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September 19th, 2013
03:03 PM ET

Investigating Aaron Alexis

As the community begins to heal after Monday's shooting, new details are emerging that paint a picture of the damage left behind inside Building 197. As investigators sift through the evidence in the Navy Yard killings, Navy officials say damage inside Building 197 is so extensive, it may take weeks to repair and reopen in, CNN's Pamela Brown reports.

The mother of the gunman apologized to the families of the victims on Wednesday, saying "I don't know why he did what he did and I'll never be able to ask him why. Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, and for that I am glad. To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that this has happened. My heart is broken."

Law enforcement sources say nothing points to a specific motive for the rampage, even after the seizure of Aaron Alexis' computer and other possessions, as well as interviews with his social contacts.

And odd details are emerging. For example, a federal enforcement source tells CNN that Alexis made unexplained etchings into the shotgun he used in the attack.

Also, new details have emerged suggesting authorities might have been able to contain the gunman more quickly. A government official tells CNN, when the first radio call came in about a shooting at the Navy Yard, highly-trained, tactical capital police officers  were told by a watch commander to stand down.

The Capital police chief has ordered an "independent fact review" of their response in the critical first moments after the shooting was reported.

The medical examiner's office was expecting to complete its autopsy of Aaron Alexis late last night. No information about any toxicology results will be released until next of kin are notified.

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Filed under: Security
August 23rd, 2013
08:18 AM ET

Syria and the Obama's 'Red Line'

International eyes remain on Syria, where anti-regime activists say hundreds were killed in an alleged massacre.

At least a thousand victims, many of them women and children, are reported dead in a possible chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

Disturbing images from that alleged attack continue to call more attention to the region, raising questions, once more, about President Barack Obama's "red line."

State Dept. Spokeswoman, Jen Psaki addressed the situation to the press, saying “the president has directed the Intel community to, here in the United States, to urgently gather additional information. That is our focus on this end.”

“The U.N. is asking the Syrian government to allow a chemical weapons inspection team to investigate,” reports CNN’s Jill Dougherty.

“U.S. officials say, so far they, cannot ‘conclusively determine’ whether chemical weapons were used. And they're not saying exactly what President Obama would do if they were.”

If these reports are found to be true, Psaki said “this would be an outrageous and flagrant escalation of the use of chemical weapons” by the regime and “the president has a range of options to consider” in that case.

Just last August, President Obama drew his red line, saying: "A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.”

But Senator John McCain argues that means nothing to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Sen. John McCain told CNN, “The president of the United States says, that if he uses these weapons that it would be a quote "red line and a game changer". He now sees that as a green light, and that is the word of the president of the United States can no longer be taken seriously.” 

McCain believes it's time to take military action, but the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey urges caution.

"The use of U.S. Military force can change the military balance, but it cannot resolve the underlying and historic ethnic, religious and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict."

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Filed under: Chemical Weapons • Security • Syria
August 22nd, 2013
12:21 PM ET

Documents: NSA Illegally Collected Internet Communications

The White House is under renewed pressure over its surveillance programs now that newly declassified documents reveal the NSA collected thousands of e-mails and other communications by Americans that were not related to terrorism.

“Newly declassified secret court opinions show the NSA collected nearly 60 thousand domestic communications a year, for three years, ending in 2011,” reports CNN's Chris Lawrence.

“The data includes emails and other internet activity. The court also said the NSA misrepresented the scope of its effort.”

Marc Rotenberg, the Executive Director, of EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), says "It's very disturbing. The National Security Agency has extraordinary surveillance capabilities. These tools that are supposed to be directed toward adversaries of US, not toward the American public."

“The NSA says it collected the data by mistake, a senior intelligence official telling reporters there was a ‘technological problem that could not be avoided, rather than any overreach,’” Lawrence says.

The Obama administration is under pressure from Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the sweeping nature of the NSA's secret data collection.

President Obama insisted the government is not violating your privacy in a speech he made just two weeks ago, saying "America is not interested in spying on ordinary people. Our intelligence is focused, above all, on finding information that's necessary to protect our people."

“The NSA is supposed to target foreign communications that have to do with potential terrorism investigations.”

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Filed under: NSA • Privacy • Security
August 21st, 2013
10:20 AM ET

Georgia Elementary School Shooting

The suspected gunman who entered a Georgia elementary school Tuesday, heavily armed and opening fire on police, is now in custody.

Witnesses say 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill told them he wasn't afraid to die.

While no one was injured in the shooting, hundreds of young students were fearful for their lives as they ran for safety when gunfire erupted in their school.

The lone gunman took office workers hostage inside, telling them to call a TV station with a chilling message.

WSB Assignment Editor Lacey Lecroy says, “He wanted us to start filming as police died.”

“The gunman fired at police, maybe a half dozen times,” CNN’s David Mattingly reports. “Officers returned fire, when suddenly, the gunman gave up.”

One office worker, Antoinette Tuff, asked him to put down his weapons and convinced him to surrender and told police he was giving himself up.

“Police searched the suspect's car for explosives,” Mattingly says.

“Children had to be escorted to buses away from the school as a precaution before being reunited with their anxious parents.”

Parents complain they were not properly notified and that many heard about it on local news.

“After they put the school on lockdown and they secured the kids, the parents should have been called immediately, right then and there,” Grandmother Celisa Raysor says.

While parents express new fears about their children’s security, students are set to go resume classes today at a nearby high school and return to their regular school building tomorrow.

Follow along at CNN.com as the story develops.

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Filed under: School • Security • Shooting
August 6th, 2013
10:35 AM ET

Details Inside the Threat Overseas

The State Department is now ordering all U.S. citizens out of Yemen because of terrorist activities there and growing civil unrest.

The embassy in Sana'a is being evacuated, except for essential personnel.

This comes on the heels of emerging details into what was behind a terror threat so specific, and so immediate that officials in this country decided to shut down nearly two dozen embassies and consulates across the Arab world.

 “The cascade of warnings and American embassy closures was triggered by an intercepted communication, which is now being revealed as a direct order from Al Qaeda's leader,” reports CNN’s Chris Lawrence reports.

“CNN has learned Ayman al Zawahiri ordered his new deputy in Yemen to basically 'do something,' and launch an attack. That deputy, Nasir al Wuhayshi, is now high on the US target list, along with another Yemeni, Al Qaeda's master bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri.”

This set off extreme measures from Washington.

“On Monday senior Administration officials met to talk about a resurgent Al Qaeda,” Lawrence says.

 “US military and intel assets were being re-deployed around the world, in light of the new threat. Special operations teams have been placed on high alert overseas. Drone surveillance has been stepped up, and analysts are collecting more satellite images, trying to pinpoint a target.”

Follow along at CNN.com for developments.

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Filed under: Security • Terrorism
August 5th, 2013
10:06 AM ET

19 U.S. Embassies, Consulates Closed until Saturday

The terror threat that prompted the State Department to close 22 U.S. embassies and consulates across the Muslim world this past Sunday has left 19 of those diplomatic posts closed through the rest of this week.

“The CIA and the National Security Agency had been secretly monitoring intelligence tips for weeks,” reports CNN’s Barbara Starr.

“There were indications of a possible terrorist attack in Yemen, a stronghold of one of Al Qaeda's deadliest affiliates.”

Washington sprang to action when a crucial message was recently intercepted involving communications among senior al Qaeda operatives.

U.S. officials then issued a worldwide travel warning in addition to closing embassies across the Middle East and North Africa as a precaution.

Starr reports, “Fifteen hundred Marines on board three Navy warships in the Red Sea will now remain off the coast of Yemen ready to react.”

Follow along at CNN.com for emerging details in the story.

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Filed under: Security • State Department • World
August 2nd, 2013
11:12 AM ET

State Dept. Closing Middle East Embassies Sunday

A "serious and credible" terror threat is prompting the U.S. State Department to close more than a dozen embassies and consulates in the Middle East and across the Muslim world on Sunday.

Officials say the unspecified threat is directed at U.S. targets overseas, and may not be confined to diplomatic posts.

“The move comes as the holy days that mark the end of Ramadan approach at merely a year after the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya,” reports CNN’s Barbara Starr.

“Now the embassy in the capital Tripoli will be closed.”

Embassies in Cairo, Tel Aviv, Riyadh, and Baghdad, which “would normally have been open on Sunday,” are also being shut down.

“And the closings may expand to include additional days,” Starr says.

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Filed under: Middle East • Pentagon • Security • State Department
October 16th, 2012
09:57 AM ET

Sec. of State Clinton takes responsibility in Libya in CNN interview – Elise Labott reports

From CNN's Elise Labott:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday tried to douse a political firestorm around the deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, saying she is responsible for the security of American diplomatic outposts.

"I take responsibility" for the protection of U.S. diplomats, Clinton said during a visit to Peru. But she said an investigation now under way will ultimately determine what happened in the attack that left four Americans dead.

The attack on the night of September 11 killed Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador, and three other Americans at the American consulate in Benghazi.

On "Early Start" this morning, CNN's Elise Labott shares more details from her interview with Sec. of State Hillary Clinton on security for US interests at Libya consulate.

READ MORE: Clinton: I’m responsible for diplomats’ security

Filed under: Libya • Security
August 24th, 2012
06:42 AM ET

VIDEO: Security, storm prep in focus for Republican National convention – Brian Todd reports

Brian Todd looks at the security concerns and storm preps in Tampa ahead of the Republican National Convention.

July 27th, 2012
06:45 AM ET

Ahead of opening ceremonies, security is top priority in London – Dan Rivers reports

Ahead of tonight's opening ceremonies and with thousands of world class athletes and hundreds of heads of states on hand for the Games, security is obviously the top priority in London today.

With fighter jets on standby and about 18,200 troops participating in Olympic security, Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he's confident that the Games will be successful and safe.

CNN's Dan Rivers joins Early Start this morning to explain what the security situation is like in London this morning.

Filed under: 2012 London Olympics • Security
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