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December 20th, 2012
10:45 AM ET

Rep. King (R-NY) calls for action against those who pressured others to expose classified information in 'Zero Dark Thirty' investigation

"Zero Dark Thirty" is one of the hottest, most anticipated movies of the year and is receiving a lot of oscar buzz after receiving several Golden Globe nominations. The movie gives a nail-biting account of the decade-long hunt for the world's most wanted man. While the movie critics seem to love the movie there are others like New York Republican Congressman Peter King believe that director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal got access to classified info to make their movie. King who is also chairman of the house homeland security committee joins “Starting Point” this morning to discuss the movie controversy.

King says he asked for the investigation on the film a year and a half ago because “there were many examples I felt had too much collusion” and people who are operators came to him with concerns over pressure. King adds that this is not his investigation and the call for a full investigation of the movie and its film director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal came to be after findings from a preliminary investigation commissioned by the Inspector General and the U.S. Defense Department. King goes on to say that it is a fact that the movie producers used democratic lobbyists to gain access to special operators, CIA locations and sensitive information. King says he was told by the CIA that as a result of their own findings they have “changed procedures based on the inappropriate action that was taken by a number of people in the CIA at the pressure of the administration.” The congressman stresses he has “no problem with the movie” and gives the president “tremendous credit” for killing Osama bin Laden. He says his concern is “having an administration lean on people in the Defense Department and the CIA to provide sensitive or perhaps classified information.”

King says that “when all the details come out there should be sanctions against anyone in the administration … there should be action taken, there should be names who did it and if they have to lose their jobs – if they pressured anyone, any special operator was pressured to talk to and to deal with anyone in Hollywood then that person I think should lose their jobs for requiring them to do that.”


Filed under: Movies • Osama Bin Laden
September 17th, 2012
11:26 AM ET

Obama rep.: Administration is working to 'ensure security of our people serving abroad'

Jen Psaki, the Obama campaign’s traveling press secretary, argues that the violent protests in Benghazi, Libya broke out in response to the American-made anti-Islamic film despite claims of several politicians that the attack was a premeditated and coordinated effort.

“Unfortunately, this is a response to a video that we had nothing to do with that is disgusting and we have repudiated strongly,” Psaki says. “And now we're working every day to make sure that we can address this, and make sure we can ensure the security of our people serving abroad.”

While Republicans criticize the president’s policies, Psaki further argues that the United States under President Obama remains capable of protecting its interests and embassies abroad.

“The president is someone who said, 'I'm going to go after Osama bin Laden.' And he did. And he's dead. He said, 'I'm going to go after al Qaeda.' And he's decimated them. He's restored our place in the world. This is a crisis we're dealing with, the president is focused on every single day,” argues Psaki, who also worked as the White House deputy communications director for the Obama administration.


Filed under: Al Qaeda • Barack Obama • Libya • Obama administration • Osama Bin Laden
August 24th, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Fmr. Navy SEAL Pfarrer on Bin Laden raid tell-all: Author probably felt, as I did, that the truth wasn't being told

The Navy SEAL behind the much-anticipated first-hand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has been unmasked this morning by several news organizations. Although CNN has confirmed the name of the SEAL, the decision to not publish his identity honors a request from the pentagon. Pentagon officials say the book "No Easy Day" could have dangerous repercussions.

The member of SEAL Team Six, who is now retired, wrote the book under the pseudonym Mark Owen. Officials say the manuscript was not vetted as required by the Pentagon, and members of the military are worried that identifying him could jeopardize colleagues and his family. The publisher says the book which is expected to be released on September 11, 2012 provides a "blow-by-blow narrative of the assault" on bin Laden's compound in 2011.

Former Navy SEAL Chuck Pfarrer has also come under fire after writing his own account of the bin Laden raid based on information from participating seals. Pfarrer says the Navy SEAL who wrote the book is sure to face controversy like he did when he announced his plans to write his book entitled “Seal Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of The Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden," due out in September.

“You know, the line taken away from the commander was that he didn't want my book to lead the American people to doubt the administration's version of events,” says Pfarrer. “I have no doubt that what's in my book is what happened and it's backed up by independent Pakistani investigations of the crash. That being said, I’m sure that this author felt, as I did, that the truth wasn't being told.” Pfarrer adds that he was “motivated to break cover and come out and take all the lumps” after reading an article “in ‘The New Yorker’ which was essentially the tale of a political hit.”

The fmr. Navy SEAL cmdr. went on to say he was certain the author of the controversial book took this task seriously, remembering “the fact that you're not there to educate the enemy.” Pfarrer says, the navy seals “tactics and techniques and procedures” are “proprietary and they need to be kept secret.”


Filed under: Osama Bin Laden
August 24th, 2012
10:56 AM ET

Will Navy Seal tell-all book 'No Easy Day' on Bin Laden raid put him at risk? Gen. Marks on the intricacies of classified information

The Navy Seal behind the much-anticipated firsthand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has been unmasked this morning. Several news outlets are posting his name. Here at CNN we'll honor the request from the Pentagon to not name him.

Officials say the book, called "No Easy Day," could have some dangerous repercussions. The publisher says it provides a blow-by-blow on the bin Laden compound raid in 2011.

Gen. James "Spider" Marks explains to Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" this morning that the unnamed Seal is putting himself at risk for retribution.

"There may be elements that would want to try to exact some type of retribution, personal lip against him. He's a private citizen now and that puts him at greater risk. By association, you then have his buddies and those still in harm's way that may be put at risk as well," Marks says.

Marks also addresses why the Seal would decide to unveil so much sensitive information.

"It's contradictory to the military and the Seals are at the top wrung. All military personnel are entrusted information. They receive the security clearances and in the specific case of the Seals, they probably signed a nondisclosure agreement that said you will not only be after your service to the nation, you still have an obligation to hold on to that information. I as a former intelligence officer, I still have information that's embedded in my cranium that is never going to be released because its classified and I would have no reason to believe that it has been declassified. So it clearly is against the ethos and there is a legal ramification and that will be worked out through a number of investigations. There are really three stake holders. This was a CIA operation, with a Navy unit but under the fielding of SOCOM. So there are going to be a number of investigations."


Filed under: Navy Seal • Osama Bin Laden • Safety
May 24th, 2012
10:53 AM ET

Did the U.S. do enough to protect the doctor who helped find bin Laden? Fran Townsend weighs in

The Pakistani doctor accused of helping the CIA track down Osama bin Laden was convicted of treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison yesterday.

In addition to the jail sentence, the doctor, Shakeel Afridi, was fined $3,500 for spying for the United States.

On Starting Point this morning, CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend weighs in on Afridi's fate and responds to critics who have said that the United States did not do enough to help the informant.

Townsend explains it's likely that Afridi thought he was "safe enough" in Pakistan and says it's likely that he didn't want to leave the country, especially without his extended family.

The United States is working to secure Afridi's release, and Townsend confirms that Secretary Clinton has intervened on the doctor's behalf. Although she believes that Afridi may face some jail time, Townsend says that she ultimately thinks he'll be released through negations between the U.S. and Pakistan.

“Pakistan will use it as a leverage point,” Townsend explains. "They’re going to want some concession, some commitment from the United States that there will be no use of Pakistani citizens inside their own territory by American intelligence.”


Filed under: Osama Bin Laden • Pakistan
May 16th, 2012
11:34 AM ET

Author Henry Crumpton on his new book, says U.S. missed chance to get Osama Bin Laden in 1999

Amb. Henry Crumpton, author of the new book "The Art of Intelligence," on the original hunt for Osama Bin Laden.


Filed under: Osama Bin Laden
May 3rd, 2012
12:55 PM ET

'Manhunt' author Peter Bergen: released raid documents could show Bin Laden was a 'micromanager' trying to control Al Qaeda

Today we're getting an inside look into the mind of Osama bin Laden and some of the big terror attacks that he was planning. That's when some of those 6,000 pages of documents that were seized during the raid on his hideout in Pakistan a year ago will be released to the public online. We're told it includes digital, audio, video files, printed materials, handwritten documents and recording devices.

Peter Bergen is the author of a new book out called "Manhunt" and he is one of the few people outside of the government that's had a chance to see some of these documents. He explains what out of the 6,000+ documents stuck out to him.

"First of all, bin Laden was quite conscious of Al Qaeda as a brand had suffered rather badly," Bergen says. "He told affiliate in Somalia not to use 'Al Qaeda' for fundraising...he was advising one of his sons to leave the Afghanistan tribal regions where the drones were focused to move to Qatar, which is one of the safest places in the Middle East. So at the same time he's calling for young men to do a holy war, he was basically telling his own son to get out of dodge. It's bin Laden unplugged. He had no idea these memos would end up in the hands of the CIA."

See more from his interview here.


Filed under: Osama Bin Laden
May 1st, 2012
09:22 AM ET

NYPD's Ray Kelly: Al Qaeda 'alive and well', but One World Trade 'powerfully built'

Airports across the world are stepping up security on the first anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden as new intelligence hints at future al Qaeda threats and authorities tell ABC News they fear the group may soon try to explode U.S.-bound aircraft with explosives hidden inside the bodies of terrorists.

“Al Qaeda and the terrorist threat is very much alive,” New York City Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly tells "Starting Point" anchor Soledad O’Brien this morning.

Al Qaeda’s future plans detailed in documents German officials discovered encoded on a memory disk belonging to a suspected al Qaeda operative arrested in Berlin last year include hijacking a cruise ship, dressing the passengers in orange jump suits – to mimic Guantanamo Bay prisoners – and posting the "executions" on an al Qaeda web site.

The intelligence community in New York has also been looking into the idea of implanted body bombs that could possible escape airport-scanner detection for a while, Kelly said. “Obviously we have to be concerned about it.”

Kelly says anti-terrorism efforts in New York are focused closely on nuclear threats. “A nuclear event is the thing that concerns us the most.”

Watch Kelly talk to Soledad about New York’s One World Trade Center and the fight to prevent terrorism in the city he calls “the number one target in the United States.”

April 30th, 2012
09:34 AM ET

Will politics around Bin Laden's death sway future presidents from taking aggressive action? Journalist Richard Miniter says yes

Soledad O'Brien speaks with investigative journalist Richard Miniter about the Obama administration and Romney campaign’s views on politicizing the 1-year-anniversarry of the death of Osama Bin Laden.


Filed under: 2012 Race • Barack Obama • Osama Bin Laden • Politics
April 26th, 2012
12:48 PM ET

TIME editor shares new details on raid that led to Osama Bin Laden's death

It was one year ago on April 30th that President Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 terror attacks, had been killed by U.S. forces.

Now, even more details are emerging on the mission in the new issue of TIME magazine, out today. There's more information on Bin Laden's life and the 38-minute special operations raid that led to his death.

Time Magazine's Michael Crowley shares new information on "Starting Point" this morning.


Filed under: Osama Bin Laden