Central Intelligence Agency
Trial and Error
February 10, 2011
In January 2007, a Californian named Harrison Jack got a call from a man who introduced himself as Steve Hoffmaster, arms dealer. Jack was a West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran whose war tours had involved work with Southeast Asian indigenous groups. He had become frantic about reports of an extermination campaign in the jungles of Laos. The alleged targets were the Hmong, a tribe who had teamed up with the CIA during the Vietnam war to wage a guerilla struggle against the region’s communists.
January 27, 2011
Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography By John A. Hall (Verso, 400 pp., $49.95) John A. Hall concludes his account of Ernest Gellner by observing that his outlook on the world was austere. “But therein lies its attraction,” he goes on. “Not much real comfort for our woes is on offer; the consolations peddled in the market are indeed worthless.
Should the CIA Turn Against Pakistan's Spies?
December 26, 2010
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.
December 08, 2010
It is difficult, in these partisan times, to find any common ground in the debate over U.S. counterterrorism policy. But, on one matter, there seems to be almost uniform agreement: that President Obama has largely continued President Bush’s security policies.
The Art and Romance of the Diplomatic Cable
November 30, 2010
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.
November 10, 2010
This year, the United States will spend at least $700 billion on defense and security. Adjusting for inflation, that’s more than America has spent on defense in any year since World War II—more than during the Korean war, the Vietnam war, or the Reagan military buildup. Much of that enormous sum results from spending increases under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Since 2001, military and security expenditures have soared by 119 percent. For most of that time, of course, the United States has been fighting two wars. Yet that’s not the cause of the defense-spending explosion.
The Global Imam
November 10, 2010
The leader of what is arguably the world’s most successful Islamic movement lives in a tiny Pennsylvania town called Saylorsburg, at the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center, otherwise known as “the Camp.” The Camp consists of a series of houses, a community center, a pond, and some tranquil, woodsy space for strolling.
Hillary Clinton's 'American Moment' Was Nothing But American Blather
September 13, 2010
It came. It went. It vanished without a trace. Last week America’s secretary of state appeared before what passes in Washington for a gathering of the great and good and announced that a “new American Moment” had arrived. Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton (and her hopelessly pedestrian speechwriters), the secretary’s effort to brand our age didn’t take. The duration of the new American Moment did not extend beyond the peroration of her eminently forgettable speech. The temptation to pass quietly over Clinton’s performance and move on is strong—but should be resisted.
America May Have Overreacted to September 11 … but Americans Didn’t
September 11, 2010
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.
Obama Wants Us To Forget the Lessons of Iraq
August 31, 2010
The Iraq war? Fuggedaboudit. “Now, it is time to turn the page.” So advises the commander-in-chief at least. “[T]he bottom line is this,” President Obama remarked last Saturday, “the war is ending.” Alas, it’s not. Instead, the conflict is simply entering a new phase. And before we hasten to turn the page—something that the great majority of Americans are keen to do—common decency demands that we reflect on all that has occurred in bringing us to this moment.