July 07, 2003
On May 20, Tom Ridge was breezing through testimony before the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, successfully parrying questions on funding for first responders, porous border security, and the role his department played in tracking down fugitive Texas Democrats. That is, until Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey began to query the secretary. What, Markey wanted to know, did Ridge plan to do about the safety of commercial air cargo? “Twenty-two percent of all air cargo in the United States is placed upon passenger planes,” Markey intoned.
July 07, 2003
In the last couple of weeks, Americans have learned something about our troops in Iraq: They hate it there. They are hot, tired, and surrounded by a population they don’t understand who occasionally tries to kill them. The left isn’t demanding that the United States “come home,” because, while it abhors war, it likes nation-building.
The First Casualty
June 30, 2003
Foreign policy is always difficult in a democracy. Democracy requires openness. Yet foreign policy requires a level of secrecy that frees it from oversight and exposes it to abuse. As a result, Republicans and Democrats have long held that the intelligence agencies--the most clandestine of foreign policy institutions--should be insulated from political interference in much the same way as the higher reaches of the judiciary. As the Tower Commission, established to investigate the Iran-Contra scandal, warned in November 1987, "The democratic processes ...
June 09, 2003
Lawrence Kaplan on how not to handle a nuke threat.
April 21, 2003
Who's next? As Saddam Hussein's regime crumbled this week, that was the question being asked by commentators across the globe. And, when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld took to his podium to declare that the United States would hold Syria "accountable" for its weapons shipments to Iraq—a charge backed up by Secretary of State Colin Powell—it seemed the Bush team had finally provided the answer.
April 21, 2003
In the first weekend of the war, a little-noticed statement from the State Department promised that the United States still took "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran very seriously." The Middle East hands at Foggy Bottom crafted the phrase after the Iranians accused the United States of firing missiles into Iran's Abadan oil refinery. It turned out the missiles were Iraqi, but State still used the occasion to send Tehran a message: You're not next. The public statement echoed private communications that had been taking place in recent months in Geneva between the U.S.
Sulaymaniya Dispatch: Second Front
April 07, 2003
Through my hotel room window, I can see soldiers--dressed like commandos, not like baggy-panted Kurdish peshmerga--rearranging themselves around a machine gun mounted in the wagon of a white Toyota pickup. They're often there, jumping out of the truck, jumping back in, speeding off. They are guarding Barham Saleh, the prime minister of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), who lives behind my small hotel in Sulaymaniya. A year ago, Saleh came home from the Palace Hotel just down the street, and three Islamic fighters leapt out of their car firing madly.
The 9/10 President
March 10, 2003
It disappeared so quickly that it is easy to forget the bipartisan patriotism and common purpose that existed in Washington immediately after September 11, 2001. Perhaps the most memorable event from that period was the gathering of members of Congress from both parties on the steps of the Capitol to sing "God Bless America." Another such episode--little-noticed, but actually more remarkable--occurred the following month.
March 03, 2003
It was a lost decade. A journalist friend of mine traveled with Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Europe in 1993 for one of his fruitless Balkan negotiations. When the official delegation stopped at Shannon Airport for refueling on the way home, Christopher, not generally sociable, surprised my friend by pulling up beside him at the bar. "What can I get you?" the burly bartender asked the secretary. Christopher responded, "I'd like an Irish coffee, please ... but hold the whiskey and make it decaf." When I think of the '90s, I think of Christopher's Irish coffee.
November 04, 2002
In the weeks leading up to the October 12 bombing in Bali, warnings of pending terror flooded U.S. intelligence channels. Analysts from the National Security Agency (NSA), the CIA, and the FBI combed through threats suggesting that car-bomb attacks, hijackings, and kidnappings were planned against Americans on three continents. The volume of electronic and telephonic communications--what intelligence professionals call "chatter"--between assumed Al Qaeda operatives spiked in late September.