Inside the randy culture of the CIA
Inside the randy culture of the CIA.
The recent chief-of-station (COS) cover-shredding brouhaha between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate marks an ironic and possibly important shift in the historic affection that Langley has had for Pakistan’s premiere intelligence service.
With Wikileaks's most recent release of official U.S. documents, I experienced again one of the best things about having left government service: I don’t have to read State Department “telegrams” anymore. This is not to say that such cables are of no value. Foggy Bottom traffic has its virtues.
Is Yemen the new Pakistan, which was the new Afghanistan, which was the new Saudi Arabia, which was the new Egypt for jihadists seeking to strike the West? The recent attempted cargo-plane bombing certainly gives credence to those who fear that Yemen is the Al Qaeda hub most likely to kill us. Yet even though Yemen has many of the component parts that make for an ideal holy warrior laboratory, Pakistan still has a clear jihadist edge—philosophically and operationally—over what’s developing in the land once called Arabia Felix. But let us not belittle Yemen’s possibilities.
After recent conversations with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and others who are of a more conservative bent, I started to reflect on Western scholarship and American conservative commentary on Islam. Western historiography of Islam provides a treasure-trove of sympathetic and hostile criticism of the Middle East’s last-born, earth-shaking faith.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speeches at the United Nations and his utterances elsewhere in New York are, again, proof that the Marxist-Islamist Molotov cocktail that produced the Islamic revolution is rebelliously alive among Iran’s ruling elite. Most of my Iranian friends have an extremely hard time watching the man speak. He uses religious language and allusion constantly, more so than any political figure in the Saudi royal family—the only other religio-political missionary–enamored elite in the Muslim world.
Did America overreact to September 11? In a recent column in Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria answered that with an emphatic and mournful “yes.” In Mr. Zakaria’s telling, we’ve squandered billions of dollars heedlessly feeding our national security bureaucracies, which hardly provide us, as the French nicely put it, a very good rapport qualité-prix. Worse, we’ve created an intrusive, abrasive, civil-rights-mauling security and intelligence apparatus that “now touches every aspect of American-life, even when seemingly unrelated to terrorism.” Mr.
The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait recently underscored a view about Islamic militancy versus the West that is widely held on both the left and right and should be challenged. To quote Mr. Chait: It is precisely because radicalism is so pervasive and powerful within the Muslim world that it is so vital to cultivate people like [Imam Faisal Abdul] Rauf.
Is the “Ground Zero Imam,” Feisal Abd ar-Rauf, a moderate Muslim? I do not know. I have yet to read his books or peruse his speeches and sermons in all the languages that Mr. Rauf uses. Some of his short essays and interviews in English suggest that he is a preacher of moderate disposition and views.