1:42 PM, Sep 29, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
There is likely much gnashing of teeth in the intelligence community today in the wake of Obama’s interview with 60 Minutes last night. He laid the blame for the rise of the Islamic State at the feet of the intelligence community. “Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” said the commander in chief on national television.
Not true, reports Eli Lake in the Daily Beast. “One former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq was flabbergasted,” writes Lake, then quoting his source: “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting.’”
It’s not a good sign that the president and the intelligence community are at odds over intelligence on the Islamic State. However, there’s an even more serious concern in the offing over the Iranian nuclear program. If, as Obama claims, the intelligence community was wrong about the Islamic State, how can it be trusted to get Iran right? Or, alternately, how can the president be trusted not to blame his own failures on others?
The White House has repeatedly claimed, “We have the capacity to monitor the Iranian nuclear program… We would know if they were to make a so-called breakout move towards developing such a weapon.”
But Obama’s interview last night instead suggests one of two things. Either the intelligence community is incapable or getting timely and trustworthy intelligence to American policymakers and has left the commander-and-chief in the dark. Or Obama is ignoring the warnings of the IC, including intelligence that may forecast an Iranian breakout. In any case, this dysfunctional relationship between the president and his own intelligence community may come to have even more dire consequences for U.S. interests.
4:46 PM, Aug 27, 2014 • By WHITNEY BLAKE
With lawmakers ratcheting up pressure on Obama to take action in Syria, few in the administration have been paying close attention to Libya, apparently.
1:22 PM, Aug 11, 2014 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
As the world watches the strengthening of global jihadist movements – from ISIS to al Qaeda to dozens of affiliated and like-minded groups – one of those inside the U.S. government who was most vocal about the growing threats is leaving his position. General Michael Flynn served as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency from July 2012 until last week. Throughout his tenure he challenged the Obama administration’s hopeful and inaccurate narrative about the war against al Qaeda and jihadists – pushback that doubtless contributed to his early departure from the agency.
How the CIA’s No. 2 misled CongressMar 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 24 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Two leading Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence say that Michael Morell, then acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, gave an account of his role on Benghazi that was often misleading and sometimes deliberately false.
Feb 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 20 • By GARY SCHMITT
In the wake of all the “leaks” by Edward Snowden of the National Security Agency’s collection programs and the resulting debate over those programs, one constantly hears from elected officials and the commentariat about the need to strike the right balance between privacy and security. More often than not, this is followed by a suggestion that, as a country, since 9/11, we haven’t.
5:36 PM, Jan 17, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Florida senator Marco Rubio says that "some" of President Obama's proposed changes to the way the NSA collects date "go too far."
“Our intelligence collection programs are vital tools used by the government to defend the security of the U.S. homeland. I am concerned that some of President Obama’s suggestions today go too far and may make it more difficult for the government to carry out its constitutional responsibility to keep Americans safe," reads a statement released by Rubio's Senate office.
2:01 PM, Jan 17, 2014 • By GARY SCHMITT
Thankfully, President Obama is not a doctor. If he was and you happened to visit him in his office and mentioned that you were worried about the potential for lung cancer, he’d immediately put you under, open you up, and pull out a lung—or, at least, that’s the logic that seems to be guiding his decisions on NSA’s collection programs. Yes, no one has found any evidence that NSA has broken the law, invaded constitutionally-protected privacy rights, or is about to. But never mind, it’s the very possibility that someday, somehow, NSA will jump the tracks that requires the president now to unduly complicate the use of what he admits has been an important counterterrorism tool.
Writes 'Isreal.'9:12 AM, Jan 15, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
The office of the Director of National Intelligence released its interactive 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar this week on the website of the National Counterterrorism Center. The map provided with the calendar contains an embarrassing error, misspelling the name of the U.S.'s closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, as "Isreal." The error can be seen by hovering over the tiny country with a computer mouse:
2:22 PM, Jan 9, 2014 • By GARY SCHMITT
For all those civil libertarians of both the left and the right who think we ought to thank Edward Snowden for his actions in revealing NSA’s secret metadata collection program—or, at a minimum, believe the U.S. government should show leniency toward him should he ever come back to these shores—they might want to just stop for a moment and consider what else Mr. Snowden has revealed.
3:01 PM, Dec 21, 2013 • By GARY SCHMITT
When the “President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology” issued its report (Liberty and Security in a Changing World) this past week, an honest and objective newspaper headline the next day would have read: “Rogue Panel Reports on Non-Rogue NSA Program.”
The NSA in Europe. Nov 11, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 09 • By REUEL MARC GERECHT
It is often remarked that espionage is the second-oldest profession. Written records from Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Iran suggest that spying and civilization sprang up together. In antiquity, spies could be the hidden bureaucrats of tyranny or good governance (a ruler needed to know whether a satrap was cheating the crown and its subjects) or, less often, camouflaged itinerants writing home about the machinations of rival city-states, empires, or barbarian tribes. In modern times, espionage went Orwellian, becoming primarily a tool to buttress police states.
It takes a certain intelligence to comprehend the CIA. Nov 4, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 08 • By REUEL MARC GERECHT
There is probably no harder beat in Washington than intelligence.