October 20th, 2010
11:14 AM ET

Report: Key information on CIA base bomber wasn't relayed

Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi is believed to be the suicide bomber who killed seven CIA operatives last December.

Prior to a suicide attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan last December, some people within the CIA and the Jordanian intelligence service were skeptical about the reliability of a Jordanian informant, but those concerns were not passed on to officers on the base, according to a U.S. intelligence official.

A Jordanian intelligence officer told his U.S. counterpart in Amman, Jordan, that Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi might be working for al Qaeda and could be attempting to lure the Americans into a trap, but "unfortunately, some of those concerns weren't properly documented or conveyed through formal channels," the U.S. official said.

Read the full story

October 7th, 2010
08:11 AM ET

Intel officers: Terror war far from over

Watching the worst terrorist attack in the nation's history on a TV at CIA headquarters was like a punch in the stomach for Gary Schroen.

The 35-year veteran of the CIA had just entered the agency's retirement program when planes struck the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Schroen's career had been spent mostly overseas as a covert officer in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Now in his late 60s, he felt he was going to miss what could be the agency's biggest battle in a land he knew well.

Two days later he was at the forefront, summoned back to duty to lead the first U.S. team into Afghanistan. His mission: Hook up with the opposition Northern Alliance, help beat back the Taliban army and, as he was instructed by his CIA boss, "Find [Osama] bin Laden, kill him and bring his head back to the United States in a box on dry ice." FULL POST

October 5th, 2010
05:28 PM ET

Source: Drone strikes rise but civilian toll limited

WASHINGTON  — The stepped up missile strikes by the CIA in Pakistan last month resulted in no civilian deaths, according to a knowledgeable U.S. source. FULL POST

April 13th, 2010
10:15 AM ET

Official: Al Qaeda short in nukes pursuit

The president's top counterterrorism adviser says there is indisputable evidence that dozens of terrorist groups have sought weapons of mass destruction. But a U.S. intelligence official who is not authorized to speak for attribution said although al Qaeda clearly wants a nuclear weapons capability, it hasn't gotten very far.

"At this point, they don't appear to have made much progress, but we continue to review every bit of information that comes in to determine whether they've advanced their efforts in any way whatsoever," said the official. "Developing a nuclear device involves a highly sophisticated technical process, and al Qaeda doesn't seem to have mastered it based on what we know now."

Read the full story from CNN National Security Producer Pam Benson

March 25th, 2010
03:22 PM ET

Official on latest purported bin Laden message: 'Height of absurdity'

WASHINGTON — For the first few years after the September 11 attacks, any audio or video-taped message from Osama bin Laden prompted an almost immediate reaction from the U.S. intelligence community, and within a day or two, verification of its authenticity.

But as time went by, intelligence and counterterrorism officials decided they were no longer going to give credibility to what they considered the al Qaeda leader's hateful messages. There would be virtually no comment, not even to verify his identity. As one official put it to me at the time, "It has never not been him." However, I would still make the perfunctory call after each new bin Laden tape, knowing full well I would get a "no comment."

But Thursday's audio message purportedly from bin Laden apparently struck a chord. In the message first aired on al-Jazeera TV, bin Laden threatens to kidnap and kill Americans if the U.S. executes Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any of the other suspected al Qaeda terrorists awaiting trial in the U.S. FULL POST

March 23rd, 2010
11:14 AM ET

U.S. officials: Taliban fighters training in Iran

Iran is helping train Taliban fighters within its borders, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials.

The United States has already said that the Taliban may be receiving limited training from the Iranians in Afghanistan, but the officials told CNN that training in the use of small arms was occurring within Iran.

"We've known for some time that Iran has been a source for both materiel and trained fighters for Taliban elements in Afghanistan," Army Lt. Col. Edward Sholtis said Monday. But, he said, it is unknown whether that training is occurring with the support of Tehran, or it is "simply something that is happening beyond the government's control." FULL POST

March 12th, 2010
12:51 PM ET

Why all the confusion about identities of prize catches?

Adam Gadahn, a U.S.-born spokesman for al Qaeda

Was he or wasn't he?  You might have been scratching your head as you read conflicting reports about whether Adam Gadahn, the American-born mouthpiece for al Qaeda, had been captured in Pakistan.  Some unnamed Pakistani officials said they got him, while anonymous American officials shot back that there is no evidence to support the claim. 

Now we are as certain as we can be that it is not him.  We have both Pakistani and American officials saying Gadahn is not in custody, but why the contradictions, the confusion in the first place? 

Former senior U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials say the Pakistani government has been very good at letting the U.S. know within a reasonable period of time when it has captured someone noteworthy.  Furthermore, they say the Pakistanis want credit for it.  But it can be complicated.  FULL POST