[Editor's Note: There was a deadly shooting in Las Vegas last night that local authorities say claimed at least 50 lives and injured at least 200. As of this report, police said the shooter has been killed, was believed to be a so-called lone wolf and there's no indication the attack was terror-related. Thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. To follow that story, Code and Dagger suggests visiting the websites for the Las Vegas Review-Journal or any of the local news stations, like ABC News' KTNV.]
Over the last few days some interesting stories in the national security / foreign policy space have been published, and Code and Dagger has compiled a short reading list for your Monday. If you think we're missing any others, reach out on Twitter at @CodeAndDagger or via email with CodeAndDagger@protonmail.com.
The Untold Story of Kim Jong-nam’s Assassination - By Doug Bock Clark, GQ Magazine - On an otherwise unremarkable morning in February, two young women did a curious thing: They separately walked up to a stranger in an airport in Malaysia and smeared some kind of substance on his face. He was dead within minutes. The man was North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's brother and the women, Malaysian officials say, were assassins. But in Doug Bock Clark's investigation for GQ, he traces the life of one of the women and makes a compelling case that she had been duped by a professional team of North Korean spies into participating in what she thought was a hidden-camera TV show. [Today the two women pleaded not guilty in a Malaysian court.]
How the Trump Team’s First Military Raid in Yemen Went Wrong - By Cynthia McFadden, William M. Arkin and Tim Euhlinger, NBC News - In his first days in office, Donald Trump signed off on a daring military raid in Yemen that went wrong almost from the beginning and claimed the life of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens. Trump made a moving and memorable tribute to Owens in the president's first address to Congress, but in a new report from NBC News, Owens' father said he was disgusted by the administration's attempts to dismiss any criticism of the raid as disrespectful to his son's memory. "Don't hide behind the death of my son to try and justify that this raid was a success," Bill Owens said. The report also includes new details about how the Trump administration reportedly made the decision to go ahead, the role then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn played and what exactly went wrong.
Spies, Lies and the Oligarch: Inside London’s Booming Secrets Industry - By Tom Burgis, Financial Times - A longform investigation by the Financial Times' Tom Burgis dives deep into the shadowy, legally dubious world of private intelligence firms operating mostly out of well-heeled London offices. Burgis uses the twisting case of a fugitive Kazakh oligarch as a case study in an attempt to understand a world in which, as he writes, "many firms have amassed expertise and tradecraft once monopolized by state agencies and put it at the service of tyrants, oligarchs and anyone else willing to pay."
What Went Wrong With France’s Deradicalization Program? - By Maddy Crowell, Defense One - Last September, in a sleepy town in France's Loire Valley, a handful of supposedly "radicalized" Islamist individuals showed up to take part in an experimental government program designed to deradicalize them. The center was shut down a few months later and declared a failure by the French media. Freelance writer Maddy Crowell went to France to investigate the center's downfall and to try to understand the "murky, unsettled science" of deradicalization.
[And since Code and Dagger is not above promoting itself on its own website...]
Exclusive: Former Ambassador to Chad 'Shocked' By Trump's New Travel Ban - By Lee Ferran, Code and Dagger - Two days after the White House announced a revised travel ban that included the central African nation of Chad on the list -- to the reported confusion of regional experts -- Code and Dagger managed to reach former U.S. Ambassador to Chad James Knight, who said he was as lost as everyone else. Knight, a career foreign service officer who served as America's top representative in Chad from 2013 to 2016, said he'd never known the nation to withhold information from the U.S., as the White House alleged in its announcement. "I was totally shocked by that. I don't understand the reasons for it... This ban doesn't seem to make any sense to me in terms of how strong a partner they are," Knight said.