National Security

FP's Situation Report: Remembering the Boston Marathon bombing one year later

CIA chief quietly visits Ukraine; a top Marine touches the military benefits third rail; and a bit more.

By Dan Lamothe with Nathaniel Sobel

The Boston Marathon steps off today, one year after the horrific bombings that killed three people, maimed scores of others, and paralyzed a proud city with fear for several days. That, of course, has led to a variety of thoughtful news coverage of the event, which draws millions of people from all over the world each year. From the Boston Globe's Kay Lazar and Sarah Schweitzer this morning, one day after the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for its breaking news coverage of the tragedy last year: "A year later, shattered bones have knitted back together, burned skin has regrown, and the survivors who lost legs are walking on prosthetic limbs. What remains for many are the relentless injuries nobody sees. While there have been remarkable stories of recovery and perseverance among the 275 wounded in the twin explosions on Marathon Day 2013, many still battle hearing loss, ringing ears, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress."

More from the Globe: "One shakes so badly from anxiety that he has a hard time working as a carpenter. Another, college freshman Sydney Corcoran of Lowell, has developed an eating disorder. Corcoran has endured leg surgeries, complications, and more surgeries, but her emotional scars run deeper. She is often on edge, startles easily, and has trouble sleeping, symptoms of PTSD. Her mother, Celeste Corcoran, was seriously injured in the blast, too, with legs so mangled both had to be amputated. ‘My legs were blown off and that's huge,' she said. ‘But so many more people suffer in silence because everybody looks at them and sees this whole person.' On a day for gauging how far they have come, many of the survivors are thankful for the progress they have made in the hands of skilled and caring doctors, nurses, and therapists. Still, some have nerve damage in their legs that has not healed, and the 16 people who lost legs have had to get their prosthetics adjusted repeatedly as their residual limbs shrink.'" More here. And if you missed it, I highly recommend the Globe's gripping series, "The Fall of the House of Tsarnaev." Read it here.

Meanwhile, the surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is isolated from the rest of the world. The New York Times profiled him today. From Michael Wines and Serge F. Kovaleski: "It has been nearly a year since police officers found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a suburban Boston backyard, hiding in a boat there, wounded by gunfire. Today he passes time in a secure federal medical facility, awaiting a November trial on charges that he helped plan and execute the Boston Marathon bombing a year ago on Tuesday, which killed three people and wounded at least 260, and a killing and kidnapping spree that forced an entire city into lockdown. Now it is his turn to be effectively walled off from the outside world, imprisoned under so-called special administrative measures approved by the United States attorney general. The restrictions are reserved for inmates considered to pose the greatest threat to others - even though, privately, federal officials say there is little of substance to suggest that Mr. Tsarnaev, 20, and his brother Tamerlan were anything but isolated, homegrown terrorists."

"A court order bars his legal advisers and family from disclosing anything he has told or written them. Court documents and a snippet of a phone conversation with his family, released before the measures were imposed, offer glimpses into his life. Last May, he told his parents in Dagestan that ‘everything is good,' that he was eating meals of chicken and rice and that supporters had deposited about $1,000 in a bank account set up on his behalf. And he gets cards and letters: at least a thousand so far, many, his lawyers have written, from people urging him to convert to Christianity. But there are others as well, from admirers and backers who believe he is innocent." " Read the rest here.

Good Tuesday morning to you.
I'm Dan Lamothe, and I'll be bringing this Situation Report newsletter to you all week with an assist from Nathaniel Sobel. I was prepared for last night's "Blood Moon," but alas, the cloudy weather in Washington did not cooperate. Gordon Lubold is enjoying some much-deserved time off. If you have anything you'd like to share with our newsletter, please email me at dan.lamothe@foreignpolicy.com. And If you'd like to sign up to receive Situation Report, send Gordon a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and he'll add you on our growing distribution list. Like what you see? Tell a friend. And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease, because if you see something, we hope you'll say something -- to Situation Report. And one more thing: Please consider following us at @DanLamothe, @glubold, and @njsobe4.

A hearty congratulations to this year's Pulitzer Prize winners. The list was announced yesterday, and is headlined by the Washington Post and The Guardian's coverage of leaks out of the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden. You can read the full list here. For this national security-focused newsletter, it's also worth mentioning specifically the work of David Philipps of The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Co. His stories probed how wounded combat veterans are mistreated, zeroing in on the loss of benefits for list of several soldiers who were cut loose for minor offenses. Read them here.

The situation in Ukraine is growing more complicated by the day. They also now include the revelation that CIA Director John Brennan hung out in the nation's capital, Kiev, over the weekend, meeting officials there as the Obama administration ponders how to help the imperiled country. From FP's Shane Harris and John Hudson: "Brennan's visit, which was first reported in Russian media and confirmed Monday by the White House, comes amid more calls from U.S. lawmakers to share intelligence about Russian troop movements and special operations forces with Ukraine. The intelligence agencies have been warning for weeks that a Russian military invasion of eastern Ukraine could be imminent, but concerns that Ukraine's intelligence service is penetrated by Russian spies had kept the U.S. from sharing highly-classified intelligence that could end up in Russian hands, officials said."

"A CIA spokesman didn't discuss the purpose of Brennan's trip but refuted reports in the Russian press that the director had urged Ukraine to conduct military operations against Russian forces and dissidents in the eastern part of the country. ‘The claim that Director Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations inside Ukraine is completely false,' said CIA spokesman Todd Ebitz. ‘Like other senior U.S. officials, Director Brennan strongly believes that a diplomatic solution is the only way to resolve the crisis between Russia and Ukraine.' But it's not clear that the Obama administration has settled on entirely diplomatic means. An even more sensitive issue than intelligence sharing is Kiev's request for U.S. military aid, on which the Obama administration has sent mixed signals. More here.

Meanwhile, Russian forces on the Ukrainian border are well positioned to sow the seeds of even more havoc in Ukraine. From FP's Elias Groll: "What will Russian forces do once they cross the Ukrainian border? In a little-noticed and increasingly prescient report from earlier this month, analysts at the Royal United Services Institute, a defense think tank, lay out a series of scenarios spelling out possible courses of actions for Russian troops invading the eastern and southern provinces of Ukraine. While a Russian invasion of Ukraine is far from certain, recent events in Ukraine mirror events in the lead up to the stealth invasion of Crimea. And even if predictions of a Russian invasion do not come true, these scenarios provide a framework for considering Moscow's military options."

"According the authors of the report -- Igor Sutyagin, a research fellow at RUSI, and Michael Clarke, the institute's director general -- Russia has some 50,000 troops lined up against roughly 70,000 Ukrainian troops. While Ukraine possesses a numerical advantage in troops, Kiev's forces are ‘poorly equipped and would struggle to mobilise fully.' ‘In the event of a military clash,' the report notes, ‘its formations would be locally outnumbered and certainly outgunned by Russian forces and their reserves.'" Read the rest here. And read the report itself here.

And about that Russian jet... You probably heard Monday that a Russian jet repeatedly buzzed a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea over the weekend. From Reuters' Missy Ryan: "A Russian fighter aircraft made repeated low-altitude, close-range passes near a U.S. ship in the Black Sea over the weekend, the Pentagon said on Monday, condemning the action at a time of heightened U.S.-Russian tensions over Ukraine. ‘This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is inconsistent with their national protocols and previous agreements on the professional interaction between our militaries,' said Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. Warren said a Russian Su-24 aircraft, or Fencer, made 12 passes at low altitude near the USS Donald Cook, a destroyer that has been in the Black Sea since April 10. It appeared to be unarmed, he told reporters. The incident lasted 90 minutes and took place on Saturday evening while the U.S. ship was conducting a patrol in international waters in the western Black Sea, Warren said. The ship is now in a Romanian port. The Russian plane, accompanied by another Fencer that did not fly close to the U.S. ship, did not respond to multiple attempts by the Donald Cook to communicate with its pilot, he said." More here.

Afghanistan brain drain, Part II. Yesterday, usual Situation Report maestro Gordon Lubold had a piece on how Afghanistan was poised to lose many of the experienced U.S. diplomats there in coming months - something that certainly would affect Washington's ability to influence the new government in Kabul. Read it here. In response, we got this from Matt Sherman, a Defense Department civilian working for the military's operational commander in Kabul who has served multiple tours in Afghanistan for the State Department and the Pentagon. His note read in part: ‘... I wish there was some acknowledgement for those of us (though small) who have stuck it out here for a number of years. Minus time off from May 2011 - Sept 2012, I've been out here at the tactical, operational and strategic levels since Jan 2009. I've seen many commanders, ambassadors and staff come and go -- but quality people keep coming out making the most of the situation they have to work with, good and bad. Do I wish some of them would have stayed for longer periods of time? Absolutely. (And there are some who probably should have left early...) Overall though I'm a proponent of multi-year tours -- and agree that the mission has been impacted, to some degree, by one-year tours of duty. But many have returned or stayed over the years and remain focused on the mission.'

Corruption at Afghanistan border crossings, meanwhile, is so bad that it threatens the customs revenue on which the country depends. From FP's Jamila Trindle this morning: "Even though the United States spent $120 million to improve the Afghan customs system over the past three years, a new report by the watchdog overseeing U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan says corruption is still the biggest threat to the import system, and it could grow. Fees and taxes on goods crossing the Afghan border make up nearly half of all the revenues (44 to 48 percent) that the Afghan government brings in. But the government could be making twice as much if fraud were eliminated, according a report released Tuesday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). ‘Afghanistan remains poorly positioned to develop a self-sustaining economy because of corruption, mismanagement, and continuing instability along its borders,' the report said. More here.

As the first elections loom since the United States left four years ago, Iraq is struggling to avoid splitting apart amid escalating violence and political paralysis. From the Christian Science Monitor's Jane Arraf: "Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's foreign minister, looks out the cockpit window of a military helicopter at the thin blue waterway below - the site of one of the fiercest battles in modern history. The Russian-made chopper, part of Iraq's tiny Air Force, winds its way along the Shatt al-Arab waterway, on the border with Iran, which has shaped the two countries' tumultuous past. At low tide, the carcasses of destroyed oil tankers are half sunk into the ocher mud. They are rusting relics from a devastating eight-year war three decades ago that began over access to the shallow ribbon of water - Iraq's only lane to the deep-sea waters of the Gulf. ‘When you see it on the ground, you see how sensitive these issues are ... and how stupid decisions destroyed this country,' says Mr. Zebari, a onetime Kurdish guerrilla who fought Saddam Hussein's regime from the mountains and has been foreign minister throughout the life of postwar Iraq. ‘Since its establishment, Iraq has struggled with this issue. It's been a victim of geography and history.'" More here.

The Marine Corps' top enlisted leader is under fire from his own troops, and he's trying to explain. Sgt. Maj. Mike Barrett testified before Congress last week, telling officials there that while budgets are shrinking, Marines aren't raising concerns about their future pay or retirement compensation. "That's not on their mind," he said. "As I talk to thousands of audiences, they want to know into whose neck do we put a boot next. "They want to know about what new equipment are we getting, are we continuing to modernize. Just because the budget sucks, does that mean we're not going get our new gear?" Then, in a remark that appears to have confused or infuriated thousands of Marines, he appeared to argue that small pay raises would have benefits. "I truly believe it will raise discipline, he said. "You'll have better spending habits. You won't be so wasteful."

The comments were initially reported by Marine Corps Times here. They have generated a wave of follow-on news coverage since, and Barrett - an intense, tough-talking combat veteran with sniper experience - has sought to set the record straight. He released a letter to all Marines to the newspaper on Friday, and subsequently had it posted on the Marine Corps' website. Posted here, it reads:  "Recent reporting of my testimony may have left you with a mistaken impression that I don't care about your quality of life and that I support lower pay for servicemembers. This is not true. Nobody wants less. But if we don't slow the growth of our hard-earned generous compensation/benefit entitlements that we have enjoyed over the past decade, we don't have sufficient dollars for what we need - investment in our warfighting capabilities and our wonderful Marine and family care programs."

Barrett touched on an issue that has been a political third rail for top military officials - how to handle the expanding financial burden of providing for a force that has sacrifice in war for more than a decade. He received a boost Monday from another combat veteran, U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R.-Calif., who wrote a letter backing the sergeant major. It reads in part: "I know that you are an uncompromising defender of the Marines you represent. I know that you care deeply for the men and women of the Marine Corps and have tirelessly advocated for their well-being at every opportunity. I also know that you are not calling for lower pay for service personnel and in no way have your remarks been construed among myself or many of my colleagues to mean that the Marine Corps requires even less funding in the future." Read the rest here.

National Security

FP’s Situation Report: The hunt for missing Flight 370 goes underwater

KKK links in Kansas shootings; U.S. diplomatic ‘brain drain’ in Afghanistan; Career anxiety at West Point; and a bit more.

By Dan Lamothe with Nathaniel Sobel

The search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 is going underwater. The decision was made Monday, after six days without detecting any further underwater "pings" that could have been coming from the plane's flight recorders in the Indian Ocean. Investigators will now use an unmanned submarine deployed by the U.S. Navy. From the New York Times' Kirk Semple, Chris Buckley and Michelle Innis: "The absence of any more pings, taken together with the belief that the batteries on the flight recorders were at the end of their life span, has led the authorities to conclude that they are unlikely to detect any further signals and that they need to shift search tactics. ‘It is time to go underwater,' the lead coordinator, Angus Houston, said at a news conference in Perth, Australia. But striking a note of caution that has become a motif of his public appearances, Mr. Houston said there was no guarantee that searchers would find the wreck. ‘Don't be overoptimistic,' he said. ‘Be realistic.'

So what are they using? It's a Bluefin-21, a sophisticated underwater vehicle. More from the Times: "For their underwater hunt, search officials had been depending on the so-called towed pinger locator, essentially an elaborate microphone that a crew has dropped about a mile below the surface and dragged behind the Ocean Shield, an Australian naval vessel. The locator detected two sets of signals on April 5 and two more on April 8 in an area about 1,000 miles northwest of Perth. With the move to the ocean floor, the searchers' most valuable tool will become a Bluefin-21, a remote-controlled submersible operated by an American team that has also been in charge of the pinger locator. The submarine will initially take sonar scans of the seabed. But moving around walking speed, it has the ability to cover only about 12 square miles a day. Some experts say the four signal detections have left searchers with a total search zone of possibly hundreds of square miles." More here.

Flashback alert. Read my take on Foreign Policy about the Bluefin-21 and other unmanned underwater vehicles the U.S. Navy has at its disposal here

A former Ku Klux Klan leader is apparently at the center of a gruesome series of fatal shootings in Kansas. From ABC News: "The 73-year-old man charged with murder in the shooting at a Jewish community center and retirement community in Overland Park, Kansas, that left three people dead is reportedly the former Grand Dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Fraiser Glenn Cross Jr., of Aurora, Mo., was taken into custody in the parking lot of an elementary school near the scene of the shootings, and was booked on a charge of first degree murder, according to the Johnson County, Kansas, Sheriff's Office. Cross is an alias for Frasier Glenn Miller, the former KKK leader, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In a statement released Sunday night, the SPLC said it was able to identify Cross as Miller after a phone conversation with Miller's wife, Marge, in which she told them police had come to her home and told her that her husband had been arrested in the shootings." More here.

"Heil Hitler," he yelled out. That from the Kansas City Star, among others. More from the newspaper's Laura Bauer, Dave Helling and Brian Burnes:  "After officers arrested Frazier Glenn Cross - an Aurora, Mo., man better known as F. Glenn Miller - Sunday afternoon, authorities said he went on a rant inside the patrol car. Though Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass wouldn't say what Cross hollered, a television crew captured him on video while he was handcuffed in the back of the car. ‘Heil Hitler,' Miller yelled out, and then he bobbed his head up and down. Four hours after the shooting rampage was first reported, Douglass said in a news conference that it was too early to know definitively what the shooter's motives were, but added: ‘We are investigating this as a hate crime.' In all, the gunman fired at five people Sunday afternoon, police said, but he missed two of his targets, who were not injured. Police said the man had not only a shotgun but also a handgun and possibly an assault weapon." More here

Welcome to this Monday edition of Situation Report. I'm Dan Lamothe, and I'll be at the wheel all week here along with an assist from Nathaniel Sobel. Gordon Lubold is enjoying some much-deserved time off. If you have anything you'd like to share with our newsletter, please email me at dan.lamothe@foreignpolicy.com. If you'd like to sign up to receive Situation Report, send Gordon a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. Like what you see? Tell a friend.  And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease, because if you see something, we hope you'll say something -- to Situation Report. And one more thing: Please consider following us at @DanLamothe, @glubold, and @njsobe4.

Ukrainian forces clashed with pro-Russian militants on Sunday. From the NYT's Andrew Kramer and Andrew Higgins: "The Ukrainian government on Sunday for the first time sent its security services to confront armed pro-Russian militants in the country's east, defying warnings from Russia. Commandos engaged in gunfights with men who had set up roadblocks and stormed a Ukrainian police station in Slovyansk, and at least one officer was killed, Ukrainian officials said. Several officers were injured in the operation, as were four locals, the officials said. Russian news media and residents here disputed that account, saying the Ukrainian forces had only briefly engaged one checkpoint. In either case, the central government in Kiev has turned to force to try to restore its authority in the east, a course of action that the Russian government has repeatedly warned against. With tens of thousands of Russian troops massed along Ukraine's eastern border near Donetsk, Western leaders have worried that Moscow might use unrest in Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking areas as a pretext for an invasion." More here.

The United States is on the precipice of suffering diplomatic "brain drain" in Afghanistan. That from FP's Gordon Lubold, who is clearly keeping busy while on vacation. From his story: "With President Hamid Karzai leaving office after a stormy relationship with Washington for more than 12 years, many current and former U.S. officials see a unique opportunity to redefine the relationship with Kabul. But that may be difficult. By summer, after a possible runoff election chooses Karzai's successor, most of the mid-level and senior U.S. civilians with deep Afghanistan experience who would have the knowledge to help foster strong relations with the new government will be long gone. And, officials familiar with the matter said, they will be replaced by diplomats expected to have far less experience. That means the U.S. embassy will be in a weaker position to help the new government fight corruption, prevent an economic slump, or influence the new Kabul government on matters pertaining to any U.S. military force that may remain after this year, say current and former U.S. officials." More here

The first snapshot of Afghan elections puts pair of ex-ministers in lead but two minority candidates could decide final result. From the Guardian's Emma Graham-Harrison: "The first results from Afghanistan's presidential election show the country is headed for a runoff next month between former ministers, with two other candidates securing enough of the vote to potentially act as kingmakers. After a week of waiting, the election commission finally unveiled on Sunday a snapshot of the overall vote: 10 percent of the results from about three-quarters of Afghanistan's provinces. Following a spate of rumours, wild claims and fierce accusations, the first solid evidence came with a strict warning that fluctuations were not only possible but likely as more results are tallied. ‘I must tell you, there will be changes in the days ahead as we announce further results,' said Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, chairman of the Independent Election Commission. ‘We are checking the partial results to ensure the final result is clear, and we will share it with the nation.'

More from the Guardian: "The tally gave Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister and mujahideen fighter, a slim lead at about 42 percent, followed by the former finance minister and World Bank technocrat Ashraf Ghani on 38 percent. If no candidate gets more than half the vote, there is a runoff between the top two. Lagging far behind in third place with less than 10 percent was Zalmai Rassoul, a moderate former minister widely believed to be the incumbent Hamid Karzai's preferred successor. Winning barely 5 percent - but still enough to potentially influence a runoff - was a hardline Islamist, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the man who first invited Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan." More here.

The end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, meanwhile, is causing career anxiety for new U.S. military officers. From The NYT's Helene Cooper and Thom Shanker from West Point: "Col. Jeff Lieb, the deputy commandant of the United States Military Academy and a veteran of the war in Iraq, paced before a group of cadets standing in formation and shouted at them about their lives after graduation. ‘I took a thousand kids to war, and I brought a thousand back,' Colonel Lieb told the eager, soon-to-be second lieutenants on a recent day. "Every time I deployed, I got out there and talked to my soldiers about safety. You're going to have to do the same thing.' Except these cadets probably will not - or at least not anytime soon. For the first time in 13 years, the best and the brightest of West Point's graduating class will leave this peaceful Hudson River campus bound for what are likely to be equally peaceful tours of duty in the United States Army." More here.

China's neighbors gear up for a fight. From Defense News' Wendell Minnick: "The Asia-Pacific naval market is heating up, with massive quantities of new ships to boost regional navies in coming years. According to AMI International, a US-based naval analysis firm, Asia-Pacific has already surpassed Europe as the world's second largest naval market. AMI projects the region will spend $200 billion on new ships and submarines by 2032, making up roughly 25 percent of the global projected new ship market. At least 100 new submarines will join regional navies during that time, making up 40 percent of global new-build vessels. About 1,000 new warships, at least 30 meters long, also will be constructed. One motivating factor is certainly China, whose maritime claims and military modernization efforts are driving regional neighbors to buy new weapons, upgrade old ones, improve training and huddle closer to US Pacific Command. But not all of the market growth can be laid at Beijing's feet. For example, Singapore appears more worried about pirates in the Malacca Strait and potential conflict with Malaysia and Indonesia. And China is hardly the only Asian country making conflicting claims in the resource-rich South China Sea." More here.

Libya remains in the grip of rival rebel factions. From Los Angeles Times' Laura King: "Dragging deeply on a cigarette and swirling his espresso dregs, the curly-haired young militiaman offered up a vivid account of the battles he and fellow rebels waged to bring down dictator Moammar Kadafi - days of blazing bombardment, thirsty desert nights. Then he voiced his dismay at the chokehold those same armed groups now maintain on Libya. ‘We fought so hard to make a new country,' said the 28-year-old of Libyan extraction who left Britain to join the revolution that swept this North African nation in 2011. ‘Now it's all about money. Money and guns.' The rebel groups that worked together to oust Kadafi have fragmented into rivalrous factions whose outsized collective power has sapped Libya's oil wealth, turned a nascent government structure to tatters and ushered in a grim cycle of assassinations, abductions and firefights in the streets. International attention tends to focus on the most audacious acts of militias, such as the abduction in October of the prime minister, the storming of various government ministries and last month's bid to illicitly sell $36 million worth of oil. The tanker used by the militia was intercepted by U.S. Navy SEALs and handed over to the Libyan government." More here.

Bill Burns will retire in October. From FP's John Hudson: "On Friday, the White House announced the retirement of Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, a giant in the diplomatic world and a key architect of the nuclear negotiations with Iran and six world powers. Burns, who had already twice delayed his retirement, has agreed to stay on until October, which will afford the administration more time to eek out a potential deal with Tehran with one of its most trusted diplomats at the helm. Still, the outcome of the talks is far from certain as significant gaps remain between the two sides on the dismantling of Iran's nuclear facilities, especially over how long a final deal will remain in effect. In announcing Burns' retirement, President Barack Obama lauded his legacy at Foggy Bottom. ‘Since I met Bill in Moscow in 2005, I have admired his skill and precision,' he said. ‘I have relied on him for candid advice and sensitive diplomatic missions.'" More here.

A former spook tells why ‘The Americans' is filled with more intrigue than real espionage. Third Way's Aki Peritz for FP: "The big bad bear from Moscow is back, and not just in Crimea. FX's The Americans, about deep-cover KGB ‘illegals' living in Washington, D.C. in the early 1980s, is now midway through its second season. There's much to like about the show, from top-notch performances by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, to their reliance on clunky, retro-spy technology, to the clever manipulation of a common fear felt, no doubt, by most children at one point or another that their parents have secret identities (it ain't paranoia if it's true). But I was in the intelligence business too, and a fundamental part of the series irks me. Even though the CIA hired me after the 9/11 attacks to fight a new menace -- terrorism and Islamic extremism -- the corridors at Langley still echo with the footsteps of old timers who recall the protean fight against the Soviets. And regardless of how that conflict is portrayed in Joe Weisberg's captivating series, it was not a sequence of increasingly lethal encounters between U.S. and Russian intelligence services." More here.

The contest for the next House intel committee chairman heats up. From Defense One's Stacy Kaper: "Rep. Pete King is already auditioning to be the GOP mouthpiece on the need to protect the embattled National Security Agency and remain vigilant against Islamic extremism-stances that are central to his bid to succeed retiring Rep. Mike Rogers as House Intelligence Committee Chairman. The New York Republican, who formerly led the Homeland Security Committee, says fighting terrorism has been his ‘obsession' since the Sept. 11, 2001, attack killed 150 of his friends, neighbors, and constituents. He says he knows how to lead the committee, from his five years of serving on it and his previous experience as a chairman dealing with closely related terrorism matters... King and the other contenders won't have to make their cases before their peers on the Steering Committee and try to accumulate a majority of their colleagues' votes to win the coveted leadership post. Instead, because Intelligence is a special ‘select' committee, the decision is up to one person only: the speaker of the House, who may or may not be John Boehner come January." More here.