Day: August 16, 2021

Background Briefing: August 16, 2021


Is What We are Seeing in Afghanistan an Intelligence Failure?

We begin with the U.S.’s ignominious exit from Afghanistan underway at the Kabul airport where 6,000 U.S. troops are protecting diplomats, contractors and Afghans who worked for the American military, hoping to airlifted out of the country to safety. Today President Biden warned the Taliban not to interfere with the evacuation but nevertheless the grim TV images are fueling criticism of Biden and we assess whether there has been an intelligence failure in predicting the sudden collapse of the Afghan army and government or whether the fault lies with Biden’s national security team. Joining us is Dr. Paul Pillar, the former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia at the CIA who is now Director of Graduate Studies at the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University. We assess the case Biden made to the American people today in which he made clear that after 20 years, no more Americans should die fighting for Afghanistan whose own military will not fight for their own country. We also look into whether Biden will be hurt politically for biting the bullet and doing what his predecessors failed to do as they kicked the can down the road and threw good money after bad while wasting precious lives on a lost cause in the graveyard of empires. 


Russia Worries the Taliban Will Export Their Religious Fundamentalist Revolution

Then we speak with Robert Baer, a veteran CIA officer and expert on the Middle East who is an intelligence and national security affairs analyst at CNN. He joins us to discuss how the Russians are afraid that the former Soviet states on their southern border are now vulnerable to the messianic influence of an Islamic regime that not only wants to create an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan, but wants to spread their religious fundamentalist revolution across the world.


Broadband in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is the Wish List of the Telecom Monopolies

Then finally we investigate one of the worst aspects of the recently-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill that the House will be taking up in September. Christopher Mitchell, the Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, joins us to discuss how the big Telecom monopolies spent $230 million lobbying to ensure that competition from municipal broadband was stripped out of the bill and that taxpayer money could then go to these same monopolies to expand rural broadband with the same crappy overpriced service they offer.