John Brennan and the Bin Laden Files


John Brennan

During a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center on April 30, 2012, John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, discussed “The Ethics and Efficacy of the U.S. President’s Counterterrorism Strategy.” Brennan explained that President Obama has “pledged to share as much information with the American people ‘so that they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable.’ ” Obama, he continued, “has consistently encouraged those of us on his national security team to be as open and candid as possible.” After all, “our democracy depends” upon “transparency.”

But nearly two years after the May 1, 2011, assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound, the Obama administration has made public just 17 documents out of the huge cache of information captured during that raid. U.S. intelligence officials tell The Weekly Standard that the vast collection includes “hundreds of thousands of documents and files.” Obama administration ...




President Obama is an appalling commander in chief. In the last couple of months alone, he’s selected and muscled through the Senate the least qualified nominee for secretary of defense in a half century; forced out of his position early a superb combatant commander, ...


Second-Term Blues

Is Obama’s free ride over?


Sequester Boomerang

Why do presidents get in trouble in their second terms? They think they have a mandate when they don’t. They believe they’re stronger politically than they really are. They’re convinced they can get away with things other presidents couldn’t. They think too highly of themselves personally and act accordingly.

President Obama hasn’t hit the second-term skids—yet. And he insists he knows the perils of four more years in the White House and how to avoid them. But there are signs of trouble ahead, signs that Obama and his advisers appear not to have recognized.

Sign number one is the sequester. It’s given Obama numerous opportunities to overreach, and he seems determined to seize all of them. The first: blaming Republicans for the automatic spending cuts that went into effect last week. The idea for the sequester, as everyone now knows, originated in the White House. And contrary to ...

The micro-hip: We’ll keep the children under the sink.

Living Small

The micro-apartment craze.


New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has always been interested in real estate. The billionaire media tycoon owns—as The Weekly Standard goes to press—11 homes, including his primary residence, a 12,500-square-foot townhouse on East 79th Street. (He’s the only New ...

The Senkakus, aka the Chinese pretext

Sayonara, Asian Allies

Obama’s damaging diffidence.



The Senkaku Islands dispute is the first Japan-China security crisis in seven decades of peace. This puzzling contretemps between Asia’s two giants unnerves the region, whose waters host half of global trade, ...

Okay, now render unto Caesar.

Tax the Nonprofits

A modest proposal.


Nonprofit organizations (NPO), often referred to as the “independent sector,” are an essential part of America’s vibrant, pluralistic civil society. Their activities span a wide range of public and private purposes​—​philanthropic, cultural, religious, professional, educational, scientific. ...

Grillo the clown

Our Italian Future

Atop a political volcano.


Italy has long been the political laboratory of the West. From Roman republics and tyrannies through the city-states of the Renaissance, into the Counter-Reformation and on to fascism, Eurocommunism, and homegrown terrorism, the Italians have provided us with advance looks ...


Paradise Lost

California is not too big to fail.


Gov. Jerry Brown & Californians

One early December morning, Las Vegas police moved in on the Silverton Hotel and Casino, just off the Strip and known for its 117,000-gallon aquarium. There, having located a getaway black Audi with no license plates, they arrested 31-year-old Ka Pasasouk​—​a Laotian immigrant with a violent history who had eluded deportation as well as imprisonment. The Dragnet-style work came less than 24 hours after police back in Northridge, a Los Angeles suburb known for a state university campus, discovered what they called a “very grisly tableau.”

Outside an overcrowded boarding house, described in press accounts as unlicensed, lay the bodies of two men and two women, whom Pasasouk has now been charged with murdering. The story captured attention up and down the already tense state, where the phrase “grisly tableau” could easily have found wide use in the ubiquitous conversations about California’s economic, political, ...

How to Prevent Atrocities

How to Prevent Atrocities

There’s no substitute for presidential leadership


In August 2011, about five months after Bashar al-Assad ordered the Syrian military to fire on unarmed demonstrators, President Obama issued his “Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities.” PSD-10 instructed the executive branch to create an interagency group ...

Books & Arts

Man With a Line

The gimlet eye of Saul Steinberg.


Saul Steinberg drawing Jean-Paul Sartre, 1946

At a celebration at UCLA of the career of Eugen Weber, the Romanian-born historian of France, I made the mistake of describing Eugen as an exile. In his response to the tributes paid him, Eugen corrected me, remarking that he had never considered himself an exile. “From the moment I attained consciousness,” he said, “I wanted to leave Romania. The place is a dump.” 

Tristan Tzara (né Samuel Rosenstock), one of the founders of Dada, was a Romanian. Eugène Ionesco, perhaps the most famous Romanian artist of the last half of the 20th century, was a surrealist playwright prominently associated with the Theater of the Absurd. E. M. Cioran, the Romanian aphorist, wrote: “An acute sense of absurdity makes the merest action unlikely, indeed impossible. Lucky those who lack such a thing! Providence has indeed looked out for them.” Dada, surrealism, absurdity—Romania seems to have encouraged such responses on the part of its writers and artists. 

Ariel Sharon, George W. Bush, Mahmoud Abbas in Aqaba, 2003

The Inside Story

George W. Bush was most successful when defying ‘consensus.’


"Make sure,” Elliott Abrams told me, “that you have the better idea, and then push for it aggressively.” 

He offered this advice back in 2006, when I was working for him in the National Security Council. At the time, I was involved in a minor conflict ...

George Weigel

Roman Spring

The fundamental challenge(s) of Catholic renewal.


But who do you say that I am? 

This question, from an obscure Nazarene carpenter to an even more obscure Galilean fisherman, has proved to be the world’s most important query. How you answer it has profound implications for ...

William Manchester, 1967

Crescendo in C

An unexpected ending for Manchester’s Churchill.


This magisterial three--volume biography of Winston Church-ill, begun by William Manchester nearly 30 years ago, has at last reached completion, though the path to its finale took a circuitous trip through the ...

Gael García Bernal in ‘No’

Resounding Yes

From Chile, of all places, a political movie that works.


As a general rule, movies about electoral politics are so awful we should all be glad there are so few of them. Elections are wildly dramatic events, but the drama unfolds over a long time. Thus, naturally impatient moviemakers insist on stuffing them with ...


The Age of Anxiety

Jonathan V. Last remembers John Paul II.


Popes John Paul II and then-Cardinal Ratzinger

I was in second grade when I first became convinced that things fall apart.

The year began with the attempted assassination of an American president, followed a few weeks later by the attempted assassination of a Polish pope, followed a few months after that by the successful assassination of an Egyptian president. The attempted murder of leaders, it seemed, was a fact of life. 

My day-to-day doings were tinged with low-grade, existential fear stemming from the Cold War. At my Quaker elementary school in South Jersey, we talked about Hiroshima and Nagasaki enough that my small circle of friends and I used to discuss how much worse the coming nuclear conflagration with the Soviets would be.

Not that the American way of life seemed particularly deserving of preservation. My mother taught in a public elementary school, and on at least three occasions she was ...


Humanitarianism, Hollywood Style

Jeffrey Katzenberg

The Scrapbook doesn’t pay too close attention to the Academy Awards—we’re still recovering from the Indian maiden, Sacheen Littlefeather, who accepted Marlon Brando’s Oscar for the Godfather in 1973 and tried to read his 15-page mani-festo on national television—but we do have a weakness for the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which the motion picture academy bestows separately. Ceremonies such as the Oscars are basically expensive, well-dressed exercises in self-infatuation, and the Jean Hersholt Award is given for “outstanding contributions to humanitarian causes.” Recent recipients include the studio mogul Sherry Lansing, gabfest legend Oprah Winfrey, and the latest winner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, who received his statuette last November.

Katzenberg, of course, is the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, the highly successful studio, and it is perhaps emblematic of the Hersholt Award that he was recognized for his ...

Sen. Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz and His Enemies

In a column in the New Republic last month, John B. Judis laid into newly elected Senator Ted Cruz of Texas for asking Chuck Hagel, during his confirmation hearings to become secretary of defense, about his relationship with Chas Freeman. Hagel was chairman of ...

Duke CEO James E. Rogers

The Party of Big Business

A few years ago, the Democratic party bragged that it had adopted new rules barring corporate and individual donations over $100,000. Because of these rules, Democrats called their convention in Charlotte last year the “people’s convention.” However, just to make sure they had the money to ...

Sequestration Exaggeration


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