The Obama administration is considering new "targeted sanctions" against Syria as part of "a range of possible policy options," in the face of a continued, bloody crackdown on its citizens by the regime of President Bashar Assad.
On Monday White House spokesman Tommy Vietor condemned the Syrian government, calling violence waged against citizens "completely deplorable."
The U.S. State Department has also told American citizens to leave Syria as soon as possible and is ordering personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus to leave the country.
But Washington hasn't been taking a more forceful stance on Syria out of fears of further destabilizing the region, said CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante.Continue »
NEAR MISRATA, Libya - Missile strikes against Col. Muammar Qaddafi's military are noisy and dramatic. The campaign against his economy is quiet -- but devastating. A naval blockade and economic sanctions are slowly but surely choking his government.
Long lines of cars -- easily more than 100 at times -- snake along the roadsides outside gas stations wherever we've been allowed to travel. Drivers wait hours for a fill-up. Sometimes their cars run out of gas as they inch forward and they have to be pushed to the pumps. Sometimes the gas stations themselves run out of gas and simply close, leaving their angry customers stranded.Continue »
President Barack Obama said the U.S. and NATO are considering a military response to the violence in Libya, and a U.N. resolution to establish a no-fly zone is being drafted.
And while there is no sign that a no-fly zone over Libya is imminent, the option will undoubtedly be on the table when Defense Secretary Robert Gates attends a NATO meeting of defense ministers on Thursday, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.
Rebel forces have asked the international community to impose a no-fly zone to ward off further air strikes against them, but they've rejected the idea foreign ground troops.Despite the continued air strikes, a Pentagon official told CBS News that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's use of fixed wing and rotary aircraft is having "limited effect." Air attacks seem to be "against fortified rebel positions" as opposed to civilians, although President Obama has said Qaddafi needs to end violence against his own people, without distinguishing between rebel fighters and civilians. Continue »
Among the most overlooked changes was the creation 50 years ago from Tuesday of one of America's greatest social experiments: the Peace Corps.
On March 1, 1961, Kennedy signed an executive order creating the Peace Corps, and the organization will spend the next six months celebrating its inception.
The move to create the Peace Corps came on the heels of a now-famous, impromptu speech he gave on the campaign trail at the University of Michigan a few months earlier.
In front of a large crowd of students, Kennedy said:
"How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world? On your willingness to do that, not merely to serve one year or two years in the service, but on your willingness to contribute part of your life to this country, I think will depend the answer whether a free society can compete."Continue »
Mubarak and his family left quietly for their personal compound in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, in essence a self-imposed exile within his own country. The former air force commander who has ruled Egypt with an iron hand for 30 years might have gotten out of Cairo with his dignity only badly bruised, but he couldn't hold on even to that. Mubarak formally quit today, an act of humiliation for a famously proud man.
A former Arab diplomat described the events of the past few weeks as "Facebook meets the Egyptian museum."Special Section: Anger in the Arab World
Over a period of several weeks in an ongoing demonstration that was, overall, a remarkably peaceful exercise given the size of the crowds in central Cairo, the message finally got to the top. In the final struggle between Mubarak and his people, the people won.Continue »
Helene Cooper and Scott Shane of The New York Times write that Mohamed ElBaradei had a contentious relationship with the Bush administration when, as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he contradicted Washington's claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and criticized the U.S. invasion. Bush officials tried, and failed, to get him removed from the U.N.'s atomic watchdog agency.
ElBaradei and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
Philip Zelikow, an Obama administration official, said ElBaradei's credibility within Egypt was earned in part by his clashes with the Bush administration.
"Ironically, the fact that ElBaradei crossed swords with the Bush administration on Iraq and Iran helps him in Egypt, and God forbid we should do anything to make it seem like we like him," Zelikow told The Times.
This story was filed by CBS News' Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad.
A provincial high court in Pakistan passed an order Tuesday blocking Raymond Davis, a U.S. national arrested in Lahore in the murder of two Pakistani men, from leaving the country.
He was arrested after killing the two men, who he says were trying to attack him. The U.S. government insists Davis has diplomatic immunity and therefore must be allowed to leave the country, while Pakistani officials say he's probably a security expert who works for a private contractor, making him ineligible for diplomatic protection.
Western diplomats based in Pakistan warn the Davis case could further complicate relations between the U.S. and its key ally in the fight against Islamic militancy, Pakistan.
After the ruling from the Lahore high court, a senior western diplomat based in Islamabad told CBS News on condition of anonymity the, "episode will only cause divisions between the U.S. and Pakistan at a critical time when these two countries need to work together."
Davis' case has been widely publicized on streets of Pakistan, where anti-U.S. sentiment runs high. While many in the country -- particularly the impoverished masses -- consider the U.S. to be working against their interests by supporting successive rulers tainted by corruption, the country's ruling elite have repeatedly sought to work with Washington.
Initial reports on the shooting saw American officials class the suspect, who has yet to be officially identified by the U.S. government, as a member of staff at the U.S. consulate in Lahore. A couple days later, they identified him as a "diplomat" and insisted he should have the associated legal protections.
The Pakistanis' seeming inability to identify the man or his assignment, and the American government's relative silence on the matter, has only fueled speculation that he could be a security contractor, or even a CIA agent. It is highly unusual for American diplomats to travel alone in Pakistan, and would be even more unusual for them to do so armed.
Officials who witnessed the incident have told CBS News the American suspect was travelling alone in a Toyota Corolla, and opened fire with a handgun after realizing he was being pursued by the two men. Police told CBS on the day of the shooting that the men who were killed also had handguns in their possession.
On Friday (January 28), a day after Davis was arrested in Lahore, a group of demonstrators took to the streets of Pakistan's capital city, demanding his prosecution.
"What was a diplomat doing with a gun on our streets?" asked Sabir Khan, a college student, standing with other protesters in Islamabad's central Aabpara neighborhood.
"Raymond Davis must be brought to justice in Pakistan. Let him prove his innocence in a Pakistani court," said Khan.Many in Pakistan have called for the government to negotiate a prisoner swap to return Davis in exchange for Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman convicted in February 2010 of two counts of attempted murder in the U.S.
Updated 12:20 p.m. ET with passage of the U.N. Security Council resolution.
It took 20 years, a U.S.-led multinational invasion, a scandal-ridden oil-for-food program, and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein (six years ago) but, on Wednesday, Iraq returns to almost where it was before 1990.
The United Nations Security Council ended many Saddam-era sanctions -- a highly symbolic move that brings the nation back to its pre-Gulf war status, at least as far as the U.N. and the international community are concerned.
After several unresolved agreements, which committed the United States to undo the many levels of U.N. sanctions against Iraq, the Obama administration has begun the formal process of returning Iraq to a self-governing state.Continue »
"It is time to grapple with the core issues of this conflict: on borders and security, settlements, water and refugees, and on Jerusalem itself," she told the Saban Forum on Middle East Policy Friday night.
But she warned, "In the end, no matter how much the United States and other nations around the region and the world work to see a resolution to this conflict, only the parties themselves will be able to achieve it. The United States and the international community cannot impose a solution. The parties themselves have to want it."
Both sides say they want it, but many question their sincerity.
This past week, the State Department announced it had given up its efforts to get Israel to agree to another freeze of settlement activity in the West Bank.
WikiLeaks has been condemned by British and U.S. officials for publishing a secret State Department inventory of sites across the world deemed vital to American security.
The document, dubbed the Critical Foreign Dependencies Initiative according to a report in The Telegraph, lists everything from British pharmaceutical factories churning out vaccines and insulin, to a Bauxite mine in the African nation of Guinea.
The State Department reportedly asked American diplomats around the world in 2008 to file what is essentially an inventory of key sites in their post countries.
The document was signed off by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and although much of the information contained was already in the public domain, officials in Washington and London have been quick to condemn WikiLeaks for publishing it, calling the act evidence of the organization's willingness to potentially aid terror groups in its mission to reveal U.S. secrets.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former senior British member of Parliament and current chair of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, told Continue »
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should resign from office if she ordered American diplomats to spy on United Nations personnel, which recently leaked classified memos appear to have encouraged, the founder of WikiLeaks said Tuesday.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange made the comment in an interview with Richard Stengel, managing editor for Time magazine.
Stengel asked if Clinton's resignation or termination is an outcome Assange would want after his whistleblower organization released hundreds of thousands of classified State Department documents to a number of news outlets, which started publishing articles about them Sunday.Continue »
Last updated 5:50 p.m. ET.
The latest batch of secret U.S. documents posted by the WikiLeaks group exposes diplomatic information never meant for public eyes. They include candid, less-than-complimentary U.S. intelligence assessments of its relations with key countries. And there are eye-raising anecdotes, such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad getting slapped in the face.
Below are some highlights mentioned in The New York Times, Germany's Der Spiegel, The U.K. Guardian and other news agencies that had early access to the documents.
Germany: "Teflon" Merkel's "Half-Hearted" Efforts to Mend U.S.-German Relations
Der Spiegel reports that although U.S.-Germany relations have improved with the arrival of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but one intelligence assessment found the fence-mending to be half-hearted. Another referred to her as Angela "Teflon" Merkel.
In 2006, former US Ambassador to Germany William Timken wrote in a cable to the State Department the chancellor "has not taken bold steps yet to improve the substantive content of the relationship."
The current U.S. ambassador in Berlin, Philip Murphy, writes that German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle's thoughts "were short on substance," and that "Westerwelle's command of complex foreign and security policy issues still requires deepening."
"There is neither way to improve [relations] nor hope to bring them on track," North Korea's KCNA news agency quoted the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea as saying. "The confrontation between the North and the South in the political and military fields has been put to such extremes that the inter-Korean relations have reached the brink of a war."
Considering the large scale death and bloodshed of the war on the Korean peninsula just 50 years ago, statements like this should cause at least a mild panic in the international community.
Yet that kind of rhetoric has become so commonplace that U.S. State Department spokesperson Mark C. Toner said in a press conference Tuesday only that the U.S. and its allies would undertake a "measured and unified" response to North Korean hostilities.Continue »
Syria on Thursday slammed advice given by a senior U.S. diplomat as to how the Middle Eastern nation should manage relations with its neighbors and internal political groups, saying assistants secretary of state for Near East affairs Jeffery Feltman was suffering "illusions."
"Yes, Syria is concerned in the stability and security of Lebanon because this is a vital issue for the security and stability of Syria," a top Syrian official said in a statement released to state media. "Perhaps Mr. Feltman needs to realize the geographic and historical facts, that Syria is a friendly neighbor for Lebanon, whereas the United States is more than 10,000 miles away."
"It seems to us that Mr. Feltman still lives in his illusions and has not read yet the documents about his role in accusing Syria of assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al-Hariri in 2005," the unidentified official said in the statement run by the state-controlled Syrian Arab News Agency.
Feltman told the Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday that Syria should pressure Iran and the Islamic militant group Hezbollah to curb their activities in Lebanon if wants to rebuild its relations with Washington.
Syrian and Iran enjoy close ties, and the leadership of Hezbollah, a major player in Mideast politics which is classified by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, is based in Syria.
"Syria and the United States have taken some modest steps to see if we can improve the bilateral relationship," Feltman said. "But this cannot go very far as long as Syria's friends are undermining stability in Lebanon. We have made that absolutely clear to the Syrians. There is a cost to the potential in our bilateral relationship to what Syria's friends are doing in Lebanon."
The unnamed Syrian official offered some unsolicited advice in return on Thursday:
"One who cares about Lebanon's independence should not issue lists for boycotting Lebanese citizens that the U.S. is not satisfied with because they don't serve its interest."
"We don't need Mr. Feltman's advice, because Syria exercises its independent decision making to serve the interests of its people and the stability and security of the region," the official concluded.
Tensions have run high in Lebanon in recent weeks as a U.N.-mandated
tribunal nears completion of its investigation into the Hariri assassination.
The tribunal is expected to indict members of Hezbollah over the explosion which killed the former Lebanese leader.
The group's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, last week warned Lebanon against cooperating with the probe. Syria has also denounced the tribunal.
More on Syrian-U.S. relations:Syria Blasts U.S. "Interference"
U.S.-Syria Relations: Rollercoaster Diplomacy
Syria Lashes Out at U.S. Over Missile Accusation
Ellsberg congratulated WikiLeaks and its partners for disseminating the grim details about the war, which highlight under-reported Iraqi deaths and myriad alleged human rights abuses.
Ellsberg said revelations made months ago by WikiLeaks relating to the ongoing war in Afghanistan didn't go far enough, and he urged journalist and author Bob Woodward to release the top secret documents and records he gained access to in researching his latest book, "Obama's Wars," to shed further light on the subject.
"WikiLeaks offers itself as the best vehicle for doing that," said Ellsberg, even suggesting that researchers working for Woodward could provide the top secret materials to Assange's organization.
Ellsberg said if the documents Woodward had access to were to be made public, it could "come close" to being a Pentagon Papers on the Afghan war.Continue »