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October 21, 2014

Posts in "Intelligence"

October 17, 2014

Weekly Recap: Elections, Interrogations, Revolts

The holiday made it a shorter week at Five By Five, so this weekly recap won’t hit as many highlights as usual — and will spend a little more time on what others were up to. Full story

October 15, 2014

Chemical Weapons Might be Another Gift for Militants

The New York Times’ blockbuster story about how U.S. forces discovered chemical weapons in Iraq and suffered injuries due to chemical exposure — unbeknownst to the public — is almost sure to provoke congressional overseers of the armed forces and veterans’ affairs. But the story also contains some worrying information that has implications for future U.S. action against the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State or ISIL.

American troops found thousands of warheads after the 2003 invasion, and a large number remain in Iraq — in easy reach of ISIL, the Times reports. Many of the chemical incidents and discoveries took place around a chemical weapons plant known as the Muthanna State Establishment, which was operational in the 1980s.

“Since June, the compound has been held by the Islamic State, the world’s most radical and violent jihadist group,” the Times reported. “In a letter sent to the United Nations this summer, the Iraqi government said that about 2,500 corroded chemical rockets remained on the grounds, and that Iraqi officials had witnessed intruders looting equipment before militants shut down the surveillance cameras.”

The military contends those weapons are old and pose no threat, but the story notes that Iraqi chemical munitions have a habit of staying dangerous after their expiration dates.

The reporting could prove to be another black mark for the government of Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister until this year, that gave ISIL an advantage. The al-Maliki government was also in charge of maintaining the Iraqi armed forces that collapsed as ISIL advanced.

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October 7, 2014

Parsing the Highlights of the Leon Panetta Book

Panetta 02 11152011 445x297 Parsing the Highlights of the Leon Panetta Book

Panetta, at a Senate Armed Services hearing, during his tenure as Secretary of Defense. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call)

Everyone in Washington is slicing and dicing the Leon Panetta book into individual news stories. The former CIA director and Secretary of Defense has given people a lot to work with — from White House confrontations to the exact number of pounds of chains used to weigh down Osama bin Laden’s body. Full story

October 6, 2014

Are U.S. Air Strikes Against ISIS in Syria Failing?

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ISIS militants (rear) stand next to an ISIS flag atop a hill in the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds, as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border, with Turkish troops in foreground, in the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province, on Oct. 6. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Count the ways the U.S. air strikes in Syria might not be working: The intelligence is lacking; there are reports of civilian casualties; and there are claims on the ground that it’s not stopping the advance of ISIS, aka the Islamic State group. Full story

October 3, 2014

Weekly Recap: ‘Yoga Joe,’ Intel and ISIS, the History of Camouflage


454146936 445x296 Weekly Recap: Yoga Joe, Intel and ISIS, the History of Camouflage

A Ukrainian sniper wearing camouflage waits on the frontline not far from the eastern Ukrainian city of Debaltseve, Donetsk region on Aug. 25. (Oleksandr Rathushniak/AFP/Getty Images)

Welcome back to the Weekly Recap, where we hit the highlights of Five By Five, plus other quality national security stories from around the Internet. Full story

October 2, 2014

U-2: Here to Stay?

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Bono, in Italy in September, from the other U2. (Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)

I have a story up for CQ Weekly subscribers about the U-2 spy plane, which has endured for decades despite constant debates about its relevance — not unlike the band U2. Full story

September 30, 2014

Will New Film, ‘Colonia,’ Starring Emma Watson, Address U.S. Role in Chile?

This could get awkward. A new film, “Colonia,” starring Emma Watson (@emwatson) and Daniel Bruhl, depicts events that transpired during the 1973 Chilean military coup. Will it touch on things the United States might or might not have done during that time frame? Full story

September 29, 2014

Pushback on Obama Faulting Intel Agencies Over ISIS (Plus Pushback on That)

What President Obama said Sunday night on “60 Minutes” about the intelligence community vis-a-vis ISIS has caused a stir — mainly from people who thought he was shifting blame for underestimating the terrorist group, but, also, from some that thought his remarks were misinterpreted. Full story

September 26, 2014

Weekly Recap: ISIS, Qassem Suleimani & Eric Holder

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Welcome to the new Weekly Recap, featuring highlights of Five By Five posts you may have missed as well as interesting reads from around the web. Full story

September 25, 2014

Holder Resigns, Congress Reacts to His National Security Record

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Eric Holder testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in April. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The nation’s chief law enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., is about to officially announce his resignation ( subscribers’ link here), and while much of the reaction to his departure has focused on non-national security topics — his civil rights record, the IRS scandal — he played a role in a number of security-related issues during his tenure.

Not so surprisingly, the Capitol Hill assessment of his national security record broke down along partisan lines, but it’s worth reviewing which aspects of Holder’s performance caught lawmakers’ eyes. Full story

September 22, 2014

Should the U.S. Be Most Worried About ISIS, or Some Other Threat?

senate briefing005 061014 445x300 Should the U.S. Be Most Worried About ISIS, or Some Other Threat?

Feinstein talks with an aide on the Senate subway in June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Everybody agrees ISIS is a problem for the United States, and the news coverage has put a tremendous focus on the group. But this weekend, some light was shined on the question of whether the group that calls itself the Islamic State is the biggest threat.

The New York Times wrote about the threat posed by Khorasan, which the national spymaster estimates might equal the threat posted by ISIS. House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. (@repmikerogers), said it might even be greater. And Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. (@SenFeinstein), placed Khorasan among the three most dangerous groups threatening the United States, alongside ISIS and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

There’s about to be more light shined on the question: On Tuesday, the Bipartisan Policy Center is set to release a report evaluating the overall threat from jihadists, and Carie Lemack, the director of the group’s Homeland Security Project, discussed some of the report’s highlights with Five By Five on Monday. Full story

September 19, 2014

The Time a Computer Interrogated a Suspected CIA Agent

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An Apple //e computer from 1983 is displayed at the Science Museum in 2006 in London. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

There’s a treasure trove of declassified CIA documents that have hit the street, many of them entertaining, some of them illuminating. Journalists are plumbing their depths. One is an early experiment in artificial intelligence teaming up with, well, intelligence. Full story

September 15, 2014

Presidential Politics and Defense, ISIS Hearings in the Week Ahead

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Rubio, July 9. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The first order of business this week on the Hill is passing a stopgap spending bill, which is of course of interest to the defense and national security world. You could also throw a rock and hit any given Iran nuclear event in D.C., so we’ll mostly focus on other things… Full story

September 11, 2014

Rhetoric Aside, Signs of Bipartisanship After Obama ISIS Speech

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Portman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

If you were just judging by the tone of the GOP response to Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday night about the terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State, you might get the impression that Republicans were on very opposite pages with the Democratic president.

Look a little closer and you’ll see some similarities. Full story

September 8, 2014

Security Clearance Contractor USIS Rebuffs Edward Snowden Attack (and More)

452723352 445x586 Security Clearance Contractor USIS Rebuffs Edward Snowden Attack (and More)

A man holds up a placard during a protest march outside the American NSA facility “Dagger Complex” in Griesheim near Darmstadt, central Germany on July 26. (Boris Roessler/AFP/Getty Images)

USIS, the biggest federal contractor for background checks for security clearances, had to be happy to get a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services contract worth $190 million recently, because the company had been on a bad news streak. All the contract seemed to do, though, was give ammunition to its critics — including a chorus of them from Capitol Hill — prompting USIS to issue a “myth vs. fact” declaration Monday. Full story

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