Inside Opinion

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Tag: CIA


Administration must respect media’s government watchdog role

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

In his speech Thursday on national security, President Barack Obama said the right things about the media’s role as government watchdogs. Now the question is whether his administration’s actions will connect to his words.

Obama said that a free press is essential for our democracy: “I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable. Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.”

You’d never guess it from his detached tone, but he was referring to two abusive leak investigations undertaken

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A misstep for a man, a giant blunder for a CIA chief

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Powerful man, beguiling woman: The combination has been sabotaging national interests since the days of Troy. Should David Petraeus’ affair with groupie-biographer Paula Broadwell have forced his resignation? Sadly, yes.

It’s not a matter of Puritanism, which – take note, sophisticates – hardly saturates American culture these days. Although betrayal of marriage vows and a wife of 37 years reflects poorly on Petraeus as a husband, it’s the least of the reasons this distinguished soldier had to step down as the nation’s chief intelligence officer.

Far more important is the fundamental lack of judgment and caution Petraeus displayed in getting himself entangled with Broadwell.

As a West Point graduate, Reserve lieutenant colonel and all-around American superwoman, she hardly seems a treacherous Bond girl. Still, Petraeus let his guard down, an inexcusable lapse in a CIA chief.

He potentially exposed himself to blackmail, and he opened a clandestine door into his affairs that might have been exploited by someone close to Broadwell. An intelligence official bent on carrying on outside his marriage should at least keep a few alert colleagues in the loop.

Indulging in loose-lipped communications on a common email account was a foolish performance all by itself.

A president must have absolute confidence in his CIA director’s personal integrity and judgment. Petraeus’ actions forfeited that trust.

This scandal keeps on getting spookier. The timing – just after the presidential election – is more than weird. There’s also the apparently political leakage of the dirt through an FBI back channel: An agent reportedly tipped off House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., on Oct. 27. The call was arranged by Washington’s Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn.

Now the seamy business has spilled onto the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John R. Allen. He’s been ensnared in an investigation of his connection with a Florida woman who in turn is connected with Petraeus and the ubiquitous Broadwell.
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Complacency set the stage for attack in Benghazi

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

President Obama is probably not going to lay out a complete, hour-by-hour account of how four Americans came to die in Libya on Sept. 11. Not before Tuesday.

Welcome to politics. Presidents don’t supply their challengers with rocket-propelled grenades on the eve of elections. Mitt Romney, for the same reason, is brushing off demands to clarify his past statements about FEMA.

Obama’s critics are rooting furiously for proof that his lieutenants deliberately denied help to the U.S. consulate in Benghazi – knowing full well that the ambassador and his staff were facing a sustained attack by a large force of heavily armed jihadists.

That extreme scenario reflects the passions of a high-stakes presidential election. It’s far more likely that people simply screwed up and aren’t eager to come clean until the ballots are counted.

What we now know about the attack remains sketchy, but it’s possible someone might have saved lives with a more decisive reaction to the attack.

According to CIA officials, their response was decisive – if not successful. On Thursday, the agency released a chronology indicating a rapid, large-scale response to the crisis. Intelligence officials said that an emergency security force was dispatched quickly to the scene.

What happened prior to the attack is troubling enough, though.

On Monday, The New York Times detailed how many red flags were ignored in the weeks and months leading up to the attack.
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Eight years later, dots still unconnected

Eight years later, dots still unconnected.

In a mere week and a half, the Obama administration’s line on the Christmas Day terror attempt has undergone a remarkable evolution.

The weekend before last, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asserted that Nigerian-born Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was acting alone. President Obama described him as “an isolated extremist.”

How did they know? They didn’t. A few days later, Obama said that al-Qaida “trained him, equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America.”

On Tuesday came something far more disturbing. Obama said explicitly that U.S. intelligence had reports of Abdulmutallab’s ties to al-Qaida prior to the attack, “but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots, which would have placed the suspect on the no-fly list.”
If that’s true, it’s shocking news eight years after 9/11.
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