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Marc Ambinder

Marc Ambinder is senior Defense One contributor. A Los-Angeles-based writer who covers national security, Ambinder is also a contributing editor at The Atlantic, GQ, and writes The Compass blog for The Week. He is the author of "Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry," and is working on a history of Cold War nuclear strategy.
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Congress vs the President: Who Should Make the Calls on NSA?

October 29, 2013 Watching the latest episode of NSA: The Reckoning, off the C-SPAN live-stream, I found myself asking this question: Do members of Congress believe that it’s a problem, really, that the National Security Agency managed to tap the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2002? Or was the problem ...

Close the NSA's Reagan-Era Collection Loophole

September 19, 2013 There are several ways to report on anxiety we ought have about the documents that Edward Snowden leaked and the others that the intelligence community has protectively and proactively disclosed. You can constantly question the National Security Agency’s motivations, or assume, a priori, malevolent motivations and then turn your conclusions ...

Exclusive: NSA Loophole Keeps Congress Clueless on Foreign Intel Violations

August 16, 2013 The National Security Agency, exploiting an executive order loophole, does not give Congress detailed information about unlawful signals intelligence collection on United States citizens when those violations come from programs that focus exclusively on foreign intelligence collection outside the U.S., an intelligence official told Defense One on Friday. In an ...

What the NSA’s Massive Org Chart (Probably) Looks Like

August 14, 2013 Want to understand how an organism really works? Take a look at its plumbing. Figure out where the pipes fit together. That’s the approach I take to national security and that’s the spirit behind this look at the structure of one of the most important institutions in U.S. intelligence: the ...

Obama's Intel Workers Need New Policies for Secrets, not Snitches

July 25, 2013 The good news, I guess, for the government is that the secrecy system in the United States is not failing, Edward Snowden’s adventurism aside. The ship of state is and has always been leaky by design. It’s a kluge of policy choices, historical contingencies, technological change and shifting political and ...

Intel Wars: DIA, CIA and Flynn’s Battle to Consolidate Spying

July 15, 2013 While the National Security Agency fights for its secrecy, the Defense Department’s human spying organizations are fighting for their place in the new national security framework. Sequester pressure on the military intelligence budget, which totals $18.6 billion this year, and hunger from Congress for more oversight of human intelligence are ...

Officials: Navigation system failure probable cause of drone crash

December 9, 2011 On the day Iran's government televised footage of a captured American stealth Sentinel drone, U.S. officials and engineers here think it was a problem with the vehicle's navigation system that probably caused it to crash. Iranian state television on Thursday showed Iranian soldiers poking at the aircraft, tan in color ...

Drone was gathering intelligence when it went down in Iran, U.S. officials say

December 6, 2011 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The super-secret drone that Iran claims to have recovered was on a CIA "Focal Point" mission, gathering intelligence and likely crashed though it remains uncertain whether it was able to self-destruct, U.S. officials told National Journal on Tuesday. Controllers lost contact with the prized stealth unmanned aerial drone, the RQ-170 ...

Drone was gathering intelligence when it went down in Iran, U.S. officials say

December 6, 2011 The super-secret drone that Iran claims to have recovered was on a CIA "Focal Point" mission, gathering intelligence and likely crashed though it remains uncertain whether it was able to self-destruct, U.S. officials told National Journal on Tuesday. Controllers lost contact with the prized stealth unmanned aerial drone, the RQ-170 ...

Why Obama might veto defense bill: It would hurt the fight against terrorism

December 5, 2011 Whatever President Obama's legacy may be, he does not want to be seen as the commander in chief who turned the United States into the world's jailer of Muslims without charge. But it's not because he's soft on terrorism. Two administration officials confirmed Friday that the president isn't bluffing about ...