Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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Showing posts for "Intelligence"

Top Ten Findings of the CIA Inspector General’s Report on 9/11

by Micah Zenko
An aerial view of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters in Langley, Virginia. (Reed/Reuters) An aerial view of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters in Langley, Virginia. (Reed/Reuters)

Last week, in response to long-standing FOIA requests, the CIA declassified—with significant redactions—five documents related to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The most notable was a June 2005 Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report into CIA accountability regarding the findings of the Report of the Joint Inquiry into the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, which was produced by the House and Senate intelligence committees. That joint inquiry was published in December 2002—long before the 9/11 Commission report—and served as the most comprehensive public investigation into Intelligence Community (IC) shortcomings. The 2005 OIG report reviewed the joint inquiry’s central findings to determine if senior CIA officials should be reprimanded for their actions. Read more »

CIA Director: We’re Winning the War on Terror, But It Will Never End

by Micah Zenko
CIA Director John Brennan speaks at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 7, 2015. (Ertl/Courtesy Reuters) CIA Director John Brennan speaks at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 7, 2015. (Ertl/Courtesy Reuters)

Last night, Director of Central Intelligence John Brennan participated in a question-and-answer session at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. The first thirty-seven minutes consisted of an unusually probing exchange between Brennan and Harvard professor Graham Allison (full disclosure: Graham is a former boss of mine). Most notably, between 19:07 and 29:25 in the video, Allison pressed Brennan repeatedly about whether the United States is winning the war on terrorism and why the number of al-Qaeda-affiliated groups has only increased since 9/11: “There seem to be more of them than when we started…How are we doing?” Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Drone Exports, Somalia, and JFK’s “Ordinary Mortals”

by Micah Zenko

Department of Defense Press Briefing by Rear Adm. Kirby in the Pentagon Briefing Room, U.S. Department of Defense, February 18, 2015.

Rear Adm. Kirby: These are actually proscriptions in place that we will follow and we will expect anybody that receives these systems to follow…It’s in our best interest to be able to have this kind of control, supervision, and scrutiny over the potential delivery of these systems because it’s a ubiquitous, now, capability. Not every nation has the same sophistication at it as we do, but this is a technology that’s not going away. So, it suits our interests, and I think it should suit the American people’s interests to know that we’re going to be involved, from soup to nuts, on how these systems are eventually transferred. Read more »

How U.S. Officials and Congress Have Defended Drone Strikes in Light of the Torture Report

by Micah Zenko

Press Briefing by the Press Secretary Josh Earnest, White House, December 11, 2014.

Q: And finally, has the President ever sought a formal assessment from the intelligence community about whether the drone program is a net asset, either because of our moral authority, or in terms of creating more enemies than it takes off the battlefield? Read more »

The CIA’s Torture Report Response

by Micah Zenko
An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flight line at Hurlburt Field, Florida on May 3, 2014. (Bainter/Courtesy U.S. Air Force) An MQ-9 Reaper sits on the flight line at Hurlburt Field, Florida on May 3, 2014. (Bainter/Courtesy U.S. Air Force)

There will be a tremendous number of reactions to the graphic and troubling findings contained in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) study’s executive study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. There will be far fewer reactions to the CIA response to the SSCI, in the form of a June 27, 2013, memo that the CIA released today. According to a forward from Director of Central Intelligence John Brennan, “The CIA’s comments on the Study were the result of a comprehensive and thorough review of the Study’s 20 conclusions and 20 case studies.” However, there is one CIA acknowledgment that should be as disturbing as anything that is contained within the SSCI study itself. Read more »

What is Iraq Doing With U.S. Missiles and Intelligence?

by Micah Zenko

As I have highlighted previously, the United States’ recent increased security cooperation with the government of Iraq to confront the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been characterized by an astounding lack of clarity. Yesterday, there was another troubling example of contradictory statements about the missions and objectives of U.S. forces in Iraq. Pentagon spokesperson Adm. John Kirby was asked if the United States was supporting airstrikes from Iraq against ISIS in support of the Kurds. Kirby replied unequivocally: “We’re not coordinating air attacks in Iraq. We’re not.” Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Ukraine, Rep. Mike Rogers, and Drones

by Micah Zenko

Jeanne Whalen and Alan Cullison, “Ukraine Battles to Rebuild a Depleted Military,” Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2014.

In recent weeks Mr. Yarema has turned to Washington and NATO for help, but with little luck so far. Ukraine’s military lacks much of an air force, and if fighting breaks out he expects that Russia would be able to pound Ukrainian ground troops with impunity. In meetings with U.S. senators and Western diplomats, he says he asked for help establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors so that his troops could at least count on some zones of safetyRead more »

You Might Have Missed: Cyberattacks, Asia Pivot, and the U.S. Military and Human Rights

by Micah Zenko
Pro-Russian men hold Russian flags in front of armed servicemen near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava March 1, 2014. (Ratner/Courtesy Reuters) Pro-Russian men hold Russian flags in front of armed servicemen near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava March 1, 2014. (Ratner/Courtesy Reuters)

Zachary Fryer-Biggs, “DoD Official: Asia Pivot ‘Can’t Happen’ Due to Budget Processes,” Defense News, March 4, 2014.

“Right now, the pivot is being looked at again, because candidly it can’t happen,” Katrina McFarland, assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, told Aviation Week’s Defense Technologies and Requirements conference in Arlington, Va… Read more »

You Might Have Missed: U.S.-China Relations, Olympics, and Intelligence Assessments

by Micah Zenko
The Olympic and Russian flags are raised during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, on February 7, 2014. (Blinch/Courtesy Reuters) The Olympic and Russian flags are raised during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, on February 7, 2014. (Blinch/Courtesy Reuters)

Rear Admiral John Kirby, “Department of Defense Press Briefing with Rear Admiral Kirby in the Pentagon Briefing Room,” Department of Defense, February 20, 2014. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Israeli Drones, Benghazi, and the NSA

by Micah Zenko
Israel Aero Space Industries (IAI) Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicle at the airbase in Switzerland on September 20, 2012 (Wiegmann/Courtesy Reuters). Israel Aero Space Industries (IAI) Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicle at the airbase in Switzerland on September 20, 2012 (Wiegmann/Courtesy Reuters).

Jim Garamone, “Special Ops Forces in Transition, Pentagon Official Says,” U.S. Department of Defense, February 12, 2014.

Network threats present new challenges and require new ways of planning, the assistant secretary told the audience, and cyber operations come to mind first. “As we continue to work our doctrine for response in the cyber realm,” he said, “it is entirely possible that SOF units, or even individuals, would be called upon to act online or offline to address these threats.” Read more »