Cyber/Cold/Terror/Drone War Edition: November 4, 2014

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Read RUSS BAKER on America’s Double Government: “The secret is out: there’s a whole second government residing in the American national security apparatus that’s powerful enough to resist presidential orders. But don’t take our word for it. That comes courtesy of two recent pieces in the mainstream Boston Globe.”

Who

…is the terrorist here?
Noam Chomsky looks at America’s long history of “covert aid” by unpacking a much-discussed, but little-understood NY Times story on CIA doubts regarding support of Syrian rebels. Chomsky sees a darker pattern of “American terrorism.”

As if on cue, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism crunches the numbers on U.S. covert ops in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. According to their tabulations, the Obama Administration’s nine October strikes took it past the 350 mark for his presidency. And Reuters reported yet more drone strikes in Yemen that killed “at least 10 suspected al Qaeda militants.”

In Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell is “reassessing the US withdrawal timeline” to draw down U.S. forces from 19,650 as of October to 9,800 at the start of 2015, a number agreed to by new President and former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani. Not coincidentally, this reassessment comes shortly after NATO “abruptly classified” its “assessment of Afghan army and police forces, which the U.S. has spent an estimated $61.5 billion to build up.” Read the full story here.

Back on the Cold War 2.0 front, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove—NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander—is asking the Pentagon for more troops and equipment to “soothe” an “anxious Europe.” (Here’s a story we wrote in Septemberforecasting an increased NATO presence.)

And the Washington Post reported that the leader of a coup in troubled Burkina Faso, Lt. Col. Isaac Zida, is no stranger to the Pentagon. According to a spokesman for AFRICOM, “Zida attended a 12-day counterterrorism training course at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida that was sponsored by the Defense Department’s Joint Special Operations University.”

What

…Is Going on in Mexico?
The country has been rocked by the case of 43 missing students, kidnapped and now presumed dead. The investigation turned to a fugitive mayor and his wife, who have now been apprehended by Mexico’s Federal Police. But there’s a larger story: Forbes writes that the abductions have created Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s biggest political crisis and exposed the depth and breadth of narco-corruption in America’s southern neighbor.

Yet Mexico’s drug war was supposed to end when four cartels signed a pact last August. This fascinating story in Dissent asks if it was an ominous merger meant to bring the cartels back under government hegemony. That would, in theory, cut down on violence and smooth the way for U.S. corporations who want to get into cartel-controlled provinces where Mexico’s newly privatized oil fields lie.

Why

Why did it take “months” to detect a security breach “at USIS, the government’s leading security clearance contractor”?

Why is the head of Naval Intelligence barred from seeing classified material?

Why was the former head of the NSA—Gen. Keith Alexander—allowed to profit off spying?

And why does a former NSA lawyer think there is a “cyberwar” between tech companies and the U.S. government?

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