The Great Debate

Why you’ll always lose with drones alone

By David Axe
July 13, 2015
Handout of the Triton unmanned aircraft system completing its first flight from Northrop Grumman manufacturing facility in Palmdale

The Triton unmanned aircraft system completing its first flight from the Northrop Grumman manufacturing facility in Palmdale, California, May 22, 2013. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman/Alex Evers/Handout via Reuters

Has China learned how to build the perfect U.S. spy?

By Matthew Gault
June 17, 2015
An illustration picture shows projection of binary code on man holding aptop computer in Warsaw

An illustration picture of a projection of binary code on a man holding a laptop computer, June 24, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

An American pattern: Seeking elusive enemies with unreliable allies

By Tim Weiner
June 15, 2015

President Richard M. Nixon (C) talks with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (L) and General Alexander M. Haig Jr. at Camp David. NATIONAL ARCHIVES/Oliver F. Atkins

Why arming U.S. allies can be like sending weapons straight to the enemy

By David Axe
March 25, 2015
A member of the Kurdish peshmerga forces sit with a weapon during an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in Makhmur

A member of the Kurdish peshmerga forces sit with a weapon during an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in Makhmur, on the outskirts of the province of Nineveh August 7, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Torture, deny, repeat: ‘Enhanced interrogation’ never works, the CIA never learns

By Tim Weiner
December 12, 2014

A Guantanamo detainee's feet are shackled to the floor as he attends a "Life Skills" class at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base

When the United States was attacked on 9/11, every member of the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine services had a rule book on the conduct of interrogations. It was clear and concise.

Details of how U.S. rebuked foreign regimes while using same torture methods

By James Ross
December 11, 2014

A protester dressed as a detainee of the US government demonstrates outside the White House in Washington

So the CIA doesn’t consider “waterboarding” — mock execution by near drowning — to be torture, but the U.S. State Department does.

Is the U.S. really against torture? It can be hard to tell

By Elisa Massimino
November 14, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at Organizing for Action's "National Organizing Summit" in Washington

President Barack Obama brought the U.S. commitment against torture into sharper focus on Wednesday. For a president who prohibited torture as one of his first official acts, this shouldn’t be news. But it is.

Forcing the CIA to admit some ugly truths

By David Wise
August 1, 2014

CIA Director John Brennan participates in a Council on Foreign Relations forum in Washington

George Tenet, who presided over the CIA when terrorist suspects were waterboarded and subjected to other forms of brutal “enhanced interrogation,” has set himself a near-impossible task.  He is leading an effort to discredit an impending Senate committee report expected to lay out a case that the intelligence agency tortured suspects and then misled Congress, the White House and the public about its detention and interrogation program.

U.S. spying on Germany: Making enemies out of allies, and for what?

By David Wise
July 11, 2014

German Chancellor Merkel attends a session of Bundestag in Berlin

What were they thinking?

In the wake of last fall’s revelation that the National Security Agency had wiretapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone, the report of U.S. intelligence’s involvement in two other likely cases of spying on Germany is mind-boggling.

Post Iraq, U.S. must rely on covert action

By Jack Devine
June 13, 2014

devine -- afghan-militia-1024x736

Covert actions are now crucial to U.S. foreign policy. After the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington should rely more on CIA-driven covert operations and less on military force in the world’s hotspots.