Edward Snowden, the Booz Allen Hamilton contractor who leaked the details of top secret National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs could have tried to remain anonymous and avoid the consequences of his actions. That he chose not to, instead recording a lengthy interview explaining his motives and worldview, is remarkable for a modern-day leaker. While his supporters complain that the subsequent focus on Snowden has directed attention away from his leaks, his decisions—and his moral calculus—are actually central to the public debate that’s erupted.
Last week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus hosted an ad hoc hearing on the implications of U.S. drone policy. It was a follow-up of sorts to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in April examining the counterterrorism implications of drone strikes.
Thursday night, the FBI released photographs of two suspects wanted in connection with Monday’s bombing of the Boston Marathon. Shortly afterward, Boston police identified two men suspected of the attack, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Over the course of several chaotic early morning hours, a violent chase ensued. Tamerlan died in a shootout with police and as of this writing, Dzhokhar remains at large.
President Barack Obama marked a dramatic change in the war in Afghanistan in a major speech Wednesday night. In broad strokes, he laid out the framework for how to wind down the war: by declaring victory and transitioning control to the Afghans in the context of an Afghan-led political reconciliation with the insurgency. "We are meeting our goals," he declared, and -- in a surprising twist -- endorsed a political reconciliation with the Taliban for the first time.
However, what President Obama did not say in his speech is almost as significant as what he did say.
President Barack Obama began his term defining his foreign policy very simply: Tone down the rhetoric of President George W. Bush, focus on humanitarian issues, and reduce American militarism. Analysts, commentators, and pundits have tried to codify this general approach into an Obama doctrine, a set of coherent ideas that define and explain the president's policies. Two years later, however, it's difficult to say what, exactly, Obama's doctrine actually is. It is even more difficult to see a departure from President Bush's foreign policy. None of this changes with Osama bin Laden's rather spectacular death in his mansion in Pakistan.