spies, national security, espionage, counterterrorism, u.s. foreign policy, intelligence operations, CIA, special forces, counterterrorism, terrorism
Showing posts with label Obama. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Obama. Show all posts

Friday, June 7, 2013

UK Defense Ministry Warns Against Leaks on US-Brit Web Spying

A British Defense Ministry press advisory committee, reacting to a flurry of revelations in the American press about massive warrantless US government electronic surveillance programs, quietly warned UK organizations Friday not to publish British national security information. READ MORE HERE.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Leak Dogs Are Gonna Bite Obama in the End

One of the salacious ironies of the John Kiriakou case is that the dogs the Obama administration has let loose on leakers are circling back, teeth bared, toward their owners.

“The Obama administration’s vigorous prosecution of leaks may yet cost it dearly,” Steve Coll writes in “The Spy Who Talked Too Much,” his autopsy on the former CIA man who revealed the agency’s torture practices and other secrets, in this week’s New Yorker.

“Recently, FBI agents have been interviewing administration officials about any role they might have had in providing classified information to David Sanger, of the [New York] Times, who last year disclosed the administration’s role in cyber attacks on Iran’s nuclear program,” Coll reported.

What’s sauce for the goose is even saucier for the gander. FBI agents on the case, who tilt against liberal windmills anyway, must be smacking their lips.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

AQ 2.0: The Limits of Intervention

Bad choices in 2013.

David Ignatius has an interesting piece today on the perilous options for the West in countering the “cancerous” spread of al-Qaeda in places like Mali.

“Striking at these local nodes — as the French are doing now in Mali — can disrupt the new terrorist cells," he writes. "But analysts stress that there will be consequences: The cells may metastasize further, drawing new jihadists into the fight and potentially threatening targets in Europe and the United States.”

Indeed, they’re everywhere, and nowhere, an annoyance that has become a public menace, like small time hoods hoping to become "made men.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Who Is Lisa Monaco?

Lisa Monaco is a smart cookie, no doubt about that. And a true-blue Democrat.

The Harvard and the University of Chicago Law School grad, who turns 44 in February, has climbed so steadily through the government’s national security ranks that her new job as homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to President Obama seems almost preordained. Rumors are flying that she may even replace Bob Mueller at the FBI before too long.

Yet it’s almost certain that few people outside of Washington’s insular national security world will ever have heard of her.

That’s because, unlike her predecessor John Brennan, she’s been an oiler in the machinery room of counterterrorism, not a boss man from one of the alphabet agencies -- CIA, FBI, NSA and the like.

But she has had friends in high places, starting with Joe Biden, who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Monaco worked there as research coordinator from 1992 to 1994, according to the questionnaire she filled out during her confirmation process 20 years later to be assistant attorney general for national security.

Monday, January 7, 2013

John Brennan's Merry Skate to CIA

The increasingly desperate Republicans must be grinding their molars over President Obama’s nomination of John O. Brennan to run the CIA, a place where he spent about 30 years.

I mean, what’s the worst they can say about the shooting guard of “The Reaper Presidency,” as the U.K.-based Bureau Investigative Journalism calls Obama’s first term? That he’s talks too much?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Jane Harman for CIA Director? Really?

Even in a town with memory holes as deep as dark space, the persistence of Jane Harman’s name near the top of lists for CIA director is a mystery.

Apparently, Harman’s role in an Israeli intelligence influence operation has been forgotten by Washington's Great Mentioners.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gmail Sharing & Other Old Spy Tricks


As it turns out, the Gmail trick David Petraeus and his paramour used to hide their correspondence is one commonly employed by CIA field operatives when agency bosses turn down their pleas for more sophisticated gear to communicate with their foreign spies.
See the rest of my piece at Foreign Policy magazine online.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Romney's 3 am Phone Call

Arguably the most memorable political ad during Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for the White House was the “3 AM phone call.” 

“It’s 3 am and your children are safe and asleep.  But there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing. Something's happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call. Whether it’s someone who already knows the world’s leaders. Knows the military. Someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world ... Who do you want answering the phone?”

If the last 36 hours are any guide, you don’t want Mitt Romney answering that phone. In fact, you don’t want him anywhere near the White House situation room, ever.

You do want Barack Obama picking up that phone. For if Obama’s surprising performance over the past three-plus years as commander in chief is any guide, he’s calm, cool, collected--and effective--in a crisis, no matter what you think of his domestic policies or drone strikes.

Romney, in contrast, is an excitable lad. He’s exactly what you don’t want in a commander-in-chief, which is to say, he’s impetuous, not to mention shallow.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Obama Spanks GoP Chickenhawks on War With Iran


It’s ironic isn’t it, that President Obama, who’s never gotten closer to a military uniform than a handshake, is so much more cautious about sending men and women into harm’s way than his predecessor, a onetime Air Force pilot?

The conventional wisdom, after all, is that civilians who’ve never seen a bullet fired in anger are far more cavalier about sounding the trumpets to war than a soldier who’s been there.

Lately the Republicans have been proving it right once more. In reference to Iran, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have been sounding like four year olds playing with tiny toy soldiers on their living room carpets.

In sharp contrast, Obama has been at his most presidential this week on matters of war and peace. Presiding over coffins and amputees will do that to you.

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Act of Valor": A War Movie Liberals Can Like


Oh, sure, it’s a shoot ‘em up, bang-bang-bang flick that will have your head throbbing after the first half hour, maybe less.

And in its cleaned-up version of counterterror raids, it’s closer to Spiderman than “Saving Private Ryan,” whose unforgettably morbid first 20 minutes, depicting the 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy, gave new meaning to the word “realistic.”

But even though “Act of Valor” is essentially a sanitary recruiting film for the Navy SEALs, adolescent through and through, it’s one that liberals should think about liking.

Why? Because, in a world teetering on another catastrophic war, “Act of Valor” depicts the kind of small-ball play that--in combination with other “smart power” techniques--remains the only sensible option to the kind of big-theater, air-strikes and ground-war conflict so beloved by armchair generals and other chickenhawks.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Our Feel-Good Sanctions on Iran


UPDATE, JAN 10: The goal of the sanctions is "regime collapse,"  a "senior U.S. intelligence official" told The Washington Post's Karen DeYoung and Scott Wilson on Tuesday.


Let’s not kid ourselves about the Iran sanctions: They’re not going to stop the theocrats from building a Shiite bomb.

With apologies to Ron Paul, it’s safe to assume that the Iranians are determined to go nuclear.

And why not? The United States and Iran have been at war since 1979, when the U.S.-backed shah was overthrown and Islamist mobs stormed the American embassy, taking 52 diplomats hostage.

We’ve called for their demise again and again. They’ve called for ours. War between us and them has seemed inevitable for decades. The drumbeat for a preemptive U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran reached a crescendo in the last months of the Bush administration and remains at a high decibel level today.

If you were them, what would you do? Lose your nukes?

Not a chance.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Perry and Israel: Nuts


Evidently unable or unwilling to stop pandering to the right-wing lunatic fringe on issues ranging from social security to global warming, Texas Gov. Rick Perry accelerated his flight to the reality exosphere Wednesday by charging President Obama with a “policy of appeasement” toward the Palestinians.

"Appeasement" would come as a surprise to the long-suffering residents of Gaza and other Arabs--not to mention dissenting Israelis--who have been powerless to stop the steady encroachment of Jewish settlements under hard-line Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cable TV's Counterterrorism Morons


I don’t know about you, but I can’t bear to watch much TV news anymore. I mean, there’s so little of it anyway, sandwiched as it is between pundits who know little beyond a particular moment in Beltway politics and the "experts" who are so misleading they're dangerous.

But last night’s appearance on CNN of killer-thriller terrorism novelist Brad Thor to offer expertise on the downing of that helicopter in Afghanistan was a new low in foreign policy commentary -- unless I’ve missed something that’s been broadcast today.

Monday, May 2, 2011

With Bin Laden Gone, U.S. Can Leave Afghanistan


With Osama Bin Laden dead, President Obama should find it far easier to justify withdrawing U.S. ground troops from Afghanistan.

After all, that’s why U.S. troops went there in the first place. 

Now that he’s gone, the rationale for staying evaporates.


No matter that the war was increasingly unpopular in America,  leaving Afghanistan was always a practical political problem for Obama with the elusive al Qaeda leader alive. A troop withdrawal presented Obama with the unpalatable prospect of leaving Bin Laden the last man standing.


To all but the hardiest true believers now, Afghanistan’s endemic corruption has made nation-building a mirage.  It's time to let them do it themselves.

Bin Laden & Obama: Democrats No Longer 'Weak' on National Security?


With one word -- “Go” -- President Obama may have brought Democrats back from the wilderness on national security issues.

For over 30 years, ever since Jimmy Carter presided over the disastrous 1980 rescue attempt of American hostages in Iran, Republicans made hay on the charge that Democrats were "weak” on national security issues.

No matter that Carter’s successor had his own disaster--Ronald Reagan turned tail in Lebanon after the murder of 241 American servicemen by a Beirut suicide bomber in 1983--Republicans’ nurtured their  image as strong on defense with the collapse of the Soviet Union on President George H. W. Bush’s watch and his victory in the so-called “100 hours war” in Kuwait.

In sharp contrast, Bill Clinton’s failure to capture Bin Laden after the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, and again five years later after the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, solidified the Democrats’ reputation as weak.

Not even Sen. John F. Kerry's reputation as a Vietnam war hero survived the Republicans' onslaught on behalf of George W. Bush, a Texas Air National Guard pilot who, along with some of his closest aides,  dodged war duty.

Only days ago Obama seemed slated for the same ignominy as other Democrats with his handling of the popular revolutions that have swept the Arab world. Even critics in his own party were calling him  weak.

Then he got a tip about the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Obama Confirms Bin Laden Kill

President Obama confirmed advance reports Sunday night that a U.S. operation had killed Osama Bin Laden, who was "responsible for the murder of thousands of men women and children."

In a dramatic, late-night Sunday broadcast from the White House, Obama said "a small team of Americans" carried out the operation within miles of Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, on Sunday.

"After a firefight," he said, "they killed Osama Bin Laden and took custody of his body."

No Americans were killed in the operation, he said.

Obama also said unnamed Pakistanis were involved in helping locate the al Qaeda leader in Abbotabad, a suburb of Islamabad.

The president said U.S. forces had gotten a tip about Bin Laden's whereabouts last August and "it took months to run this lead to ground. " He was "deep in Pakistan," Obama said.

"Last week I authorized an operation to seize Osama Bin Laden and bring him to justice," the president said.

He also said he had directed CIA Director Leon Panetta to make the killing or capture of Bin Laden his "top priority."

A spontaneous public celebration quickly materialized at the White House gate, with a growing crowd waving American flags, cheering and singing the National Anthem.

Bin Laden is Dead: Obama


President Obama will announce Sunday night that Osama Bin Laden has been killed and that the United States has possession of his corpse.

According to CNN, the al Qaeda leader was killed along with family members "in a mansion outside of Islamabad."

The development comes only about four months before the tenth anniversary of the shocking attacks that the al Qaeda leader unleashed on the World Trade Center towers and Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

The Saudi radical was presumed to be hiding in the wilds of Pakistan's northwest tribal border region since U.S. forces swept him and his followers from Afghanistan in late 2001.   

There was no advance word on the status of Bin Laden's longtime deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

A Washington Post headline claimed that Bin Laden was killed in a "CIA operation," but the Associated Press report made no mention of the spy agency's role.

U.S. should revisit ban on assassinations


The Saturday air strikes that once again killed a child of Moammar Gaddafi but not him should prompt a new look at the U.S. ban on assassinations of foreign heads of state.

No matter that we keep missing the troglodyte of Tripoli, either it’s the law or it isn’t.

Originally signed by President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 and reinforced by presidents Carter and Reagan,  the original ban explicitly stated: “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”

NATO gives Obama only the thinnest of fig leaves.

Even though it was relaxed by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to allow for the assassination of designated terrorists, the executive ban stands. Ignoring it not only exposes the United States to worldwide mocking and condemnation, of course, it invites retaliation.

Is it any surprise that Gaddafi's mobs attacked the British and Italian embassies on Sunday? It could get far worse.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Panetta: We’ve Got Qaeda Hemmed In


In his farewell announcement to employees Thursday, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta maintained  that the agency was “severely” crimping al Qaeda's operations.

“We are conducting our most aggressive operations against al-Qaeda and severely constraining their operational ability,” Panetta said in a goodbye note to the agency’s workforce.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Obama's Libya critics should stop whining

As predictable as dogwoods in springtime,  "American intelligence" is saying Moammar Gadhafi is on the ropes.   It's enough to make one worry things aren't going as well as it looks for the rebels.

The report came from CNN, which quoted an anonymous intelligence official saying there were indications that the "morale of Gadhafi forces is on the decline." Along the same lines,  President Obama declared in his speech Monday night that "we have stopped Gadhafi's advance." 

One can only hope. But stopping Gadhafi's advance and crushing his regime are not the same thing. In any event,  much the same was said of Osama Bin Laden and -- who could forget? -- Iraq, the Taliban and, going back a long way, the North Vietnamese.  They were always on the ropes, except when they weren't.