What happens when a stalwart American ally “postpones” the visit of a high-level US delegation for no reason? For Azerbaijan, apparently nothing. This September, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Melia and others were expected to arrive in the capital of Baku to “observe preparations” for the October 9 presidential election, but the Azerbaijani government postponed. These elections are paramount because Azerbaijan’s opposition parties have only symbolic representation in parliament -- the two-term limit on the presidency was abolished in March 2009 by popular referendum.READ MORE
A new alliance between Jordan and Israel, sparked by a secret agreement, could bring the two countries even closer. Israel and Jordan have had a peace treaty for almost 20 years. Recent reports show secret talks between the two countries could strengthen the existing alliance, but what they’re discussing would be geopolitically advantageous for many, including the United States: a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Jordan.READ MORE
In the "Ten Miles Square" blog for the Washington Monthly, Century fellow Harold Pollack analyzes the film The Butler in light of a recent op-ed in The Washington Post. The op-ed criticized the film for its negative portrayal of former president Ronald Reagan as being "racially insensitive." Pollack responds:
"Whatever Reagan’s inner racial views or his private behavior towards individual African-Americans, he chose to court what might politely be called race-conservative segments of the American electorate. He and his party prospered politically by making that choice."
The New Republic covers senior fellow Barton Gellman's most recent work for the Washington Post, which reveals the United States's strained relationship with Pakistan.
As the story notes, "Pakistan appears at the top of charts listing critical U.S. intelligence gaps. It is named as a target of newly formed analytic cells. And fears about the security of its nuclear program are so pervasive that a budget section on containing the spread of illicit weapons divides the world into two categories: Pakistan and everybody else." The real importance of the piece, however, is what it indirectly explains: namely, that even if the Pakistanis follow our wish and wholeheartedly pursue terrorist groups and Taliban elements, there is bound to be serious collateral damage, and a host of fresh problems.
TCF senior fellow Barton Gellman for the Washington Post on a classified budget document, provided by former National Security Contracter Edward Snowden, which reveals that the U.S. government anually reinvestigates thousands of employees in the intelligence community. "The CIA found that among a subset of job seekers whose backgrounds raised questions, roughly one out of every five had “significant terrorist and/or hostile intelligence connections,” Gellman writes.
"So sharp is the fear of threats from within that last year the NSA planned to launch at least 4,000 probes of potentially suspicious or abnormal staff activity after scrutinizing trillions of employee keystrokes at work."
TCF senior fellow Barton Gellman reports for the Washington Post that the National Security Agency pays U.S. companies hundreds of millions of dollars a year for clandestine access to their communications networks.
New details of the corporate-partner project, which falls under the NSA’s Special Source Operations, confirm that the agency taps into “high volume circuit and packet-switched networks,” according to the spending blueprint for fiscal 2013. The program was expected to cost $278 million in the current fiscal year, down nearly one-third from its peak of $394 million in 2011.
Since our 1919 founding, The Century Foundation has published work examining a broad array of issues including civil liberties, the media, campaign finance, and intelligence agency reform. This section provides a portal to many of those works.
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