Category Archives: articles

Nada Bakos: How Zarqawi Went From “Thug” To ISIS Founder

From PBS FRONTLINE, THE SECRET HISTORY OF ISIS   What if the rise of ISIS could have been prevented — with just one airstrike? That’s a question that Nada Bakos, a former CIA analyst, has had to grapple with ever since the terror group’s brutal rise to power. In the run-up to the U.S. invasion of […]
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Female interruptors on Iraq

Originally posted on fp interrupted:
OK, time to interrupt the Men-Talk-War fest. We’ve compiled a working list of female interruptors who should be on your radar for a wider, fuller conversation on Iraq: Emma Sky: Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute, where she lectures on Iraq and Middle East Politics Meghan O’Sullivan: Former deputy national security advisor…

PSMag: The Changing War on Terror

Is the United States safe enough? That is the fundamental question being asked by the public, policymakers, and members of the Obama Administration after the Boston bombing. What shape is al Qaeda in now and how does it affect those of us living in the United States? While working at the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) […]
Read More » Humility Now!

by Nada Bakos In a Washington Post column published yesterday, “What the Iraq war taught me about Syria,” Jackson Diehl takes on the criticism of hawks like himself who have been pilloried for supporting intervention in Syria even though the U.S. intervention in Iraq, which they supported, turned out so poorly. But, he writes, Syria is not […]
Read More » I Tried to Make the Intelligence Behind the Iraq War Less Bogus

Ten years ago this week, the U.S. invaded Iraq, citing intelligence that turned out to be bogus. I had to work on some of it — and I also had to work on keeping the really, really terrible versions of it out of our analysis. Specifically, I was a CIA analyst working in the Counterterrorism Center in […]
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Besides Torture, What Else Did ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Get Wrong?

(NYTimes) In the controversy over “Zero Dark Thirty’s” stance on torture, earlier questions have been pushed aside. But in Pacific Standard magazine, Nada Bakos, a former C.I.A. operative, investigates the accuracy of the Kathryn Bigelow film on other counts. First, Ms. Bakos, a former targeting officer, just like Jessica Chastain’s character, Maya, in “Zero Dark Thirty,” notes that were […]
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How True is Zero Dark Thirty?

( When Pacific Standard called me to ask if I would write about Zero Dark Thirty, I still had not decided whether I wanted to see it. I was leaning toward no. People who work in intelligence don’t generally see movies about it. You can enjoy them only once you’ve been out of the game for a while, […]
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Terrorist group fills power vacuum among Syria rebels

(CNN) — In the midst of the struggle against Bashar al-Assad’s government stands Jabhat al-Nusra, recently designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization. A new report by the Quilliam Foundation in London says the organization is the most effective arm of the Syrian insurgency and now fields about 5,000 fighters against the Assad regime. Practically speaking, […]
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Spyocrats on

(Foreign Policy) The firestorm surrounding the story that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told on Sunday morning talk shows five days after the attack on the American diplomatic facility in Benghazi has drawn wildly different reactions around Washington. Bad data? Innocent mistake? Political deception? From the president’s staunch defense of Rice to John McCain’s repeated attacks, […]
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My interview with Women Under Siege – How one (female) CIA operative would fix our wars

Following combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has experienced firsthand the challenge of rebuilding a nation’s economic and societal pillars of security.  Without an international effort to stem sexualized violence as a weapon used by some during a conflict, the reconstruction phase is likely to be both more costly and time-consuming; effectively […]
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Attack in Libya Represents Subtle But Meaningful Shift in Threat to American Interests

HuffPost – The recent attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi likely represents a subtle but meaningful shift in the extremist threat to American interests: the catastrophic attacks on American soil at the start of this century are likely to be much less common than the attacks abroad that we witnessed in the 1990s. A […]
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Spy Moms Unite (CNN)

by Suzanne Kelly  CNN National Security Correspondent Nada Bakos used to go work with a Glock strapped to her thigh. The former targeting officer for the CIA started her intelligence career as an analyst in 2000. But then September 11 happened. “Everybody’s life changed,” said Nada Bakos, who, like many other women who were serving […]
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