James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, went before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday in a bit of a sour mood. He led off complaining that he had to speak publicly at all.
"An open hearing on intelligence matters," Clapper said, "is a contradiction in terms." And then, before getting to any international problems Clapper hit a domestic one: the spending cuts mandated under the sequestration package.
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush often made a provocative claim: He argued that the U.S. was fighting a war without a typical battlefield. In effect, he said, this war is everywhere.
"Our enemies make no distinction based on borders," he said in a 2007 speech in Michigan. "They view the world as a giant battlefield and will strike wherever they can."
Despite the controversy we just heard about, John Brennan was confirmed by the Senate, making him the next director of the CIA. Scott Shane covers national security and intelligence issues for the New York Times. We asked him what kind of CIA John Brennan will inherit.
John Kerry sets off Sunday on his first foreign trip as secretary of state, visiting Europe and the Middle East.
One dominant theme of the trip will be how to resolve the crisis in Syria, where an estimated 70,000 people have been killed over the past two years. Kerry is portraying his trip as a listening tour, and he expects to hear a lot about Syria.
He told reporters recently that he wants to talk with U.S. allies about how to persuade Bashar Assad to agree on peace talks that would end the Syrian leader's bloody rule in Syria.