May 03, 2004
LAST WEEK, THE BIG NEWS from the 9/11 Commission was the disastrous counterterrorism performance of both the CIA and FBI over many years. (With Bob Woodward’s description of CIA Director George Tenet’s declaration to a skeptical George W. Bush in late 2002 that the intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction [WMD] was a “slam dunk,” Tenet now has the dubious distinction of having utterly failed on the two most important intelligence-related issues of our time.
TRB From Washington: Enemy Within
May 03, 2004
REPUBLICANS SAY THEY ARE dismayed by the partisanship of the 9/11 Commission and, if you define partisanship as criticism of the Bush administration--the working definition on much of the right--they are exactly right. But, if you define partisanship the way it's traditionally understood--as placing party interests above national ones--then the 9/11 Commission hasn't been very partisan at all. And that's what really irks the GOP: They're dismayed that the 9/11 Commission isn't partisan enough.
February 16, 2004
WHEN YOUR SIDE HOLDS the White House, it’s easy to conflate the president’s interests with the country’s. In the Bush era, conservative commentators have sometimes resisted that temptation—for instance, denouncing the president’s steel tariffs. Sometimes they’ve succumbed—for example, downplaying the Bush administration’s mishandling of postwar Iraq. And then there’s the debate over the 9/11 Commission, where they utterly surrendered.
December 14, 2003
The Bush administration's internecine squabbles over Iraq policy have gotten a lot of press, but no issue has divided its foreign policy team more than North Korea. For two years, engagers (who generally favor using diplomacy to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program) and hawks (who are suspicious of negotiations and believe rewarding North Korean leader Kim Jong Il could encourage other proliferators) were unable to resolve their differences. "It's as stark as stark could be--we weren't even on the same page," says one American official.
December 01, 2003
In early 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to President George W. Bush from the heart. The war in Afghanistan had been an astonishing display of U.S. strength. Instead of the bloody quagmire many predicted, CIA paramilitary agents, Special Forces, and U.S. air power had teamed with Northern Alliance guerrillas to run the Taliban and Al Qaeda out of their strongholds.
September 22, 2003
On May 28, George Tenet delivered for the Bush administration. Nearly two months had passed since the fall of Baghdad. U.S. forces had turned up no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, raising the specter of gross misjudgment on the part of the U.S. intelligence community and allegations of presidential dishonesty. But, that day, the CIA announced that two trailers found in northern Iraq the previous month were actually mobile biological-agent production facilities.
July 07, 2003
Over the past several weeks, a parade of foreign policy experts, touting a pile of recently published “blue-ribbon” think-tank reports, has taken to the airwaves in full cry against the Bush administration’s policy toward North Korea. Or, more precisely, the absence of a Bush administration policy toward North Korea. According to these critics, the feuds between the Defense and State Departments that hobble so much else have virtually paralyzed U.S. policy toward the Hermit Kingdom.
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 ...
November 05, 2001
It's not often that the White House holds a press conference to announce a demotion. But that's what happened on October 9, when Tom Ridge, President Bush's new homeland security adviser, and Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser, introduced the administration's newest anti-terrorism staffers. At a sterile ceremony in the fourth-floor briefing room of the Old Executive Office Building, Ridge and Rice announced that Richard Clarke, a pale, gray-haired man sitting on stage in an ill-fitting suit, would be the special assistant to the president for cyberspace security.