spies, national security, espionage, counterterrorism, u.s. foreign policy, intelligence operations, CIA, special forces, counterterrorism, terrorism

Friday, December 20, 2013

SpyTalk Now at Newsweek

Check it out at Newsweek.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

James Lunn, Desert Faux

It had all the elements of a true life thriller: a retired US military officer caught in the dangerous North Sinai desert with advanced electronic gear.

In the context of Navy SEALs and CIA agents roaming the globe hunting for al-Qaeda terrorists and their allies, it seemed entirely plausible that an American spy would be caught at some point in that extremely volatile, dangerous region.

Adding to the mystery, the US Embassy in Cairo declined to say anything about James Henry Lunn other than that he had been found dead Sunday in his jail cell in Ismailya, Egypt. Local authorities called his death a suicide, saying that Lunn had hung himself in his cell with a shoe laces. They also called him a “retired military officer,” but the embassy denied that, too.

As it turns out, however, the fevered speculation about what the 66-year-old American was doing in the northern Sinai turned out to be almost entirely fantastical.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Frank Archibald is a nice guy in a killer job--literally. Last May the affable, hulking former Clemson University football player, 57, was named head of the CIA's National Clandestine Service, which is home to the agency's spies and hunter-killer teams, like the ones dispatched to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya and elsewhere in search of al Qaeda and other terrorist spore.

Not that you've seen his name all over the news.  Read more about Archibald in my debut column for the new Newsweek.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Former CIA Official Urges Smarter, Harder Ops in Syria

Both supporters and critics of covert US aid to Syrian rebels say it's almost impossible to separate the good guys from the bad guys in the opposition. Charles "Sam" Faddis, who led an agency paramilitary team into northern Iraq in advance of the 2003 US invasion, begs to differ. 

"It’s the job of a case officer in this situation to scout the ground," Faddis told me in an interview. "It’s also his job to shape it. Leverage his influence. Sabotage his enemies. Outmaneuver and out-think the other guy. When did we become so impotent and reduced to saying 'it’s hard' and these guys 'don’t play nice'? READ MORE HERE.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thomas Drake: Dismantle NSA

Former top NSA official Thomas Drake, who sacrificed his career to expose massive fraud, mismanagement and cost overruns--not to mention privacy violations--at the electronic eavesdropping agency, argues that firing its top managers won't solve the problem. Tear it down and start over, he says. READ MORE HERE.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Worst Years of Our Lives

Two new books offer shocking, enraging and, in the end, deeply sorrowful accounts of our veterans' lives after they've returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. READ MORE HERE

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Obama's Intel Chief Clapper Sails from Gafffe to Shining Gaffe

For someone tasked with being the nation’s top intelligence officer, James Clapper seems to get an awful lot wrong—and in so many ways.  From lying about the NSA's tracking of Americans' web habits to threats from Iran and North Korea to, 20 years ago, his reorganization of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the retired general sails on, from gaffe to shining gaffe. Yet the DNI is still a starter on the Obama team's "full court press" to sell Capitol Hill on bombing Syria.  How could that be?  READ MORE HERE.