Obama Administration

US Finds Influence Hard to Buy

For decades the U.S. government has ladled billions upon billions in military assistance to countries that either don’t need it or use it to suppress popular uprisings. But all that money has bought very little in terms of genuine influence with the recipients, ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman writes.

Why MSNBC Defends NSA Surveillance

President Obama seems more willing to alienate his base of young supporters who object to the growing Surveillance State than to offend the national security apparatchiks who run it. But Obama’s crackdown on leakers also has found apologists among MSNBC’s “liberal” talkers, as Jeff Cohen reports.

Snowden Honored by Ex-Intel Officials

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, an organization of former national security officials, has honored NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, praising his decision to reveal the extent of U.S. government electronic surveillance of people in the United States and around the world.

Who’s to Blame for Egypt’s Chaos?

Many U.S. pundits are blaming the Egyptian coup on the clumsy political actions of elected Islamist President Morsi. But the collapse of Egypt’s one-year democratic experiment resulted, too, from the rigid opposition of the secularists who entered an alliance with the old power structure, writes Lawrence Davidson.

Gitmo’s Kafkaesque Kangaroo Courts

The Military Commissions for trying alleged al-Qaeda terrorists always had the risk of becoming Kafkaesque kangaroo courts with little credibility among people around the world, a danger that has become more and more acute as the process moves forward, Marjorie Cohn writes.

Another ‘War on Terror’ Casualty

Attorney Lynne Stewart aggressively defended alleged terrorists, making her a target of President George W. Bush’s “war on terror.” After 9/11, she was prosecuted for violating special security rules for dealing with a client – and is now dying of cancer in federal prison, denied compassionate release, reports William Boardman.

Risky Business of Morsi’s Ouster

The military ouster of elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was cheered by some anti-Islamists as a repudiation of Morsi’s autocratic rule and his Muslim Brotherhood. But the coup could further radicalize the region’s Islamists with dangerous implications for the U.S. and the world, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Flag-Waving to Death

In American politics and media, anyone who questions the concept of “American Exceptionalism” is banished to the margins of society. But this self-aggrandizing notion has always contained a large measure of self-deception, ignoring the suffering inflicted on other peoples and on U.S. soldiers, as Gary G. Kohls notes.

Taking on Israeli-Palestinian Impasse

The Egyptian military has ousted President Morsi and Syria is in a civil war, but Secretary of State Kerry has invested much of his time on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some pundits question Kerry’s priorities but they ignore how corrosive the Israeli occupation has been to U.S. interests, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Gauging Sympathy for Snowden

As the U.S. media turns on NSA leaker Edward Snowden – and as many Americans say they’re happy to trade some privacy for more security – samples of public opinion abroad are more sympathetic. An online poll by a major German daily reflects that sentiment, writes ex-Danish intelligence analyst Frank S. Grevil.