CIA

♦ Cronyism is being blamed for the slow pace of reform in Ireland.
♦ An AP investigation reveals that a US citizen who went missing on a private business trip to Iran actually had ties to the CIA and was on an unapproved mission.
♦ Bill Keller at the New York Times mulls over negotiations with Iran: “For the moment, our hard-liners pose a greater problem than Iran’s.”
♦ Egyptians are outraged that General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was not Time’s person of the yearRead more

Edward Snowden (Getty)

The NSA whistleblower has revealed himself – Edward Snowden is a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA who was employed by the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton prior to leaking documents to the Guardian. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

The Guardian reveals that, despite not having a high school diploma, his talents in computer programming helped him rise within the CIA. Read more

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Gideon Rachman

Rand Paul during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Getty)

Rand Paul (Getty Images)

Rand Paul’s marathon filibuster last week – aimed at holding up the confirmation of John Brennan as head of the CIA – was much more than a parliamentary stunt. It has opened up interesting new debates and divisions on the future direction of US foreign policy.

Senator Paul’s highlighting of the Obama administration’s use of drones for “targeted killings” of terrorist suspects, has established an unlikely alliance between the libertarian right and the liberal left. Until Paul took up the drones issue, it was mainly the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union, who were making the running in criticising the drone strikes. But, as Paul illustrated, there is a good libertarian case for suspicion of the over-mighty covert state. Even more interestingly, Paul’s stand placed him directly at odds with the neoconservative wing of his own Republican Party.

The Wall Street Journal has denounced Paul for appealing to “impressionable libertarian kids” – a condemnation quoted with approval by John McCain, one of the party’s leading foreign-policy hawks.

Conveniently for President Obama, this argument between the two wings of the Republican Party places the president somewhere in the middle. He will never be as hawkish as the Republican neocons, many of whom are pressing for intervention in Syria, an assault on Iran and denouncing cuts in the Pentagon budget. On the other hand, the president’s expansion of the drone war and his unwillingness to rein in the burgeoning national-security apparatus makes him very far from being a “libertarian kid”. Read more

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John Brennan – Barack Obama’s nominee for Central Intelligence Agency director – testifies before the Senate intelligence committee today. The hearing offers a rare moment of public scrutiny of the government’s expanded use of drones to kill suspected terrorists, which has returned to the news this week.

By Shannon Bond in New York with Geoff Dyer in Washington. All times are GMT.

 

Esther Bintliff

A police officer asks protesters to move to the sidewalk during a demonstration in front of a Raytheon company building in Florida in August 2012 (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A police officer asks protesters to move to the sidewalk during a demonstration in front of a Raytheon company building in Florida in August 2012 (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The CIA’s drone programme may be classified as covert, but it is increasingly in the public spotlight. On Thursday, John Brennan – Obama’s nominee for CIA director, and the driving force behind the White House’s drone strategy – will appear before the Senate. As Geoff Dyer points out, Brennan’s confirmation hearing will offer a rare moment of public scrutiny of the war on terror – and the ethics of targeted killings.

In the FT

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Gideon Rachman

It was always my impression that spies generally try to keep out of the papers, and out of the law courts. Judged by those standards, MI6 is not doing a very good job – and neither is the CIA. Read more

A bumper edition to take you into the weekend: