The Obama administration and its critics separately hardened their national security positions this week.
The White House named UN Ambassador Susan Rice and former White House analyst Samantha Power to cabinet-level posts. Meanwhile, the Obama White House suffered embarassment from major revelations regarding its surveillance of the public, prosecutions of leakers, and its dubious regime-change strategies in the Mideast.
The most recent was the Thursday revelation by the Washington Post of Documents: U.S. intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program. The Post story illustrating how the federal government is secretly capturing consumer date from such sites as Google, Facebook, Apple, MSN, Skype, Yahoo! and YouTube followed a Guardian report that Verizon was secretly handing over the federal government data on tens of millions of international calls.
Regarding the administration's team, the president is “ushering out a cautious Washington insider and elevating two long-time proponents of a larger American role in preventing humanitarian crises and protecting human rights,” the Washington Post reported in National security team shuffle may signal more activist stance at White House. “The ideological shift signaled by the choices highlights a central dilemma for Obama as he seeks to make a mark on the world at a time of austerity — and war weariness — at home.”
Additionally this week, a Defense Department Inspector General's report revealed that former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta disclosed classified information that helped boost Zero Dark 30, a Hollywood movie favorable to the administration's messaging. In contrast to Panetta's misstep, the government is seeking draconian punishment for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning for leaks
Also, new information surfaced about the government's ongoing crackdown on the media and its sources.
In other news, Egypt convicted more than 40 defendants, including 16 Americans, of crimes for advocating Western-style democracy procedures. This follows an order by Russia last month expelling such groups. Another setback for the Obama foreign policy team this week was the Syrian government's defeat of rebel fighters backed by the United States in an important battle in a Qusayr, a small city near Lebanon's border.
These events are inter-related, often in ways difficult for the public to discern, as indicated below.