CIA

Free speech under attack at the University of Pennsylvania

Featured image Last Friday, protesters at the University of Pennsylvania shut down a campus foreign policy discussion forum featuring CIA director John Brennan. They accomplished this by disrupting Brennan’s speech. The protest was organized by Penn’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). I shouldn’t be surprised that SDS, an odious and notoriously anti-democratic outfit from the 1960s to which I once belonged, is back. Heck, even the Industrial Workers of »

Obama’s CIA Director Is Opposed to Spying

Featured image Unbelievable, but true: President Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan, doesn’t think the agency should engage in spying. He finds espionage unsavory, apparently. John Sipher, a former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service and a recipient of the agency’s Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, explains: In what was otherwise a thoughtful interview with National Public Radio last week, CIA Director John Brennan expressed his personal view that the CIA should be »

“Early signs of Russian intent”

Featured image That’s the front page headline of today’s Washington Post (paper edition). The story is about signs in August that Putin was mobilizing for a military offensive in Syria. Despite these signs, the Obama administration was “caught flat-footed” when the Russian offensive materialized two months later. In a larger sense, “Russian intent” has long been clear. Putin has said he consider the fall of Soviet power a geopolitical catastrophe. He wants »

Dartmouth alum provides clarity on “torture”

Featured image Robert Grenier served in the CIA for 27 years. In 2001, as station chief in Islamabad, he developed a CIA war plan for southern Afghanistan that relied on Afghans to drive Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters from Kabul and install Hamid Karzai as the country’s new president. He describes these events in a new book called 88 Days to Kandahar. Grenier also helped coordinate covert operations in support of the »

Resist this

Featured image Steve Coll is dean of the Columbia Journalism School and an accomplished reporter in his own right. He is a staff writer for the New Yorker and the author of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden and the Soviet Invasion, From the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2011, among other books. He reports on issues of intelligence and national security and in the journalism »

The CIA-Mossad joint assassination leak, why now?

Featured image The Washington Post reported today that in 2008, the CIA worked with Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service, to kill Imad Mughniyah, an important Hezbollah operative. According to the Post, Mossad did the deed, but the CIA built the bomb that Mossad used, testing it repeatedly to make sure the blast wouldn’t damage a large area thereby causing collateral damage. The story isn’t without inherent interest. However, the big question »

Americans still see Bush-era interrogation techniques as justified and effective

Featured image One of the nobler, if not the only noble purpose of publicly releasing the Feinsten report was to fuel public debate about the very harsh interrogation techniques used in some instances by the CIA after 9/11. Predictably, though, the rekindled debate has been as stale as the original version had become. In any event, the returns from the debate are in. A Pew Research survey shows that, by a wide »

The Context of Harsh Interrogation

Featured image As Dick Cheney and others have emphasized, it is foolish to evaluate the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA without acknowledging their context: in the aftermath of 9/11, the federal government’s most important responsibility was to do everything possible to ensure that there was no sequel. Democratic Senators and Congressmen who were briefed on the CIA’s operations at the time had no problem with what the agency was doing. »

John Brennan’s knowable “unknowables”

Featured image John Brennan spoke to the press yesterday about Dianne Feinstein’s travesty of a report on past CIA interrogation practices. It’s highly unusual for the CIA director to hold take questions from the media, but Brennan did. Unusual though Brennan’s appearance was, the Washington Post, which has devoted its front page to story after story on Feinstein’s hit-job, relegates Brennan to page 14. The Post, it appears, is only marginally more »

Feinstein’s war on the CIA — what purpose does it serve?

Featured image The Obama administration has instituted special security measures to protect U.S. facilities around the world in the event of attacks prompted by the release of Dianne Feinstein’s “torture” report. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that “there are some indications. . .that the release of the report could lead to a greater risk that is posed to U.S. facilities and individuals all around the world.” John Kerry was concerned enough »

Senate Intelligence Committee’s Report Confirms that CIA Did Not Torture Detainees

Featured image I haven’t had time to read the entire Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, an unclassified version of which was released today. It is 499 pages long. But I have spent enough time with it to have several observations. First, the tone of the report is remarkably hostile to the CIA. It reads like a prosecutor’s brief. I don’t know what the Agency did to »

Dianne Feinstein and her one-sided, self-serving report on enhanced interrogations

Featured image The big news today will be the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s interrogation policy during the Bush years, which has finally been made public. The mainstream media will see to it that the story dominates the headlines. It already dominates the Washington Post’s main page. I expect we’ll have lots to say about the report, whose contents have been leaked over the past months. For now, I’ll link »