Intelligence

Was Greenwald justified?

Featured image The case of Edward Snowden is important in more ways than one. He has massively violated the espionage laws of the United States and done great damage to our national security. Glenn Greenwald has been one of Snowden’s most prominent journalistic conduits and in my view shares Snowden’s culpability for the violation of the espionage laws. I made this case in principle when James Risen and the New York Times »

What was Snowden’s heist?

Featured image The most important column published online today is Edward Jay Epstein’s Wall Street Journal column “Was Snowden’s heist a foreign intelligence operation?” The column is behind the Journal’s subscription paywall, but it is easily accessible via Google. Ed makes the case that Snowden’s heist of intelligence data was part of an intelligence operation conducted against the United States. Here is how Ed’s column opens: Edward Snowden’s massive misappropriations of classified »

One Pillar of unwisdom revisited

Featured image A number of signs point to the pending agreement of the United United States et al. with the mad mullahs of Iran on a bad nuclear deal. Jonathan Tobin collects a few such signs at Commentary in the post “Aid can’t buy Israel’s silence on Iran deal.” Another such sign, it seems to me, is the trashing of Israel in Jeff Stein’s Newsweek article “Israel won’t stop spying on the »

Al Qaeda’s day out

Featured image Americans may have lost interest in terrorism, but terrorism remains interested in us. For example, the Washington Post reports on a video that surfaced on Islamist websites showing a large group of al Qaeda terrorists, including high ranking ones, taking part in an open-air gathering in Yemen. Describing the outing as “brazen,” the Post notes that the terrorists make no apparent effort to avoid detection by U.S. drones. The terrorists »

Former CIA official responds to attack by Senate Dems

Featured image I wrote here about the report by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence which, according to leaks, accuses the CIA of all manner of misconduct during the perilous post-9/11 period. I concluded that there is no basis for evaluating the truth of the report’s findings and that, considering the source, little reason to credit its conclusions or to take it very seriously. The same would be true, I added, if the »

Senate Democrats fire once again on the CIA

Featured image A new report by the Senate Intelligence Committee accuses the CIA of all manner of misconduct during the perilous post-9/11 period in which that Agency helped America combat al Qaeda and prevent additional deadly attacks. The Committee’s core conclusion, according to the Washington Post, is that “the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years.” Specifically, the CIA is said to have »

Intelligence Failure Revisited, Part 2

Featured image Musing about Putin’s swallowing up Crimea back on March 5, we posited that perhaps our intelligence agencies just aren’t that intelligent.  There’s a real howler in the lede of today’s Wall Street Journal front page article about the matter: U.S. military satellites spied Russian troops amassing within striking distance of Crimea last month. But intelligence analysts were surprised because they hadn’t intercepted any telltale communications where Russian leaders, military commanders »

The 1970s are calling

Featured image Rand Paul says he will call for the creation of a bipartisan committee to probe and reform the intelligence community. Paul wants the committee to “watch the watchers,” along the lines of the post-Watergate Church Committee in the 1970s. This idea was well-received by Berkeley students, as you would expect. The Church Committee too was very popular in leftist circles. The Church Committee was a response to serious abuses of »

Intelligence Failure Revisited

Featured image How come, people are asking, our vaunted intelligence establishment didn’t foresee Putin’s aggression against the Ukraine?  For instance, Politico asks: “A range of lawmakers and intelligence community experts are puzzled about why U.S. intelligence agencies seem to have misjudged Putin’s intentions and whether the lack of warning fits a pattern of other significant intelligence shortcomings in recent years.” How about this for an answer: Our “intelligence community” just isn’t very »

Who Saw the Ukraine Invasion Coming, and Who Didn’t

Featured image Now that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a fact, it is worthwhile to note who saw it coming, and who didn’t. Sarah Palin is one of those who did, famously predicting in 2008 that if Barack Obama was elected president, Putin may feel emboldened to invade Ukraine. The reaction was a little delayed, but still, the prescience is impressive. Mitt Romney sort of saw it coming; at least he »

Ed Epstein: Was Angleton right?

Featured image Edward Jay Epstein has written two compelling books and several magazine pieces deriving from his relationship with the legendary CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton. Ed originally met Angleton while he was conducting the research for his book Legend, on Lee Harvey Oswald’s time in the Soviet Union. Angleton took him on an extraordinary grand tour of his universe of deception, populated with orchids, moles, disinformation, and the key to »

Was Ellsberg justified?

Featured image I wrote about the interesting Intelligence Squared debate on Edward Snowden in “Was Snowden justified?” Video of the debate is posted at the link. A transcript of the debate is posted here. I thought the debate was interesting in part because it revealed the weakness of the arguments in favor of Snowden by Ben Wizner, a legal adviser to Snowden and an authoritative source on his case, such as it »

Was Snowden justified?

Featured image The Volokh Conspiracy’s Nicholas Rosenkranz links to the “particularly lively” Intelligence Squared debate this week in New York City: “Resolved: Snowden Was Justified.” Arguing for the motion were Daniel Ellsberg, the guy who delivered the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and other media outlets in 1971; and Ben Wizner, legal adviser to Edward Snowden and attorney for the ACLU. Arguing against the motion were Andrew C. McCarthy, the »

Assessing Iran

Featured image Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before Congress this week. At Commentary, Tom Wilson takes up Clapper’s testimony on Iran’s nuclear program: In yesterday’s State of the Union address President Obama spoke stridently of how “American diplomacy … has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program—and rolled back parts of that program.” The president spoke with apparent pride of the “peaceful” efforts being taken to prevent Iran from gaining »

Another reason to miss President Bush

Featured image John Rizzo spent 34 years as a lawyer at the Central Intelligence Agency. The memoir of his service between 1976 and 2009 — Company Man — has just been published. It was the subject of a harshly negative review by Fred Kaplan in the New York Times Book Review a few weeks back. By contrast, in a review behind the Wall Street Journal’s loosely guarded paywall (you can dig it »

Federal judge upholds NSA phone records collection policy

Featured image A federal judge in New York City, not far from where the Twin Towers stood, ruled today that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ telephone records is legal. William Pauley, a Clinton appointee, found that the NSA’s program is a valuable part of the nation’s arsenal to counter the threat of terrorism and “only works because it collects everything.” Judge Pauley’s ruling makes far more sense »

From Snowden with love

Featured image Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden conceives of himself as a citizen of the world, or of the realm of Digitalia. He does not sound like anyone to be trusted with an assessment on our behalf the costs and benefits of the course of action he has undertaken, yet he remains the subject of adulation among our libertarian friends. That is not to say that the NSA should be free of »