After a terrorist attack – like Benghazi or the Boston Marathon – the press, pols and much of the public decry the failure to prevent the violence, but the mood shifts amid disclosures of intrusive means to counter threats. This ambivalence can put government officials in an impossible spot, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Exclusive: The Obama administration continues to compound the diplomatic mess around former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The latest blunder was announcing that the U.S. wouldn’t torture or execute Snowden, a reminder to the world how far Official Washington has strayed from civilized behavior, notes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
Though her Christian Democratic Union remains favored in upcoming German elections, Chancellor Angela Merkel is on the defensive over the “surveillance state” disclosures of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. One quirky turn came when a young German joked about visiting a U.S. spy base, Frank S. Grevil writes.
Using a powerful computer program known as PRISM, the U.S. government has been downloading vast amounts of communications data and mining it for counterterrorism purposes. But these capabilities began more than three decades ago with the controversial PROMIS software, Richard L. Fricker reports.
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.
During World War II, the U.S. military and public were told “loose lips sink ships,” perhaps a worthy wartime reminder. But the seemingly endless “war on terror” has made government hostility to openness part of America’s permanent wartime mentality, a dangerous development, says ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman.
More than a decade ago, President George W. Bush enlisted the National Security Agency in a blackmail scheme to dig up dirt to coerce UN Security Council members to approve his aggressive war against Iraq. But the plot was foiled by a brave British intelligence officer, Katharine Gun, as Dennis J Bernstein reports.
The attack line against whistleblowers Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden – that they should have gone through “proper channels” – ignores that those oversight channels have been badly corrupted over the past several decades. That has left Americans dependent on out-of-channel leaks, says ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman.
In lifting the curtain of secrecy only slightly, the Obama administration says U.S. surveillance of telephone and Internet communications has helped disrupt dozens of terror plots and is subjected to rigorous checks and balances. But the continued secrecy shows the need for whistleblowers, writes ex-British intelligence official Annie Machon.
Exclusive: British authorities are scrambling to justify how they – while hosting a global economic summit in 2009 – spied on their guests with help from America’s National Security Agency. Some UK media outlets seem a little spooked themselves in getting commentary on the incident, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern writes.