National Security

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. »

Chickens of a feather

Featured image Revelations over the past few days of the Obama administration’s national security surveillance measures have prompted a furious reaction on the left. The New York Times announced that with the revelations the administration had forfeited all credibility, then ratcheted back its condemnation to apply only to “this issue.” The Times isn’t getting off the Obama Express with a midterm to come and nearly four years to go, but the disillusionment »

Americans are tired; Obama is tired — but not of the same thing

Featured image President Obama’s legendary intellectual dishonesty was on full display once again in his “The Future of our Fight Against Terrorism” address. In essence, the speech called for a pullback, if not an end to, the “war” on terrorism. He prefaced this call with a quote from James Madison: “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” And he pushed it home by emphasizing the duration of »

Obama signals retreat in the fight against terrorism

Featured image President Obama delivered an address today at the National Defense University called “The Future of our Fight Against Terrorism.” Actually, part of the speech was about the past, including much self-congratulation and some shots at President Bush. This part of the speech is revisionist rubbish. As Max Boot explains: Obama said, for example, that after he came into office, “we unequivocally banned torture, affirmed our commitment to civilian courts, worked »

The Benghazi hearing — during the attack

Featured image Yesterday’s Benghazi hearing tended to confirm my view that, looking back, the four Americans who died during the attack (which occurred in two distinct phases) were doomed due to the inadequate security provided by the State Department. In other words, there probably was nothing we could have done once the attack commenced that would have saved them. However, the hearing also confirmed that the U.S. declined to take actions that, »

Dancing with Kim Jong Un

Featured image I want to second Steve’s thoughts about Kim Jong Un and North Korea. The recent words and moves by North Korea strike me as saber rattling for a purpose (or, more likely, purposes). One purpose, as Steve says, is to obtain new concessions from the U.S. Another purpose may well be to shore up the dictator’s standing with the military. It has been reported that Kim Jong Un has turned »

The Madness of King Jong III?

Featured image The North Korean farce continues, and to be sure, I made mirth of it here on April Fools Day.  It is assumed that Kim Jong Un is an erratic young wacko, perhaps involved in some domestic intrigue.  But maybe not.  Let’s run through the balance sheet. The pattern for North Korea for the last 20 years has been to throw a tantrum, and then collect concessions from the United States.  »

The Norks’ Extended April Fool’s Joke?

Featured image Impossible to tell from here whether the North Korean boy prince Kim Jong Un’s belligerence is serious, a new attempt to blackmail the U.S., or some kind of internal intrigue to shore up his position against forces in the military or other elites that might think they’ve had just about enough of the Kims.  The fact that we’ve sent over stealth fighters and bombers suggests we’re taking the matter seriously. »

Rand Paul finds his punching bag, but only for the short term

Featured image What are Rand Paul’s biggest assets as he attempts to convert the GOP into an isolationist party? He has several, and one of them is John McCain. McCain surely is among the names Paul “didn’t need to mention” when he declared before CPAC that “the GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered.” Paul also didn’t perceive a need to name the GOP policies he believes are stale. Instead, he »

Why Rand Paul’s filibuster was something worse than grandstanding

Featured image Last week, I wondered whether Rand Paul’s filibuster was “grandstanding or something worse.” Actually, in the course of the post I made it clear that, for me, the filibuster (in addition, perhaps, to grandstanding) was indeed “something worse”: I fear that, like his father, Paul’s underlying objection is to what he has called the “perpetual war” against Islamist terrorists. Being more politically astute then Ron Paul, the junior Senator from »

Mac Owens: Locklear’s list

Featured image Mackubin Thomas Owens served as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He now serves on the faculty of the Naval War College while also also serving as the editor of Orbis, the quarterly journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is a scholar of civil-military relations, as evidenced his book, US Civil-Military Relations After 9/11: Renegotiating the Civil-Military Bargain. »

Republican “Old Bulls” chastise Rand Paul, unconvincingly

Featured image John McCain and Lindsey Graham have blasted Rand Paul over his filibuster of the Brennan nomination. Quoting a Wall Street Journal editorial, McCain said: “If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms.” Graham wondered why Republican Senators had not been riled up over President Bush’s use of drones. He also said that »