National Security

The limits of air strikes in Iraq

Featured image Robert Scales, a retired Army major general and former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, argues that an air campaign against ISIS is destined to fail. At first, it will probably set ISIS back, but before long the fighters will adapt. They will make targets more difficult to locate from the air and hide them (and themselves) in populated areas. Scales concludes: As the enemy grows more skilled, we »

Hagel sends 130 advisers to deal with “the most brutal, barbaric forces we’ve ever seen”

Featured image In his address to Marines in San Diego, Chuck Hagel described the threat posed by ISIS this way: The Iraqi people, the government of Iraq, country of Iraq is now under threat from some of the most brutal, barbaric forces we’ve ever seen in the world today, and a force, [ISIS], and others that is an ideology that’s connected to an army and it’s a force and a dimension that »

“The world is exploding” but Chuck Hagel is on the case

Featured image Chuck Hagel addressed a group of Marines in San Diego yesterday and afterwards tried to answer questions. One Marine asked: My question is that, given that the administration’s primary focus is on the Pacific theater, how has all of the issues popping up in the world today, Russia, Iraq, Africa, the rest of the theaters pretty much affected that current mission? And how do you foresee that affecting the mission »

What is Abu Khattala’s highest and best use?

Featured image According to this report: The Justice Department says its case against [Ahmed Abu Khattala], accused in the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, is unusually complex and involves “novel questions of fact and law.” In a Washington, D.C., federal courtroom Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael DiLorenzo said the government had already begun sharing sensitive documents with defense attorneys. But many of the hundreds of people interviewed »

The not-so-dirty half dozen

Featured image The New York Times has been working overtime to discredit members of Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon who, with seeming unanimity, believe he deserted. First, the Times editors complained that the six platoon members who have appeared before the media to call Bergdahl a deserter were being served up by “Republican operatives.” But the Times presented no evidence that the platoon members themselves are political partisans. Moreover, Times reporters Richard A. Oppel »

American exceptionalism in the time of Obama

Featured image I’m ready to concede that President Obama believes in American exceptionalism — his own version, in which American does things so perverse that no other country in history would even contemplate them. Any country might do a prisoner swap, even if it meant freeing very bad people. But only an exceptional country would swap five leading terrorists in exchange for a deserter. Any second-rate county might screw up in providing »

Taliban becomes our latest enemy to play Obama for a patsy

Featured image President Obama has released five senior Taliban commanders from the Guantanamo Bay prison in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. It’s a great moment for Bergdahl and his family, but unfortunately it puts American lives at risk. This would be true regardless of who, exactly, had been released. Any exchange puts Americans in danger of being seized as bargaining chips to secure the future release of terrorists. But Obama’s exchange »

Is Obama too sanguine about al Qaeda’s threat to the homeland?

Featured image Amidst all the straw men President Obama grappled with during his mushy commencement speech at West Point were a few serious points. One of them was this: [T]he need for a new strategy reflects the fact that today’s principal threat no longer comes from a centralized Al Qaida leadership. Instead, it comes from decentralized Al Qaida affiliates and extremists, many with agendas focused in countries where they operate. And this »

Will a liberal’s good deed be punished?

Featured image What does it take to defeat an Obama court of appeals nominee now that the Democrats have invoked the “nuclear option” and abolished the filibuster for all but Supreme Court selections? Spearheading an ideologically-based defense of a cop-killer is probably sufficient. It was enough to defeat the nomination of Debo Adegbile for a top Justice Department position for which he could have been confirmed by a simple majority vote. Being »

Obama’s most dangerous lie

Featured image Rank-ordering the lies of President Obama is a daunting task. But high on any sound list, though absent from most actual ones, is Obama’s claim that al Qaeda has been “decimated” and is “on the path to defeat.” This claim was ripped to shreds yesterday at an AEI conference called “Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda.” You can watch that event here and I encourage you »

U.S. strikes in Yemen after al Qaeda’s day out

Featured image In a post called “Al Qaeda’s day out,” I criticized the Obama administration for backing away from drone strikes against that outfit in the terrorist hotbed of Yemen. Therefore, it is only fair that I give the administration credit for launching an aggressive drone strike campaign over the weekend in Yemen against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In one drone strike the U.S. targeted AQAP’s top bomb maker, »

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 »

When it comes to spying, secrecy and accountability are not mutually exclusive

Featured image Barton Gellman, who led a Washington Post team that revealed NSA surveillance measures, has argued that our interest in “self-government” requires that the public know “the secret policy decisions the government is making for us.” I have responded that our interest in self-government is sufficiently vindicated in cases like spying that require secrecy as long as the political process determines who makes the secret decisions and provides for checks against »

Annals of journalistic self-aggrandizement and congratulation

Featured image The Washington Post has received a Pulitzer public service medal for its role in revealing secrets of the National Security Agency (NSA). It’s natural that journalists and those associated with them wish to celebrate this sort of disclosure. Their interest is in selling newspapers, conferring status on their profession, and influencing public policy (not necessarily in that order). Even assuming that they are also interested in promoting national security, any »

The Warthog, a soldier’s best friend; Obama, not so much

Featured image Why is President Bush so much more popular than President Obama among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans? That’s an easy one. Bush was the president of let’s roll. Obama is the president of let’s retreat. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans subscribed to the motto that America’s colors “don’t run.” Under Obama, however, they have. There must also be a sense that Bush had a closer personal connection than Obama with those who »

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 »