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Why the U.S. Does Not Pay Ransoms for American Hostages

The brutal murder of journalist James Foley has opened a fierce debate over whether ransoms should be paid to free kidnapped citizens. Here is the official US government view, argued by David S. Cohen, US Under Secretary for Terrorism and Finance Intelligence

Only the Beginning?

To understand why the NSA wants to look at your phone bills, check out the work of Valdis Krebs, an expert on "social-network analysis." By mapping the connections of Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar, two men that the CIA had suspected as Qaeda members back in 2000, Krebs established not only that they were dangerous--they had direct links to two people involved in the USS Cole bombing--but that someone named Muhammad Atta was at the center of their social web.Unfortunately Krebs did his work...

Burning the Furniture

Steve Miller, CEO of newly bankrupt U.S. car-parts maker Delphi Corp., has always known how to cut the tension in difficult situations. Last month, with Delphi in feverish (and ultimately fruitless) negotiations for a bailout from General Motors, Miller found himself sitting beside GM CEO Rick Wagoner at an executive confab in Washington.

BACK ON THE MEAN STREETS

It started as a straight drunk-driving stop. LAPD Officer Steve Garcia and his partner were patrolling South Los Angeles at 3:49 last Sunday morning when they spotted a maroon 1990 Toyota driving erratically.

The Battle Within

FBI agents don't like to go into mosques. The so-called right of sanctuary was drummed into young FBI agents during their training at Quantico: "You don't chase a thief into the cathedral." The message was reinforced over time by political correctness and the example of careers ruined by rule-breaking.

Entertainment Shorts

Suzan-Lori Parks is the Halle Berry of the theater, the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama in its 84 years. Fitting, perhaps, since her play "Topdog/Underdog"--which opened on Broadway last week, just as the Pulitzers were announced--is about the difficulty of overcoming the past. "Topdog" is a Cain and Abel story of two dueling brothers, only these brothers are named Lincoln and Booth, which means they've got all sorts of racial and historical baggage piled on top...

Another Odd Couple

YEARS AGO AT THE OFFICE WHERE I WORKED WE HAD A security guard who sat in the lobby venting his cultural disgust, keeping a fitful lookout on closed-circuit TV for those whose indisputably anarchic, if not downright scuzzy, attire provoked his suspicion, and, incidentally, letting real thief after thief walk out with office equipment.