Happy Holidays!

We here at Transparent Policy and the Center for Policy & Research wish all of our readers a wonderful holiday season.

You have made this an exciting and fulfilling first year for our blog. From the NSA and the Snowden leaks to the recent events in the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it has been a busy year to cover our nation’s efforts to combat terrorism. But is our readers that truly motivate our team to spend the few extra hours they have to bring light to the challenges, problems, and possibilities that confront our leaders.

Thank you all for your readership, and have a happy and safe holiday season!

Boston Globe Releases Results of Five Month Investigation into Tsarnev Family

Earlier this week, the Boston Globe, released an in-depth article (the result of a five-month investigation) on the Boston brothers allegedly behind the attacks at the Boston Marathon this past April. The Globe calls the article a chronicle of the “greatest act of terrorism in Boston history and the deeply dysfunctional family that produced them.” Continue reading

News Organizations Call for Syrian Rebels to Halt Kidnappings

In a recently released December 11th letter, 13 international news organizations called for Syrian rebels to halt the kidnapping of their journalists. The letter pleads, “Over the past 12 months, we have witnessed the disturbing rise in the kidnapping of journalists while on assignment within the northern provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and al-Raqqa as well as elsewhere in Syria. By our estimate, more than thirty journalists are now being held. As a result of these kidnappings, a growing number of news organizations no longer feel that it is safe for their reporters and photographers to enter Syria, and many have decided to limit their coverage of the war, unwilling to have their staff members subjected to the increasingly common risk of abduction.” Continue reading

Panetta Inadvertently Reveals Secrets of bin Laden Raid to “Zero Dark Thirty” Screenwriter Mark Boal

As many of my colleagues at the Center for Policy & Research know, I am a big fan of Kathryn Bigelow’s 2012 film Zero Dark Thirty. Billed as a film about “The Greatest Manhunt in History,” the film chronicles the CIA’s decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, centered around the efforts of a female CIA operative named simply “Maya.” Continue reading

Could Online Fantasy Games be Used as a Networking Tool for Terrorists?

In today’s New York Times, Mark Mazetti and Justin Elliot discuss American and British spies’ use of the popular online fantasy games World of Warcraft and Second Life as tools to perform surveillance and undermine the networking efforts of terrorists and other criminals. Continue reading

Penny Lane: Are Guantanamo Detainees Really the “Worst of the Worst?”

In 2002, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated that GTMO was populated by the “worst of the worst,” citing GTMO detainees as some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world. The Center for Policy and Research, however, published a report in March 2011, citing substantial evidence regarding the true recidivist rates of GTMO detainees pointing to the fact that these men were not nearly as dangerous as the U.S. originally claimed. Continue reading

Lawyers Permitted to Photograph Guantanamo Detainee KSM’s Scars

In a piece published in yesterday’s Miami Herald, noted Guantanamo journalist Carol Rosenberg announced that military judge James Pohl will allow defense attorneys to photograph the scars on the wrists and ankles of accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed (“KSM”) and his co-defendant Walid bin Attash. This is a significant development, as it could be used in the trial of KSM and his alleged 9/11 co-conspirators to demonstrate that the men were subjected to torture while they were being held in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center. Continue reading

Congress Battling Over NSA Reform

As the debate over the NSA surveillance scandal rages on, two Congressional committees are now in the midst of a battle that will determine who gets the first crack at reforming the NSA’s intelligence gathering policies.  The battle between the House Intelligence Committee and House Judiciary Committee will largely determine the extent to which the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will be modified in the post-Snowden era.  While much is still unclear, a historical comparison to the Pike and Church Committees from the Cold War era may well demonstrate which stance the government should take on NSA reforms. Continue reading