The Untouchable John Brennan (Buzzfeed)

John Brennan CIA

How did the candidate of hope and change turn into the president of secret kill lists, drone strikes hitting civilians, and immunity for torturers? The answer may lie in his relationship with the CIA director, a career bureaucrat turned quiet architect of a morally murky national security policy who isn’t going to let a little thing like getting caught spying on the Senate bring him down.”

See the full article here.

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Background Briefing on the Report Required To Rescind Cuba’s State Sponsor of Terrorism Status (State)

Cuba

This transcript contains the full background briefing on American-Cuban Relations in regards to the pending review of Cuba’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism. Read the full briefing here.

Strengthening the Strategic Partnership of the United States and Afghanistan (State and FP)

Featured Image -- 917“During the historic visit to Washington of President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah from March 22 to 25, 2015, U.S. and Afghan officials have reviewed the achievements of the last 13 years and discussed the actions each country needs to take to ensure that the social, economic, security, and human rights gains made over that period are sustained and advanced. Secretary of State John Kerry — joined by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, and other senior U.S. officials — held strategic dialogue sessions at Camp David with President Ghani and the Afghan delegation on March 23 to discuss a broad range of bilateral issues.” (State)

U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday, March 24, that he would slow the rate at which U.S. troops leave Afghanistan over the next two years, but will stick with his plan of having almost all of them out of the country by 2017.

Under the new timeline, 9,800 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan through the end of this year. Obama’s previous plan had called for drawing down to 5,500 troops by the end of 2015. The new plan allows the United States to keep control of two key bases in Kandahar and Jalalabad, where the Taliban threat is close by. With more troops staying in the war zone, U.S. casualties could rise still higher. Since the start of the war, America’s longest conflict, the military has suffered 2,215 deaths and 20,000 wounded.” (FP)

Thus, the U.S. will continue to have troops in Afghanistan until at least 2017.

REPORT Yemen Was Washington’s Counterterrorism Success Story. Not Anymore. (Foreign Policy)

Featured Image -- 1089

“The sudden departure of U.S. special operations forces from Yemen marks a devastating blow to a counterterrorism campaign that Barack Obama’s administration had heralded as a success story, officials and experts say, as Washington suffers another intelligence reverse in the fight against the al Qaeda group that poses the greatest threat to Americans.”

Read the full article here by Sean Naylor.

Susan Rice on “The United States National Security Strategy” (Brookings)

“On February 6, the Project on International Order and Strategy hosted U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice for the launch of President Obama’s National Security Strategy, which outlines the president’s foreign policy vision and priorities for the American people and Congress—and communicates America’s priorities to its allies around the world.”

Original Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbQS8zp56NA

Combating Terrorism: Looking Over the Horizon (State Department)

“From Copenhagen to Cairo, from Paris to Peshawar, in Nigeria, Libya, and China, violent extremists have perpetrated bombings, kidnappings, and shootings this year. Violent extremism is spreading geographically and numerically, and every corner of the globe is at risk. No country or community is immune. Intelligence officials argue that terrorism trend lines are worse than at any other time in modern history; despite the tactical successes of our intelligence gathering, military force, and law enforcement efforts, terror networks are spreading and new threats are emerging around the world. Accordingly, the United States and its allies in the fight against terrorism must strengthen our comprehensive strategy to address the underlying drivers that fuel the appeal and spread of violent extremism. That is precisely why President Obama recently hosted the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism. Joining with leaders of foreign governments, international organizations, the private sector and civil society, President Obama and Secretary Kerry launched a global effort to address the enablers of violent extremism in order to prevent the emergence of new terror threats.”

See the full press release here.