Peculiar Posner

At first glance, I thought my eyes were deceiving me. Here’s a complaint letter to the editor published in The New York Times, from a man representing the highly controversial brother of Afghanistan’s president Karzai—and the letter-writer’s name is Gerald Posner. Gerald Posner? Isn’t that the same name as the investigative journalist who resigned from Read More

General McChrystal’s New Job: Dig a Bit, Please

Did you happen to see how fast General Stanley McChrystal landed on his feet after President Obama fired him for insubordination? In a now-famous Rolling Stone article, the then-commander of US troops in Afghanistan expressed contempt for Obama and Vice President Biden, and a generally profane manner regarding just about everyone. But practically no time Read More

Letters to Jackie, But What About Jack? How to Avoid the Heart of the JFK Assassination

When it comes to the biggest and most troubling stories of our time, corporate-owned and conventional public news outlets have a tendency to do an end run around the controversy and go straight to the most emotionally satisfying but least consequential aspects. Take the assassination of the 35th president. Recently, the media were full of Read More

A Chilean Chiller

Here in the United States, we are regularly warned by the media and the pundits not to subscribe to wacky “conspiracy theories.”  (For more on this theme, see my book, Family of Secrets.)  Even a suggestion that figures tied to our intelligence services might have participated in something seriously untoward on our own shores– is Read More

The Foreign-Policy Establishment

Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University, recently wrote an interesting piece for Foreign Policy magazine about what topics are considered “taboo” among establishment foreign-policy wonks—a group that includes Walt himself as a member. The article is equally compelling for what it says as for what it implies about Walt, as Read More

A Drive for Unrestricted Executive Power

The New York Times comes out with a strong editorial, calling for an investigation into Bush administration security abuses, now that it is clear that the practices were not necessary to protect the national interest. We’ve known for years that the Bush administration ignored and broke the law repeatedly in the name of national security. Read More

Questions about Developing C.I.A. Story

An official story is forming about the secret program that the C.I.A. hid from Congress: the agency planned to organize assassination squads to target Al Qaeda terrorists around the world, according to a lead article in today’s New York Times. Although this account has gained widespread acceptance, there’s reason to be skeptical. As I noted Read More

CIA Lies to Congress

[Update below—Ed.] During last spring’s controversy over whether congressional leaders were briefed by the CIA over its use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” Russ called for an investigation into the congressional briefing process. It is now all the more clear that such an investigation is a must. Yesterday, CQPolitics reported that CIA Director Leon Panetta admitted Read More

UBS or Just Plain BS?

The Obama Justice Department has just floated a trial balloon to see if it can drop a legal effort to force the Swiss Bank UBS to disclose the names of 52,000 rich Americans suspected of using the bank to evade US taxes. Back in February, the Justice Department sued the bank in an effort to Read More

Hedge Funds Flex Lobbying Muscle

The Wall Street Journal has a solid piece of reporting on the continued power of hedge funds to shape their own—and the nation’s—destiny. The lede says it all (subscription required): Many hedge funds were relieved last week when the Obama administration’s financial-overhaul plan included no big surprises or threats to the lucrative, secretive industry. It Read More

Interrogating Congress

Recently, I raised some questions about the reports that Democratic members of Congress had been aware of CIA interrogation methods. Now, members of Congress themselves are suggesting that the CIA put out the information about the briefings in order to pass the buck. There are crucial questions we should be asking about the CIA, about Read More

Extracting the Truth

In an era when the public is demanding accountability, how accountable is the intelligence sphere? Employing hundreds of thousands and spending hundreds of billions each year, it essentially answers to no one. Even the people’s representatives tasked with riding herd, the congressional intelligence committees, have nearly always been kept in the dark, sworn to silence, Read More

Not So Secret After All?

Maybe I am imagining things, but in recent days, I have noticed a spate of articles in the New York Times and elsewhere in which government and military officials are falling all over themselves to spill the beans. On Wednesday, March 24, sources told the paper about plans to hit the Taliban in a new Read More

Secrets?

The prosecution of two former pro-Israeli lobbyists on espionage charges points to an urgent need to address the whole business of what constitutes a secret in this country—and what should. Two former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee were found to have shared information they learned from Bush administration officials with journalists, fellow Read More

CIA Helped Bush Senior In Oil Venture

Bush has long denied allegations that he had connections to the intelligence community prior to 1976, when he became Central Intelligence Agency director under President Gerald Ford. At the time, he described his appointment as a ‘real shocker.’ But the freshly uncovered memos contend that Bush maintained a close personal and business relationship for decades Read More