Central Intelligence Agency
The Beck Supremacy
December 26, 2009
When Vince Flynn recently finished writing his eleventh novel, Pursuit of Honor, he sent an advance copy to Rush Limbaugh, along with some special reading instructions. Upon arriving at Chapter 50, he told the radio host in a note inscribed on the chapter’s first page, “open one of your bottles of Lafite and grab a cigar and savor these words.” Flynn self-published his first political thriller twelve years ago but, today, has a seven-figure contract with an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
The Battle for Tora Bora
December 22, 2009
Four days before the fall of Kabul in November 2001, Osama bin Laden was still in town. The Al Qaeda leader’s movements before and after September 11 are difficult to trace precisely, but, just prior to the attacks, we know that he appeared in Kandahar and urged his followers to evacuate to safer locations in anticipation of U.S. retaliation. Then, on November 8, he was in Kabul, despite the fact that U.S. forces and their Afghan allies were closing in on the city.
Fear and Loathing in Pakistan
December 21, 2009
Islamabad, Pakistan The US Embassy in Islamabad is a tense and embattled place. The embassy complex is fortress-like, sequestered in a secure area to the east of the city known as the "diplomatic enclave," whose approaches are guarded by multiple security checkpoints. The compound's outer perimeter is festooned with barbed wire and towering walls. Arriving vehicles are stopped for bomb-checks, sealed into a quarantined area with high walls on either side and heavy iron doors at front and back.
A 'Civilian Surge'? Not so Fast
December 08, 2009
Laura Rozen reports on a troubling report from retired general Barry McCaffrey and commissioned by Centcom commander David Petraeus: "The international civilian agency surge will essentially not happen ---although State Department officers, US AID, CIA, DEA, and the FBI will make vital contributions. Afghanistan over the next 2-3 years will be simply too dangerous for most civil agencies." For more on the challenge of mounting an effective civilian effort in a war zone, see this recent TNR piece by Steve Metz.
The Great Satan Myth
December 08, 2009
The Iranian regime has never found itself more vulnerable. And, with this vulnerability, it has never leaned more heavily on its own narrative of history.
November 28, 2009
Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations By Avi Shlaim (Verso, 392 pp., $34.95) Avi Shlaim burst upon the scene of Middle Eastern history in 1988, with the publication of Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine. Before that, as a young lecturer at Reading University in England, he had produced two books, British Foreign Secretaries Since 1945 (1977) and The United States and the Berlin Blockade, 1948–1949 (1983), and several revealing essays on modern Middle Eastern historical issues in academic journals.
How Do You Say 'Reset' in Pashto?
November 20, 2009
The WaPo's Rajiv Chandrasekaran reports that the Obama administration has decided to try a little tenderness with Hamid Karzai: The new approach, which one official described as a "reset" of the relationship, will entail more engagement with members of Karzai's cabinet and provincial governors, officials said, because they have concluded that the Afghan president lacks the political clout in his highly decentralized nation to purge corrupt local warlords and power brokers. The CIA has sent a longtime field officer close to Karzai to be the new station chief in Kabul.
Did Gates Blow the Call on the Soviets?: A Dissent
November 18, 2009
As I argue in my recent print story on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the prevailing view in Washington foreign policy circles is that Gates, as an anti-Soviet hardliner at the CIA in the late 1980s, misread the import of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika and failed to see the USSR's collapse coming. But here's a dissenting view, via email, from Andrew Hamilton, a former national security council staffer, among other government posts, as well as a longtime writer on foreign policy issues (who now writes editorials for the Chaleston, S.C., Post and Courier): Michael Crowley’s engaging portray
Under the Bus (cont'd)
November 16, 2009
Following up on Mike's post about the various people Obama has thrown under the bus, it does seem that there's an unusual amount of handwringing going on about Greg Craig, or at least about the manner in which he was thrown, through a series of well-orchestrated leaks. One of the most overwrought bits comes Steve Clemons who, in a Daily Beast piece titled "The Assassination of Greg Craig," writes: What just happened to Gregory Craig should not have happened in Obama Land.
Gates "Appalled" Over Leaks on Afghanistan, Ft. Hood
November 12, 2009
He is a former CIA man, after all. He knows how to keep secrets and wishes others would do the same.