17 June 2013

The Real Reason You're Mad at the NSA

Imagine the civil-military divide -- but much, much bigger.


"What's really going on here?" That's the question I typically ask students to kick-start a discussion about some aspect of American intelligence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where I teach a graduate course on the subject.
This same question might fairly be asked about the controversy dominating the news since the leak that revealed the intelligence community's highly classified electronic surveillance program. Why are we so fascinated with this case? Why are some Americans outraged at the government while others are outraged at the leaker? Why do so many of us have such firm and passionate views about all of this?
At one level, the answer is simple: Intelligence is a sexy subject, particularly in the post-9/11 era. And the surveillance program was a secret, so who wouldn't be interested? But this controversy taps into deeper cultural strains that go to the very heart of the intelligence community's role in America, and perhaps our maturation as a nation. The bottom line is that intelligence, as a profession, still does not sit comfortably in our polity. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, the essential qualities of good intelligence inevitably clash with the underlying values of an open, pluralistic, and free society such as ours. The effectiveness of our democracy depends on an informed citizenry; effective intelligence depends on withholding and protecting information deemed sensitive. As citizens, Americans cherish their privacy; intelligence officers, subject to frequent background checks, polygraphs, and intrusive financial disclosure, are accustomed to giving it up. The functioning of our system revolves around the rule of law; the functioning of intelligence, while based in American public law, relies on the willingness of its officers to "get chalk on their cleats" to quote former CIA Director Michael Hayden -- and to actually break the laws of other countries by secretly recruiting foreign nationals as agents. So as the curtain is pulled back on the NSA's surveillance program, many of us instinctively recoil -- and even some supporters wince a little. Meanwhile, prurient interest in the details skyrockets.

Domination of Pakistan by Radical Islamists

June 14, 2013
The Pakistani Radical Islamists (RIs) seem to have been the actual winners in the recently concluded Pakistan elections. The RIs, comprising the Pashtuns belonging to the Tehriq-e-Taliban Pakistan, their Punjabi and Pakistan based Kashmiri cohorts belonging to a big chunk of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and the Jamaat-ud Daw’ah, almost the entire Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Jaish-e-Mohammad and a number of other radical Islamic militant groups, swear allegiance to Deobandi/Wahabi/Salafi schools of Islam. They also identify with Al-Qaida’s radical Islamic philosophy of a global Islamic order through jihad. A recent illustration by Pakistani cartoonist, Sabir Nazar, on www.pakvotes.pk, succinctly sums up the ascendancy of the RIs in Pakistan’s current political discourse. The cartoon, while portraying “Old Pakistan” shows a Taliban gunman putting his AK-47 on the head of a Pakistani politician of ANP/PPP variety, who is standing somewhat bewildered but firm. The ‘New Pakistan’ is portrayed by the same Taliban with a grin on his face and his gun slung on the shoulder, as a politician, looking like Imran Khan, kneels down at his feet

Civil and military structures side lined by the Radical Islamists:

Between the years 2001 and 2012, the Pakistani RIs had effectively impeded the capability of the civilian organs of the state to take them on and effectively deal with them. They had also significantly eroded the Pakistan Army’s will and commitment to challenge and leash them, since the launching of Army’s operations in Swat in 2010.1 A Pakistani Army under the burden of its own Islamism and contradictions always had a confused approach to dealing with the RIs. 2 It wanted to put them down for their disruptive capabilities yet, it also had a nagging acceptance of their jihadist agenda due to Deobandi/Salafi orientation of a very large segment of its own rank and file, its jihadist approach to warfare and self-created perceptions of perpetual hostility with India. The RIs, particularly the Taliban, were also its tools to gain a ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan. 3
Even while commencing anti-militancy operations against the RIs in 2001 under US pressure, the Pakistan Army was always on the look-out for ways to extricate itself from that conflict. Initially it went after the foreign Al-Qaida cadres, leaving out the Pashtun RIs. 4 Then it fell on to such other strategy as using its non-Punjabi Shiite troops from the Balti dominated Northern Light Infantry (NLI). 5 However, as the operations against RIs expanded, more and more Punjabi Sunni troops were sucked into operations against Taliban, particularly as the Pashtun troops had to be kept out of it due to doubts about their reaction after some earlier large scale surrenders to the Islamist Pashtun groups. As a result, the Punjabi casualties began to mount.

Myanmar Opens to Business Opportunities, but is it sustainable?

 Shebonti Ray Dadwal

June 14, 2013
If the participation of 900 delegates – the largest to date – from around the world, representing governments, business, civil society and academia at the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Naypyidaw from June 5-7 was any indication, then Myanmar has successfully shown that the international community is ready to do business with it. Located strategically between two of the world’s largest economies, holding some of the richest energy and mineral resources and an abundance of cheap labour, Myanmar is theoretically every businessman’s dream. Since its democratic transition in 2011, countries and their companies have been racing to get a piece of the Burmese pie in order to have a first-mover advantage. Not surprisingly, Myanmar’s energy sector, has elicited the most attention. With reserves assessed between 7.8 trillion cubic feet (tcf), the government’s 2011 bidding round offered 18 onshore blocks, eight of which were awarded to foreign firms, while the January 2013 round, which put up 18 onshore and 30 offshore blocks on offer, have attracted significant interest from international oil companies, including the majors. Another round for 20 more by the end of 2013 has been announced.

However, till recently, Myanmar’s gas was sold only to Thailand, though from July 2013, China too will receive 6.5 tcf of gas for 30 years from its Rakhine blocks, jointly owned by Myanmar, South Korea’s Daewoo and India’s OVL and GAIL following the completion of a pipeline. But if its energy resources are to be the vehicle that will drive its economic prosperity, then Myanmar has to introduce and implement reforms in its energy sector across the board.

With no transparency, accountability or public disclosure of how the revenues accruing from the sale of energy were managed or used, the perception is that they were utilised to prop up the military rule or went into the personal coffers of the junta. For example, Myanmar receives around $1- $2 billion a year from its natural gas exports to Thailand, but these are not reflected in public accounts. As a result, the country remains extremely poor and ironically, suffers from chronic energy shortages. More than 70% of Myanmar’s 60 million people live in villages, with the agriculture sector, albeit down to 36% from 57% in 2001, making up the bulk of the country’s GDP.
Despite the huge gas reserves, the country has an installed generation capacity of 6,300 MW, with a per capita power consumption of 100 units.1 Only 26% of the population has access to electricity, and though it has more than adequate capacity to deal with peak loads, inadequate infrastructure and supply (from coal power plants and gas pipelines), load shedding of up to 500 MW is experienced. Moreover, although Myanmar produces 10.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent gas per year, an Accenture-ADB report says that all but 15% of it is sold to Thailand. Even the gas produced by the Daewoo consortium in the Rakhine coast has been sold to China.2 As a result, biomass accounts for 75% of primary energy supply, almost all of which is derived from fuel wood, followed by gas (10%) and oil (6%). The same is the case with hydropower. According to the Ministry of Electric Power, the country’s hydropower potential has been projected at more than 100,000 MW, but installed capacity is only 2,520 MW.3

China and India: Upshot of Energy Sourcing on Bilateral Relations

Harnit Kaur Kang
E-Mail- harnitkaur_kang@hotmail.com
As two large economic powers of Asia, India and China seek to continue, if not increase their developmental momentum. On the ecological front, international scientific consensus highlights the perils of climate change resulting from excessive deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.  All nation states and individuals are expected to play a part in reducing their carbon footprint. The devastating hurricane Sandy in USA (2012), the harsh winters in UK & Russia (2012) and cyclone Mahasen in Bangladesh (2013) are recent meteorological indicators, of what may increase in frequency and intensity in the coming decades. Given the mutual benefits inherent in keeping climate change at bay, it is only natural that Beijing and New Delhi would undertake multi-layered bilateral exchanges on clean energy alternatives.
Nevertheless, under the construct of international political economy (IPE), matters are somewhat nuanced. Herein, the urgency pertains not only to ways and means of tackling climate change but also the worldwide jockeying for energy resources. As global warming and resource competition escalate, Beijing and New Delhi are likely to find themselves yoked together in both competition and collaboration. The latter is indicated through bilateral R&D partnerships and greater use of the BRICS forum for a joint global stance. The competition may manifest in the overlapping hunting grounds of West Asia and possibly the much contested South China Sea (SCS).
Presently, the South Asia sub-continent is in a state of political and economic flux. Having made significant inroads into India’s peripheral neighbourhood, China’s economic strides are also raising strategic concerns. Gilgit-Baltistan, under Pakistan’s occupation, is notable for its riches in uranium among a multiplicity of minerals and metals. Today, Chinese companies monopolise the region’s mining industry, possibly to the disadvantage of the local populace. Senge Hasnan Sering alleges that, “President Asif Zardari issued the Empowerment and Self Governance Ordinance of Gilgit-Baltistan to provide a cover to Chinese imperialistic goals[i].”
For India, the transition heralds an economic and political encirclement on its northern borders, to the mutual benefit of both China and Pakistan. Arguably, China’s 19 km foray into neighbouring Ladakh’s Indian Territory indicates a boldness resultant of it securing the better part of the natural resource market in Gilgit-Baltistan and Afghanistan.

"A Smarter Way to Deal with China"

June 12, 2013
Author: Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor
Belfer Center Programs or ProjectsInternational Security

The right U.S. strategy includes 'power with,' not just 'power over.'

China will almost certainly pass the United States in the total size of its economy within a decade or so. But if one looks also at military and "soft power" resources, the U.S. is likely to remain more powerful than China for at least the next few decades. Does it matter?"A Smarter Way to Deal with China"
President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China take questions from the press after their bilateral meeting, June 7, 2013
White House Photo

When nations worry too much about power transitions, their leaders may overreact or follow strategies that are dangerous. As Thucydides described it, the Peloponnesian War — in which the Greek city-state system tore itself apart — was caused by the rise in the power of Athens and the fear that created in Sparta. Similarly, World War I, which destroyed the centrality of the European state system in the world, is often said to have been caused by the rise in power of Germany and the fear that created in Britain. (Though the causes of both wars were also much more complex.)
Some analysts predict that a similar scenario will be the story of power in the 21st century: The rise of China will create fear in the U.S., which will lead to a great conflict. But that is bad history. By 1900, Germany had already passed Britain in industrial strength. In other words, the United States has more time to deal with China's growing power than Britain had to deal with Germany's, and the U.S. does not have to be as fearful. If it were to be too fearful, both sides might overreact. The Chinese, thinking America was in decline, would push too hard, and Americans, worrying about the rise of China, would go too far.
The best way to avoid that is by having a very clear-eyed view of all dimensions of power and how they are changing. The recent Sunnylands summit between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping was a step in this direction.
Another reason it is important not to be too fearful is the diffusion of power. China and the United States — as well as Europe, Japan and other nations — will be facing new transnational challenges on issues such as climate change, terrorism, cyber security and pandemics. These issues, which will only become more urgent, will require cooperation, including help in many cases from nongovernmental agencies
Obama's 2010 National Security Strategy referred to the fact that the U.S. has to think of power as positive-sum, not just zero-sum. In other words, there may be times when it is good for the United States (and the world) if Chinese power increases.
Take, for example, China's power to control and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the one area where China is undoubtedly a superpower. We should be eager to see China increase its capacities here, including the development of its shale gas reserves. This is a win-win.
In meeting many of the new transnational challenges, the U.S. has to get away from thinking just about power over others and think about power with others. We do not want to become so fearful that we are not able to find ways to cooperate with China.
World politics today is different from that of the last two centuries. It is now like a three-dimensional chess game in which interstate military power is highly concentrated in the United States, interstate economic power is distributed in a multipolar manner and power over transnational issues such as climate change, terrorism and pandemics is highly diffused. The structure of power is not unipolar, multipolar or chaotic; it is all three at the same time. Thus, a smart strategy must handle different distributions of power in different domains and understand the trade-offs among them.
It makes no more sense to see the world through a purely realist lens — that focuses only on the top chessboard and predicts conflict with China — than it does to see through a liberal lens that looks primarily at a single board and predicts only cooperation. In a tri-level game, a player who focuses on only one board is bound to lose in the long run. Fortunately, China and the United States have more to gain from the cooperation dimension of their relationship than from the conflict one. Both just need to recognize that.
Joseph S. Nye Jr. is a professor at Harvard University and the author, most recently, of "Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era."

For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.
Full text of this publication is available at: 

A River called Ritwik

Alaka Sahani 

Ritwik GhatakRitwik Ghatak

Ritwik Ghatak's films stand out for their stark depictions of social and cultural displacement. As a Bengali movie inspired by his life releases this week, we piece together the portrait of an eccentric auteur and his struggle for acceptance

On the morning of February 7, 1976, when Calcutta woke up to the news of Ritwik Ghatak's untimely death the previous night, stunned citizens poured out onto the streets. Barely three months ago, the auteur had turned 50. When the funeral procession started from the Presidency General Hospital in the afternoon, thousands singing Ghatak's favourite songs, trailed the vehicle that carried his body to the burning ghat in Keoratala. In an essay titled The Genius that was Ritwik Ghatak, the late theatre artiste Safdar Hashmi recorded the outpouring of grief in what he called "a unique funeral of a unique man".

Thirty-seven years later and 60 years since he made his first movie Nagarik (1952), Ghatak remains one of the most underplayed cinematic legends of India. He was a flawed genius — erratic, eccentric, and impulsive to the point of being self-destructive. "Ghatak was an anarchist. Yet, he remains the most authentic voice in Indian cinema. Despite his lack of formal grammar in moviemaking, his works remain highly relevant today," says Nabarun Bhattacharya, Sahitya Akademi award-winning Bengali author. Bhattacharya is also the son of Ghatak's close associate Bijon Bhattacharya and writer Mahasweta Devi, the filmmaker's niece.
Ghatak made eight features and 10 documentary films. Three of his full-length films were released after his death. This includes his first film Nagarik (1952) which he made at 27 — nearly three years before Satyajit Ray made his first film Pather Panchali, which ushered in a new era in Indian cinema. Nagarik, the story of a young man in search of a job in post-war Kolkata and his gradual degradation, is as powerful a movie, but it never released in its time, robbing Ghatak of a chance to pioneer the movement for alternate cinema. The print of the film, which was apparently lost, was restored and released around the same time as Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (1974). By the time these films reached theatres, Ghatak was no more. Even his Titas Ekti Nadir Naam (1973), which was produced by Habibur Rahman Khan of Bangladesh, was shown in India after his death. Prior to this, Subarnarekha (made in 1962), one of his most celebrated films, too had to wait for three years for release.

While alcoholism and tuberculosis hastened his death, not being able to show his movies broke his heart. "This great filmmaker was neglected all through his life by bourgeoise critics, hounded by the establishment and crushed by those who controlled the film industry," wrote Hashmi, terming the censure as a "long physical suppression" of Ghatak's work.
"Ritwik suffered a lot. His main anguish was not being able to show his films to the public," says Surama Ghatak, his 86-year-old wife, who lives in Kolkata's Chetla. Apart from delayed releases, several projects that he started, were left incomplete, mainly due to lack of funds or differences with producers. Feature films, Bedeni, Bagalar Banga Darshan and Ronger Golam, and documentaries on sculptor Ramkinkar Baij and Indira Gandhi are some such instances. Bagalar... and the documentary on Baij were completed by his son Ritaban later on. His refusal to acquiesce to market forces and his inability to be diplomatic worked against him. "An arrogantly committed and forthright man, he had alienated many people by his strong sense of conviction and feeling," wrote filmmaker Kumar Shahani in a 1970 essay on Ghatak. Later, in another essay in 1981, he wrote, "Ghatak's cinematography belonged to the world".

Ironically, the filmmaker, whose long-drawn struggle to complete movies and exhibit them, made a return of sorts to theatres in Bengal this Friday. Through Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star), a Bengali movie written and directed by Kamaleswar Mukherjee, there is an attempt to relive his life and philosophy on the big screen. The movie uses the same title as that of Ghatak's masterpiece made in 1960. A story of a migrant Bangladeshi family in West Bengal, it had Supriya Choudhury as the sacrificing Nita, who toils for her family's comfort and dies of tuberculosis. As described by her on-screen lover, she remains "the star hidden by clouds".

The new Meghe Dhaka Tara, featuring Saswata Chatterjee (now famous as Bob Biswas of Sujoy Ghosh's Kahaani) as Neelakantha Bagchi — named after the lead character of Jukti Takko Ar Gappo, Ghatak's last completed film — shies away from calling it a biopic. "In 1969, Ghatak was sent to the asylum in Gobra. There, he wrote and directed a play in which the inmates of the asylum acted. My movie opens with that and travels back and forth," says Mukherjee, who confesses to being intrigued by Ghatak's personality. "He was a non-conformist and an erratic genius. My film, though based on him, is partly fictionalised," he says. The film with subtitles is slated to have a pan-India release on June 28.

Mukherjee's unit shot the film in West Bengal's Purulia in May 2012. To prepare for the role, Chatterjee watched Jukti Takko Ar Gappo in which Ghatak had cast himself as Neelakantha Bagchi. Reed-thin Ghatak, clad in a loose kurta-pyjama, with unkempt salt-and-pepper mop, thick-rimmed glasses and a bottle of country liquor in hand, acted in this movie — his most autobiographical film as well as a commentary on the contemporary social and moral degeneration. For Chatterjee, playing the Ghatak-inspired character required deep understanding of the maverick filmmaker. "It was a difficult role. I had to study his mannerisms and analyse them," says the actor, who says he prepared for the part for months. By the time, he finished shooting and dubbing, his wife was pointing out the Ghatak mannerisms he had imbibed during the shoot.
Bhattachaya was young when he accompanied his father to Ghatak's sets and outdoor shoots. Yet, he retains an image of Ghatak "consumed by a divine passion for cinema". "He was adept at every aspect of moviemaking. He was a brilliant cinematographer and had a great sense of music. He used to play the flute," says Bhattachaya, who was introduced to western music by Ghatak with Night on Bald Mountain, a composition by Russian Modest Mussorgsky. Ghatak even tried to master the sarod under the tutelage of Ustad Bahadur Khan.
Kolkata-based filmmaker Arin Paul, who has been researching Ghatak for three years, recounts cinematographer Ramananda Sengupta's experience with Ghatak. While shooting Nagarik, Sengupta followed Ghatak's instructions and frames. When showered with compliments for its wonderful low-angle shots, he had Ghatak to thank for them.

Yet, what set Ghatak apart at a time when Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen were producing great works in Indian parallel cinema is his use of melodrama. That was, perhaps his biggest takeaway from theatre. The penultimate scene in Meghe Dhaka Tara, where Nita tells her brother: "Dada, ami bachte chai (I want to live)", shows his mastery over melodrama. For this, however, he had forbidden Choudhury from shedding tears. Instead, he had asked her to cry out loud.

Throughout his film career, Ghatak struggled to find financiers, equipment and other support. In a documentary on the filmmaker, actor Anil Chatterjee, who played Sankar in Meghe Dhaka Tara, recalled that while filming the song sequences featuring him, they did not have a playback machine. "Vocalist AT Kannan had sung the film's classical songs. Since lip-syncing was a challenge without the machine, an IPTA artiste used to sing from a distance and I used to follow him to perfect the lip movement," he said. But then, such innovations, he said, were common practice on Ghatak's sets.

Today, Ghatak is feted internationally — his films are being screened at film festivals and studied as expositions of his time. Author Rinki Roy Bhattacharya, daughter of filmmaker Bimal Roy, says, "He is not forgotten, especially abroad." In 1987, during what could be Titas Ekti Nadir Naam's first international screening at a festival in Italy, she did a live translation of its dialogues in English. "The audience response to the movie was rousing," she says. This, perhaps, validates Ghatak's own prophecy. "In spite of setbacks, my father was always optimistic. A few days before his death, he consoled me saying that his films were going to be appreciated, but after his death," says his daughter Samhita, who has recently published a book on him called Ritwik Ekti Nadir Naam (A River Called Ritwik).

Filmmaking was not Ghatak's initial choice as a career. By his own admission, he "strayed into films down a zigzag path". In an interview, he once said that his father wanted him to be an income-tax officer. He got the job but quit to join the Communist Party of India (CPI). He also wrote a cultural thesis called On the Cultural Front, which talked about mobilising the masses through art and theatre, and submitted this to the party in 1954. The then CPI leadership did not agree with his proposed policy and it languished till 1993.
Before he found his calling in movies, he tried his hand at writing poetry and short stories. When he joined the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) and discovered theatre, he had an epiphany. This is where he met a number of his later associates, including his wife. After a very active stint with IPTA — when he handled all aspects of stagecraft including lighting, acting, writing and direction — he switched to cinema. The medium, he felt, would "best convey the reality around him", enabling him to reach out to a large audience. His desire to tell his stories to a wider viewership was so overwhelming that once television came into the scene, he wanted to "kick cinema out and turn to TV".

For Ghatak, cinema was an extension of his personality. He was born in Dhaka in 1925 and moved to Kolkata when he was 19. Uprooted from his birth country, he always yearned for it. "His personal trauma of being a refugee and the struggle of other refugees from Bangladesh, who migrated during the famine in 1943, the partition of Bengal in 1947 and the War of Liberation in 1971 have been the subject of most his movies," says Sudipto Basu, a documentary filmmaker who assisted Ghatak for nearly a decade. Known as Ghatak's refugee trilogy, Meghe Dhaka Tara, Komal Gandhar (1961) and Subarnarekha, remain moving images of human struggle. He returned to Bangladesh many years later to make Titas Ekti Nadir Naam.
The story of Ghatak's troubled legacy revolves around alcoholism. This was also speculated to be the reason behind his wife leaving Kolkata and taking up a job at a school in Birbhum. Initially a teetotaller, he started drinking an occasional beer while making Ajantrik. "When Komal Gandhar (considered to be a requiem for IPTA days) failed to make a mark at the box-office, he started drinking more frequently. Initially, I did not realise it. Soon, he started consuming country liquor," says Surama. He also used to smoke copious beedis. At his Bhawanipur residence, there used to be a pot filled with stubbed beedis, remembers Basu. "He used to turn up slovenly and drunk at our house in Bombay. I used to be scared of him," remembers Roy Bhattacharya.
During his lifetime, the biggest validation of his genius came from his students at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. There he taught direction between 1962-67 and set the curriculum. He even served at its vice-principal for two years. "Ritwik's students adored him. His lifestyle was bad but his teaching style had a strong appeal on them," says Roy Bhattacharya. According to PK Nair, former director of National Film Archives of India (NFAI), what made him popular was his non-regimented approach to teaching. "He once woke up students at 4 am and took them to the Shantaram pond on the campus to watch the sun rise and study light," Nair remembers. Some of his famous students were parallel filmmakers Kumar Shahani, Mani Kaul, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and the Kerala-based John Abraham.

At FTII, he was surrounded by students most of the day. Ghatak used to regularly conduct his classes under a tree on the campus, known as the Wisdom Tree. "He held discussions and debates with them after watching movies at 6 pm and 9 pm. I used to choose the films for these evening screenings," says Nair, who used to share a flat with him then. In fact, Shahani once said, "In a sense, it was through the adulation of the young that Ghatak and the country rediscovered his work. I remember the unusual childlike incredulity, his helplessness for loving approbation when the FTII first saw and applauded Komal Gandhar."
Though most of Ghatak's movies are dark, he made a delicious deviation with Bimal Roy's Madhumati (1958), for which he co-wrote the script. It was a story of reincarnation peppered with murder, suspense and supernatural elements. "He did not have much faith in its success. During a break from shooting, he apparently joked that 'this will cause the death of a capitalist filmmaker' referring to my father," says Roy Bhattacharya. The film was a huge hit and its story has been copied several times in Bollywood over the years. He also wrote the script for Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Musafir (1957). For some months, he worked at Filmistan in Bombay for Rs 300 a month and later, even assisted Roy.

But the glamour of Bombay could not hold him back. Kolkata brought out his cinematic best, even if they were stories of the break-down of moral values. He reacted passionately to this, remaining one of Indian cinema's most authentic and incisive social commentators.


At G-8 meet, the big test for U.S.-Russia relations

Opinion » Op-Ed

Published: June 17, 2013 

Vladimir Radyuhin

In their search for a constructive partnership, Washington and Moscow will have to overcome differences on the global missile shield issue and Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet U.S. President Barack Obama on the margins of the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland for their first bilateral since Mr. Obama embarked on his second term six months ago.
The meeting may be crucial in deciding whether they can build a constructive partnership after the much-vaunted “reset” launched when Mr. Obama entered the White House in 2009 ran aground towards the end of his first term.
Moscow struck a hard tone on U.S. criticism of its crackdown on the opposition after Mr. Putin reclaimed presidency in May 2012; relations between the two countries dipped to a low point at the turn of the year when they adopted legislation penalising each other for alleged human rights abuses.

Missile defence
In the past few months, Moscow and Washington have since sought to rebuild ties focussing on strategic issues. Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin have recently exchanged confidential letters formulating their proposals for enhancing bilateral cooperation.
Experts have identified two key issues that may help revive the spirit of the “reset.” One is U.S. plans for a global missile shield, which remains a sticking point in bilateral ties.
“If we find common language [on missile defence], we could speak of a beginning of new positive dynamics in U.S.-Russian relations,” said Alexei Pushkov, head of international affairs at the State Duma, lower house of the Russian Parliament.
Two years ago, Mr. Obama told then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have “greater flexibility” on issues of discord with Russia, “particularly missile defence,” after winning a second term ticket.
Following Mr. Obama’s re-election, the Pentagon announced a shift in its missile defence plans from Europe to Asia that would involve scrapping deployment of more powerful missile interceptors near Russia’s borders from 2018. Mr. Obama reportedly also offered to give Moscow political assurances that the U.S. missile defence would not target Russia. The pledge would come in the form of an “executive agreement,” which does not require congressional approval.
The Kremlin however rejected the offer reiterating its demand for legally binding security guarantees.
“Russia’s position [on missile defence] differs in many respects from the U.S. vision,” said Yuri Ushakov, Mr. Putin’s foreign policy aide. “I do not think agreement can be reached on the missile defence issue in Lough Erne.”

Defenders of NSA surveillance omit most of Mumbai plotter’s story


Published: June 17, 2013  
    Sebastian Rotella
TERROR TRAIL: Headley’s case shows an alarming litany of breakdowns
in the U.S. counterterror system that allowed him to play a central
role in 26/11.
AP TERROR TRAIL: Headley’s case shows an alarming litany of breakdowns in the U.S. counterterror system that allowed him to play a central role in 26/11.

Officials say National Security Agency intercepts stopped David Coleman Headley’s planned attack in Denmark, but sources say a tip from the British led to his capture after the U.S. failed for years to connect multiple reports of terror ties

Defending a vast program to sweep up phone and Internet data under antiterror laws, senior U.S. officials in recent days have cited the case of David Coleman Headley, a key plotter in the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said a data collection program by the National Security Agency helped stop an attack on a Danish newspaper for which Headley did surveillance. And Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the Senate intelligence chairwoman, also called Headley's capture a success.
But a closer examination of the case, drawn from extensive reporting by ProPublica, shows that the government surveillance only caught up with Headley after the U.S. had been tipped by British intelligence. And even that victory came after seven years in which U.S. intelligence failed to stop Headley as he roamed the globe on missions for Islamic terror networks and Pakistan's spy agency.
Supporters of the sweeping U.S. surveillance effort say it’s needed to build a haystack of information in which to find a needle that will stop a terrorist. In Headley’s case, however, it appears the U.S. was handed the needle first — and then deployed surveillance that led to the arrest and prosecution of Headley and other plotters.
Failure to connect
As ProPublica has previously documented, Headley’s case shows an alarming litany of breakdowns in the U.S. counterterror system that allowed him to play a central role in the massacre of 166 people in Mumbai, among them six Americans.
A mysterious Pakistani-American businessman and ex-drug informant, Headley avoided arrest despite a half dozen warnings to federal agents about extremist activities from his family and associates in different locales. If those leads from human sources had been investigated more aggressively, authorities could have prevented the Mumbai attacks with little need for high-tech resources, critics say.
“The failure here is the failure to connect systems,” said a U.S. law enforcement official who worked on the case but is not cleared to discuss it publicly. “Everybody had information in their silos, and they didn’t share across the silos. Headley in my mind is not a successful interdiction of a terrorist. It’s not a great example of how the system should work.”
Officials from Clapper’s office reiterated last week that he was referring to the prevention of Headley’s follow-up role in a Mumbai-style attack against Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten newspaper, a prime target because it published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that many Muslims found offensive. To that extent, Clapper’s comment shed a bit of new light on this aspect of a labyrinthine case.
Separately last week, NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander told a Senate committee that surveillance conducted by his agency helped disrupt “dozens” of attacks aimed at the U.S. and elsewhere. According to The Washington Post, Alexander cited the Headley case and promised to make more information public about the success of the NSA’s phone surveillance program, which captures “metadata” such as number, time and location of but not the content of calls.
In January, a federal judge in Chicago imposed a 35-year prison sentence on Headley, 51, for his role in Mumbai and the foiled newspaper plot. He got a reduced sentence because he testified at the federal trial in Chicago of his accomplice, Tahawurr Rana, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Headley confessed to doing undercover surveillance in Mumbai for the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). U.S. officials also charged a major in the ISI with serving as Headley’s handler before the attack in November 2008. Pakistan denies involvement.