FROM Siobhan Gorman
US Issues Travel Alert, Citing Terror Threat The State Department has issued a world-wide travel alert and it’s closing dozens of US embassies and consulates this Sunday in the Middle East and Africa. The actions are based on what’s described as potential terrorism planned by al Qaeda and its affiliates.
Is Electronic Surveillance Out of Control? When Edward Snowden revealed that Americans' phone calls and emails were being sucked up by government computers, the President called for a "national conversation." Yesterday, a former judge told the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board he was " frankly stunned " at what's now allowed by the secret court he once served on. How did the National Security Agency get so much power? Do the courts and the Congress understand the technology, let alone provide real supervision? We hear about constitutional rights and homeland security as the "national conversation" gets under way.
FISA Court Allows Phone Records Collection Today, a new controversy may pit national security against personal privacy. The Guardian newspaper has published the order of a secret, so-called FISA court. It requires Verizon to provide the National Security Agency with records of every cell phone or land line call in its system, both international and domestic. Content will not be monitored. California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, confirmed the report. Some say it's a massive invasion of privacy. The Administration and its allies call it "critical" for national security. Is it something new or an extension of what started during the Bush years? Will the publication produce another leak investigation?
A Culture of Mediocrity Among the Army’s Top Brass On Friday, former Army General David Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA, citing his own bad judgment for an extramarital affair. California's Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was surprised that the FBI never notified her about the investigation. Petraeus resigned after the FBI told him it had uncovered his affair with Paula Broadwell, author of All In, an admiring account of Petraeus’s Army career. Former Washington Post military correspondent Thomas Ricks, author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Fiasco, a critique of the war in Iraq, has written a scathing history of top leadership in the Army since the end of World War II. The Generals attributes military failures in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to a lost culture of accountability.
Should There Be Rules of Combat for Cyber Warfare? The Pentagon is about to make public its conclusion that computer sabotage from another country can be an act of war, possibly justifying a military response. One official told the Wall Street Journal , "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks." But how could the US be sure where the attack came from, how much damage it really did or what level of military response would be "equivalent?" Is the US rattling sabers in cyberspace? Does peace in the virtual world require diplomacy, rather than threats of retaliation?
State Department Issues Travel Alert for All of Europe The State Department is warning Americans who live or travel in Europe to be on the alert. But it's not entirely clear what that means. Siobhan Gorman reports for the Wall Street Journal .
Plot Thwarted for Mumbai-Style Attacks in Europe The CIA has set a record this month with 20 drone strikes in Pakistan, reportedly to help thwart a serious terror threat against Europe. Intelligence agents are saying that the threat against European countries is the most serious in recent years, and they're trying to determine if the US is also a target. That's according to Siobhan Gorman with the Wall Street Journal .
The Secret Program the CIA Wouldn't Tell Congress Recently House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began a political firestorm by accusing the Bush-era CIA of lying to Congress about waterboarding and other activities. Then, CIA Director Leon Panetta reportedly briefed the House Intelligence Committee about a secret program he was told about after months on the job. Seven Democratic committee members then released a letter saying Panetta acknowledged that the matter had never been vetted with Congress. In today's Wall Street Journal , Siobhan Gorman reports that the initiative Panetta terminated was an effort to carry out an order from President Bush in the aftermath of September 11.
Cyberspies in the Electrical Grid Last year, the Center for Strategic and International Studies reported that the US could suffer more damage from cyber attacks than any of the other potential threats against it. Now it turns out that the nation's electrical grid has been compromised. US intelligence agents say cyber-spies have penetrated the grid, leaving behind computer programs that could disrupt the system in case of hostilities. That's according to Siobhan Gorman, intelligence reporter for the Wall Street Journal .
After Syria strike a new Trump doctrine emerges The President who promised an end to entanglements in the Middle East and snuggled up to Vladimir Putin has now outraged Russia with surprise missile attacks on Syria. That's raised questions about who's running the White House? We hear a variety of answers.
The US gets deeper into Middle East wars. What's the endgame? President Trump welcomed Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to the White House today… just one of the changes in America's approach to the Middle East since Barack Obama left office. We hear about that and the escalation of warfare as well as civilian casualties.
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?