stories affecting the defense and national security communities.

Khadr's sentence upheld

The eight year sentence for Omar Khadr will stand. He is the youngest detainee at the Guantanamo bay detention facility. He was taken there when he was 15 in 2002. On Oct. 25, 2010 he pled guilty to charges that included murder for throwing a grenade that mortally wounded an American soldier in Afghanistan. A military jury at the U.S. base in Cuba recommended a 40-year sentence. But a pretrial agreement limited him to no more than eight years. The Pentagon official in charge of war crimes tribunals upheld the eight-year sentence on Thursday.

President Obama to chose next Joint Chiefs Chairman

Who will be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? The Associated Press indicates "Two people familiar with President Barack Obama's search" indicate he's chosen Army Gen. Martin Dempsey. Pentagon officials asked about it declined to comment on it way or the other. Dempsey would be an interesting choice because he just started a four-year term as Army chief of staff on April 11. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen's term ends Oct. 1.

Defense spending drying up

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is trying to prepare the defense industry for a huge decline in defense spending. Fiscal concerns could cause the Pentagon to abandon some military missions, and reduce the size of the armed forces. He's preparing to retire next month and in one of his last speeches, he told the American Enterprise Institute, that the days of post 9/11 unchallenged defense spend are numbered. He said neither the money nor the political support are there.

Time is running out

U/S intelligence agents are on the hunt around the world for Osama bin Laden's associates. Fred Burton, VP of intelligence at Stratfor says, "the first step is the identification of the individual and the second step is what country are they located in and can you find them." Mullah Omar, Ayman at Zawahiri and Anwar al Awlaki are the top of the list. And if any of them are in Pakistan says Burton, "That's going to pose a unique problem at this time." That problem is restoring trust between the two countries in time to capture them before they disappear.

Al Qaida is warned

President Barack Obama has sent a blunt and chilling warning to Al Qaida. "We not only took out (Osama Bin Laden) the symbol and operational leader of Al Qaida, we walked off with his files." He called it the largest treasure trove of intelligence ever seized from a terrorist. "Today every terrorist in the al Qaida network should be watching their back, because we're going to review every video, examine every photo, read every one of those millions of pages, we're going to pursue lead," said Mr. Obama. He told an audience at the CIA, they're going to go wherever they have to go to finish the job.

Mental health problems rising

The Army surgeon general says U.S. troops in Afghanistan are suffering with the highest rates of mental health problems since 2005 and morale is skidding. The report is a significant and detailed glimpse of the psychological cost of the battle that commanders claim has reversed the momentum of the insurgency. The doctors say morale is suffering given the dramatic increase in fighting, which is at the highest level since they started doing their mental health studies in 2003.

Al Qaida has a new "interim" leader

Why did Al Qaida appoint Saif al Adel as their interim leader? U.S. intelligence sources say there is a split in the al Qaida organization and there a those who don't trust him and feel as though the Egyptian contingent of the organization which is led by Al Qaida number two Ayman al Zawahiri is not radical enough. A former U.S. intelligence official says most of the Al Qaida rank and file wanted a Saudi because they are perceived as having better Islamic credentials. What does the discord mean for Al Qaida? Experts say al Qaida is accustomed to disagreements.

Who's leaking

So who's leaking the material from the Bin Laden raid? Former CIA Osama Bin Laden chief Michael Scheuer on CNN said only a handful high well known ranking intelligence officials have access to it. It's also especially ironic because several former intelligence officials say that some members of the media were being scrutinized after being suspected of receiving classified material and legal action pursued. No word yet on whether an investigation into the Bin Laden leaks will happen or not.

Questions raised about killing of Saudi diplomat

The killing of a Hassan al-Qahtani, a Saudi diplomat in Karachi, Pakistan has raised a lot of questions in the intelligence world. Why him? Why wasn't he driving an armored vehicle? Why was he even driving himself? Karachi is known to be a hotbed of terrorist activity and the Saudi government is known to be hated by Al Qaida. In the meantime The Saudi's say they will increase security for their diplomats around the world and at home. Al Qaida has vowed it will avenge the death of Osama bin Laden.

U.S. and Chinese military meet

China and the U/S will hold their first top tier military talks since 2009 this week and there will be a 500lb elephant in the room. Pakistan has reportedly been approached by the Chinese about sharing the wreckage of the stealth helicopter used in the Osama Bin Laden raid. Pakistan supposedly has said it will not share it, but the U/S military is still leery about that according to sources close the Pentagon. The Chinese are trying to develop a fleet of stealth air craft of their own.

NY authorities make terror arrests

Two New York men were arrested in a sting after police witnessed them trying to buy guns and grenades. Algerian-born Ahmed Ferhani, 26, and Moroccan-born Mohammed Mamdouh, 20, bought three pistols, ammunition and an inert grenade after a seven-month sting. At a news conference, New York Police commissioner Ray Kelley said "Farhani also expressed interest in bombing the "Empire State Building." The plot unraveled Wednesday. It was the 13th planned attack by Islamist militants on New York City since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Senators will see Bin Laden photos

The Senate Intelligence Committee and Senate Armed Services committees have been granted permission to see the photographs of Osama Bin Laden after he was killed. The CIA has asked them to make an appointment to see them. President Barack Obama said last week making the photos available for public viewing because it could incite violence and be used by al Qaeda as a propaganda tool. The committee members on the other hand have top secret clearances and are bound by them and can not reveal any details about anything that is top secret.

Pakistan Station in Limbo

The CIA declined to comment on a report that the identity of the Station Chief in Islamabad had been exposed. By all accounts the Agency seems to be suggesting it will not bring home the station chief. It was just last December that the identity of the previous station chief in Pakistan was leaked and had to be recalled immediately, for his own safety. Experts say sour relations between the U.S. and Pakistan is the reason why this kind of thing is happening. They say the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistani territory without their knowledge by U.S. forces is likely the reason behind the lack of cooperation.

President Obama re-confirms drawdown

President Barack Obama met with troops at Fort Campbell in Kentucky to congratulate them on the success of special forces units based there that killed Al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. While there, he reiterated his intention to start pulling back U.S. forces from Afghanistan this summer, and also indicated Bin Laden's demise shows the U.S. strategy is working. The President spoke to a general military audience and then met privately with the Navy Seals that carried out the Bin Laden mission.

President pays the Seals a visit

Fort Campbell is going to be the scene of a visit today by President Obama. He's expected to meet with some of those involved in the military assault that killed Osama bin Laden. Fort Campbell is home to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, which participated in the raid against bin Laden. A team of Navy SEALs raided a compound in Pakistan, killing the terrorist mastermind. Bin Laden was later buried at sea. Authorities are combing through effects he left behind.

Burials at sea are routine

The burial at sea of terrorist Osama bin Laden raised some eyebrows around the world, but According to the Associated Press, for the U.S. Navy, it's a routine exercise. The Navy says it commits to the sea an average of 20 deceased every month - veterans, retirees and other U.S. citizens. Pentagon officials said Monday that bin Laden's body was placed in a "weighted bag." An officer made some religious remarks and his body was placed on a flat board and tipped into the sea. The usual Navy burials at sea are similar, though include an honor guard that fires shots into the air and the playing of TAPS. For Americans who request such burials, U.S. vessels take the remains along with them and do the ceremony while the ships are on their scheduled deployments.

Panetta moves to DoD

A new Secretary of Defense. "I was proud to wear the uniform of our country. And my respect and admiration for our country's armed forces has only grown in the decade since," said Leon Panetta. Assuming he's confirmed, he will succeed Robert Gates as SECDEF in July. Panetta was among four nominated by President Barack Obama to fill key national security positions. "These are the leaders that I've chosen to help guide us through the difficult days ahead, said Mr Obama.

National Security moves coming

Today is expected to be the day the White House announces that CIA director Leon Panetta will be nominated to become SECDEF. There is plenty of speculation about why Panetta, as opposed to the man expected to be nominated take his place, General David Petraeus. But the White House has not said anything. Members of Congress have been trying to persuade Panetta to stay in his current position, because of his history of working well with Congress. On the other hand, he may according to some experts bring that same spirit to the Pentagon.

Pressure on Gadhafi rises

Italy's air force, is planning to increase its role in operations in Libya. Italy's President decided on Monday that its air force will be allowed to bomb selected military targets in Libya. A statement from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office said he had informed U.S. President Barack Obama in a telephone conversation of the government's decision and that he would call other European leaders to tell them personally as well.

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