A common complaint from spy agencies is that they get blamed for “intelligence failures” when they miss something and they get attacked for “intelligence abuses” when they go too far with their espionage. The public veers from one type of “scandal” to the next, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar describes.
After 9/11, the excuse for missing clues was too much data – trying to sip from a fire hose – but with the priority now excusing NSA spying, the metaphor is for more data – you can’t find a needle in a haystack without a haystack – a shift ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley dissects.
Exclusive: Today’s crises – endless war, environmental catastrophe, desperate poverty and more – can seem so daunting that they paralyze action rather than inspire activism. But the imperative to do something in the face of injustice defines one’s moral place in the universe, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explains.
From the Archive: For years, “defectors” from “enemy” states have supplied the U.S. government and media with propaganda that is eagerly repeated to justify economic, diplomatic or even military retaliation. That was the case with Iraq in 2003 and now with Iran, as Robert Parry reported in 2012.
From the Archive: Often annoying her press colleagues, the late Helen Thomas was one of the few Washington journalists who would shatter the predictable frame for discussing tough issues. When she heard lazy rationalizations, Thomas would press the policymaker on why, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern wrote in 2010.
Presidents have been stretching their commander-in-chief powers since Thomas Jefferson dispatched the Navy to make war on the Barbary pirates. But Congress risks a perpetual war of presidential choice if it carelessly rewrites the 9/11 force-authorization act, warns Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s arrest for the Boston Marathon bombing prompted calls from Sen. John McCain and three other Republican lawmakers to declare the 19-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen an enemy combatant, a reminder of how the politics of terrorism has distorted American principles, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
After the 9/11 attacks, the smart response might well have been to denounce the killings as a monstrous crime and treat al-Qaeda as outlaws to be brought to justice. But President Bush’s tough-guy response was to declare the crime a “war” and ensnare the U.S. in a conflict with no end, as Lawrence Davidson explains.
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.
Though a decade into history, the events of 9/11 still have a powerful tug on the emotions of Americans, especially New Yorkers whose lives were profoundly changed, as Michael Winship observed after a preview of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”