Central Intelligence Agency

Iran Contrarians
February 26, 2010

Say what you want about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but “he knows how to work a room.” So claims Flynt Leverett, the contrarian Iran analyst who, with his wife Hillary Mann Leverett, paid a visit to the Iranian president in New York City last fall. During the sit-down at Manhattan’s InterContinental Barclay hotel with a group of invited academics, foreign policy professionals, and other Iranophiles, the Leveretts marveled at Ahmadinejad’s attention to detail as the Iranian took copious notes and strove to pronounce their unfamiliar names correctly. “He addresses every person by name.

Saint and Sinner
February 08, 2010

Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone By Stanislao Pugliese (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 426 pp., $35) In June 1950, Ignazio Silone and Arthur Koestler, two of the most prominent anti-communist writers of that era, attended a convivial dinner party in West Berlin. They had gathered with several other intellectuals to celebrate the founding conference of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an American-sponsored riposte to the Soviet Cominform’s “peace conferences” of the preceding year.

Turf Warrior
January 25, 2010

In the shadow of the intelligence failure that culminated with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab lighting an explosive aboard a Detroit-bound flight, the titular head of the U.S. intelligence community was busy fighting another war. For months, in fact, Admiral Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence (DNI), had been waging an epic bureaucratic offensive. His job had been created in the wake of September 11 to foster cooperation and accountability among the 16 agencies sifting through the mounds of inbound data about threats to U.S. interests.

Does al Qaeda Imperil America?
January 11, 2010

Marty, dissenting from my praise for Peter Beinart's column on the degraded capability of al Qaeda, writes, "There is an instinct among many liberals and lefties to deny that the U.S. faces real peril from Al Qaeda." Obviously the debate here hinges upon how we define "peril." I'd define "peril" to mean a threat that could destroy or seriously alter the character of our country. By that definition, I don't believe that al Qaeda poses any peril to the United States right now (an important caveat I'll flesh out below).

Clutching at Straws: The So-Called "Weakness" of Al Qaeda (Plus a Postscript)
January 10, 2010

Jon Chait did me a good deed in rebutting Matthew Yglesias' canard calling me a racist. But the blogoleft has been so deprived of facts that it is left to fight its battles by resorting to epithets, of which "racist" is the most common.

My Suck-Up of The Day
January 08, 2010

I disagree with Marty fairly often, but I think Matthew Yglesias gets it wrong here: New Republic editor in chief Martin Peretz says that what the country needs is more anti-Muslim sentiment: And the truth is that it is not yet clear in the president’s head–or he is not yet being candid (which is my substitute for “frank” and “honest”)–that you can’t have a true view of routine mass murder in the contemporary world without having quite a harsh view of Islam today.

January 08, 2010

In late August, a couple of weeks after a U.S. drone strike incinerated Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, the country’s most popular televised chat show, “Capital Talk,” hosted a panel to discuss national security. Among the guests was a squat, middle-aged woman with short black hair, streaked with silver dye, named Shireen Mazari. A defense analyst and public intellectual, Mazari is known for her hawkish nationalism--and deep suspicions of India and the United States.

Look, Intelligence Failures Are Neither Democratic Nor Republican. Alas, They Are Both Non-Partisan and Bi-Partisan.
January 07, 2010

I have made my own criticisms of President Obama and his administration's perspectives on the etiology of terrorism in the world. And the truth is that it is not yet clear in the president's head--or he is not yet being candid (which is my substitute for "frank" and "honest")--that you can't have a true view of routine mass murder in the contemporary world without having quite a harsh view of Islam today.

No One Yet Has Said He's A Nutcake. But What Does "Isolated Extremist" Really Mean?
January 01, 2010

Joe Klein, who spent a lot of print trying more or less to exonerate Dr. Major Nidal Malik Hasan by dint of his being a nutcase, has been curiously silent about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. In fact, there's been a certain shyness among the whole left-wing blogosphere (and among Democrats, generally) about the skivvies terrorist. There is no place for these journalists to hide and no logic, however dubious, with which they can transfer the guilt to us.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: A Primer
January 01, 2010

On a February morning in 2006, as Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, was jolted awake by the calls to prayer from the city’s mosques, 23 Yemeni prisoners crawled their way to freedom. They had spent weeks patiently digging a 140-foot tunnel that would extend from their basement prison cell to a nearby mosque. Among the escapees were Jamal al-Badawi, the alleged mastermind of the 2000 USS Cole bombing that killed 17 American sailors, and Jaber al-Banna, a Yemeni with U.S.