National Security

On the NSA, the Real Problem Is That Obama Can’t Be Trusted

Featured image President Obama’s speech today on the NSA’s data collection programs satisfied hardly anyone. Few of his proposals will actually take effect any time soon, if at all, and his supposed safeguard against misuse of telephone metadata–it will still be collected and stored, just not by the NSA–is likely to make the situation worse, not better. Substantively, the most significant change is that the NSA will be required to obtain a »

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 »

Obama’s national security cop-out

Featured image A reader with first-hand knowledge about national security and intelligence issues, as well as the Obama administration’s policies relating thereto, has written to me about my two recent posts on NSA surveillance. The essence of my posts is that the Obama administration hand-picked a left-leaning panel to report on surveillance policy because it wanted a highly critical report to use as the basis for cutting back substantially on electronic surveillance. »

Rigged report on NSA paves way for Obama to take a powder

Featured image Yesterday, I suggested that the report on NSA surveillance by the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies delivered just what President Obama hoped and expected it would — a document that would pull the rug out from under his own surveillance policies. You don’t appoint a strongly left-leaning panel unless you want such a document. The president’s conduct at his press conference today tends to confirm my assessment. »

Left-wing panel delivers largely worthless report on NSA surveillance

Featured image The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies has released a report (available via link here), which calls for a significant scaling back of NSA surveillance activity. The report is basically what you would expect from a panel whose five members include two left-wing law professors (Cass Sunstein and Geoffrey Stone), a grossly dishonest former bureaucrat (Richard Clarke), the man who helped scrub the Benghazi points to eliminate references »

Conservatism’s increasingly uneasy relationship with “corporate America”

Featured image I wrote below about yesterday’s meeting at which leaders of the technology industry urged President Obama to alter America’s electronic surveillance policy in order to advance their business interests. The meeting brought to mind Lenin’s alleged statement that “the capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them.” The meeting also brought to mind an excellent article by John Fonte about the relationship between big business and the »

Frightened capitalists attempt to change national security policy

Featured image Lenin supposedly said “the capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them.” I thought of that quotation when I read about yesterday’s meeting between President Obama and leaders of America’s major technology firms. The company leaders reportedly warned Obama that NSA spying programs are damaging their reputations and could harm the broader economy. Shareholders are unhappy and foreign customers supposedly are backing away from American branded technology. »

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 »

The spying on Europeans farce

Featured image I love this headline on the front page of today’s Washington Post (print edition): “Officials: Obama unaware U.S. spied on allied leaders.” The locution is, I think, the Post’s way of signaling that it doesn’t really believe what the “officials” are saying. Nor should we. As John Yoo argues, spying on European leaders is something the U.S. has long done and should do, and this is common knowledge: Of course »

Jeh Johnson to head Department of Homeland Security

Featured image President Obama reportedly will select Jeh Johnson to succeed Janet Napolitano as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Johnson is a New York lawyer. He served as General Counsel of the Defense Department during Obama’s first term. I’m not a fan of Johnson, with whom I had some slight, peripheral contact when I practiced law. I criticized his manipulative role in ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” here. I expected »

The Best NSA Visual Yet

Featured image Hat tip to Jim Geraghty of National Review‘s “Morning Jolt” (and if you don’t subscribe–it’s free–you’re missing out) for pointing us to the best NSA put on yet: »

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 »

The Christie-Paul fight, and other fights to come

Featured image Chris Christie and Rand Paul are in the midst of a food fight. Not literally, but very much figuratively. Their debate has devolved from one about warrantless federal surveillance programs to the question of which state, New Jersey or Kentucky, receives more “pork.” You can read some of the lowlights here. For the record, I’m with Christie on the original issue — warrantless federal surveillance programs — and agnostic on »

The Bradley Manning verdict, two views

Featured image The Bradley Manning verdict is in. A military judge found Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy, but guilty of all 19 other counts, including five espionage charges. Presumably, he will face a long jail term as a result. Two of my go-to sources on matters relating to secrecy in the national security context take different views of the Manning verdict. Gabriel Schoenfeld, author of Necessary Secrets: National Security, the »

Peter King’s overly broad denunciation

Featured image Rep. Peter King added his voice to Chris Christie’s in blasting Rand Paul on foreign policy and national security issues. King went beyond attacking Paul, though — he indicted Republican House members who voted to curtail NSA’s surveillance program. King told CNN’s Candy Crowley that he finds it “absolutely disgraceful” that so many House Republicans voted to defund the NSA’s surveillance program. He added, “this is an isolationist streak that’s »

Liz Cheney for U.S. Senator

Featured image John wrote here about the prospect of a Liz Cheney challenge to incumbent Republican Senator Mike Enzi. John presents general views on when a challenge to a Republican incumbent should be welcomed by conservatives, and, applying this analysis, he concludes that a Chaney challenge is not welcome. I mostly agree with John’s general analysis, but find myself in the unusual position of disagreeing with him about this specific case. I’m »

Obama hits a wall in Berlin

Featured image Reading Obama’s speeches is a little like reading New York Times editorials. They don’t withstand close scrutiny, but that’s the least of it. They should be accompanied by a warning that they may be hazardous to your health. They kill brain cells. George Will suffers through Obama’s speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin so that we don’t have to. Will takes up the arms control thread in Obama’s speech. »