Confirmation hearings for John Brennan to head the CIA will give Congress – and the American people – their first chance for some public airing of the secret drone program that has struck at suspected al-Qaeda terrorists, including U.S. citizens, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.
A key federal budget trick is using words to confuse citizens, such as labeling U.S. military spending as “defense” though much is for “offense” and sliding costs for wounded soldiers under “veterans affairs” and nuclear bombs under “energy,” as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.
Israel attacked a target in Syria, allegedly out of concern that some antiaircraft missiles might be shifted to Hezbollah in Lebanon. But the mysterious raid raises troubling questions about the possible region-wide spread of the Syrian civil war, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Congressional “tough-guy-ism” – blocking President Obama’s plan to shutter the Guantanamo Bay prison and insisting on military tribunals for 9/11 terrorism suspects – is making the prosecutions harder than if they had been transferred to civilian courts, an irony addressed by ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Some of our special stories in December focused on political battles facing Barack Obama’s second term, the firebombing at the house of an ex-Israeli spy, the slaughter of 20 children in Connecticut, and the Right’s insistent misinterpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
Mutual distrust between the U.S. and Iran may be the biggest obstacle to an agreement on curtailing Iran’s nuclear program and easing international sanctions. But the best hope for progress would be a readiness among Western powers to lift sanctions in exchange for a nuke deal, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Though U.S. observers tend to view Egypt’s politics through a secular-vs.-Islamist lens, a clearer way of seeing what’s happening in that important Arab country is to examine other issues, like the economy, that are motivating Egyptians, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Seeking consistent standards for using lethal drones, the Obama administration is drafting a manual to govern when such attacks can be unleashed. But the secret guidelines carry other risks, including the acceptance of assassination as a routine part of U.S. foreign policy, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
The Obama administration is pushing back against pressure to jump into a new “counterterrorism” conflict in northern Africa, with some officials saying an overreaction to unrest in Mali and Algeria could make matters worse. There’s also the danger of over-interpreting isolated events, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Partly as a spillover from the U.S.-backed ouster of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, armed Islamists have asserted control of sparsely populated northern Mali, causing France to dispatch soldiers to the region. But does this new conflict affect U.S. interests, asks ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.