Barack Obama says he wants the truth. On November 21, the New York Times reported allegations that military intelligence officials provided the president with skewed assessments that minimized the threat from ISIS and overstated the success of U.S. efforts against the group. The Times story was an update of reporting from the Daily Beast earlier this fall.Read more
The Kurdish opposition was marching through one of the main streets and chanting anti-Iranian regime slogans. He followed me from the protest down a back street and called out. I stopped and he showed me a map and asked if I knew how to get to the destination he had circled. Weird he didn’t have Google Maps like almost everyone else in the city, I thought. It was only a matter of time before the city elders would carve out a separate pedestrian lane for tourists whose eyes were fixed on their phones.
Republican members of the House intelligence committee say the Obama administration should release more of the one million-plus documents found after the 2011 raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The White House has so far released around 120, including 86 more on Wednesday that revealed relatively trivial details, like the terrorist mastermind’s reading list. (One interesting nugget, though, was that al Qaeda had been considering opening a recruitment office in Iran.)Read more
The U.S. government released Wednesday morning an additional 86 documents from the vast collection of documents captured during the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.Read more
Jeb Bush, a probable Republican presidential candidate, defended the "hugely important" NSA data collection program in a speech today in Chicago:
"You must be prepared for a long term commitment to fight this battle," Bush said of the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.Read more
A new book set to be released next week alleges that the CIA took steps to prevent anti-American tirades from Chinese Communist officials from being heard in America. The details are revealed in Michael Pillsbury's The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower, which will be released next week.Read more
Lt. General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, blasted the Obama administration’s approach to the War on Terror in a hard-hitting speech to a meeting of intelligence professionals. “The dangers to the U.S. do not arise from the arrogance of American power, but from unpreparedness or an excessive unwillingness to fight when fighting is necessary,” Flynn said, in an unsparing critique first reported by the Daily Beast.Read more
An interesting interview with retired Air Force psychologist James Mitchell on the enhanced interrogation program from Vice News:Read more
There is likely much gnashing of teeth in the intelligence community today in the wake of Obama’s interview with 60 Minutes last night.Read more
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper peppered hisspeech to an intelligence community summit with humor, drawing laughter from his audience nearly a dozen times.Read more
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.Read more
For those of us who believe in the market system, there is something unsettling about the thought of the billionaire bosses of Google, Apple, Adobe, Intel, two Disney subsidiaries, and Intuit sitting around a table and agreeing not to compete for staff. Facebook declined an invitation to join the conspiracy. These are the self-styled “disrupters”, believers in the virtues of a market system that allows them to compete for customers even if, especially if, that competition destroys existing enterprises.Read more
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.Read more
A lawmaker at a Benghazi hearing stumped U.S. intelligence officials yesterday with this question:Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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:Read more
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.Read more
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.”Read more
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.Read more
A recent spate of newspaper articles suggests a concerted media campaign targeting Turkey’s foreign intelligence service, the MIT, its director, Hakan Fidan, and almost surely his boss as well, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In a piece published by the Wall Street Journal and another by the Washington Times, Fidan is said to be supporting al Qaeda affiliates in Syria fighting against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.Read more
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