Inside the Ring

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Military officials with access to the assessments said the insurgency’s difficulties include internal political divisions over negotiations and splits between leaders and fighters in ways the Islamist group did not face in the past.

As one senior official put it, “Clearly the enemy is in deep [trouble].”

The Taliban no longer control key provinces, such as Kandahar and Helmand, after U.S. and allied forces systematically routed their strongholds.

Insurgents in the remaining areas where they are active also were angered over the decision by senior Taliban leaders to engage in negotiations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai ‘s government in Kabul. These insurgents are opposing talks as an un-Islamic compromise.

Many senior leaders have left Afghanistan for safe havens in Pakistan and elsewhere, leaving most of the junior leaders and their followers to fend for themselves against better equipped U.S. and allied forces.


Intelligence activities by Russia, China and increasingly Iran pose significant threats to the United States, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, told Congress on Feb. 16.

“Russia and China are aggressive and successful purveyors of economic espionage against the United States,” Mr. Clapper wrote in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Iran’s intelligence operations against the United States, including cyber capabilities, have dramatically increased in recent years in depth and complexity.”

Together the three spy services “will remain the top threats to the United States in the coming years,” he said.

Army Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess Jr., the Defense Intelligence Agency director who testified with Mr. Clapper, said Chinese intelligence services use “a variety of methods to obtain U.S. military technology to advance their defense industries, global command-and-control, and strategic warfighting capabilities.”

“The Chinese continue to improve their technical [intelligence] capabilities, increasing the collection threat against the U.S.,” Gen. Burgess said.

“The Chinese also utilize their economic collection to improve their economic standing and to influence foreign policy.”

Foreign spies are constantly developing new methods and technology targeting U.S. national security and economic data, information and infrastructure, Mr. Clapper said.

“The changing, persistent, multifaceted nature of these activities makes them particularly difficult to counter,” he added.

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon ( He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. ...

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