The Ubiquitous New Yorker

Remember the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel who made his mark saving aristos from the guillotine? “They seek him here, they seek him there. Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven or is he in hell? That damned elusive Pimpernel.” Fortunately Baroness Orczy’s creation lived and worked in the eighteenth century. It’s not so difficult … Continue reading “The Ubiquitous New Yorker”

US Counterterror Policy Brought to You by Our Sponsor, Israel

I’ve written several critical appraisals of Spies Against Armageddon, Yossi Melman’s trashy spy novel which passes for a sober account of the Mossad’s heroics. After reading Marcia Cohen’s review at Lobelog, I’ve discovered that there is at least one important segment worth examining. Melman recounts the story of the assassination of Abbas Musawi, at the … Continue reading “US Counterterror Policy Brought to You by Our Sponsor, Israel”

Data Mining You

I was out of the country only nine days, hardly a blink in time, but time enough, as it happened, for another small, airless room to be added to the American national security labyrinth. On March 22, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Jr. signed off on new guidelines allowing … Continue reading “Data Mining You”

Life in the USSA

Last week, the Washington Post ran an excellent three-part series on the growing national security state. The series, written by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, was titled “Top Secret America,” and the articles were titled “A Hidden World, Growing Beyond Control,” “National Security, Inc.,” and “The Secrets Next Door.” This series, said the Post‘s … Continue reading “Life in the USSA”

The Complexity Conundrum

Many years ago I read a science fiction story in which earthmen are conducting a war against a primitive people in a far distant star system: the natives, while less developed than their Terran overlords, were putting up quite a fight, and the colonizers, in an effort to stamp out the insurgency, launched an effort … Continue reading “The Complexity Conundrum”

Intelligence Reform Is a Failure

The sacking of Dennis Blair, the third director of national intelligence in the position’s short five-year history, is one important indicator that the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004 has failed. That act was effective neither in achieving real reform of the sprawling intelligence bureaucracies nor in preventing terrorist attacks. In fact, Blair’s … Continue reading “Intelligence Reform Is a Failure”

Obama Expands Military Involvement in Africa

When President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, it was widely expected that he would dramatically change, or even reverse, the militarized and unilateral security policy that had been pursued by the George W. Bush administration toward Africa and other parts of the world. After one year in office, however, it is clear that … Continue reading “Obama Expands Military Involvement in Africa”

Does the US Government Understand the Terrorist Threat?

Most Americans just assume that the U.S. government’s actions to protect them from terrorism, if not perfect, are rational, based on sound information and analysis, and undertaken with the intention to protect the most people possible. But the government’s response here to the tragic bombings on the Russian subway should raise questions about such assumptions. … Continue reading “Does the US Government Understand the Terrorist Threat?”