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February 12 2014


Drones And The Kill List Now

The White House debates a drone attack against a U.S. citizen and terror suspect in Pakistan. We’ll look at Washington’s kill list and American drone policy.

Pakistani protesters burn a representation of the U.S. flag to condemn American drone strikes on militants' hideouts in Pakistani tribal areas, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 in Multan, Pakistan. The U.S. is now said to be considering legal options for using an unmanned drone to kill an American citizen in Pakistan. (AP)

Pakistani protesters burn a representation of the U.S. flag to condemn American drone strikes on militants’ hideouts in Pakistani tribal areas, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 in Multan, Pakistan. The U.S. is now said to be considering legal options for using an unmanned drone to kill an American citizen in Pakistan. (AP)


Greg Miller, intelligence reporter for the Washington Post. (@gregpmiller)

Spencer Ackerman, national security editor for the Guardian U.S. (@attackerman)

Micah Zenko, Douglas Dillon Fellow in the Center for Preventative Action at the Council on Foreign Relations. Author of “Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies” and “Between Threats and War: U.S. Discrete Military Operations in the Post-Cold War World.” (@MicahZenko)

Philip Mudd, director of global risk at SouthernSun Asset Management. Former deputy director of the counter-terrorism center at the C.I.A.  Former senior intelligence adviser and deputy director of the F.B.I.’s National Security branch.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: U.S. weighs lethal strike against American citizen — “The Obama administration is weighing whether to approve a lethal strike against a U.S. citizen who is accused of being part of the al-Qaeda terrorist network overseas and involved in ongoing plotting against American targets, U.S. officials said.”

Council On Foreign Relations: Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies – “Like any tool, drones are only as useful as the information guiding them, and for this they are heavily reliant on local military and intelligence cooperation. More important, significant questions exist about who constitutes a legitimate target and under what circumstances it is acceptable to strike. ”

The Intercept: The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program — “According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.”

January 08 2014


Drones Flying the Friendly Skies

As the US is reeling from disclosures about NSA eavesdropping on Americans, will commercial drones create fears of more snooping, this time from the skies over http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/tp/tp140108drones_flying_the_fr
Sponsored post

November 22 2013


Week In The News: Afghan Deals, Midwest Storms, J.P. Morgan Fine

Midwest destruction, Afghan troop talks, a big fine for J.P. Morgan and gay marriage and the Cheney sisters. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.


Trudy Rubin, Worldview columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer. (@TrudyRubin)

Bill McKenzie, editorial columnist for The Dallas Morning News. (@Bill_McKenzie)

Jack BeattyOn Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Bluster from Congress on Iran, but to what end? – “I can understand Netanyahu’s thinking: He distrusts Tehran and wants President Obama to back an Israeli military strike on its nuclear sites. But I can’t grasp the ‘thinking’ in Congress. Are the sanctions hawks really ready to push America into another unnecessary Mideast war? The hawks argue that if strong economic curbs pushed the Iranians into talks, then harsher punishment will make them give up their nuclear program. But when it comes to Iran, that kind of strategy has failed badly in the past.

The Dallas Morning News:  A second president’s profile in courage — “Johnson’s reaction went beyond an ability to handle emergencies; I think another factor was in play. He was absolutely comfortable using his authority to achieve his goals. That trait separates political leaders from those who follow in their wake. Johnson’s indomitable will certainly helped him prepare to lead from the moment he arrived at Andrews. The late George Plimpton described some leaders as having an X factor that defines them and puts them in a special category. For some, that could be charisma, which Kennedy had in large doses. But Johnson’s ability to tower over others was his X factor. He used it often as Senate majority leader in the 1950s to move legislation. And, of course, he put it to use in carrying out JFK’s domestic legacy.”

Politico: Liz Cheney tries to repair hostile relations with Wyoming press — “The question is whether she can undo the initial damage in a state with such a strong newspaper tradition. The primary contest is nine months away, but political pros say Cheney faces a steep uphill climb against the incumbent, Sen. Mike Enzi. Cheney was widely seen as a carpetbagger from the moment she entered the race — she moved her family to the state last year — and the attacks on the state’s newspapers, which have a loyal readership, have left a sour taste.”

October 23 2013


Getting Out Of Afghanistan

Afghanistan and Pakistan are still brewing up big challenges for the United States. Taliban talks, drone wars, how to stay in, how to get out.


Ben Pauker, managing editor of Foreign Policy Magazine. (@BenPauker)

Stephen Biddle, Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University.

Sean Carberry, Kabul correspondent for NPR. (@Frankentele)

From Tom’s Reading List

Foreign Affairs: Ending the War in Afghanistan — “Should current trends continue, U.S. combat troops are likely to leave behind a grinding stalemate between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The Afghan National Security Forces can probably sustain this deadlock, but only as long as the U.S. Congress pays the multibillion-dollar annual bills needed to keep them fighting. The war will thus become a contest in stamina between Congress and the Taliban.”

The Atlantic: Why Is It So Hard To Negotiate With The Taliban? – “At the beginning, talks were just seen as a way to peel off local and regional commanders and local insurgents from the broader movement, and it slowly worked its way up the chain from reintegration to reconciliation. But it did so unevenly and it was never properly explained how these negotiations at the lower level would play out at the higher level. We didn’t know whether the purpose of talks was to split the Taliban movement between the hawks and the doves or to try to maintain a coherent movement under [Taliban spiritual leader] Mullah Mohammad Omar and talk directly to the top.”

The Guardian: US drone strikes could be classed as war crimes, says Amnesty International – “Getting to the bottom of individual strikes is exceptionally difficult in the restive areas bordering Afghanistan, where thousands of militants have settled. People are often terrified of speaking out, fearing retribution from both militants and the state, which is widely suspected of colluding with the CIA-led campaign.”

July 20 2013


Jul 19, 2013 — Daniel Drezner & Heather Hurlburt

January 11 2012


The Next Fight: Time for a Change of Mission in Afghanistan

"On December 5, the Center for a New American Security held a press briefing on its recent policy brief, "The Next Fight: Time for a Change of Mission in Afghanistan." Authored by Lieutenant General David W. Barno, USA (Ret.), Dr. Andrew Exum and Matthew Irvine, the brief calls for a change of mission in Afghanistan and offers policy recommendations for the Obama Administration, the ISAF/U.S. Forces Commander, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and the U.S. Special Operations Command. The authors were joined by CNAS President John Nagl, who offered key takeaways from his recent trip to Afghanistan." December 5, 2011 http://www.cnas.org/node/7383

Triage: The Next 12 Months in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Panelists include (reflects speaking order): Lieutenant General David W. Barno, USA Director, Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University Andrew Exum Fellow, Center for a New American Security Nathaniel C. Fick Chief Operating Officer, Center for a New American Security Dr. Andrew J. Bacevich Professor of International Relations and History, Boston University Colonel Christopher G. Cavoli, USA Military Professor of Security Studies, George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies June 11, 2009 http://www.cnas.org/node/2781

January 10 2012


Defining Success in Afghanistan - Foreign and Defense Policy - AEI

Resident scholar Frederick W. Kagan, who directs the Critical Threats Project at AEI, and Kimberly Kagan, founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), spent 150 days in Afghanistan in 2010 and lay out the key details of their latest report, "Defining Success in Afghanistan." http://www.aei.org/podcast/foreign-and-defense-policy/regional/india-pakistan-afghanistan/defining-success-in-afghanistan/

May 08 2011



Become a fan of the Political Gabfest on Facebook. We post to the Facebook page throughout the week, so keep the conversation going by joining us there. http://www.slate.com/id/2292575

December 23 2010


Wider U.S. Strikes in Pakistan?

Senior American commanders in Afghanistan want to expand operations into Pakistan. The White House may grant their wish. But what would that mean? Plus, peace activist and writer Chris Hedges.

October 14 2010


Week in the News

Chile’s miners up and out. A halt to “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” And talking with the Taliban. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Renee Montagne on Afghanistan

NPR's Renee Montagne just spent a month in Afghanistan, doing some great reporting. She joins us for an up-close look at the war, and the Afghan people.

October 08 2010


Week in the News

Convoy attacks and U.S.-Pakistan tensions. Toxic sludge out of Hungary. Free speech and military funerals. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

September 30 2010


Week in the News

Midterm fever, an American shoving match with Pakistan, and we talk with journalist Bob Woodward on “Obama’s Wars.” Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

September 15 2010


Corruption in Afghanistan

It's being called "Corrupt-istan." Afghanistan is choking under graft and embezzlement. Can this war be won, with a government so corrupt?

August 26 2010


Week in the News

Home sales plunge. Mass murder in Mexico. Top Republicans says, “I’m gay.” Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

August 10 2010


Andrew Bacevich: America’s Militarism

Retired Army colonel and big thinker Andrew Bacevich on why it’s time to throw out the playbook on American military policy.

August 05 2010


Partaw Naderi Podcast

This podcast features the poems of Partaw Naderi from Afghanistan, translated by Sarah Maguire and Yama Yari. The recording includes 11 different poems and is about 20 minutes long. Each poem is read first in English translation by Sarah Maguire and then in Dari by Partaw himself. Some of the poems appear in the chapbook published by the Poetry Translation Centre in 2008.

June 29 2010


Pakistan, Afghanistan, and US Foreign Policy

Pakistan reportedly building a foothold in Afghanistan. We’ll look at its growing influence and what it means for American influence in the region.

June 24 2010


Week in the News

General McChrystal ousted, the President’s drilling moratorium overturned, and a guilty plea from the would-be Times Square bomber.
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