Central Intelligence Agency

The (Mostly) Unspoken Afghanistan Rationale
August 27, 2009

At a Brookings forum earlier this week former CIA man Bruce Riedel, who led the Obama White House's Afghanistan review earlier this year, put this spin on the stakes there: The triumph of jihadism or the jihadism of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in driving NATO out of Afghanistan would resonate throughout the Islamic World.This would be a victory on par with the destruction of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. And, those moderates in the Islamic World who would say, no, we have to be moderate, we have to engage, would find themselves facing a real example.

Did Holder Have a Choice?
August 25, 2009

Marc Ambinder makes a smart point about Eric Holder's decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogators: There was so much information in the public domain--and so much information that would eventually be released--that the attorney general could no longer argue that no specific instances of lawbreaking had been brought to his attention.

Panetta's Kabuki?
August 24, 2009

ABC is reporting that Leon Panetta threatened to quit as CIA director: A "profanity-laced screaming match" at the White House involving CIA Director Leon Panetta, and the expected release today of another damning internal investigation, has administration officials worrying about the direction of its newly-appoint intelligence team, current and former senior intelligence officials tell ABC News.com.  A White House spokesman calls the report "inaccurate"; a CIA spokesman goes even further calling it "wrong, inaccurate, bogus and false." That said, don't these sorts of reports actually help Pan

Special Prosecutor to Investigate Alleged CIA Torture
August 24, 2009

Today marks two important moments in the debate over torture: the release of a 2004 report by the then-CIA Inspector General regarding interrogation techniques, and also the decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the violation of torture laws in interrogations (as the AP is now reporting). And it seems that Attorney General Eric Holder has chosen prosecutor John Durham to spearhead the investigations. Durham’s was a name that was thrown around as a front runner last month when the idea was growing some initial steam.

Doubt
August 12, 2009

A professor, a genocide, and NBC's quest for a prime-time hit.

What Motivated The Mehsud Killing?
August 11, 2009

One interesting wrinkle in the story of Baitullah Mehsud's assassination-by-drone is that Mehsud has long been a higher-priority target for Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari, than he has been for the United States. This may have been for personal reasons. Pakistan and the CIA both believe that Baitullah Mehsud was responsible for the assassination of Zardari's wife, Benazir Bhutto. And ever since, Zardari has feared that he will be the next target. The Bush administration, however, was reportedly unwilling to send drones against Mehsud.

Good Knight
July 23, 2009

Over the past few days, there’s been much speculation over whether Attorney General Eric Holder will launch an investigation into the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11. One of the top contenders in leading an investigation seems to be John Durham, a name you probably don’t recognize--or may have forgotten. So who is this low-key prosecutor that may take on the most high-profile national case since Watergate?   Durham began his career at the Connecticut state attorney’s office shortly after graduating from University of Connecticut Law School in 1975.

Persian Puzzlement
July 15, 2009

About ten days after the start of Iran's insurrection, I asked a senior administration official what, if anything, the White House knew about the people behind the demonstrations. His reply: "I think it is fair to say senior administration officials are busily trying to understand how the opposition is generated and where it came from." In other words, there's a lot about the protesters we still don't know. True, Mir Hossein Mousavi and the people directly surrounding him are known quantities in the U.S. intelligence community.

The Bystander
July 15, 2009

In the affairs of states, lessons are often learned too late or too well. Faced with unexpected crises and unwelcome demands for prompt decision-making, governments think by analogy. And they are invariably keen to demonstrate that they have learned from their--or, more conveniently, their predecessors'--mistakes. The last time a Democrat occupied the White House, an inherited humanitarian mission in Somalia turned to disaster in the alleys of Mogadishu.

The Drone War
June 03, 2009

The Al Qaeda videotape shows a small white dog tied up inside a glass cage. A milky gas slowly filters in. An Arab man with an Egyptian accent says: "Start counting the time." Nervous, the dog starts barking and then moaning.

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