Archive: War on Terrorism

In This Case, Rumsfeld Was Right

If there were a musical about the Pentagon today, the opening number and reprise would be "If Rumsfeld Was for It, We're Against It." Witness the portrayal of the reversal of a "controversial" plan by the former secretary of Defense,...

By William M. Arkin | May 22, 2008; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (10)

Pakistan Shifts the War on Terrorism

What's going on in the counter-terror war in Pakistan? Last week we learned that the U.S. military's chief liaison, Maj. Gen. Jay W. Hood, has been pulled from the country, ostensibly because of his previous assignment as commander of the...

By William M. Arkin | May 12, 2008; 01:00 PM ET | Comments (11)

Unmanned and Dangerous: The Future U.S. Military?

The controversy over the availability of unmanned reconnaissance and strike drones in Iraq and Afghanistan has become one of those quintessential Washington dramas that plays while Rome burns. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates is pushing for more drones to...

By William M. Arkin | April 30, 2008; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (34)

In the War Against Terrorism, Intelligence Drones On

Finding a "needle in a needle stack": That's how the head of Army intelligence training described the new challenge of spying in the war on terrorism. Searching for a "needle in a haystack" would be much easier, he says, because...

By William M. Arkin | April 28, 2008; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (15)

King David at the Helm

Gen. David H. Petraeus -- "King David," the man behind the surge, the author of the new counter-insurgency strategy, the savior of Iraq, the photogenic Washington star -- has been nominated to be the top U.S. commander in the Middle...

By William M. Arkin | April 24, 2008; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (92)

Beware Military Calls for 'Balance'

'Balance' is a complicated word.

By William M. Arkin | April 16, 2008; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (65)

Fighting the War on Terror in the Caribbean and Central America

Is there an actual threat from the region? It's complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 28, 2008; 06:45 AM ET | Comments (68)

On Iraq, Listen to Cheney on Afghanistan

Can the Afghanistan model work for Iraq? It's complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 21, 2008; 08:35 AM ET | Comments (62)

Commander's Resignation Shows a New Era of Micromanagement

The story behind William Fallon's resignation is complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 12, 2008; 09:20 AM ET | Comments (169)

Global Progress, or Global Whack-a-Mole?

The war on terrorism is multifaceted and complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 4, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (25)

A 'Surge' Isn't Right for Afghanistan

The best we can do is create the conditions for the Afghan people to decide for themselves.

By William M. Arkin | February 28, 2008; 09:55 AM ET | Comments (23)

Fighting Terrorism Ultimately Means Getting Bin Laden

He's still International Public Enemy No. 1.

By William M. Arkin | February 27, 2008; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (21)

Afghanistan: America Wrong, Europe Right

What needs to happen in Afghanistan.

By William M. Arkin | February 25, 2008; 09:35 AM ET | Comments (45)

The War in Pakistan: Mission Being Accomplished?

What the U.S. does in Pakistan is important.

By William M. Arkin | February 22, 2008; 09:25 AM ET | Comments (40)

Pause in Iraq? Try Permanent Bases in the Region

The pause makes sense, but it's also part of an insidious plan.

By William M. Arkin | February 20, 2008; 08:40 AM ET | Comments (46)

Pause in Iraq Doesn't Harm Afghanistan War

The Pentagon doesn't think more troops are necessary in Afghanistan.

By William M. Arkin | February 12, 2008; 08:37 AM ET | Comments (19)

Afghanistan Lost? Homeland Insecurity? What Role Does the Brass Play?

No one has been held accountable for any miscues in strategy or concept.

By William M. Arkin | February 1, 2008; 08:29 AM ET | Comments (18)

'A Great and Severe Missed Opportunity'

Want to know how Iraq might look in retrospect? Take a look at a report on the Israeli-Hezbollah war.

By William M. Arkin | January 31, 2008; 08:33 AM ET | Comments (14)

Al Qaeda Loves Bush: Thanks for the Free Advertising

It shouldn't come as a surprise at this point that the president uses al Qaeda as code. Last night, in his State of the Union address, he mentioned al Qaeda ten times, terrorism 23, extremism eight, Osama bin Laden once.

By William M. Arkin | January 29, 2008; 08:15 AM ET | Comments (60)

Don't Open a Third Front in Pakistan

Al Qaeda is back. What to do about it?

By William M. Arkin | January 28, 2008; 08:55 AM ET | Comments (24)

Secret Operations: Supporting or Undermining the War on Terroism?

Even semi-autonomous units need to understand that popping some bad guy could hinder far larger objectives.

By William M. Arkin | January 25, 2008; 08:12 AM ET | Comments (59)

In the Ideological War Against Terrorism,
the Military Has No Mission

It's not the military's job to engage in propaganda.

By William M. Arkin | January 24, 2008; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (27)

Hollow Army, Hollow Patriotism

The Army is missing its recruiting goals and lowering its standards. That undermines prospects on the battlefield. It also raises questions about the country's willingness to support its troops.

By William M. Arkin | January 23, 2008; 08:42 AM ET | Comments (40)

The Surge Hits Pakistan

Could the U.S. ever take unilateral military action in Pakistan?

By William M. Arkin | January 17, 2008; 06:15 AM ET | Comments (29)

Arms for Sale

Capitol Hill lawmakers opposing a plan to sell bomb-guidance kits to Saudi Arabia have chosen the wrong vehicle to question U.S.-Saudi relations.

By William M. Arkin | January 16, 2008; 07:36 AM ET | Comments (25)

Pakistan's Political Theater

A deal to expand the presence of U.S. Special Forces in Pakistan seems to be in jeopardy. But is it really?

By William M. Arkin | January 15, 2008; 07:17 AM ET | Comments (40)

McCain: Right on National Security, Wrong on Terrorism

The Iowa victories of Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee, both foreign policy neophytes, could focus more attention on John McCain, the favorite of the national security establishment.

By William M. Arkin | January 4, 2008; 08:29 AM ET | Comments (72)

Bin Laden Killed Bhutto? How Blind Can We Be?

We should not let our al-Qaeda fixation blind us, just as the Soviet threat did in Iran in the 1970s, to the realities that Pakistan could implode of its own accord.

By William M. Arkin | December 28, 2007; 08:15 AM ET | Comments (192)

U.S. Troops to Head to Pakistan

Beginning early next year, U.S. Special Forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan, as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counterterrorism units.

By William M. Arkin | December 26, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (135)

Refining the Preemption Doctrine

The U.S. and Turkey are dancing around the fact of their cooperation in bombing Iraq. But let's face it: We have entered an era where preemption, particularly in the name of fighting terrorism, is seen as not only acceptable but required.

By William M. Arkin | December 20, 2007; 08:31 AM ET | Comments (90)

Turkey Bombs, the U.S. Applauds

The rule of law took another hit this week. One sovereign country bombed the territory of another sovereign country. And not only did the U.S. refrain from protest -- it actually helped.

By William M. Arkin | December 18, 2007; 08:01 AM ET | Comments (39)

In Afghanistan, It's About Air Power, Too

The debate over 'boots on the ground' often ignores the importance of air power.

By William M. Arkin | December 17, 2007; 07:29 AM ET | Comments (19)

In Defense of Air Power

One of the main storylines coming out of Afghanistan this year involved civilian casualties from U.S. and NATO airstrikes. It's a storyline the military should be able to counter, but hasn't.

By William M. Arkin | December 11, 2007; 12:01 PM ET | Comments (38)

The Special Relationship

The National Intelligence Estimate on Iran is shaping up to have profound effects on U.S.-Israeli relations.

By William M. Arkin | December 7, 2007; 08:12 AM ET | Comments (36)

Gates in Africa

Likely at the top of the secretary's agenda is AFRICOM, the new U.S. command on the continent that really shouldn't be run by the military and may not be necessary at all.

By William M. Arkin | December 3, 2007; 07:58 AM ET | Comments (16)

Let Them Eat JDAMs

Congress is concerned about selling smart bombs to Saudi Arabia. But those bombs could do more good than harm.

By William M. Arkin | November 21, 2007; 08:02 AM ET | Comments (26)

Pakistan's Failure -- and America's

Emergency rule in Pakistan demonstrates not only Musharraf's failure, but that the joint U.S.-Pakistani approach to fighting terrorism is badly conceived and poorly implemented.

By William M. Arkin | November 5, 2007; 09:05 AM ET | Comments (43)

Turkey: Another Front in the War on Terror?

The Turkey-Iraq border could be the site of the next front in the war on terror.

By William M. Arkin | October 24, 2007; 09:13 AM ET | Comments (34)

Al Qaeda Attacks Bhutto? Not So Fast

Yes, both the Taliban and al Qaeda are active in Pakistan, but so are many other home-grown terrorist groups.

By William M. Arkin | October 19, 2007; 07:15 AM ET | Comments (32)

Blackwater and War Crimes: A Dangerous Equation

Is this the right war to decide to erode the distinction between civilian and military?

By William M. Arkin | October 15, 2007; 08:21 AM ET | Comments (38)

Not Your Father's Military

Traditionally, no one expected to make a bundle in the military. Today, the Pentagon is trying to keep special forces commandos from leaving for the private sector with $150,000 bonuses.

By William M. Arkin | October 12, 2007; 08:39 AM ET | Comments (16)

Shades of Hoover

The new National Strategy for Homeland Security says many of the right things about keeping the bad guys out there from attacking us here. But what is says about dealing with the homegrown threat is scary.

By William M. Arkin | October 10, 2007; 07:11 AM ET | Comments (28)

How Safe Are We?

I dislike the way the war against terrorism is being fought. And I'm for withdrawing U.S. military forces from Iraq. But I also think that absolutely we're safer.

By William M. Arkin | September 11, 2007; 09:05 AM ET | Comments (31)

Bin Laden the Communist

A shift in bin Laden's message, and particularly his focus on corporate interests, could be quite revealing.

By William M. Arkin | September 10, 2007; 06:49 AM ET | Comments (134)

They're Marching, But for What?

Four thousand marched against the Iraq war in Kennebunkport Saturday, an event that I surely would have missed except for being in Maine, where the Portland Press-Herald had multiple days of respectful page one coverage. The Kennebunkport march isn't the...

By William M. Arkin | August 27, 2007; 11:05 AM ET | Comments (164)

Still Secret, Still Unaccountable

The CIA's report on its failures leading up to 9/11 is a carefully vetted and sanitized document that makes it clear just how difficult it is to hold public servants accountable.

By William M. Arkin | August 22, 2007; 09:33 AM ET | Comments (49)

Obama's Facts and Afghanistan's Casualties

Despite what the senator says, there's no evidence that air power is more deadly to civilians than ground forces.

By William M. Arkin | August 15, 2007; 06:53 AM ET | Comments (53)

Let the Government Listen -- and Demand Results

President Bush signed into law yesterday a bill making legal some of the government's surveillance powers undertaken since 9/11. Critics say the law goes too far in giving the National Security Agency the ability to target whomever it wants, even...

By William M. Arkin | August 6, 2007; 07:40 AM ET | Comments (37)

Obama Attacks Pakistan; Pakistan Retaliates

This week saw the unusual spectacle of a foreign government criticizing a U.S. presidential candidate. The government is Pakistan and the candidate is Sen. Barack Obama -- and while such criticism is rare, Obama's remarks were pretty strange, too.

By William M. Arkin | August 3, 2007; 08:12 AM ET | Comments (105)

A New Mideast Military Alliance?

The United States has now officially unveiled its $60-billion-plus arms package for the Middle East. The arms increasingly look like the sweeteners for a new and more formalized American-led alliance of like-minded "moderate" regimes, a kind of Middle East version...

By William M. Arkin | July 31, 2007; 07:59 AM ET | Comments (62)

Another Poke in the Eye to Islam

The political debate has already begun over the Bush administration's recently announced $20 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and other Mideast nations. And it's already clear that it's missing the point. Some members of Congress have vowed to block...

By William M. Arkin | July 30, 2007; 07:37 AM ET | Comments (63)

Pakistan Protests, But What's the Secret Story?

U.S.-Pakistan relations seem increasingly headed for rocky waters. Last week's National Intelligence Estimate identified the country as al-Qaeda's headquarters and safe haven, and the White House has stated that the United States would take action, unilateral if necessary, to go...

By William M. Arkin | July 24, 2007; 08:48 AM ET | Comments (85)

Standing Up to Pakistan?

In nearly six years since 9/11, al- Qaeda has rebuilt its infrastructure in a mountainous and remote part of northwest Pakistan and gathered a larger set of affiliates around the world.

By William M. Arkin | July 18, 2007; 07:18 AM ET | Comments (59)

Hillary Clinton and the Terrorists

Fred Hiatt's column in today's Post helps explain why Sen. Hillary Clinton will probably be the next president of the United States. If Hiatt is right -- and I think he is -- Sen. Clinton believes that "winning" in Iraq,...

By William M. Arkin | July 16, 2007; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (28)

Al-Qaeda's Strength -- and Ours

Is al-Qaeda stronger today than at any time since Sept. 11, 2001? This seems to be the conclusion of a new government intelligence assessment, reported in today's Post. It's a conclusion that matches the testimony of top intelligence officials yesterday....

By William M. Arkin | July 12, 2007; 08:08 AM ET | Comments (49)

Is a Bigger Army a Better Army?

Prospective soldiers are voting with their feet. For the second consecutive month, the Army has missed its active-duty recruiting goal, even with its lower standards for new recruits. As long as the war in Iraq continues, the Army will have...

By William M. Arkin | July 10, 2007; 07:24 AM ET | Comments (38)

Trimming the Government's Talons -- Or Not

Ever since I revealed the existence of the Pentagon's Talon database and the military's collection of information on anti-war protests, the story has careened in all directions. The sinister interpretation is that the Defense Department was or is keeping any...

By William M. Arkin | July 9, 2007; 09:02 AM ET | Comments (17)

Declaration, Part II

A followup to my "declaration" from yesterday: Thanks to the many military readers who have sent email, evidently too fearful of their commanders and their own government to leave comments on a blog, even anonymously. The two major critiques are...

By William M. Arkin | July 5, 2007; 08:05 AM ET | Comments (12)

A New Declaration of Independence

Today may seem an odd moment to argue that it's time to abandon the war against terrorism. But on Independence Day, there could be no more appropriate response to this week's plots and attacks in the United Kingdom. We live...

By William M. Arkin | July 4, 2007; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (27)

More Subs, Fewer Boots on the Ground

When I wrote about the Navy's reconfigured Trident submarines, I heard from an active-duty officer serving on one of them. And he has prompted some further thoughts on the value of the gigantic in the war against terror. My basic...

By William M. Arkin | June 26, 2007; 07:56 AM ET | Comments (34)

The Low-Tech War Against Terrorists

Lebanon has been at the forefront of future conflict for at least a year, first with last summer's ill-named "Katyusha" rocket war and now with the death of six Spanish peacekeepers by an "improvised explosive device," or IED, an innovation...

By William M. Arkin | June 25, 2007; 09:19 AM ET | Comments (12)

Special Operations Prepared for Domestic Missions

The U.S. Northern Command, the military command responsible for "homeland defense," has asked the Pentagon if it can establish its own special operations command for domestic missions. The request, reported in the Washington Examiner, would establish a permanent sub-command for...

By William M. Arkin | June 22, 2007; 07:32 AM ET | Comments (71)

On Iraq, (Partial) Agreement From an Unexpected Source

If you don't believe me, then take it from retired Army Gen. John Abizaid: Nothing in Iraq is going to be resolved before November 2008. Moreover, Abizaid acknowledges what I wrote earlier this week, that U.S. military forces need a...

By William M. Arkin | June 21, 2007; 08:14 AM ET | Comments (17)

A 'Secret' Weapon in the War Against Terror?

Are U.S. forces employing a new weapon in the war against terrorism? And if so, why are they keeping it a secret? A huge explosion yesterday in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area bordering Afghanistan reportedly killed numerous foreign fighters and...

By William M. Arkin | June 20, 2007; 08:05 AM ET | Comments (150)

New Pentagon Leadership, Same Iraq Strategy

Ask around the Pentagon, or the U.S. military in general, and the consensus seems to be that the United States is on its way out of Iraq. That's what's behind the recent changes in the military leadership, people say: The...

By William M. Arkin | June 15, 2007; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (39)

Gates Is Wrong: Europe Should Go Its Own Way

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates was in France yesterday for D-Day commemorations, urging an even stronger Atlantic alliance. I'm arguing for a weaker one. The world would be better off it Europe went its own way, with its own...

By William M. Arkin | June 7, 2007; 08:34 AM ET | Comments (112)

The Caliphate Scare

Since 9/11, the Bush administration has used many analogies to describe the grave threat that Al Qaeda and terrorists represent. President Bush has likened the war against terror to World War II. The Cold War is also invoked, and the...

By William M. Arkin | June 2, 2007; 12:00 AM ET | Comments (43)

Gates Goes Against the Grain

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates gave a particularly old-fashioned commencement address at the Air Force Academy yesterday, focusing on honor and duty and eschewing political rhetoric about the Iraq war or threats of terrorism. Maybe I'm reading too much into...

By William M. Arkin | May 31, 2007; 08:38 AM ET | Comments (24)

More on Baseball and Blogs

My inbox has been filled with comments from Red Sox fans and MilBloggers ever since I attempted to link the two last week. I used the metaphor of sports reporting to observe that Americans would be better off if we...

By William M. Arkin | May 30, 2007; 07:50 AM ET | Comments (13)

A Bloody August Could Precede the Fall

Yesterday was the true beginning of the end of the war in Iraq, with the administration signaling its readiness to begin withdrawal of U.S. forces and to adopt the recommendations of the once-rejected Iraq Study Group. President Bush, speaking at...

By William M. Arkin | May 25, 2007; 09:01 AM ET | Comments (86)

Boykin Released After Four Years in Captivity

After almost four years in captivity, Lt. Gen. William G. ("Jerry") Boykin, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence for intelligence and warfighting support, is being released from his Pentagon confinement and will retire from the Army. In October 2003, I...

By William M. Arkin | May 23, 2007; 07:13 AM ET | Comments (17)

If Only War Reporting Were More Like Sports Reporting

Let's see if I can do this without insulting either baseball fans or bloggers. Blogging baseball fans, I ask for your forgiveness preemptively. I went to a Red Sox game on Saturday, and up above home plate I couldn't help...

By William M. Arkin | May 22, 2007; 11:01 AM ET | Comments (44)

A National Security Sea Change?

Let me clarify the sea change I identified yesterday in the op-ed by the two generals calling for an end to torture: Beyond the war in Iraq, there are an increasing number of voices, public and private, asking whether we...

By William M. Arkin | May 18, 2007; 08:03 AM ET | Comments (21)

Can American Values Improve American Security?

The extraordinary op-ed today in The Post by two retired Marine Corps four-star generals might signal a post-9/11 turning point for America. Might. As we pursue our foreign policy and our war against terrorism, Charles Krulak and Joseph Hoar write,...

By William M. Arkin | May 17, 2007; 08:22 AM ET | Comments (42)

Dick Cheney's Policy of Retreat

Last week Vice President Dick Cheney visited sailors aboard the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, and the headlines reported yet another broadside against Iran. Since I've been hearing from Pentagon sources that Iran war planning...

By William M. Arkin | May 15, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (23)

Looking Beyond Iraq, and Bush

With presidential candidates now formulating the nitty-gritty of their national security policies and experts maneuvering to attach themselves to campaigns, it almost seems as if the Democratic and Republican presidential hopefuls are actually pondering America after Iraq. But appearances can...

By William M. Arkin | May 11, 2007; 09:38 AM ET | Comments (57)

Tenet's Slam Dunk Support for Dick Cheney

Most reviews of George Tenet's book have focused on Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. The former CIA director's explanations of the internal administration fight over the Iraq-al Qaeda link has gone almost without comment. In the "At the Center...

By William M. Arkin | May 8, 2007; 08:32 AM ET | Comments (18)

The Tenet/Myers Now-They-Tell-Us Club

Former CIA Director George Tenet spends much of his new book removing his fingerprints from the buildup to the war in Iraq and making a case for why the core al-Qaeda terrorist threat continues to be of paramount importance. Former...

By William M. Arkin | May 7, 2007; 10:56 AM ET | Comments (60)

Body Counts Tell Us Very Little

The Washington Post has a front page story today, "April Toll Is Highest Of '07 For U.S. Troops," that could just as much read "Surge's Successes Bring Higher U.S. death toll." Meanwhile, the State Department's 2006 Country Reports on Terrorism...

By William M. Arkin | May 1, 2007; 09:17 AM ET | Comments (166)

Obama Bows to the American Military

Does America really need a larger military? If the United States got out of Iraq, and refocused its counter-terrorism efforts to stress non-military as well as military tools, bolstered its diplomacy, improved its alliances and pushed further burden-sharing, would it...

By William M. Arkin | April 26, 2007; 09:46 AM ET | Comments (46)

'Loss' in Iraq and the Arkin Plan

Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry M. Reid's plan is no way to end the war. Sen. Reid's comments last week regarding Iraq: "I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by...

By William M. Arkin | April 24, 2007; 11:18 AM ET | Comments (86)

Fighting the "War" Against Terrorists the American Way

A reaction I didn't anticipate in response to my blog yesterday about the super-secret "black" special operations effort and the "war" against terrorism is the mound of e-mail and comments I got asking a really basic question: Is an effort...

By William M. Arkin | March 29, 2007; 08:47 AM ET | Comments (52)

Elite Terrorist Hunters in Iraq

U.S. "black" special operations forces in Iraq have conducted as many as 300 "takedown" operations, an activity that an influential retired general calls "simply magic." The assessment appears in an eight-page trip report written by retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey,...

By William M. Arkin | March 28, 2007; 07:34 AM ET | Comments (135)

It's Time to Stop Making 'War' on Terrorists

Controversies surrounding the war in Iraq -- the manipulation of intelligence, ideology feeding overconfidence, mismanagement and potential failure -- have so stained the Bush administration there is a tendency on the part of many to reject all of the government's...

By William M. Arkin | March 26, 2007; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (59)

Let's Name Names at the CIA

I can't decide which of last week's profiles in government - Valerie Plame's turn as Congressional star witness or the FBI's warning to local law enforcement that suspected extremists are signing up as school bus drivers - is more ridiculous....

By William M. Arkin | March 20, 2007; 11:21 AM ET | Comments (111)

Shock and Awe Worked, God Help Us

That is airpower's continuing allure: military engagement with no commitment.

By William M. Arkin | March 19, 2007; 07:45 AM ET | Comments (58)

Is the War on Terror a Global Counterinsurgency?

How did counterinsurgency come to take on an almost positive sheen? After three years of fighting without any real direction or purpose in Iraq, the term is meant to be almost a good thing and a big light bulb of...

By William M. Arkin | March 5, 2007; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (47)

Special Operations: Democratic 'Fetish' or False Conception?

With Vice President Dick Cheney in Pakistan this week urging more aggressive action against a resurgent al-Qaeda and pleading for "cross border" authority so that U.S. forces can pursue Taliban and terrorist fighters, the mind naturally gravitates not towards NATO...

By William M. Arkin | February 27, 2007; 09:08 AM ET | Comments (43)

All Over the Globe, the New, New Strategy is to Pile On

There's some interesting geo-political tidying up going on in the Bush administration, some new tough words about the world that seems part of the new strategy for Iraq and a scene-setter intended to launch the President's State of the Union...

By William M. Arkin | January 17, 2007; 08:29 AM ET | Comments (35)

Predictions for 2007, and one surprising death

A surge of troops in Iraq now a foregone conclusion -- the Democratic Congress will prove to have neither the courage nor vision to stop the President -- what does 2007 hold out for national security? I've made some predictions,...

By William M. Arkin | January 4, 2007; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (21)

2007 from the War Room

To fully understand President Bush's decision to surge forces into Iraq and stick with the mission, to understand that it is not just stubbornness or some grand vision of a greater good being pursued, one has to look at the...

By William M. Arkin | January 3, 2007; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (22)

Rumsfeld's Africa Command

One of Donald Rumsfeld's final acts as secretary of defense will be to put the finishing touches on an Africa Command for the U.S. military. It will be the first post-World War II command covering the African continent, which is...

By William M. Arkin | December 14, 2006; 09:32 AM ET | Comments (39)

The New Extremists

Extremist-in-chief George W. Bush yesterday continued along his merry way, going over the heads of the wise men and defying Washington moderation and the glories of bipartisan centrism to remind the American public that he is also the protector. "The...

By William M. Arkin | December 8, 2006; 09:20 AM ET | Comments (59)

The Coming Purge at Defense Intelligence

Appointed Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Warfighting Support on July 23, 2003, Lt. Gen. William G. ("Jerry") Boykin has surely got to be the longest serving military officer in any posting anywhere. Boykin's three and a half...

By William M. Arkin | November 14, 2006; 10:07 AM ET | Comments (92)

The Human Side of Civilian Casualties

Death is what it's all about in Iraq these days: The growing number of U.S. deaths confounds military commanders and exasperates the public; the Iraqi death spiral widens with no end in sight. It's not as though anyone is going...

By William M. Arkin | October 24, 2006; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (48)

A World Without the Iraq War

What if there had never been an Iraq war? The core of Democratic Party's criticism of the Bush administration, the core of most "alternative" national security policies on offer today, is a more focused, more intense effort to go after Osama...

By William M. Arkin | September 29, 2006; 09:32 AM ET | Comments (136)

On the NIE, the Right and the Left Are Both Wrong

The National Intelligence Estimate regarding trends in global terrorism, partially released by the administration yesterday in response to weekend news leaks, is not centrally about Iraq, and it is certainly not the final word on the subject.While the NIE cites...

By William M. Arkin | September 27, 2006; 07:55 AM ET | Comments (121)

The Final Verdict on Able Danger

Distrust of the White House and Congress has become so epidemic, vast numbers of Americans now accept conspiracy theories about September 11, 2001, including the most diabolical: that the U.S. government somehow was complicit and even responsible for the events.A...

By William M. Arkin | September 25, 2006; 09:19 AM ET | Comments (42)

Dealing with the Devil

Last week in Beirut, I was amused by posters of Hugo Chavez, fists in the air, congratulating Hezbollah on their “divine victory” over Israel.Two weeks earlier, Chavez was in Syria, exhorting his new-found friends to “resist together American imperialist aggression."Yesterday,...

By William M. Arkin | September 21, 2006; 08:50 AM ET | Comments (131)

Nuclear Gloom and Doom

The ultimate threat? Terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.  If such men ever get such weapons, they will almost certainly be deployed. When President Bush highlighted this near-universal truth yesterday, some complained it was merely a Republican campaign ploy....

By William M. Arkin | September 6, 2006; 09:22 AM ET | Comments (235)

Through Our Enemies' Eyes

Is the war on terror "a battle for the future of civilization?" These are the words Vice President Cheney used earlier this week when speaking in Salt Lake City. Yesterday, President Bush told the American Legion that the Iraq...

By William M. Arkin | September 1, 2006; 11:09 AM ET | Comments (203)

Rumsfeld's Enemy: It's Us

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld delivered a fire-and-brimstone speech at the American Legion's annual convention yesterday -- after acknowledging young soldiers serving in Iraq and giving the boy scouts a shout-out, the secretary wove an elaborate picture of an...

By William M. Arkin | August 30, 2006; 08:01 AM ET | Comments (363)

The President's Argument for Withdrawal

President Bush yesterday repeated an increasingly questionable assumption about the U.S. enterprise in Iraq, and of military withdrawal: A "failed" Iraq will provide a haven for terrorists, threatening the United States. The image the president and the administration want...

By William M. Arkin | August 22, 2006; 11:51 AM ET | Comments (35)

In Iraq, It's All About Strategic Communications

More on the Bush administration's campaign to portray the Iraq fighting as anything but a "civil war": The U.S. military on Wednesday joined the new line of argument that it is all al-Qaeda’s fault. So, on your toes people...

By William M. Arkin | August 18, 2006; 07:46 AM ET | Comments (51)

What Are We Fighting For? Not Democracy

The Bush administration is again shifting the justification for the United States' presence in Iraq.It's been a long and rocky road. First, we had to wage a preemptive war to remove Saddam Hussein as threat to the world with his...

By William M. Arkin | August 16, 2006; 12:28 PM ET | Comments (91)

Israel's Failed Strategy of Spite

In the 24 hours before the agreed cease-fire, the Israeli Air Force carried out more than 200 air strikes, including attacks on eight "gas stations serving Hezbollah." Gas stations. If Israel and Hezbollah are fighting again in six weeks...

By William M. Arkin | August 15, 2006; 06:24 AM ET | Comments (88)

Is It Al-Qaeda? You Bet'cha

Everyone's got an ulterior motive as to whether al-Qaeda is behind the Heathrow conspiracy: America, Arab regimes, Pakistan, European governments, terrorism experts. Moments after the British arrests last week, terrorist-watchers began chattering about al-Qaeda's role at Heathrow. Some of...

By William M. Arkin | August 14, 2006; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (58)

Follow the Liquids

There is only one interesting question to come from the busted airline plot in the United Kingdom, and the answer will make the American public boiling mad. No, it’s not whether this is al Qaeda or not. No, it’s...

By William M. Arkin | August 11, 2006; 08:09 AM ET | Comments (94)

A Solution Lost to Bureaucracy

Israel has lost its current war against Hezbollah. Not because it hasn't achieved many of its military goals and isn't on the way to achieving more. Not because airpower and technology intrinsically are useless in fighting the "new" war....

By William M. Arkin | August 9, 2006; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (48)

Let Hezbollah (and Hamas) Govern

In the so-called war against terrorism, Bush administration ideologues and government "strategic communicators" would have us believe that we face a singular evil alliance. Osama bin Laden would like you equally to believe that disparate groups are one entity...

By William M. Arkin | August 7, 2006; 11:53 AM ET | Comments (87)

Hezbollah's Strategy, and Ours

Yesterday was a big head-hunting day. Sen. Hillary Clinton went for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's head; Israel went for that of Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. Back at full-scale bombing after the 48 hour "suspension," Israel hopes to...

By William M. Arkin | August 4, 2006; 09:53 AM ET | Comments (243)

Do the U.S.and Israel Feed a World of Terror?

Are Israel and the United States feeding a world of terrorism through their military conduct? Yesterday, Israel's national security cabinet ruled out an expansion of ground operations, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the operation was going according to...

By William M. Arkin | July 28, 2006; 09:43 AM ET | Comments (70)

Israel's War Unites Iraqis

"Israel is committing serious crimes against humanity," Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora tells CNN. "A violation of humanitarian law," U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland concludes on a visit to Beirut. Last week I argued here that labeling Israel's...

By William M. Arkin | July 24, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (43)

Israel's Military Strategy and Conventional Wisdom

Indiscriminate conventional wisdom now runs through mainstream reporting on the Lebanon war. Israeli airpower alone can never defeat Hezbollah. There is a disproportionately high level of civilian deaths. Lebanon is being "destroyed." The U.N. high commissioner for human rights,...

By William M. Arkin | July 20, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (109)

Lebanese Civilian Deaths May Embolden Terrorists

After seven days, 13 Israelis and about 230 Lebanese civilians had been killed in the war between Israel and Hezbollah. A natural initial question is: Does the ratio indicate Israeli excess in its response to Hezbollah attacks? The Israeli...

By William M. Arkin | July 19, 2006; 12:35 PM ET | Comments (77)

Hoekstra's Contributions to Unchecked Executive Power

Mindful of the saying, "No one is more spiteful than a lover spurned," I read the Hoekstra letter on intelligence oversight and the affair that has unfolded in the media and the blogosphere as a comment on congressional prerogatives...

By William M. Arkin | July 11, 2006; 09:33 AM ET | Comments (16)

A Bumper-Sticker Thin Proposal

Jamie Rubin’s op-ed in The New York Times today couldn’t be more wrong-headed.  Rubin suggests a winning national security “strategy” for the Democratic Party in calling for withdrawal from Iraq and a renewal of vows on Afghanistan.  A call...

By William M. Arkin | July 7, 2006; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (35)

The Price of Homeland Security

Yet another task force has issued yet another failing report card to the federal government on homeland security. Nearly five years after 9/11, it says "we cannot count on the national government to perform one of its most basic...

By William M. Arkin | July 3, 2006; 08:28 AM ET | Comments (39)

The Hero of Guantanamo

"We can't be scared out of who we are." That statement by Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, the military appointed defense attorney for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, is the real victory to build upon in the aftermath of the Supreme Court...

By William M. Arkin | June 30, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (95)

The Calendar for Victory in Iraq

Here's what President Bush and Company are not saying: Before we leave Iraq, we will kill every last foreign fighter, neutralize the insurgency and destroy the sectarian militias. It has been obvious since December that the president's National Strategy...

By William M. Arkin | June 27, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (40)

WMD Prep in Washington

Code Name(s) of the Week: Marble Challenge, Focal Point North Korea prepares to test its missile, Iran stiff-arms the West by setting the pace of nuclear negotiations, terrorists obtain enough highly enriched uranium to build a 10-kiloton nuclear device, which...

By William M. Arkin | June 22, 2006; 09:41 AM ET | Comments (62)

Baghdad Acts Like a Real Government

An aide is fired for uttering the truth, an enemy “document” is unveiled in a PR stunt, basic data is deemed classified and will no longer be released.  Now Baghdad's acting like a real government....

By William M. Arkin | June 16, 2006; 08:32 AM ET | Comments (21)

Amnesty: Hope or Road Block?

The President speaks of victory and defeating the terrorists and the insurgency.  He suggests a fight to the finish. Yet the President also says that as the Iraqis stand up we will be able to stand down. So which...

By William M. Arkin | June 15, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (87)

Mission Accomplished, Again

When President Bush said to Iraq’s new leaders yesterday that "the fate and future of Iraq is in your hands," he meant: I want the future to be in your hands, that despite all of the talk of America...

By William M. Arkin | June 14, 2006; 08:29 AM ET | Comments (62)

Air Heads: Military Origins of the Current Afghanistan Mess

Yesterday, I wrote about the ideological inability of the Bush administration to focus, and its single-minded military pursuit of al Qaeda at the expense of nation building and political understanding and reconciliation. In a longer article I wrote for...

By William M. Arkin | June 13, 2006; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (20)

Is Al Qaeda Dead?

Even before the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the experts and insiders I regularly talk to were describing an al Qaeda network and organization on the ropes and in control of nothing, with unaffiliated "home grown" terrorism as the...

By William M. Arkin | June 12, 2006; 11:31 AM ET | Comments (35)

The Non-American Angle of the Hunt for Zarqawi

Citizen tip-offs, on-the-beat detective work, rapid exploitation of captured operatives, documents and intercepted signals facilitated by native Iraqi speakers, a Jordanian run penetration of the Zarqawi tribe and the terrorist network. If there is one really hopeful sign in...

By William M. Arkin | June 9, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (31)

Zarqawi's Death and Task Force 145

What are we to make of the death of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? The hopeful view is that the death of this important commander and inspirational figure will deflate the terrorist influence in Iraq. The cynical view is that...

By William M. Arkin | June 8, 2006; 09:35 AM ET | Comments (62)

The apprehension of the Toronto gang, and the use of Internet monitoring by Canadian law enforcement authorities to track and understand them points not only to the evolved nature of worldwide terrorism since 9/11, but also the possibility of...

By William M. Arkin | June 7, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (25)

Making Sense out of Haditha

I've been trying to make some sense out of a Haditha, the killings, the supposed "cover-up," and the inability of many to have BOTH compassion for the victims and the Marines and a political understanding of the war.Here is my...

By William M. Arkin | June 2, 2006; 08:31 AM ET | Comments (57)

Haditha Can't Be Blamed for a Lost War

The incident at Haditha, conventional wisdom now has it, threatens to undermine the entire Iraq war effort. How convenient: The President says he is troubled by what he has heard and vows that the guilty "will be punished."  But...

By William M. Arkin | June 1, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (133)

Let's Be Honest About the Marines in Hadithah

Another Abu Ghraib.  A massive cover-up.  The Iraqi Mai Lai.  Amidst all of the hate mail I'm getting relating to 9/11, readers and friends have asked me to comment on the new stories alleging intentional Marine killings of Iraqi...

By William M. Arkin | May 30, 2006; 09:05 AM ET | Comments (173)

9/11 Truth? I Don't Think So

Every day, I receive a half dozen e-mails and a score or more comments from 9/11 rejectionists.  The 9/11 cover-up, according to these correspondents, is that the U.S. government was complicit, even responsible for the attacks on the World...

By William M. Arkin | May 26, 2006; 08:19 AM ET | Comments (622)

A New Trident II is an Illusion of Defense

Two former Secretaries of Defense argue in today's Washington Post that the United States should procure conventional warheads for Trident II submarine-launched missiles, a capability, they argue, that someday could be the only defense standing between us and terrorists...

By William M. Arkin | May 22, 2006; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (22)

Go, Mike Hayden!

Yesterday in his appearance before the Senate, this active duty general, this high ranking government official, this career intelligence officer, this nominee to be CIA director straightforwardly criticized decisions and actions of the Bush administration, even gingerly suggesting a...

By William M. Arkin | May 19, 2006; 08:35 AM ET | Comments (109)

NSA Surveillance is the President's Star Wars!

The government is listening in on this or that call, combing through telephone records, tracking Emails and other transactions, instantly detecting anomalies and patterns in communications, building enemies lists. I spoke to a friend in the business yesterday, a...

By William M. Arkin | May 17, 2006; 08:32 AM ET | Comments (45)

There Is No Enemy's List

ABC News reported yesterday that the FBI has been examining the call records of journalists, including those at The Washington Post, as part of its ongoing leak investigations, a story that some have interpreted as connected to the NSA phone...

By William M. Arkin | May 16, 2006; 08:50 AM ET | Comments (58)

A Seamless Surveillance Culture

Despite urban legend that NSA surveillance is a news media crusade because the majority of Americans "approve" government surveillance to protect them from terrorists, a new USA Today/Gallup poll finds that almost two-thirds of Americans are concerned that the...

By William M. Arkin | May 15, 2006; 08:22 AM ET | Comments (89)

Still Preparing For the Wrong Disaster

The Pentagon announced the kick-off of the two-week Ardent Sentry 06 exercise yesterday, a large scale domestic crisis response stew that will test the ability of first responders from the federal government, five states and two Canadian provinces to...

By William M. Arkin | May 11, 2006; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (29)

Rumsfeld Didn't Lie, But He Should Still Go

Anyone who has ever been in a relationship or taken Psych 101 knows that accusing someone of lying is unlikely to unleash truth-telling.  And more important, it exposes the hand, and the conclusion, of the questioner. Yesterday, protestors repeatedly...

By William M. Arkin | May 5, 2006; 08:26 AM ET | Comments (668)

Inside the Hunt for al-Zarqawi

Is the U.S. military just a hair away from killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq? Last week, readers of an insider military publication have been treated to an unprecedented look inside "Task Force 145," the U.S. special operations group...

By William M. Arkin | May 3, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (30)

Al Qaeda = Neocons: Is This What People Think?

Last Saturday, I sat on a panel asked to comment on the BBC documentary series The Power of Nightmares, a three hour argument by Adam Curtis that al Qaeda is a "myth" created by the neoconservative cabal and politicans to...

By William M. Arkin | May 2, 2006; 08:20 AM ET | Comments (75)

War by September? Not Likely.

In the department of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks wrote a flimsy and inflammatory article yesterday that war with Iran will start "between now and September." The war "may set the...

By William M. Arkin | May 1, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (69)

Pirates! Just what Pakistan Needs

Since last December, U.S. special operations command headquarters in Qatar has been planning a campaign of expanded clandestine counter piracy operations in the Indian Ocean. The operations are aimed at an increase in water-borne criminal activity, activity that not...

By William M. Arkin | April 26, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (39)

Congress is the Ultimate Problem when it comes to Leaks

If career CIA analyst Mary O. McCarthy goes to jail, it won't be because of the news media, the big bad mean Bush administration or the triumph of the polygraph and the security goons. It will also not be...

By William M. Arkin | April 25, 2006; 09:11 AM ET | Comments (74)

Don't Worry Osama: We're Busy, and Saving Money!

Code Name of the Week: Inspired Venture  Every year at about this time, we hear rumors of a "spring offensive" along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, as well as new hope in catching Osama bin Laden.  This spring is no different. Pakistan...

By William M. Arkin | April 24, 2006; 09:33 AM ET | Comments (56)

Counter-Terrorism Profiteers, With Your Money

A National Counter-terrorism Center and a Director of National Intelligence with ever greater authority. An FBI Terrorist Screening Center that can reach far and wide to local law enforcement. The Defense Intelligence Agency's Joint Task Force for Counter-Terrorism and a...

By William M. Arkin | April 20, 2006; 10:33 AM ET | Comments (57)

The Nuclear Option and Iran

What does "all options" mean? President Bush yesterday refused to rule out a U.S. nuclear strike to prevent Iran from developing its own nuclear weapons, saying that "all options are on the table." It is a confusing and harmful ambiguity...

By William M. Arkin | April 19, 2006; 11:45 AM ET | Comments (48)

Rumsfeld's Fast Iran Planning

More "wild speculation" about Iran war planning, specifically CONPLAN 1025, which I believe is the overall name for the war plan positing major combat operations against Iran. In response to my Sunday piece, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman predictably chose wittiness...

By William M. Arkin | April 18, 2006; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (100)

Rumsfeld and Iran

I tend to agree with the Pentagon on a narrow point. There are 8,000 retired generals and admirals out there and a dozen - or even a few dozen - belatedly criticizing Donald Rumsfeld does not constitute a groundswell. Still,...

By William M. Arkin | April 17, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (32)

Despite Denials, U.S. Plans for Iran War

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has been conducting theater campaign analysis for a full scale war with Iran since at least May 2003, responding to Pentagon directions to prepare for potential operations in the "near term."  The campaign analysis, called...

By William M. Arkin | April 13, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (127)

Iran: Send in the Marines?

Less than three weeks after Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in central Baghdad in April 2003, the U.S. military finished campaign planning to invade Iran.  Of course, the word finished is a bit misleading. The contingency planning process never really...

By William M. Arkin | April 12, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (82)

Wild Speculation and the Nuclear Option

After Shi'ite elements in Basra declare their independence from Baghdad, Iran decides to seek protection for their religious kinsmen. No one can quite remember how Iran went from a country that had invaded no one in more than 100 years...

By William M. Arkin | April 11, 2006; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (21)

Goldilocks and Iran

I've been stewing over two articles this weekend that purport to be about U.S. government planning for a potential war with Iran, one a front page article in this newspaper yesterday and the other a long New Yorker piece by...

By William M. Arkin | April 10, 2006; 08:45 AM ET | Comments (67)

Special Operations: Need to Know

If ever there were a bloody bureaucratic war entailing a high number of paper-cuts, it has been the fight between U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the other Defense Department regional commands, between SOCOM and the Joint Chiefs, between SOCOM...

By William M. Arkin | April 7, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (33)

Debating the Iranian 'Trendmill'

Yesterday, I asked whether the Iranian "threat" hadn't reached a tipping point, where a potential threat to the West and oil is declared an imminent threat, and whether recent stories about Iranian military capabilities and support for terrorism weren't part...

By William M. Arkin | April 6, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (50)

Iran Threat Rhetoric Grows

Iran tested a new torpedo!  Iran would respond to an attack with terrorist strikes in the United States!  Nuclear diplomacy in Iran is beginning to look a lot like the United Nation's inspection work in Iraq before the 2003 war. ...

By William M. Arkin | April 5, 2006; 08:45 AM ET | Comments (39)

The F Bomb

My post "Free Speech and Patriotism" provoked many responses that took me to task for using the F word and being rude and childish in responding to a Marine Corps general who asked me whether I considered myself a journalist...

By William M. Arkin | April 3, 2006; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

What the 9/11 Plotter Tells Us

For the first time, we are getting inside details of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now in custody at an undisclosed location overseas. We have Zacarias Moussaoui's defense team to thank for forcing...

By William M. Arkin | March 30, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (39)

Rumsfeld Earns an "F"

Well I was wrong. I said on Monday that I found it inconceivable that the Pentagon could possibly think that the Russians had a spy in U.S. military ranks and would blithely release that information to the public.  And yet...

By William M. Arkin | March 29, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (29)

The Pentagon's Modern Lt. General

Suppose you were writing a book about Democratic Party "perspectives" and you took, say Joe Lieberman, labeled him atypical, and then proceeded to showcase his views as characteristic of the Democratic Party merely because he happened to correspond to your...

By William M. Arkin | March 28, 2006; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (14)

U.S. Plans New Bases in the Middle East

The U.S. military has developed a ten-year plan for "deep storage" of munitions and equipment in at least six countries in the Middle East and Central Asia to prepare for regional war contingencies. The plans, revealed in March 2006 contracting...

By William M. Arkin | March 22, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (28)

Germany's Uncomfortable Realpolitik

It's hard to overstate the breadth and depth of Germany's military cooperation with the United States.  Germany hosts the United States European Command in Stuttgart and additional headquarters for American ground and air forces for all of Europe. It hosts...

By William M. Arkin | March 10, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (25)

Is an Iran Strike Inevitable?

"The United States is also susceptible to harm and pain," Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the Iranian delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency read from a prepared statement today, referring to American threats against his country. "So if that is the...

By William M. Arkin | March 9, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (126)

Attacking Iran Even Without Good Targets

The Cheney-Bolton threats to Iran this week have fueled speculation in the press and on the Internet that the United States (and Israel) are planning imminent military action.  The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its...

By William M. Arkin | March 8, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (65)

NSA Probe or Assimilation?

Last week, the House Intelligence Committee reached an internal compromise on how to deal with the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program. The committee decided to become part of the program. Since December, when The New York Times revealed the...

By William M. Arkin | March 7, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (36)

Tillman Okay, Iraq Being Investigated

Yesterday on NBC's Meet the Press and Fox New Sunday, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace addressed two hot button issues: the situation in Iraq and the continued investigation into the death of Army Ranger and former NFL star Pat Tillman....

By William M. Arkin | March 6, 2006; 01:38 PM ET | Comments (17)

WMD Terrorism is A Nightmare of Different Sort

Terrorist "capabilities" to use weapons of mass destruction are "more limited" than those of states like North Korea and Iran, but the threat of terrorist attack with WMD is "more likely" than an attack by any state, top U.S. intelligence...

By William M. Arkin | March 2, 2006; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (56)

Bush Visits Bin Laden Country

President Bush and Osama bin Laden are visiting the same country this week.  The President will spend much of his week in Pakistan and India, and the President insists that there is equivalence between the two countries.  "These nations are...

By William M. Arkin | February 27, 2006; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (30)

Ports and War Culture

By now, everything reasonable and unreasonable that can be said about the United Arab Emirates company managing American port operations has been said. The foreign company will open America to security risks. Security will be handled by U.S. government agencies. A...

By William M. Arkin | February 24, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (38)

Overstating the Impact of Iraq War Casualties

Last weekend, I attended a conference at Duke University on "Casualties and Warfare," hosted by the Triangle Institute for Security Studies.  I learned that the American military, the highest reaches of government and the news media all operate with a...

By William M. Arkin | February 23, 2006; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (59)

Rumsfeld's Incomplete Information War

An unfortunate contradiction about Donald Rumsfeld, and a debilitating handicap for America, is that the Secretary of Defense thinks like a futurist and acts like a Neanderthal.  Rumsfeld, it is said, has fabulous intuition and the ability to clearly see...

By William M. Arkin | February 21, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (73)

Able Danger and 9/11 Heartstrings

Under Secretary of Defense Stephen Cambone testified before Congress yesterday that 90 people spent some 6,500 hours searching through documents and interviewing people involved in the Able Danger program and that they were unable to find any evidence that...

By William M. Arkin | February 16, 2006; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (25)

Special Operations See Stars

Convinced that the Joint Special Operations Command needs more authority and responsibility to fight the war on terrorism, the Pentagon has decided to give the commander of the secretive and expanded organization a third star -- a tangible step toward...

By William M. Arkin | February 15, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (64)

Blowback in the War on Terror

Is America suffering blowback from the war on terror? On a swing through North Africa over the weekend, the Secretary of Defense said that it's "an extremely low possibility" that al Qaeda or similar terror organization could establish a...

By William M. Arkin | February 14, 2006; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (33)

New Terrorism Report Questions Threat

Domestic terrorism, as opposed to cross-border, international terrorism, was the main threat worldwide in 2005 and it was mostly confined to the Middle East.  What is more, Muslims were the prime victims of terrorism perpetrated in the name of Islam....

By William M. Arkin | February 10, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (33)

Submarine Lovers United

Seems like there's a lot of submarine lovers out there, or at least military geeks, and I've gotten loads of comments and Emails about my USS Virginia posting.  As bubblehead said, submarines don't get a lot of mention and...

By William M. Arkin | February 3, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (42)

Pentagon Fails on Roadside Bombs

The roadside bomb threat in Iraq made national news last weekend when an IED seriously injured ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt while they were embedded with the U.S. military. Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in...

By William M. Arkin | February 2, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (46)

State of the War

"Our coalition has learned from our experience in Iraq," the President said in the State of the Union address last night.  "We've adjusted our military tactics..."  It is a monumental admission that something -- anything -- might have gone wrong...

By William M. Arkin | February 1, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (36)

Sub Spying in Latin America: An Incredible Story

Last August, the USS Virginia, first of a class of new nuclear-powered attack submarines, slipped out of its homeport in Groton, Connecticut, for a 90 day clandestine deployment in support of the global war on terrorism.   The brand new...

By William M. Arkin | January 31, 2006; 08:45 AM ET | Comments (11)

Bombing is in the Air

Iran -- now Hamas -- bombing is in the air. I've heard all of the arguments that the U.S. doesn't know where the most important targets are, that military solutions won't solve the real problems; that any kind of...

By William M. Arkin | January 27, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (28)

Goodbye War on Terrorism, Hello Long War

One phrase contained in the draft Quadrennial Defense Review document circulating amongst defense experts is sure to be a part of your life for years to come: The long war. Defense experts want the long war to be the new...

By William M. Arkin | January 26, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (38)

Rumsfeld's New War Plan

U.S. special operations forces for the first time have their own war plan to fight the "global war on terrorism."  Special Operations Command (SOCOM) which until now had always operated "in support of" other commands and other commanders now will...

By William M. Arkin | January 25, 2006; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (32)

Pentagon Collects Thousands of Names?

I've said in these pages that I believe the Bush administration's characterization of warantless NSA surveillance is limited but wonder what else it might be trying to cover in its zeal to protect the revealed program.  I've criticized Congress in...

By William M. Arkin | January 23, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (28)

A Prison Scandal Without an Answer

Col. Thomas M. Pappas, once commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, and the senior intelligence officer responsible for military interrogations at the Abu Ghraib prison, has now been given immunity from prosecution and has been ordered to testify at...

By William M. Arkin | January 12, 2006; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (38)

Booze Broads No More

With President Bush signing the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act yesterday, servicemembers convicted of patronizing a prostitute can now receive a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and one year of confinement.  Of course, ever since the United...

By William M. Arkin | January 11, 2006; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (31)

Rumsfeld's Secret Operations

Tony Capaccio's Bloomberg story last week that the Pentagon is increasing the size of U.S. special operations forces by almost 25 percent is another sign of the unchecked growth of secret operations in the Bush administration. According to a December...

By William M. Arkin | January 9, 2006; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (29)

The Curious Section 126 of the Patriot Act

What is it that the National Security Agency began doing after 9/11 that necessitated Presidential authorization for warantless surveillance? We have all learned in the past week that the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act of 1978 contains provisions that allow...

By William M. Arkin | December 23, 2005; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (68)

S&M at the Congress

The White House now says that it briefed Congress more than a dozen times on its warantless surveillance of U.S. persons.  "Congress" in this regard refers to a handful of lawmakers -- sometimes called the "big eight" by the intelligence...

By William M. Arkin | December 21, 2005; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (51)

Inside NSA's World

Every day, the National Security Agency intercepts and records more that 650 million "events" worldwide: radar signals, radio and data transmissions, satellite, cell and land-line telephone calls, faxes and e-mail and text messages and chats over the Internet.  "The fact...

By William M. Arkin | December 20, 2005; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (56)

9/11 Gone Wild

Yesterday's New York Times editorial on National Security Agency spying in the United States refers to "your mail and your e-mail" and "your telephone conversations" being monitored. The connotation of course is that the "you" is some New York Times...

By William M. Arkin | December 19, 2005; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (144)

The American Battlefield

The Pentagon now says that it has ordered a "review" of the collection of information about U.S. citizens, particularly those who pose no plausible terrorist threat, after my NBC Nightly News piece ran Tuesday and my blog yesterday revealed some...

By William M. Arkin | December 15, 2005; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (45)

Pentagon Domestic Spying

An NBC Nightly News piece yesterday on domestic spying by the military featured yours truly discussing an intelligence database of 1,519 "suspicious incidents" that covers the period July 2004-May 2005.  The database -- which I obtained from a military source...

By William M. Arkin | December 14, 2005; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (60)

190,000 and Other Terrorism Numbers

Numbers are funny things. No sooner did the President acknowledge that as many as 30,000 Iraqis have died since March 2003, White House counselor Dan Bartlett was out there backpedaling, say that the estimate was not official.  I guess Bartlett...

By William M. Arkin | December 13, 2005; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (40)

Secrets and Torture

As Condoleezza Rice finishes her European tour, issuing new guidance prohibiting U.S. personnel from using cruel or inhuman techniques in dealing with terrorism suspects, U.S. torture, detentions and the particularly ugly case of Khaled Masri continues to feed anti-American sentiments....

By William M. Arkin | December 8, 2005; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (56)

Tommy Franks, New Moderate

Many military officers dislike and distrust the news media, some out of fear that a misplaced utterance is the surest road to being cashiered, some in the belief that the media is biased and unfair and some just for personal...

By William M. Arkin | December 6, 2005; 10:06 AM ET | Comments (23)

The Out in Iraq

We wouldn't be having a debate about the Iraq war -- not about weapons of mass destruction nor the administration's democratization mission nor the role of Iraq as the central front in the war on terror -- if Americans weren't...

By William M. Arkin | December 2, 2005; 09:59 AM ET | Comments (40)

Bush's Victory is Defeat

President Bush's new National Strategy for Victory in Iraq says that American troops will not be withdrawn in response to "artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington," that U.S. forces will remain in country until Iraqi national forces can take...

By William M. Arkin | December 1, 2005; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (126)

It's Cheney Who Feels Misled

I'm such a hopeless contrarian, I figured it was time to defend Dick Cheney. With a new Gallup poll putting his job approval rating at 36 percent and a chief of staff on his way to the pokey, the Vice President...

By William M. Arkin | November 22, 2005; 09:56 AM ET | Comments (95)

Al Qaeda Transforms

Code Name of the Week: Infinite Moonlight Did the United States and Jordan ignore warning signs of an impending terrorist attack in that country?  And are we ignoring the transformation of al Qaeda away from the caves of Afghanistan and...

By William M. Arkin | November 17, 2005; 03:35 PM ET | Comments (7)

Keeping Secrets in Jordan

"The United States has had no closer ally than Jordan in the war on terror, and Jordan will find no better friend than the United States at this difficult hour," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement issued...

By William M. Arkin | November 16, 2005; 10:26 AM ET | Comments (19)

Cindy Sheehan and the 2000th Death

In a week in which the media decided that Judy Miller's dark-days-of-journalism story is really about Dick Cheney and the Bush administration's decision to go to war, we also hover around the milestone of 2,000 dead in Iraq. As the...

By William M. Arkin | October 24, 2005; 03:01 PM ET | Comments (192)

Iraq: Time to Get Out

Baghdad's Green Zone, carved out of an elbow in the Tigris River as it flows through the center of the capital, was once the exclusive domain of Saddam Hussein. Heavily-fortified and restricted, Republican Guards manned the outer cordon, with more...

By William M. Arkin | October 17, 2005; 09:27 AM ET | Comments (33)

Shared Fantasies of Bush and al Qaeda?

Two points in President Bush's speech yesterday caught my eye. First his reference to 10 thwarted al Qaeda plots in the war on terror, and second, his argument that Iraq has nothing to do with why American was attacked on 9/11....

By William M. Arkin | October 7, 2005; 09:40 AM ET | Comments (128)

New Rules for War on Terrorism

After a bruising, three-year battle between the Delta Force generals and the four-stars who command conventional troops around the world, President Bush has given control for managing the administration's global war on terrorism to U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) --...

By William M. Arkin | October 5, 2005; 08:19 AM ET | Comments (29)

The Terrorist Body Count

In October 2003, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent a memo to four-star commanders asking one of those unforgettable questions: "Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror?" "We lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing ...,"...

By William M. Arkin | October 4, 2005; 11:11 AM ET | Comments (54)


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