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Seven Worst-Case Scenarios in the Battle With Islamic State

The U.S. is again at war in the Middle East, bombing freely across Iraq and Syria and searching desperately for some non-American boots to put on the ground. Here are seven worst-case scenarios in a part of the world where the worst case has regularly been the best that’s on offer.

Posted on Oct 17, 2014 READ MORE



Apocalypse Now, Iraq Edition

As someone who cares deeply about this country, I find it beyond belief that Washington has again plunged into the swamp of the Sunni-Shiite mess in Iraq. A young soldier now deployed as one of the 1,600 non-boots-on-the-ground there might have been 8 years old when the 2003 invasion took place. What happened in the blink of an eye?

Posted on Sep 25, 2014 READ MORE



Dead Is Dead: Drone-Killing the Fifth Amendment

Thanks to a much contested, recently released but significantly redacted Justice Department white paper providing the basis for the extrajudicial killing of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, we finally know the president in post-constitutional America is officially judge, jury and executioner.

Posted on Jul 25, 2014 READ MORE



Shredding the Fourth Amendment in Post-Constitutional America

The Bill of Rights was designed to protect the people from their government. If the First Amendment’s right to speak out publicly was the people’s wall of security, then the Fourth Amendment’s right to privacy was its buttress. It was once thought that the government should neither be able to stop citizens from speaking nor peer into their lives.

Posted on Jun 27, 2014 READ MORE



What We’ve Lost Since 9/11

America has entered its third great era: the post-constitutional one. Deeper, darker waters lie ahead. And we seem drawn down into them.

Posted on Jun 16, 2014 READ MORE



An Apartheid of Dollars

There are many sides to whistle-blowing. The one that most people don’t know about is the very personal cost, prison aside, including the high cost of lawyers and the strain on family relations, that follows the decision to risk it all in an act of conscience. Here’s a part of my own story I’ve not talked about much before.

Posted on Apr 25, 2014 READ MORE



How Many Watch Lists Fit on the Head of a Pin?

No one knows how many names are on the no-fly list. According to one source, 21,000 people, including some 500 Americans, are blacklisted; another puts the figure at 44,000. The actual number is classified.

Posted on Apr 7, 2014 READ MORE



hans s (CC BY-ND 2.0)

You Can’t Opt Out: 10 NSA Myths Debunked

Instead of a careful examination of what the NSA does, the legality of its actions, and how effective it has been in its stated mission of protecting Americans, we increasingly have government officials or retired versions of the same demanding—quite literally—Edward Snowden’s head and engaging in the usual fear-mongering over 9/11.

Posted on Jan 13, 2014 READ MORE



h.koppdelaney (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Welcome to the Memory Hole

What if Edward Snowden was made to disappear? I’m not suggesting some future CIA rendition effort or a who-killed-Snowden conspiracy theory of a disappearance, but a more ominous kind.

Posted on Dec 5, 2013 READ MORE



ssoosay (CC BY 2.0)

Ramblin’ Man

Four decades after his Vietnam experience, John Kerry has achieved what will undoubtedly be the highest post of his lifetime: secretary of state. And he’s looked like a bumbler first class. Has he also once again been a true man of his time, of a moment in which American foreign policy, as well as its claim to global moral and diplomatic leadership, is in remarkable disarray?

Posted on Nov 4, 2013 READ MORE



Dave Newman (newmanchu) (CC BY 2.0)

What If Congress Says No on Syria?

The past 12 years have not been good ones. Our leaders consistently let the missiles and bombs fly, resorting to military force and legal abominations in what passed for a foreign policy, and then acted surprised as they looked up at the sky from an ever-deeper hole.

Posted on Sep 12, 2013 READ MORE



Marion Doss (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Welcome to Post-Constitution America

On July 30, 1778, the Continental Congress created the first whistleblower protection law, stating “that it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds, or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states.”

Posted on Aug 5, 2013 READ MORE



ubquit23 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Edward Snowden’s Long Flight

As a State Department whistle-blower, I think a lot about Edward Snowden. I suspect we have a lot in common, though I’ve never had the slightest contact with him. Still, as he took his long flight from Hong Kong into the unknown, I couldn’t help feeling that he was thinking some of my thoughts, or I his. Here are five things that I imagine were on his mind as that plane took off.

Posted on Jul 2, 2013 READ MORE



Jayel Aheram (CC BY 2.0)

Mission Unaccomplished

By invading Iraq, the U.S. did more to destabilize the Middle East than we could possibly have imagined at the time. On the 10th anniversary of the war, we recognize that we—and so many others—will pay the price for it for a long, long time.

Posted on Mar 8, 2013 READ MORE



Fra K (CC BY 2.0)

An All-American Nightmare

Torture can’t be disappeared like the body of a political prisoner, or conveniently deep-sixed simply by wishing it elsewhere or pretending it never happened or closing our bureaucratic eyes. After the fact, it can be dealt with only by staring directly into the nightmare that changed us—that, like it or not, helped make us who we now are.

Posted on Dec 19, 2012 READ MORE



ibnu abi (CC BY-ND 2.0)

How Not to Reconstruct Iraq, Afghanistan—or America

Why has the United States spent so much money and time so disastrously trying to rebuild occupied nations abroad, while allowing its own infrastructure to crumble untended? Why do we even think of that as “policy”?

Posted on Aug 18, 2012 READ MORE



DonkeyHotey (CC BY 2.0)

Leaking War

What lies at the nexus of Obama’s targeted drone killings, his self-serving leaks, and his aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers is a president who believes himself above the law, and seems convinced that he alone has a preternatural ability to determine right from wrong.

Posted on Jun 12, 2012 READ MORE



125o4 (CC-BY)

Silent State: Washington’s Campaign Against Whistle-Blowers

There can be little doubt that government retaliation against whistle-blowers is not an isolated event, nor even an agency-by-agency practice. The number of cases in play suggests an organized strategy to deprive Americans of knowledge of the more disreputable things their government does.

Posted on Feb 9, 2012 READ MORE



Metropolitan Books

Freedom Isn’t Free at the State Department

On the same day that more than 250,000 unredacted State Department cables hemorrhaged out onto the Internet, I was interrogated for the first time in my 23-year State Department career by State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security for posting on my blog a link to a WikiLeaks document already available elsewhere on the Web.

Posted on Oct 3, 2011 READ MORE


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