Intelligence

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 »

Lee Harvey Oswald: Epstein’s short course

Featured image Thirty years ago the Wall Street Journal published Edward Jay Epstein’s essay “Who was Lee Harvey Oswald” on the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Ed has sent along his draft of the essay with the question: “How much has changed?” If anything has changed, it is the ever increasing quantity of ignorance and stupidity abroad in the land on the subject of the Kennedy assassination. Here is Epstein’s 1983 short »

The JFK Assassination Diary: Q & A with Ed Epstein (bumped)

Featured image Edward Jay Epstein is incapable of writing a dull book. He is the author, for example, of three fascinating books on the Kennedy assassination: Inquest: The Warren Commission and the Establishment of Truth, Counterplot: Garrison vs. Oswald, Ferrie, Shaw, Warren Commission, FBI, CIA, the Media, and the Establishment and Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald. His three books on the assassination have been collected in The Assassination Chronicles. »

NSA data collection: What, me worry?

Featured image Yesterday’s panel on NSA data collection featuring former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and George Mason University Law Professor Jeremy Rabkin was one of the highlights of this year’s National Lawyers Convention. After the introductions by moderator and former Acting Attorney George Terwilliger, Mr. Mukasey opens the discussion. Professor Rabkin provides a contrasting attitude and rollicking black humor. The program winds up with good questions from the audience. The whole program »

From Tehran with Quds

Featured image You may have missed the news over the weekend that Israeli intelligence authorities apprehended an Iranian spy of Belgian nationality as he was departing the country two weeks ago. Haaretz reports the story here and the Washington Post here. What was he scoping out on behalf of his paymasters in Tehran? He apparently hadn’t received word that it is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius in Tehran: On his »

Journalism or espionage?

Featured image Back in the dark days of the Bush administration I wrote about the New York Times’s damaging violations of the Espionage Act on Power Line and in the Weekly Standard column “Exposure.” I was appalled by the Times’s revelation of secret eavesdropping and monitoring techniques adopted by the administration to detect and undermine al Qaeda. I wasn’t alone in my concerns. Writing from the front lines of the battle against »

The spy left out in the cold

Featured image Robert Seldon Lady is a former covert CIA operative who performed extraordinary renditions on behalf of the agency in Italy while under diplomatic cover in Milan. In 2009 he was convicted of kidnapping for the snatching of an Egyptian Islamist in 2003. Rachel Donadio reported on the convictions of Lady and others in the New York Times, declaring the convictions “a landmark ruling.” Donadio was predictably excited and impressed. According »

Confusing minor technical mistakes with real civil liberties infringements

Featured image Benjamin Wittes provides a devastating critique of the Washington Post’s overwrought account of what the latest set of Snowden-leaked NSA documents shows. According to Wittes, the Post “has managed. . .to completely mislead its readers as to the significance of these documents.” The problem, he explains “is not the paper’s facts [but] with the edifice it has built with those facts.” Wittes also finds that the Obama administration’s public response »

On the trail of the Stuxnet leak

Featured image This will not come as a great shock to many readers, but it is of interest: “In classified cyberwar against Iran, trail of Stuxnet leak leads to White House.” Rowan Scarborough reports: The Obama administration provided a New York Times reporter exclusive access to a range of high-level national security officials for a book that divulged highly classified information on a U.S. cyberwar on Iran’s nuclear program, internal State Department »

Obama Epic Fail on Foreign Policy Revisited

Featured image Last week I put up a brief post on how the current terror warning that has seen the U.S. close most of its embassies in the Middle East–based on “chatter”–is peculiar, if not worse.  Every watcher of The Sopranos or The Wire knows that the bad guys are not dumb, and know that we’ll be listening to any conventional communication, which is why I suggested this whole thing might well »

Ledeen on the Benghazi cover-up

Featured image Our friend Michael Ledeen is a student of intelligence matters and American foreign policy. He writes to comment on John’s post on the Benghazi cover-up. I have regularized the capitalization in Michael’s message but otherwise left it as is. Submitted for your consideration without further comment: I have never believed the rumor that we were sending arms from Libya to Syrian rebels. I was told by Syrian friends that the »

Can’t defect to Russia? Defect to the Soviet Union

Featured image That thought is prompted by this report from Bill Gertz called “Edward Snowden Seeking to Join KGB Veterans Group.” Renegade National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has applied to join a group of former Russian intelligence and security officials, according to the group’s director. Participation in a union of former KGB security, intelligence, and police officials, would likely change Snowden’s status from that of a whistleblower seeking to expose wrongdoing, »

EJE: The Snowden variations

Featured image Our friend Edward Jay Epstein is the author of several books on intelligence related matters including James Jesus Angleton: Was He Right? and Deception: The Invisible War Between the KGB and the CIA. Ed now wonders “Who helped Snowden steal state secrets?” We previewed Ed’s intriguing Wall Street Journal column here. I wrote Ed this morning to ask him what he made of today’s story that the NSA was monitoring »

EJE: Was Snowden alone?

Featured image Our friend Edward Jay Epstein takes a look at the Snowden timeline and asks whether Snowden has been playing with others who remain unidentified: My question: Was Snowden alone in this enterprise to publish COMINT? Prior to his taking the Booz Allen Hamilton job in Hawaii, he was in contact with other people who, five months later, helped arrange the publication of the COMINT. In January 2013, according to the »