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Nov 8, 2014

Two Americans freed by North Korea, returning home: U.S. officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Korea freed two American citizens from prison and they were returning to the United States on Saturday after the surprise involvement of the top-ranking U.S. intelligence official in their release.

Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, who had been detained for months by the secretive Asian state, were being accompanied home by the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, his office said. Their release comes less than three weeks after another American was freed by Pyongyang.

Nov 7, 2014

Exclusive: U.S. weighs sanctions on Libyan factions to try to halt proxy war

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is considering imposing sanctions on Libya’s combative factions to try to prevent a proxy conflict fueled by regional powers from erupting into full-blown civil war and force militant leaders to negotiate, U.S. officials said.

Three years after Muammar Gaddafi’s downfall, outside intervention has exacerbated the fighting, with Qatar and, to some degree, Turkey supporting Islamist-linked forces and Egypt and the United Arab Emirates backing more secular rivals.

Nov 6, 2014

Who shot bin Laden? Former U.S. Navy SEALS make rival claims

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Members of the U.S. Navy Seal commando team that killed Osama bin Laden at his Pakistan hideout in May, 2011 are making conflicting claims as to who actually shot the al Qaeda leader.

The Washington Post published a story on Thursday quoting Rob O’Neill, a former SEAL, as claiming to have fired the fatal shot that hit bin Laden in the forehead after O’Neill stormed into a room in bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad.

Nov 6, 2014

U.S. launches fresh strikes on Khorasan group in Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said it conducted air strikes on Wednesday night against the so-called Khorasan group, an al Qaeda-linked militant faction based in Syria, and said the group was plotting to attack Europe or the United States.

Separately, one U.S. official said a target of the strike was David Drugeon, a French-born militant and convert to Islam who some U.S. officials say is a bomb maker for the group. U.S. officials have not confirmed whether Drugeon was killed.

Oct 31, 2014

U.S. spy budget down by over 15 percent since 2010: official data

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The combined budget for U.S. civilian and military intelligence operations has shrunk by more than 15 percent since 2010, official figures show.

The total U.S. intelligence budget was $67.9 billion in the fiscal year to Sept. 30, according to official figures. That was up only marginally from $67.6 billion the previous year, but followed a steady decline since a peak in 2010.

Oct 30, 2014

Only top legislators informed of White House computer attack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An attack by hackers on a White House computer network earlier this month was considered so sensitive that only a small group of senior congressional leaders were initially notified about it, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The officials said the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the heads of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, collectively known as the “Gang of Eight,” were told last week of the cyber attack, which had occurred several days earlier.

Oct 25, 2014

Canada intelligence-sharing on suspects curbed by court ruling

OTTAWA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Canada did not share some intelligence with the United States about two men who mounted fatal attacks last week because of a 2013 court ruling limiting the transfer of personal data, a Canadian official said on Saturday.

U.S. authorities therefore knew little about Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who killed a soldier on Wednesday before attacking Parliament in the capital Ottawa. They also did not realize that Canada had withdrawn the passport of Martin Rouleau, who ran over and killed a soldier in Quebec on Monday.

Oct 24, 2014

Canada’s spies face tough questions after militant attacks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – On Monday one of Canada’s top spy officials assured Canadian lawmakers that were no signs of an imminent terrorist attack on the country. Within hours a disaffected Muslim convert had run down two soldiers, killing one of them.

    Two days later, another Muslim convert armed with a rifle shot dead a Canadian soldier guarding the national war memorial in the capital, Ottawa, and then raced into the nearby parliament, where he exchanged fire with security personnel before being shot dead.

Oct 23, 2014

U.S. weighs passport, border changes in wake of Ottawa attack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. officials are debating whether to tighten controls on the border with Canada and make it easier to revoke the passports of suspected militants, steps that could gain traction following two attacks in Canada this week.

The officials cautioned on Thursday that the discussions are in preliminary stages and that no immediate action appeared likely by either U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration or Congress.

Oct 21, 2014

Three Denver girls reportedly en route to Turkey detained, sent home

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three teenage girls from Denver who had been missing since last week and were reported to be traveling to Turkey were picked up in Germany and sent back home, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

Voice of America reported earlier this week that one of the girls told German authorities they were en route to Turkey, which has been considered a principal transit route for foreigners looking to fight with Islamic militants in Syria.