Lima, Ohio (CNN) – The battle-tested heavyweights of American wars - 65-ton giant M1A2 Abrams tanks - are brought to this corner of Ohio to be rebuilt, rewired and reassembled. They roll out of the huge joint Army and General Dynamics plant better than new.
The 1,000 workers here use computers, robots and lasers - and old-fashioned muscle and sweat - to cut armored steel, they use high-tech sighting systems to align weaponry and they use quiet precision to swing 34-ton tank turrets through the air.
Depending on the time devoted to a variety of motions, the trial of Canadian citizen Omar Khadr could begin as soon as Monday at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (CNN) - Final preparations were underway Sunday for what will be the Obama administration's first full military commission hearing, set to begin this week.
A few hours after an 8 a.m. recording of the national anthem that blared across Guantanamo's Camp Justice, attorneys for the Military Commission - both prosecutors and defense attorneys - met with judges to plot out the procedures and schedules of what could play out in the courtroom this week.
Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, the youngest detainee in the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was only 15. Now 23, he is set to go on trial, charged with terrorist acts for al Qaeda and the killing of a U.S. Special Forces soldier.
His Pentagon-appointed lawyer, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, tried and failed to have the trial stopped - the Supreme Court denied his request Friday. And depending on the time devoted to a variety of motions, the trial could begin as soon as Monday.
Washington (CNN) - Outraged over what she says is incomplete information about billions of dollars paid to private contractors, a U.S. senator is threatening to issue subpoenas to the State Department and the Pentagon to force them to cooperate.
At a hearing about State and Defense department counternarcotics contracts, Sen, Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, scolded senior administration officials for not "minding the store."
"I will not hesitate to use subpoenas, because this is important. It is billions and billions of dollars. We need to get to a point where the appropriators say, 'no more money until you are at least capable of showing us how you have spent what you've got,' " McCaskill said.
Washington (CNN) - U.S. diplomacy toward Mexico was fueled Wednesday by sea trout, lemon meringue pie and hibiscus iced tea.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice-President Joe Biden hosted the lunch for Mexican President Calderon at the State Department.
The top floor Benjamin Franklin reception room was filled with tables covered with red tablecloths, gold-rimmed glasses and gold and white china. Some tables held large green ceramic pineapples with pots of pink and white flowers. Waiters had carefully placed hibiscus blossoms in each glass of ice tea.
In opening remarks, Clinton said "the United States is proud to be Mexico's friend, partner and neighbor."
Washington (CNN) - Last week, it was Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai getting the Washington treatment - and the pledges of long-term U.S. commitment.
But when the Afghanistan entourage exited the whirl of White House, State Department and Capitol Hill visits, you could almost hear the Obama administration take a quick breath and shout out, "Next!"
Waiting in the wings is the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon, flying in this week for a formal arrival ceremony, a state dinner at the White House, an address to a joint meeting of Congress and an airing of the difficult issues that bleed across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Updated: 7:16 p.m.
Washington (CNN) - In a tense moment during hearings on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sparred with Sen. Robert Menendez over whether the United States had halted pro-democracy programs in Cuba.
U.S.-Cuban relations have become tenser in the aftermath of the December imprisonment of a U.S. citizen and government contractor, Alan Gross.
"For some reason, it seems to me, when it comes to Cuba, the recent actions by the regime to arrest an American citizen have totally frozen our actions," Menendez, D-New Jersey, said at a Senate Foreign Relations budget hearing with Clinton.
"Are we going to have a permanent freeze on having entities that are trying to create peaceful change for civil society inside of Cuba? Is that the policy of the State Department?"
Clinton denied a freeze was in force, but said there is "an intense review" under way.
"We are very supportive of the work that we believe should be done to support those people of conscience inside Cuba. We are trying to figure out the best ways to effective in doing that," Clinton said.
Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday that gridlock in Washington may reduce U.S. power on the world stage.
"As we sell democracy, and we are the lead democracy in the world, I want the world to know we have checks and balances but we also have the capacity to move, too," Clinton told a Senate hearing.
The secretary said she was concerned that slow congressional action on approving ambassadors and other nominations had already hurt U.S. relations with other countries.
Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania, raised the issue of the dangers of legislative gridlock during the hearing.
"(President Barack Obama) is not able to project the same kind of stature and power he was a year ago because he is being hamstrung by the Congress and it has an impact on foreign policy, on which we should try to do everything we can to try not to have partisanship influence," Specter said.
Washington (CNN) – Vice President Joe Biden staked out a middle ground on nuclear weapons policy Thursday, trying to reassure critics claiming the administration's disarmament efforts are either too fast or too slow.
"The spread of nuclear weapons is the greatest threat facing the country - and I would argue facing humanity - and that is why we are working both to stop their proliferation and eventually to eliminate them," Biden said in a 23-minute speech at the National Defense University in Washington.
"But until that day comes, we have to do everything in our power to maintain our arsenal and make sure it is reliable."
The vice president said U.S. nuclear laboratories that monitor the weapons' reliability had been neglected and underfunded in recent years.
"That's why earlier this month we announced a new budget that reverses the last decade of dangerous decline," he said. "It devotes $7 billion to maintaining our nuclear stockpile and modernizing our nuclear infrastructure. To put that in perspective, that's $624 million more than Congress approved last year and an increase of $5 billion over the next five years."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Washington is a town where a sharp elbow is almost a job requirement. The ability to nudge political rivals off-balance and fight for bureaucratic turf can boost a career.
So it's easy to understand why the State Department on Thursday was quick to reject any suggestion that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been sidelined by her broken elbow.
Clinton fell and broke her elbow in the State Department basement as she was walking toward her car June 17, bound for a meeting at the White House.
Are Clinton and her international policy responsibilities being usurped by Vice President Biden? "Nonsense," State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly told CNN.
Full dialogue between reporter and Kelly after the jump
(CNN) - The Gaza crisis is an alarm bell and flashing light for incoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.
As she prepares to become the top U.S. diplomat and the symbol for U.S. policy around the globe, Clinton inherits from the Bush administration a dangerous and unpredictable world in which the violence in Gaza and southern Israel is just one reminder.
Outgoing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is winding down her diplomatic responsibilities and has briefed both Clinton and President-elect Barack Obama about what is playing out in the Middle East. Those talks are private and Team Obama is scrupulously sticking to its "only one president at a time" mantra when it comes to international policy.
But the ground keeps shifting. And events in and around Gaza will force the new secretary of state to deal with questions about the Mideast sooner than she and her advisers might have hoped.
"We'll have to see what the landscape is like by January 20," said David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "We'll have to see what this administration is inheriting."