National Security

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 »

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 »

Libertarian push-polling at CPAC

Featured image A poll of participants at the just concluded CPAC gathering in Washington, D.C. asked, among other things, “Do you favor or oppose the National Security Agency’s (NSA) use of data collection such as phone-tapping and reading of emails to combat global terrorism?” 78 percent of respondents said they oppose; only 19 percent said they are in favor. The question is ambiguous, I think. It could be construed to mean, “Do »

Congress begins to understand the extent of Snowden’s treachery

Featured image If I were to defend John’s view that “our civilization is in a state of deep decline, from which it probably cannot recover,” I would be tempted to cite the large number of people, including many conservatives, who view Edward Snowden as other than a traitor. But that argument might be unfair because the public has no idea of the threat posed to the U.S. by Snowden’s theft, and presumed »

Obama’s “stop America before my successors sin again” imperative

Featured image As Scott points out below, Chuck Hagel announced yesterday that the Obama administration plans to shrink the Army to its lowest troop levels since before World War II. What are we to make of this? Peter Wehner provides the correct answer in the title of a post called “Obama Consciously Engineering America’s Decline.” As Wehner explains: [Obama] views the weakening of American power as a downright positive thing, as a »

Jeh Johnson gets a few things right

Featured image Jeh Johnson, who recently became Homeland Security Secretary, has delivered his first policy address. He devoted part of his speech, delivered at the Woodrow Wilson Center, to pushing for immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The fact that the implementation of immigration reform legislation would, in no small measure, be in the hands of a left-liberal partisan like Johnson provides additional reason, if any were needed, »

Obama ties military’s hands by reading al Qaeda out of Benghazi

Featured image Katherine Zimmerman of AEI, whose work we have highlighted before, wrote an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post about the need to formulate a reasonable definition of al Qaeda. The whole column is worth reading, but I was struck most by her explanation of why the military won’t take action against the perpetrators of the Benghazi attack: Here’s the problem: According to recently declassified testimony of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of »

Don’t shoot the messenger

Featured image Walter Pincus, the Washington Post’s long-time voice of conventional liberal thinking on national defense issues, is unhappy with Robert Gates’ new book. He complains that, although Gates devotes nearly half of the book to his two years at the Pentagon under President Bush, he provides “no embarrassing anecdotes or acidic comments.” No doubt, there were embarrassing moments at the Pentagon while Gates was serving Bush there. But Gates’ high-profile revelations »

Of jayvee terrorists. . . and presidents [UPDATED]

Featured image In his recent interview with The New Yorker, President Obama referred to today’s al-Qaeda fighters as the “jayvee” team. Obama stated: The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. It’s not surprising that Obama takes this position. As Steve Bucci of the Heritage Foundation reminds us, before Benghazi, Obama claimed that »

Is Obama’s NSA plan a non-starter?

Featured image President Obama’s idea of ending the government’s role in gathering the phone records of Americans is probably unworkable according to various U.S. officials contacted by the Washington Post. Obama’s idea is to transfer control of the NSA’s massive database of phone records to telephone companies or some kind of independent board. But the phone companies do not want this responsibility and, according to the Post, no one has come up »

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. »