(CNN) - The Pentagon on Thursday lifted its ban on media coverage of the coffins of war victims when they arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, according to a senior U.S. defense official with direct knowledge of the decision.
The coverage must be approved by families, however.
Sixty-seven percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday say they think the government should allow the public to see photos of caskets of U.S. troops at an air force base. Thirty-one percent of the those surveyed disagree with the decision to release photos of the event.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey was conducted February 18-19, with 1,046 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama has approved a significant troop increase for Afghanistan, Pentagon officials told CNN Tuesday.
The new troop deployment is expected to include 8,000 Marines headquartered from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, as well as 4,000 additional Army troops from Fort Lewis, Washington. The troops will be equipped with Stryker vehicles able to operate in southern Afghanistan's tough terrain, according to the Pentagon officials.
The Obama administration has been conducting several reviews of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, including a review by Gen. David Petraeus, the commander in the region.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Decisions about withdrawing troops from Iraq and sending more troops to Afghanistan have been delayed until the Pentagon provides President Barack Obama with more detail about the risks and implications of the issues confronting him, according to two senior Pentagon officials.
Both officials, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, have a direct understanding of the discussion regarding troop withdrawals. They said the military is not concerned about the delays, but that there is concern about the deteriorating levels of security in Afghanistan.
The officials confirmed that the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command are now working on three Iraq combat troop withdrawal options for the president: 16 months, 19 months and 23 months.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration is drafting executive orders calling for the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, according to two administration officials.
Both officials say it is now expected the announcement about closure could come as soon as Wednesday in the form of one or more executive orders.
The officials said the White House is expected to call for:
–Closing the detention facility within a year;
–A systematic review of detention policies and procedures and a review
of all individual cases;
–A new policy requiring the Army field manual for interrogations to apply to all people in U.S. custody. This is aimed at closing any potential loophole that might allow the CIA to engage in what many say are coercive interrogations.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN has learned Gen. David Petraeus is returning to Washington to attend the meeting President Barack Obama is planning to have Wednesday with the Joint Chiefs and his wartime commanders.
That meeting is expected to involve discussion of troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan and the new president is expected to tell commanders he wants them to plan to have combat forces out of Iraq in sixteen months– as he promised in the election campaign.
Petreaus will have just arrived from Afghanistan and Pakistan and is expected to brief Obama on the latest developments in that troubled region.
[Editor’s Note: A photo caption published Wednesday morning with this report erroneously stated that Gen. David Petraeus and President-elect Barack Obama were unable to reach a consensus on future plans for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The caption was in error and does not reflect CNN’s reporting of the issue. CNN apologizes for the error.]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Although President-elect Barack Obama will become the next commander-in-chief in just two weeks, several key military issues remain to be resolved regarding the drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq and the buildup of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
A closed door meeting Monday at the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gen. David Petraeus - who is in charge of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars - ended with no consensus on troop plans for either country, several top U.S. military officials told CNN.
The officials, who did not want to be identified because the meeting was private, all offered CNN similar accounts of the discussions. In addition, a review of the Afghanistan war strategy being conducted by Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Michael Mullen is still under review and has not been approved by the Joint Chiefs. That review, according to one official, will not be finished until the Obama administration is in office.
The Monday meeting was polite, one official said, but also interesting and intense. A second official described the discussion as lively, and said it ranged further than originally anticipated.
(CNN) - Two US military officials confirmed to CNN that the Obama national security team is scheduled for a transition meeting Monday morning. Expected in attendance: Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Admiral Michael Mullen, Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton, and national security advisor James Jones. Officials say topics will include security challenges the team will face upon taking office the officials say. These officials say it is safe to assume the Middle East is on the list, though neither has seen the official agenda.
A ‘tank’ meeting is also scheduled this afternoon for joint chiefs on Afghanistan strategy review, also one of the first issues facing national security team
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The military has prepared an initial plan for withdrawal from Iraq that meets the demands of the recent agreement with Iraq, but appears to contradict the wishes of President-elect Barack Obama.
Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, the top commanders in Iraq, briefed Defense Secretary Robert Gates on plans for the withdrawal of the 146,000 troops in Iraq, when Gates visited the country last weekend.
In turn, Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed Obama this week about "the way ahead in Iraq," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Thursday.
That briefing was a "point of conversation" during the 5-1/2 hour national security team meeting Monday in Chicago, a senior military official said.
An Obama transition official confirmed that Mullen discussed the "current plans developed under President Bush."
Among those attending the meeting were Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton, Vice President-elect Joseph Biden and Gen. James Jones, Obama's choice for national security adviser.
The meeting covered a "whole range of topics," including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East, the transition official said.
The current withdrawal plan proposes removing all U.S. combat troops from Iraqi urban areas in 2009, and all American troops from Iraq by 2011, in keeping with the recent Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, signed by President Bush, according to the senior military official.
The agreement with Iraq details withdrawals for 2009, 2010 and 2011, the official said. It proposes removing troops at a slower pace than Obama promised during the campaign, when he called for all combat troops to be out within 16 months - by the summer of 2010.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - When the phone rings at 3 a.m. in the White House during a crisis, President Barack Obama won't lack for advice. But the question may be whose advice will be the loudest?
Obama's potential national security team looks like an all-star lineup: Sen. Hillary Clinton is on track, sources say, to be secretary of state; Defense Secretary Robert Gates may stay on; and retired Gen. Jim Jones is a leading candidate for national security adviser.
And according to The New York Times, retired Adm. Dennis Blair may be named as director of national intelligence. He did a tour of duty at the CIA, and his expertise is clandestine military operations.
Observers may wonder if so much high-power talent can get along.
"Are there downsides? Sure. When you have people with this much stature, there can be ego clashes," said CNN contributor David Gergen. "Everybody's ego has got to get into the same room ... and in at least one or two of those cases, I'm sure people think that their egos are big enough to fill the room all by themselves."
Clinton has applauded Gates' candor, but early on put him on notice.
"We need a strong secretary of defense - but that doesn't mean strong-headed," Clinton said during Gates' confirmation hearings in 2006.
Watch the debate over Clinton's foreign policy experience
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held a private closed door meeting in Chicago Friday for 45 minutes, according to a U.S. military official with direct knowledge of the talks.
The meeting was a "get acquainted session," the official said.
President George Bush personally approved the meeting, and it was also "encouraged" by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the official said. The approval was not required, but was given because of the sensitivity of the sitting president's advisers giving advice to a president not yet in office.
Obama extended the invitation to Mullen.