Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

Janine Davidson examines the art, politics, and business of American military power.

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Showing posts for "Homeland Security"

The Moral Cost of Torture

by Robert A. Newson
Demonstrator Maboud Ebrahimzadeh is held down during a simulation of waterboarding outside the Justice Department in Washington November 5, 2007. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters) Demonstrator Maboud Ebrahimzadeh is held down during a simulation of waterboarding outside the Justice Department in Washington November 5, 2007. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

By Robert Newson

When I am asked about torture or, more frequently, when I feel the need to speak out against torture, I don’t talk about the fact that it doesn’t work (it doesn’t), nor the fact that it contributes to the enemy’s narrative and recruiting (it does). Instead, I talk about its gravest cost—what it does to the Americans whom we ask to conduct torture and what it does to the character and fiber of an entire nation that embraces it.

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FY17 Coast Guard Request Strikes Balance Between Rebuilding the Fleet and Managing Risk

by Ronald A. LaBrec
Polar Star, the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, completes ice drills in the Arctic in this July 3, 2013 handout photo.  (Petty Officer 3rd Class Rachel French/U.S. Coast Guard/Courtesy Reuters) Polar Star, the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, completes ice drills in the Arctic in this July 3, 2013 handout photo. (Petty Officer 3rd Class Rachel French/U.S. Coast Guard/Courtesy Reuters)

The hot-off-the-presses fiscal year 2017 presidential budget request includes a $10.3 billion top line request for the Coast Guard and several areas of progress for Coast Guard modernization. Despite record funding for acquisition, construction and improvement (AC&I) of capital assets in 2016, the FY17 request continues a general trend of lower AC&I funding that began in 2013. The investment in several key shipbuilding programs, however, is important as the service focuses on meeting its missions with an ancient fleet. The majority of the service’s offshore ships are between thirty and fifty years old. While most have gone through major service-life extension projects they are reaching the end of their useful lifespan and are becoming increasingly unreliable and costly to maintain.

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When Should the 9/11 War End?

by Emerson Brooking
The Tribute in Light is illuminated on the skyline of lower Manhattan during events marking the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 10, 2014. (Eduardo Munoz/Courtesy Reuters) The Tribute in Light is illuminated on the skyline of lower Manhattan during events marking the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 10, 2014. (Eduardo Munoz/Courtesy Reuters)

By Emerson Brooking

The last survivor had not yet been pulled from the World Trade Center’s 200,000 tons of twisted steel when senior White House officials met to lay the legal foundation of the future war on terror. In New York, 2,606 people were dead; aboard planes bound for Los Angeles and San Francisco, 246; at the Pentagon, where the jet fuel still burned, 125. As the nation reeled, government lawyers struggled to authorize combat operations against an enemy whose identity was still unknown. The resultant resolution, passed by both houses of Congress on September 14, 2001, stated: Read more »

Misperception of U.S.-Cuba Policy Shift Among Cuban Migrants Threatens Tragedy

by Pat DeQuattro
Fifteen Cuban migrants prepare to set sail in their 14-foot homemade boat after a brief overnight stop offshore Grand Cayman Island, November 21, 2014. (Peter Polack/Courtesy Reuters) Fifteen Cuban migrants prepare to set sail in their 14-foot homemade boat after a brief overnight stop offshore Grand Cayman Island, November 21, 2014. (Peter Polack/Courtesy Reuters)

In the first five days of 2015, a total of ninety-six Cuban migrants were interdicted at sea during seven events in the Florida Straits. All seven interdictions involved dangerous conditions that included unseaworthy, homemade vessels that posed significant risk to the migrants attempting to make the perilous, ninety-mile journey across the open ocean of the Florida Straits. In the month of December, a total of 481 Cuban migrants were either interdicted at sea or landed in the United States during thirty-seven total events. These activities represent a 117 percent increase from December 2013, with a distinct spike in migrants following the President’s announcement on December 17 that U.S-Cuba policy changes were forthcoming.

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With Normalized U.S.-Cuba Relations, Border Security Just Got a Lot More Complicated

by Pat DeQuattro
A U.S. Coast Guard boat takes part in a staged interdiction of a smuggling boat during training exercise off the coast of south Florida March 8, 2007. (Hans Deryk/Courtesy Reuters) A U.S. Coast Guard boat takes part in a staged interdiction of a smuggling boat during training exercise off the coast of south Florida March 8, 2007. (Hans Deryk/Courtesy Reuters)

President Obama’s surprise announcement yesterday about normalization in U.S.-Cuba relations will significantly change the nature of border security and border control on the waters in the Florida Straits that separate Cuba and South Florida.

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Untangling the Circular Logic of America’s Torture Apologists

by Janine Davidson
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (L) listens as President George W. Bush makes remarks about the U.S. defense budget after meeting with military leaders at the Pentagon in Washington, November 29, 2007. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (L) listens as President George W. Bush makes remarks about the U.S. defense budget after meeting with military leaders at the Pentagon in Washington, November 29, 2007. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

To watch former Vice President Dick Cheney’s interview on Meet the Press this weekend was to take a fantastical and frightening trip back to a very dark, post-9/11 America. In this world, bad guys can and should be tortured for however long it takes to catch more bad guys. If (inevitable) rumors of the process end up creating new bad guys, it’s beside the point. It’s a system that feeds itself, as amoral as it is strategically unwise.

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As Mission Against ISIS Widens, Three Points to Guide U.S. Operations

by Janine Davidson
A U.S. F/A-18A+ Hornet prepares to launch off the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in the Gulf south of Iraq in this photo released March 6, 2005. The same aircraft has been employed with increasing frequency in operations against the Islamic State, begun August 7, 2014. (Airman Ryan O'Connor/Courtesy Reuters) A U.S. F/A-18A+ Hornet prepares to launch off the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in the Gulf south of Iraq in this photo released March 6, 2005. The same aircraft has been employed with increasing frequency in operations against the Islamic State, begun August 7, 2014. (Airman Ryan O'Connor/Courtesy Reuters)

Last night, President Obama authorized both manned and unmanned surveillance flights over Syria as a potential precursor to air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS). This action suggests that U.S. policymakers have come to the conclusion that the border between Iraq and Syria will no longer be a barrier to U.S. operations.

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Introducing Defense in Depth

by Janine Davidson
A view of the Pentagon and Washington, DC. A view of the Pentagon and Washington, DC (Courtesy U.S. Department of Defense).

Defense in Depth is a new blog about the art, politics, and business of American military power. I will track the big issues facing policymakers as they grapple with downshifting in Afghanistan, rebalancing to Asia, and maintaining a ready and capable force structure amidst sustained fiscal pressures.

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