Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

CIA Interrogation Report; How ISIS Was Hatched in Iraq’s Camp Bucca Prison

by Janine Davidson Friday, December 12, 2014
Senate Intelligence Committee chair Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (R) talks to reporters after coming out of the Senate in Washington December 9, 2014. "Enhanced interrogation" techniques used by the CIA on militants detained in secret prisons were ineffective and never produced information which led to the disruption of imminent terrorist plots, a declassified report by the Senate Intelligence Committee found. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters) Senate Intelligence Committee chair Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (R) talks to reporters after coming out of the Senate in Washington December 9, 2014. "Enhanced interrogation" techniques used by the CIA on militants detained in secret prisons were ineffective and never produced information which led to the disruption of imminent terrorist plots, a declassified report by the Senate Intelligence Committee found. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters)

Your Weekend Reader, parsing the best stories of the week:

The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its controversial report on CIA interrogation methods this past Tuesday.  The report characterized the CIA as brutal, ineffective, and misleading. Many questions remain as to the involvement of Bush administration officials in authorizing and overseeing this program. Republican Senators on the committee (with the exception of Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) have issued their own report rebutting many claims of impropriety. Likewise, six former CIA directors and deputy directors penned a Wall Street Journal op ed assailing the report’s credibility. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) crossed the partisan boundary to endorse the document, including his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam as testimony.

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Tensions Broil in Ukraine; Cyber Wargames; The First Armed Drone Operator Breaks Silence

by Janine Davidson Friday, November 21, 2014
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (R) and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden walk into a hall before a news conference in Kiev, November 21, 2014. U.S. Vice President Biden on Friday condemned Russian behavior in Ukraine as "unacceptable" and urged it to abide by a September peace deal by adhering to a ceasefire and removing military forces from the country. (Courtesy Reuters) Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (R) and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden walk into a hall before a news conference in Kiev, November 21, 2014. U.S. Vice President Biden on Friday condemned Russian behavior in Ukraine as "unacceptable" and urged it to abide by a September peace deal by adhering to a ceasefire and removing military forces from the country. (Courtesy Reuters)

Your Weekend Reader, parsing the best stories of the week:

Ukraine: “a slow collapse?” That’s the opinion of the New York Times editorial board. Meanwhile, the United States steps up delivery of non-lethal aid to Ukraine, including its first Humvees. The ceasefire continues to fray: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warns that Ukraine’s planned economic blockade of the eastern separatists “paves the way for a new invasion.” Pavel Felgenhauer, writing in the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor, concludes that eastern Ukraine’s Donbas has effectively become a Russian protectorate. The crisis isn’t over.

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Weekend Reader: USA Advances (in Soccer), Syrian Refugee Crisis Worsens, and U.S. Drone Debate Gets Louder

by Janine Davidson Friday, June 27, 2014
usa-world-cup-drones Germany's Mesut Ozil (L) fights for the ball with Omar Gonzalez of the U.S. during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Pernambuco arena in Recife, June 26, 2014. (Laszlo Balogh/Courtesy Reuters)

If you were in the United States yesterday, chances are you heard about the gameYou might also have found a way to take a very long lunch. (CFR’s Defense Policy Team did make time for a mid-day pause to “assess” U.S.-German relations) Germany’s hard-won victory made the bout much less of a snooze than the foreign policy/game theory crowd might have expected.

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Drones: Three Misconceptions, Concerns, and Ways to Make Things Better—a Report from the Stimson Center Task Force

by Janine Davidson Thursday, June 26, 2014
drone-stimson-task-force Demonstrators deploy a model of a U.S. drone aircraft at the "Stop Watching Us: A Rally Against Mass Surveillance" near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 26, 2013. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

A new report is out today from the Stimson Center’s Task Force on U.S. Drone Policy, co-chaired by General John Abizaid, U.S. Army (ret.) and Rosa Brooks, of which I was also a member. Our study took place over the course of a year, examining three key issue sets in the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) debate: 1) defense utility, national security, and economics; 2) ethics and law; and 3) export controls and regulatory challenges. Our examination identified UAV misconceptions, areas of concern,  and—significantly—a few concrete ways to make things better.

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The Obama Doctrine

by Janine Davidson Thursday, May 29, 2014
obama doctrine U.S. President Barack Obama arrives for a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, May 28, 2014. Obama's commencement address was the first in a series of speeches that he and top advisers will use to explain U.S. foreign policy in the aftermath of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and lay out a broad vision for the rest of his presidency. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

President Obama’s May 28 speech at West Point was long overdue. Chatter about America’s decline, the Pentagon’s budget crunch, deteriorating crises in Syria and Ukraine, and confusion over Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative—the Asia Rebalance—has left many questioning America’s ability or willingness to engage, much less lead, in the world.

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Weekend Reader: A U.S. Robotics Gap, a New COIN Debate, and a Global Spotlight on Nigeria’s Boko Haram

by Janine Davidson Friday, May 9, 2014
drone aircraft carrier An X-47B pilot-less drone combat aircraft is launched for the first time off an aircraft carrier, the USS George H. W. Bush, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia, May 14, 2013. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters)

As militaries gear up for a robotics arms race, the United States may well get left behind. This is the argument made by Michael C. Horowitz, an expert on military technological adoption, in the lead story for Foreign Policy magazine. Horowitz, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has literally written the book on the dynamics behind diffusion of military innovation. This same week, Shawn Brimley issued a warning against the Pentagon relegating drones to a “niche capability” and refusing to invest in advanced, carrier-based systems. This follows a February 2014 CSIS report that concluded, “With the effective 2014 end of the Afghanistan War, commitment within [Department of Defense] to explore the broader possibilities of unmanned systems is retreating.”

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