Washington (CNN) – The level of detail spilling out through media reports about crucial national security operations is raising the question of whether President Barack Obama's administration can keep a secret - or in some cases even wants to.
In just the past week, two tell-all articles about Obama's leadership as commander-in-chief have been published, dripping with insider details about his sleeves-rolled-up involvement in choosing terrorist targets for drone strikes and revelations about his amped-up cyber war on Iran.
(CNN) – He's out of the race to be the Republican presidential candidate, so Herman Cain is on the hunt for a new job. His dream job? Secretary of Defense. That's what he told ABC News' Barbara Walters in an interview that aired Wednesday night.
Cain said he was "totally hypothetically" interested in the job.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A bipartisan group of senators is asking President Barack Obama to change the current "insensitive" policy of not sending condolence letters to families of service members who commit suicide.
A letter signed by 11 senators - 10 Democrats and one Republican - and sent Wednesday urges the president to "take immediate steps to reverse the long-standing policy of withholding presidential letters of condolence" to families of troops who killed themselves.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States strongly condemns the use of violence on protesters in Libya and said a unified international response was forming.
"The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable," Obama said in his strongest and most direct statements to date on the unrest in Libya. "So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop."
Washington (CNN) - The secretary of defense is warning Congress not to change the rules about gays in the military until the Pentagon has reviewed the impact of repealing the laws on the force.
In a letter sent to the House Armed Services Committee's chairman on Friday, Gates wrote he is "strongly opposed" to any changes to the "don't ask, don't tell" legislation before the military review is completed.
"I hope Congress will not do so, as it would send a very damaging message to our men and women in uniform that in essence their views, concerns, and perspectives do not matter on an issue with such a direct impact and consequence for them and their families," Gates wrote in the letter, which was obtained by CNN.
Washington (CNN) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed an order Friday to deploy the first wave of troops to Afghanistan as part of President Barack Obama's new strategy, a defense official confirmed to CNN.
The troops from the Army and Marines will be the first of 30,000 that are to be sent to Afghanistan by summer under the plan announced by Obama this week.
An official announcement is not likely before Monday, the officials said.
Approximately 1,000 Marines are expected to deploy this month, military officials told CNN previously. The Army may not deploy the first soldiers until at least March, Army officials said Friday.
Testifying before a congressional committee, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said this week that a "significant" number of troops will arrive in the spring and summer, with the final troops moving to Afghanistan by late summer or early fall.
Meanwhile, the White House said Obama would meet with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador in Kabul, on Monday. Both are expected to testify before Congress next week.
– CNN's Mike Mount contributed to this report
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The House passed a measure Thursday that would set a 12-month limit on the military's use of controversial "burn pits" to dispose of potentially hazardous materials on bases overseas.
The pits, used to burn all matters of waste, have been controversial since troops complained of various health problems from inhaling fumes.
The measure, sponsored by Reps. Tim Bishop, D-New York, and Carol Shea-Porter, D-New Hampshire, would prohibit the use of the pits for burning medical and hazardous waste, including plastic bottles, during operations lasting longer than 12 months.
"We should not continue to recklessly use burn pits to dispose of hazardous waste across Iraq and Afghanistan," Bishop said in a statement. "Our troops should be free to focus on fighting the enemy without worrying how their lives may be further endangered by breathing in toxic air from their own bases."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates insisted Wednesday that the recent ousting of Gen. David McKiernan as the top allied commander in Afghanistan was not made because of his general's requests for more troops or the rise in casualties.
Gates was asked about the decision to replace McKiernan with Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan at a House Armed Service Committee hearing. It was the first time a general of that ranking had been replaced during a war since President Harry Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War.
The question, by Rep. Joseph Sestak, D-Pennsylvania, was whether it was fair to fire McKiernan since he wasn't given the resources he wanted, as the Iraq war was considered the top priority until just recently.
"This was an individual who by policy was given second choice on resources and never enough despite repeated requests," Sestak said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates Wednesday defended his decision to shift budget funds to support weapons the U.S. military is currently using in Iraq and Afghanistan and away from research and weapons that may be used in future conflicts.
"We have to be prepared for the wars we are most likely to fight. Not just the wars we have traditionally been best suited to fight or threats we conjure up from potential adversaries who in the real world also have finite resources," he said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, where he appeared with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen.
The budget decisions were met with some skepticism from the outset. In his opening remarks, Rep. John McHugh, R-New York, questioned the decision to cut spending from some of the development programs.
"Can we really say that the threat of nuclear and missile proliferation is lower now than it was four years ago to warrant such significant reductions to missile defense? Are we so confident in our diplomatic efforts with Iran and North Korea that we can afford a nearly 90 percent cut in European Missile Defense and a 35 percent cut to our U.S. missile defenses in Alaska and California? Some of us, to say the least, are dubious," McHugh said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Veterans groups are angry after President Barack Obama told them Monday that he means to go ahead with a proposal to have treatment for service-connected injuries charged to veterans' private insurance plans.
Leaders of the country's most prominent veterans groups met Monday at the White House with Obama, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Steven Kosiak, the director in charge of defense spending for the Office of Management and Budget.
Some of the veterans groups were caught off guard when the president said the administration wants to go ahead with the idea as a way of generating $540 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2010. The groups and some members of Congress have been very vocal in opposing the idea.
The message, according to some of the people in the room, was that if the groups do not like this idea, they need to come back with another way of saving or raising revenues for the VA.