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Wildfires burn through Colorado causing thousands to evacuate, and protests in Turkey are in 13th day. Tune in at 7am ET.
May 30th, 2013
09:28 AM ET

Explosion in Disneyland & alleged ricin sent to Mayor Bloomberg- CNN Counter Terrorist Analyst Fran Townsend weighs in.

The president is preparing to nominate a new director of FBI today, just as two apparent cases of domestic terrorism, or at least violence, in this country are capturing the bureau's attention: Letters containing threats against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg testing positive for the deadly poison ricin, and a Disneyland employee is in custody for allegedly setting off a dry ice bomb in Toontown.

CNN Counter Terrorist Analyst Fran Townsend weighs in on the threats and President Obama’s plans to nominate James Comey to replace Robert Mueller as FBI director.

Filed under: FBI • Terrorism
April 29th, 2013
08:05 AM ET

Fmr. CIA officer Gary Berntsen 'convinced' Tsarnaev brothers had bomb training

Gary Berntsen, fmr. CIA officer and author of author of "Jawbreaker," weighs in on the investigation into the Boston marathon bombings.

Berntsen explains why he's 'convinced' that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would have had training to produce the bombs used at the marathon attack.

"I'm convinced that they had training," Berntsen says. "I've had training myself when I was in the agency, and when I went through special operations training. That was probably 15-20 hours of hands-on, one-on-one to build those devices. If you look at many of the big bombers around the world...all of them had accidents when they were doing this stuff."

"This was complicated...I'm certain that he [one of the Tsarnaev brothers] had training," Berntsen reiterates.

Filed under: Boston Marathon bombing • Terrorism
April 24th, 2013
09:51 AM ET

Rep. Goodlatte: Dept. of Homeland Security and FBI had different information about Tsarnaev

Many questions remain this morning about the FBI's handling of marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to last week's attack.

Quoting Senator Richard Burr, "The Boston Globe" is reporting that the Russian government repeatedly reached out to the FBI with their concerns about the oldest brother.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte confirms Burr's comments on Starting Point this morning, responding that government authorities "are hearing that" there were multiple contacts between Russia and the FBI.

"We're  hearing that the Department of Homeland Security had different information than the FBI. They were not apparently sharing that information. So the FBI, according to what we now understand, did not know that he was in Russia for six months and did not follow up on his return," Rep. Goodlatte explains. "So all of these things lead to more questions about what needs to be done to make sure that these types of things don't happen in the future, and, most importantly, what kind of information sharing and follow-through all of our law enforcement agencies are exercising."

Filed under: Boston Marathon bombings • Terrorism
March 8th, 2013
09:37 AM ET

Sen. Wyden on Abu Ghaith court appearance: Americans want a want tough approach on terror

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Sulaiman Abu Ghaith's court appearance in New York City, and the U.S.'s drone policy.

Filed under: Drones • Terrorism
March 8th, 2013
08:12 AM ET

Should Bin Laden's son in law be tried in New York federal court? CNN's Fran Townsend on the controversy over Abu Ghaith's appearance today

The capture of Osama Bin Laden's son in law, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, is stirring controversy over his scheduled appearance today in a federal court in New York City to face charges of trying to kill Americans.

Some Republicans, including Sen. Lindsay Graham, are arguing that Abu Ghaith shouldn't get the privilege of a trial in New York.

"I think we (are) setting a new precedent that will come back to bite us," Graham told reporters. "It's clear to me they snuck him in ... under the nose of Congress."

The South Carolina senator was joined at the news conference by Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who said, "If you are that close to bin Laden, we want to develop all the information that person has."

This morning on "Starting Point," CNN contributor Fran Townsend explains the importance of the arrest of the man sometimes called the 'mouthpiece of Bin Laden.'

Filed under: Terrorism
February 1st, 2013
09:44 AM ET

Who could be behind 'sophisticated' bombing at US embassy in Turkey? Barbara Starr & Fran Townsend weigh in

CNN's Barbara Starr & contrib. Fran Townsend on who could be behind a suicide bombing at U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

Filed under: Terrorism
September 27th, 2012
12:56 PM ET

New details emerge about Benghazi consulate attack

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton speaks on new developments of the attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi. The bombing resulted in the deaths of four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Former Congresswoman and  House Intelligence Committee Chair Jane Harmon discusses what comes next in finding out who's to blame in Libyan embassy bombing.

Filed under: Terrorism
September 21st, 2012
09:54 AM ET

Countries brace for anti-US demonstrations worldwide as questions raised on planning in Libya attack – Jamie Rubin weighs in

(CNN) - A peaceful protest in Lebanon and a violent one in Pakistan highlighted Friday demonstrations against a film and series of cartoons recently published in France mocking the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.

The United States and Germany closed some diplomatic facilities in expectation that protests could intensify after weekly prayer services Friday.

Since September 11, when protesters breached the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and a separate protest in Libya ended in the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Muslims have staged protests in more than 20 countries.

The protests have focused on the film "Innocence of Muslims," as well as cartoons published by the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, and heavy criticism of the United States and Western cultures for allowing what Muslims view as unacceptable smears against their faith.

This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien, Fmr. US Asst. Sec. of State Jamie Rubin addresses the disagreement between US, Libya officials on the planning of the US consulate attack, and weighs in on the PSA declaring US was not involved in anti-Islam film that inflamed protesters.

READ MORE: Pakistan protest against anti-Muslim film turns violent

Filed under: Libya • Terrorism
September 12th, 2012
10:48 AM ET

Power vacuum after Arab Spring leading to violence? Jamie Rubin on leadership issues and Islamic extremism

CNN is following the story of attacks on U.S. Embassies in Benghazi, Libya and Cairo, Egypt from all angles this morning. A rocket attack borne out of anti-American sentiment took the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other members of the U.S. Consulate in Libya. Protesters scaled the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and tore up the American flag. The outrage is stemming from an amateur online film produced in America that’s offended millions of Muslims. Fmr. Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin joins Brooke Baldwin on “Starting Point” this morning to discuss the political implications of the attacks.

Baldwin mentions the issue discussed last year over who would fill the vacuum in countries of dictators ousted during the Arab Spring, either Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, or Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Those dictators had kept the radicals in their respective countries under control, “and now that they are gone, here they are,” Baldwin says about the radicals. “That was the argument that was given, and is still given to some degree, by some of the monarchies in the Persian Gulf, the Saudis, the Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates. They say, ‘Look if you didn’t have us, you would have either chaos, you would have Islamic extremism,’” Rubin says. “What we’re seeing is that some of the things that they worried about were true, but some are not true.”

Rubin points out Egypt’s democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood. “He has been relatively calm, relatively measured. He condemned the Iranian president recently.” Morsi has yet to speak out on last night’s protests in Cairo, however. “We’re waiting to see what he’s going to do about Egypt now,” Rubin says. “And I think that will be a big test of how he sees his country’s responsibilities to protect foreign embassies.”

“The place where the Mubarak and Gadhafi and the other dictators’ arguments were correct is they had a terribly effective secret police,” Rubin says. “There was a degree of control of these areas that allowed for some quote “security” that had its benefits, and we’re losing some of that.” Rubin says the situation in Libya is particularly tragic, because not enough has been done to help them develop “the institutions and the support to develop real security” after they won their freedom.

Baldwin finally asks Rubin about a possible post-al-Assad Syria in comparison to Libya and Egypt. Rubin says Syria is “even more difficult, because the ethnic tensions between the Sunni, Alawite and others are very, very strong in Syria,” he says. “The failure to stop this war early, and with each month that passes, that risk of real civil war in Syria, where you have neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, going on for many, many years may happen.” While there currently is a civil war, Rubin says it may reach the next level and resemble the decade-long war in Beirut, Lebanon. “And I think we’re all hoping that doesn’t happen in Syria.”

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Filed under: Egypt • Libya • Terrorism
September 12th, 2012
10:40 AM ET

Rep. Forbes: After attack on US compound in Libya, time to reassess US foreign policy in Middle East

This morning on "Starting Point," Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) weighs in on the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and the wave of violence in Libya and Egypt.

"There's no question that this is a tragic situation. Our hearts go out to the families involved here," Rep. Forbes says. "We need to take the time to pause, get all the facts, and examine our policies and look at them and see if there's anything different we need to be doing."

CNN's John Berman asks Rep. Forbes about a statement released by the Romney campaign before the violence started in Libya, which condemned attacks in Libya and called out the Obama administration for not condemning the attacks.

"Well, John, I think one of the things that you're not suggesting is that Mitt Romney could somehow see into the future and predict this," Rep Forbes says. "I think what Mitt Romney was doing is recognizing that, you know, this is an administration whose foreign policy certainly is collapsing in many parts around the world," Rep. Forbes adds. "And to simply attack the Romney campaign for a single statement but not examine the foreign policy flaws of this administration had doesn't seem correct for me to do."

"I just think though at some particular point in time, after today, after tomorrow, after we've assessed these facts, we need to examine our foreign policy and ask if we're making the right decisions in the Middle East. And I think in many situations we're not," he says.

Filed under: Egypt • Libya • Terrorism
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