Selected Articles

Orthodox patriarch anticipates Pope Francis visit to Turkey for Council of Nicea anniversary – Catholic News Agency

Share The News

Share The News
Selected Articles

CBS Evening News Anchor Norah O’Donnell Interviews Pope Francis – Inside Edition

Share The News

Share The News
Selected Articles

What You Need to Know About New Vatican Norms on Supernatural Phenomena – National Catholic Register

Share The News

Share The News
Selected Articles

Israel Recovered the Bodies of 3 Hostages

Share The News


Also, Francis Ford Coppola has no regrets about his new film.

Share The News
Selected Articles

Putin wants buffer zone around Ukraine city of Kharkiv

Share The News

By Illia Novikov | Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday during a visit to China that Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region aims to create a buffer zone but that there are no plans to capture the city.

The remarks were Putin’s first on the offensive launched May 10, which opened a new front and displaced thousands of Ukrainians within days. Earlier Friday, a massive Ukrainian drone attack on the Russia-occupied Crimean Peninsula cut off power in the city of Sevastopol, after an earlier attack damaged aircraft and fuel storage at an airbase.

In southern Russia, Russian authorities said a refinery was also set ablaze.

Moscow launched attacks in the Kharkiv region in response to Ukrainian shelling of Russia’s Belgorod region, Putin told reporters while visiting the Chinese city of Harbin.

“I have said publicly that if it continues, we will be forced to create a security zone, a sanitary zone,” he said. “That’s what we are doing.” Russian troops were “advancing daily according to plan,” he said and added there were no plans for now to take the city of Kharkiv.

Ukrainian troops are fighting to halt Russian advances in the Kharkiv region that began late last week. In an effort to increase troop numbers, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed two laws Friday, allowing prisoners to join the army and increasing fines for draft dodgers fivefold. The controversial mobilization law goes into effect on Saturday.

Russia enlisted prisoners early on in the war, and personnel shortages compelled the new measures. The legislation allows for “parole from serving a sentence and further enlistment for military service” for a specific period for some people charged with criminal offences. It doesn’t extend to those convicted of crimes against Ukraine’s national security.

Penalties will be increased to 25,500 hryvnias ($650) for citizens and 51,000 hryvnias ($1,300) for civil servants and legal entities for ignoring draft notices or failing to update the draft board of their information. Fines were previously 5100 hryvnias ($130) for citizens and 8500 hryvnias ($215) for civil servants and legal entities.

Ukrainian authorities have evacuated around 8,000 civilians from the recent flashpoint town of Vovchansk, 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the Russian border. The Russian army’s usual tactic is to reduce towns and villages to ruins with aerial strikes before troops move in.

At least two people were killed and 19 were wounded in the Russian bombing of Kharkiv, regional chief Oleh Syniehubov said on his Telegram posting on Friday. Four of the wounded were in critical condition.

Russia’s new offensive has “expanded the zone of active hostilities by almost 70 kilometers” (45 miles), in an effort to force Ukraine to spread its forces and use reserve troops, Ukraine’s military chief, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, said Friday.

In the Kharkiv region, Russian forces have advanced 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the border, Zelenskyy said Friday.

Separately, speaking about Ukraine’s upcoming peace conferences in Switzerland next month, Putin said it was a vain attempt to enforce terms of a peaceful settlement on Russia and stressed that Russia wasn’t invited to the meeting.

He said that Russia was ready for talks but shrugged off Zelenskyy’s peace formula as wishful thinking. Any prospective peace talks should be based on a draft deal negotiated by Russia and Ukraine during their Istanbul talks in 2022, he said.

Ukraine meanwhile carried out drone raids on Crimea in an attempt to strike back during Moscow’s offensive in northeastern Ukraine, which has piled on pressure on outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainian forces awaiting delayed deliveries of crucial weapons and ammunition from Western partners.

A Ukrainian intelligence official confirmed to The Associated Press that the country’s intelligence services struck Russia’s military infrastructure sites in Novorossiysk, on the Black Sea coast, and in Russian-occupied city of Sevastopol. The official was not authorized to make public comments and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The operation, carried out by Ukraine-built drones, targeted Russian Black Sea Fleet vessels, the official said.

The Russian Defense Ministry said air defenses downed 51 Ukrainian drones over Crimea, 44 over the Krasnodar region of Russia and six over the Belgorod region. Russian warplanes and patrol boats also destroyed six sea drones in the Black Sea, it said.

At least three fighter jets were destroyed in an earlier attack in Crimea a few days ago, according to satellite imagery of the airbase provided by Maxar Technologies.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the governor of Sevastopol, which is the main base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, said the drone attack damaged the city’s power plant. He said it could take a day to fully restore electricity and warned residents of power cuts. He also announced city schools would be closed temporarily.

In the Krasnodar region, authorities said a drone attack early Friday caused a fire at an oil refinery in Tuapse, which was later contained. There were no casualties. Ukraine has repeatedly targeted refineries and other energy facilities deep inside Russia, inflicting damage.

The Krasnodar region’s governor, Veniamin Kondratyev, said fragments of downed drones around the port of Novorossiysk caused several fires, but there were no casualties.

Belgorov Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said a Ukrainian drone struck a vehicle, killing a woman and her 4-year-old child. Another attack there set a fuel tank ablaze at a gas station, he said.

Related Articles

Recent Russian attacks have also targeted the eastern Donetsk region, as well as the Chernihiv and Sumy regions in the north and in the southern Zaporizhzhia region — apparently seeking to further stretch depleted Ukrainian resources.

Having boosted their forces in northern Ukraine, Russian forces are now pushing to advance near the village of Lyptsi, as well as the town of Vovchansk, according to Syrskyi, the Ukrainian military commander.

Syrskyi also said he inspected units that are “preparing for defense” of Sumy. On Tuesday, the head of Ukraine’s Military Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, reportedly said Russia’s military planned to launch offensive actions in Sumy.

Russia has also been testing defenses elsewhere along the roughly 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line, which snakes north-to-south through eastern Ukraine. The line has barely changed over the past 18 months, in what has become a war of attrition.

Share The News
Selected Articles

Menendez Jurors See the Gold Bars at the Heart of a Bribery Case

Share The News

  • The Latest
  • Opening Statements
  • Key Players
  • The Charges
  • Menendez’s Political Future

An F.B.I. agent, testifying for the government, described his search of Senator Robert Menendez’s house in New Jersey.

Listen to this article · 5:31 min Learn more
Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, surrounded by law enforcement officers,  arrives at federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday.

Jurors in the corruption trial of Senator Robert Menendez on Thursday were handed plastic bags containing gold bars, allowing them to touch an object at the heart of the government’s case.Credit…Andrew Kelly/Reuters

With the corruption trial of Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey underway on Thursday, a prosecutor handed a juror in the first row of the jury box a plastic bag containing an object at the heart of the government’s case: a gold bar that glinted under the courtroom lights.

One by one, jurors held the bag, turning it over in their hands and feeling its weight before passing it to their neighbor — the jury’s first tangible exposure to evidence prosecutors say was a bribe paid to Mr. Menendez, 70, and his wife.

The prosecutor, Lara Pomerantz, soon handed jurors another bag containing several gold bars. But before she could hand over a third, the judge, Sidney H. Stein, said the jury “has gotten a feel for the weight of gold.”

Mr. Menendez, a Democrat, and his wife, Nadine Menendez, have been charged with accepting gifts collectively worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, including gold, cash and a $60,000 Mercedes-Benz convertible, in exchange for the senator’s dispensing of political favors to the governments of Egypt and Qatar and to three New Jersey businessmen.

The senator and two of the businessmen — Wael Hana and Fred Daibes — are being tried together in Manhattan federal court. Ms. Menendez, 57, was to be tried with them, but her trial was postponed after her lawyers said she had a “serious medical condition.”

On Thursday, the senator revealed that Ms. Menendez was being treated for breast cancer and was preparing to undergo a mastectomy and possible radiation treatment.

The third businessman charged in the case, Jose Uribe, has pleaded guilty and is expected to testify as a prosecution witness at the trial.

The trial of Mr. Menendez, Mr. Hana and Mr. Daibes is expected to last more than a month. In an opening statement on Wednesday, Avi Weitzman, a lawyer for the senator, largely pinned blame for the bribery charges on Ms. Menendez, who he said had hidden her past dire finances from her husband and “what she was asking others to give her.”

On Thursday morning, lawyers for the senator’s co-defendants, in their opening statements, portrayed their clients as friends of the couple whose innocent acts of generosity were being unfairly cast by prosecutors as criminal.

“It’s about criminalizing friendships,” said Mr. Hana’s lawyer, Lawrence S. Lustberg. Mr. Daibes’s lawyer, César de Castro, said his client had not given anything to the Menendezes to influence them or have the senator engage in any official act on anyone’s behalf.

The presentation of the gold bars came as an F.B.I. special agent, Aristotelis Kougemitros, the government’s first witness, testified about the gold and cash seized during a June 2022 search of the Menendezes’ home in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Agent Kougemitros, who led the search team, said investigators seized $486,461 in cash, 11 one-ounce gold bars and two one-kilogram bars.

Although the agent’s testimony focused on the valuable items found in the search, his account, along with F.B.I. photographs that were taken, offered jurors an uncommonly intimate visit to the Menendezes’ home.

Photograph after photograph was displayed from inside the couple’s bedroom, which had been locked and could only be opened with the help of an F.B.I. locksmith, the agent testified. Inside were photographs of the senator and his wife. There was an exercise machine by their bed; even their en suite bathroom was visible.

A photo of the contents of a closet showed aquamarine lingerie and playful ties, including two that depicted mice eating cheese.

Agent Kougemitros said that, with the locksmith’s help, the team entered two bedroom closets, each secured with deadbolt locks, and found gold bars, jewelry and a safe. Inside the safe were boxes and envelopes of cash. In other parts of the house, agents found more cash: in clothing, a duffel bag, plastic bags and men’s shoes. The Mercedes was parked in a cluttered garage.

During the initial phase of the search, Agent Kougemitros said, agents carefully laid out, counted and photographed the cash. Eventually, he said, the “sheer volume of bills” was too much to count by hand, “so we got cash-counting machines — you’ve probably seen them in movies.”

At one point, the agent stepped off the witness stand and opened a box to show the jury a bag stuffed with cash, which he said was found in the senator’s office and contained $100,000.

Late Thursday, Adam Fee, a lawyer for the senator, raised questions during cross-examination about whether the senator even had access to the bedroom closet where the safe and gold had been found. He focused on the location of a blue blazer that the agent said had been hanging inside the closet and was linked to the senator.

Mr. Fee zoomed in on photographs that he said made it clear the blazer was hanging on an adjacent door outside of the closet.

“Do you want to change that testimony?” he asked the agent. He did not change his account.

The cross-examination was in line with the defense strategy of suggesting Ms. Menendez had secrets the senator was not privy to. On Wednesday, in Mr. Weitzman’s opening statement, he hammered home that point, saying the senator did not have a key to the closet nor did he know gold was kept there.

“It is Nadine’s closet,” he said. “In fact, when you look inside the closet, you will see that it is filled with all of Nadine’s clothing. Women’s clothing.”

Tracey Tully contributed reporting.

Share The News
Selected Articles

Putin, Xi issue one-sentence warning on nuclear war

Share The News

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have issued a one-sentence statement about nuclear war as part of their “new era” strategic partnership.

Putin and Xi announced plans to deepen their partnership on Thursday, issuing a statement addressing their position on a number of issues facing the world, ranging from questions about the economy to the war between Russia and Ukraine. China and Russia have steadily strengthened ties as the two countries have found regularly themselves at odds with much of the West.

The United States has seen its long-frayed relations with both countries become even more strained in recent years. Washington emerged as a staunch supporter of Ukraine after Putin ordered an invasion of the Eastern European nation in February 2022, delivering billions of dollars of aid to help Kyiv defend itself.

Meanwhile, relations with China remain tense over, among other concerns, Taiwan. The question of Taiwanese independence has been a sticking point between the U.S. and China.

Putin, Xi statement on nuclear weapons

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping appear in Beijing on May 16, 2024. In a joint statement, Putin and Xi addressed their position on the use of nuclear weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping appear in Beijing on May 16, 2024. In a joint statement, Putin and Xi addressed their position on the use of nuclear weapons.

Beijing’s “One China” policy dictates that Taiwan, an island off the country’s coast, is part of China. Taiwan’s leaders, however, consider the island to be its own nation. While the United States does not officially recognize the island’s independence, it has pledged to defend it against a Chinese invasion.

Some experts and officials have raised concerns that these regional conflicts could eventually escalate into a wider war with the United States, culminating in fears that nuclear weapons could eventually be used.

However, China and Russia addressed their stance on nuclear war in their joint statement issued on Thursday.

“There can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be fought,” the statement reads.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and China’s International Press Center for further comment via email.

Javed Ali, a professor at the University of Michigan and former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, told Newsweek on Thursday the statement “indicates the confidence both countries feel about declared nuclear powers and how those weapons—like for the United States, France, and Great Britain–are part of each country’s national security posture.”

The summit is an “indicator of the strong relationship” between the two counties as the two leaders both believe the U.S. and allies have worked to diminish their influence, according to Ali.

“The degree to which these Russian and Chinese ties endure is an open question, since both President Xi and President Putin also have to manage their national interests and may view the current framework as more transactional than strategic,” he said noting that U.S. policy treats Russia and China differently given deeper economic ties to Beijing.

Putin warned during a statement in March that the chances of nuclear war would increase if Western nations send troops to Ukraine, which has long been viewed as a red line for Russia that Ukraine’s allies have not been willing to cross.

While Russian authorities have long sought to downplay nuclear fears, pundits on Russian state TV, which aligns with the Kremlin, have repeatedly discussed the possibility of nuclear war, fueling concerns.

In response to Putin’s remarks in March, Mao Ning, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, warned about the risks of nuclear war just days later.

“In January 2022, leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states issued a joint-statement, affirming that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” she said. “China believes that all nuclear weapon states need to embrace the idea of common security and uphold global strategic balance and stability.”

Mao continued: “Under the current circumstances, parties need to jointly seek de-escalation and lower strategic risks.”

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Share The News
Selected Articles

Russia lacks ‘numbers for strategic breakthrough’ in Ukraine: NATO

Share The News

Moscow says it will keep pushing its offensive in Ukraine, though NATO doubts Russia has the resources to make a significant breakthrough.


NATO’s top military officer has said Russia’s armed forces are incapable of any major advance.

“The Russians don’t have the numbers necessary to do a strategic breakthrough,” NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe Christopher Cavoli told reporters on Thursday.

“More to the point, they don’t have the skill and the capability to do it; to operate at the scale necessary to exploit any breakthrough to strategic advantage,” the general said. 

His comments come as Ukrainian forces engage in fierce battles with Russia’s troops for control of Vovchansk, a key town in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region. 

Kyiv claimed on Thursday it had checked Russia’s advance, but a senior Moscow official said the Russian army had enough resources to keep going. 

Euronews could not independently verify either claim. 

Vovchansk, located just 5 kilometres from the Russian border, has been a hotspot in the fighting in recent days. 

Asked if Russia was about to launch its anticipated summer offensive early, top US and NATO commander, Cavoli said: “We can never be sure.” 

However, he added: “What we don’t see is large numbers of reserves being generated some place” needed for such an offensive.

Russia began an operation in the Kharkiv region last week, marking its most significant border incursion since the full-scale invasion began in 2022.

The move has piled pressure on Ukraine’s outnumbered and outgunned forces which are waiting for deliveries of crucial military supplies from the West. 

Delays in Western assistance have “likely helped” Russia’s offensive by forcing Ukrainian forces to conserve material and limiting their ability to defend themselves, according to the US-based Insitute for the Study of War. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met top military commanders in Kharkiv on Thursday, saying the region “is generally under control.” 

But he acknowledged on social media that the situation was “extremely difficult”.

Former Russian defence minister – now the head of the National Security Council – Sergei Shoigu insisted Russian troops are pushing the offensive in many directions and that “it’s going quite well.”

“I hope we will keep advancing. We have certain reserves for the purpose, in personnel, equipment and munitions,” he said in televised remarks.

The Institute for the Study of War calculated that Moscow’s army had advanced no more than 8 kilometres from the shared border in Kharkiv.

It says Moscow’s main aim in the region is to create a “buffer zone” that will prevent Ukrainian cross-border strikes on Russia’s neighbouring Belgorod region.

Share The News
Selected Articles

U.S. Intelligence Is Facing a Crisis of Legitimacy

Share The News


The need for good intelligence has never been more visible. The failure of the Israeli security services to anticipate the brutal surprise attack carried out by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023 reveals what happens when intelligence goes wrong.

In contrast, in late February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned three-day “special military operation” to invade Ukraine and topple the government was pushed onto the back foot by the U.S. and U.K. intelligence communities. While Putin’s rapid seizure of Crimea by a flood of “little green men”  in 2014 was a fait accompli, by the time of the 2022 invasion, anticipatory moves including the public declassification of sensitive intelligence ensured that both the intelligence community and Ukraine remained a step ahead of Putin’s plans.

Yet, despite the clear and enduring need for good intelligence to support effective statecraft, national security, and military operations, U.S. intelligence agencies and practitioners are undermined by a crisis of legitimacy. Recent research investigating public attitudes toward the U.S. intelligence community offers some sobering trends.

A May 2023 poll conducted by the Harvard University Center for American Political Studies and Harris Poll found that an eye-watering 70 percent of Americans surveyed were either “very” or “somewhat” concerned about “interference by the FBI and intelligence agencies in a future presidential election.”

A separate study, conducted in 2021 and 2022 by the Intelligence Studies Project at the University of Texas at Austin and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, found that only 56 percent of Americans thought that the intelligence community “plays a vital role in warning against foreign threats and contributes to our national security.” That number is down 10 points from a previous high—if it can even be called that—of 66 percent in 2019, and the downward trend does not give us cause for optimism. Reframed, that statistic means that in 2022, an alarming (in our view) 44 percent of Americans did not believe that the intelligence community keeps them safe from foreign threats or contributes to U.S. national security.

Worse, despite abundant examples of authoritarian aggression and worldwide terror attacks, nearly 1 in 5 Americans seem to be confused about where the real threats to their liberty are actually emanating from. According to the UT Austin study, a growing number of Americans thought that the intelligence community represented a threat to civil liberties: 17 percent in 2022, up from 12 percent in 2021. A nontrivial percentage of Americans feel that the intelligence community is an insidious threat instead of a valuable protector in a dangerous world—a perspective that jeopardizes the security and prosperity of the United States and its allies.

The most obvious recent example of the repercussions of the corrosion of trust in the intelligence community is the recent drama over reauthorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). First introduced in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, Section 702 is an important legal authority for the U.S. intelligence community to conduct targeted surveillance of foreign persons located outside the United States, with the compelled assistance of electronic communication service providers. According to a report published by Office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI), 702 is “extremely valuable” and “provides intelligence on activities of terrorist organizations, weapons proliferators, spies, malicious cyber actors, and other foreign adversaries.”

Section 702 was scheduled to “sunset” at the end of 2023 if not reauthorized. Yet Congress failed to reauthorize 702 by the end of 2023, electing to punt the decision—as is so often the case—to this spring, when it was finally reauthorized (with some important reforms) in late April 2024, but it was only extended for two years instead of the customary five. An unusual alliance of the far right and the far left squeezed centrists and the Biden administration, which was strongly pushing for a renewal that would protect the civil liberties of U.S. citizens and not needlessly hobble the intelligence community in protecting the United States itself.

But the frantic down-to-the-wire negotiations about reauthorizing some recognizable form of 702 obscured a deeper problem at the heart of the contemporary Americans’ relationship with intelligence that has been brewing over the last decade: The fundamental legitimacy of a strong intelligence community—and the integrity of its practitioners—has been questioned by U.S. lawmakers on the far left and the far right, perhaps reflecting a misguided but increasing consensus of tens of millions of Americans.

This trend is now a crisis.

Section 702’s troubled journey faced queries from the privacy-oriented left, where those with overblown concerns about potential abuse by the intelligence community viewed reauthorizing 702 is tantamount to “turning cable installers into spies,” in the words of one opinion contributor published in The Hill. The intelligence community’s revised authorities (some adjustments were required given the 15 years of communications technology development since the amendment was first passed) were called “terrifying” and predictably—the most hackneyed description for intelligence tools—“Orwellian.” On the power-skeptical right, Section 702 is perceived as but another powerful surveillance tool of the so-called deep state.

In response to legitimate concerns about past mistakes, the intelligence community has adopted procedural reforms and enhanced training that it says would account for the overwhelming majority of the (self-reported) mistakes in querying 702 collection. According to a report from the Justice Department’s National Security Division, the FBI achieved a 98 percent compliance rate in 2023 after receiving better training. Further, the Justice Department and the DNI have gone to unprecedented lengths to publicly show—through declassified success stories—the real dangers that allowing 702 to lapse would bring to the United States and its allies.

Never before has an intelligence community begged, cajoled, and pleaded with lawmakers to enable it to do its job. After all, a hobbled intelligence community would still be held responsible should a war warning be missed, or should a terrorist attack occur.

For instance, Gen. Eric Vidaud, the French military intelligence chief, was promptly fired over intelligence failings related to Putin’s (re)invasion of Ukraine despite the Elysée’s criticisms of the warnings made by the United States and United Kingdom as “alarmist.” And Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, director of Israeli military intelligence, recently resigned over the Oct. 7 attacks despite the fault probably lying across Israel’s political landscape as well. Intelligence professionals pay more than their share of the bill when their crystal ball stays cloudy.

The hullabaloo over 702 is not the only recent instance painting the actions of the U.S. national security apparatus as questionable state activity conducted by dishonest bureaucrats, and some recent history helps put the recent events into a broader downward trend in trust.

In 2013, National Security Agency (NSA) mass-leaker Edward Snowden, a junior network IT specialist with a Walter Mitty complex, sparked a needed but distorted global conversation about the legitimacy of intelligence collection when he stole more than 1.5 million NSA documents and fled to China and ultimately Russia. The mischaracterization of NSA programs conveyed by Snowden and his allies (painting them as more intrusive and less subject to legal scrutiny than they were) led to popular misunderstandings about the intelligence community’s methods and oversight.

It was not only junior leakers whose unfounded criticism helped to corrode public faith in intelligence; it has also been a bipartisan political effort. In 2009, then-U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed that the CIA had lied to her after she wished to distance herself from the agency’s “enhanced interrogation techniques”—which critics call torture. But Pelosi’s comments earned a “false” rating from Politifact’s “truth-o-meter.” Then-CIA Director Leon Panetta countered that “CIA officers briefed truthfully.”

Some suspicion of a powerful intelligence community stems from genuine failings of the past, especially the CIA’s activities in the early and middle stages of the Cold War, which included some distasteful assassination plots, the illegal collection of intelligence domestically (such as surveillance of Americans on political grounds, including illegally opening their mail), and the LSD experimentation on unwitting Americans as part of its infamous MKULTRA program.

Most of these excesses—characterized as the CIA’s “Family Jewels”—were reported to Congress, which held explosive hearings in 1975 to publicize these activities, bringing the intelligence agencies into the public realm like never before. Images of Sen. Frank Church holding aloft a poison dart gun, designed by the CIA to incapacitate and induce a heart attack in foreign leaders, became front page news. These serious failings in accountability were the dawn of rigorous intelligence oversight.

Public trust in government was already sinking when, in 1971, the Pentagon Papers revealed that politicians had lied about US activities in the deeply unpopular Vietnam war. The Watergate scandal the following year added fuel to fire. Although the CIA was not directly involved in Watergate, the involvement of former agency employees led to a wider belief that the agency was tainted. And in the late 1970s, CIA morale sank to an all-time low when then-President Jimmy Carter began the process of sharply reducing its staff, attributing the decision to its “shocking” activities.

In response to congressional findings and mountains of bad press, subsequent directors of the CIA considered the criticisms and made numerous changes to how the intelligence community operates. While the intelligence community (and its leaders) made good-faith efforts to operate strictly within its legal boundaries, be more responsive to congressional oversight, and embrace some level of transparency, the public image of the CIA and the broader intelligence community didn’t change. After the Cold War ended, the preeminent vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, called twice for the disbanding of the CIA. Such political pummeling of the role of intelligence and the integrity of its practitioners was bound to leave a mark.

The politics of distrust are back to the bad old days. By 2016, distrust of the intelligence community had returned with a vengeance: then-presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed that NSA was circumventing domestic legal constructs to spy on his campaign through its close partnership with the Government Communications headquarters (GCHQ), the British signals intelligence agency. (The NSA said those claims were false and GCHQ called them “utterly ridiculous”.) As president-elect, Trump also compared U.S. intelligence to “living in Nazi Germany.” Once Trump entered the Oval Office, the FBI was a frequent target for his invective thanks to the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election.

While the intelligence community is a long way away from the excesses of the 1970s, it is not perfect. Intelligence is an art, not a science. It is not prediction so much as narrowing the cone of uncertainty for decision-makers to act in a complex world. Even when acting strictly within the law and under the scrutiny of Congress and multiple inspectors general, the intelligence community has been wrong on several important occasions. It failed to stop the 9/11 attacks, got the assessment that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction spectacularly wrong, and was made to look impotent by Osama bin Laden for nearly a decade before the U.S. Navy SEALs caught up with him on a CIA mission in Pakistan in May 2011.

Errors still happen because intelligence is hard, and the occasional failure to warn, to stop every attack, or to prevent every incorrect search query is inevitable. Today, mistakes are self-reported to Congress; they are no longer hidden away as they sometimes were in the past. Yet the intelligence community has done a poor job telling its own story and self-censors due to widespread over-classification—a problem that the DNI has acknowledged, if not yet remedied. It has only belatedly begun to embrace the transparency required for a modern intelligence apparatus in a democratic state, and there is much work yet to be done.

It is the job of the intelligence agencies to keep a calm and measured eye on dark developments. In a world in which the panoply of threats is increasing, the role of the intelligence community and its responsibilities within democratic states has never been greater. If the community cannot be trusted by its political masters in the White House and Congress, much less the American people, then it will not be given the ability to “play to the edge,” and the risk is that the United States and its allies will be blind to the threats facing them. Given the adversaries, the consequences could be severe.

U.S. intelligence has had a rebirth of confidence since 9/11 and the incorrect judgments of the Iraqi weapons program. It was intelligence and special operations that hunted and killed bin Laden, U.S. law enforcement that has kept the U.S. homeland safe from another massive terror attack, and the intelligence community correctly predicted the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

That increased sense of purpose and morale is moot if the U.S. people, Congress, or the president (sitting or future) do not trust them. This crisis of legitimacy is a trend that may soon hamper the intelligence community, and the results could be unthinkable. Getting the balance between civil liberties and security right isn’t an easy task, but the intelligence community must have the tools, trust, and oversight required to simultaneously keep faith with the American people while serving as their first line of defense.

Share The News
Selected Articles

Former FBI agent: ‘We have to want to have less firearms violence, or we won’t have it.’ – WILX

Share The News

Former FBI agent: ‘We have to want to have less firearms violence, or we won’t have it.’  WILX

Share The News