The ISIS Hysteria

The ISIS problem in Iraq and Syria is getting worse. The most recent reports suggest there is a steady stream of recruits not just locally, but from Turkey, traveling into the country to fight. The threat ISIS represents (a growing, financially self-sustaining terror state that is destroying countries, imprisoning thousands, and brutally murdering thousands more) ...

The Action Bias of National Security Punditry

The Action Bias of National Security Punditry
As unspeakable horrors continue to emerge from the areas controlled by ISIS, so too are the demands for the American government to “do something.” Though understandable, these demands actually represent a self-destructive impulse in punditry, and often lead to poor decision-making that results in disastrous consequences afterward. The action bias is a phenomenon were people ...

Violence and Threat

Violence and Threat
The filmed execution of American journalist James Foley continues to reverberate in the United States. For many, it is their first relatable example of the brutality employed by the militant ISIS group — their first sense that the men who rampage through Syria and northern Iraq are, in a very basic way, fundamentally evil. But, ...

The Post-Employment Economy Is Permanent

Discussing the worsening economic prospects for people under the age of 35 or so has been an occasional topic on this blog. I’ve discussed the post-employment economy, how the last twenty years of wage (non)growth and corporate excess have essentially transferred massive amounts of wealth from the working class to the extremely wealthy, and how ...

From the Archives: The Most Bizarre Jihadist Trial You’ve Never Heard Of

From the Archives: The Most Bizarre Jihadist Trial You’ve Never Heard Of
This was my last post before I stopped writing about national security issues for Beacon. However, in light of the ACLU’s lawsuit on behalf of Jamshid Mukhtarov, I’m re-posting it in full, outside the paywall this in the hopes of helping to contextualize some of the debate. The ACLU is bringing their suit because Mukhtarov may ...

The Most Worrying NSA Revelation Yet

It’s no secret I’ve shrugged at most of the revelations brought about by the documents Edward Snowden stole: most described legal programs doing things you’d expect the NSA to do — and in many cases exposed completely legitimate programs that should never be exposed. Now, however, Bart Gellman and Ashkan Soltani have published something truly ...

Robo-Ethics: Do Autonomous Weapons Pose Greater Ethical Dangers or Rewards? (Video)

Robo-Ethics: Do Autonomous Weapons Pose Greater Ethical Dangers or Rewards? (Video)
I had the tremendous pleasure this week of visiting the Naval Postgraduate School, where I participated in a discussion with Dr. Heather Roff and Dr. Bradley Strawser about the ethics, morality, legality, and practical implications of allowing weapons to autonomously make lethal decisions. The full session is below:   [LINK IS HERE]   I’ll be writing ...

The Israel MOU: What We Don’t Know

The Guardian published another NSA document today, this time about a Memorandum of Understanding between the NSA and Israel’s SIGINT agency, ISNU, that looks worrying. The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data withIsrael without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals. Details ...

How Many Documents Did Edward Snowden Take?

Since the start of  NSA-Gate (well why not just call it that now), we’ve seen an ever-changing number of how many documents Edward Snowden reportedly pilfered from the spy agency. Many of these changing numbers have come from Glenn Greenwald, who was recently offered protection by Brazil’s totally not-abusively violent police services. Below is a ...

A Slightly-Buried Lede

Barton Gellman published another highly classified document today, this time exposing the details of the intelligence community’s “black budget,” which governs covert and other secret programs. Of note is the lack of any language detailing abuse or misconduct, ostensibly the reason for these leaks to begin with. Reporters report, and it would be silly to ...