Greg Myre

If you want to trace the history of the U.S.-Iran feud, you would have to go back decades. But the roots of the most recent escalation can be found in a series of developments over the past two years.

President Trump entered office expressing his strong opposition to the nuclear deal that Iran signed in 2015 with the U.S. and several other world powers. The agreement imposed strict limits on Iran's nuclear program for about a decade, and in return, the international community lifted sanctions that were squeezing Iran's economy.

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Iraq has been dealing with widespread protests for months, but these demonstrations have been directed at the country's weak, faltering government — and not the U.S.

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A newly released watchdog report on how the FBI carried out the Russia investigation offers something for everyone.

The report, the work of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, found that the FBI had ample evidence to open the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign and its links to Russia. For Democrats, that was long-awaited vindication.

Republicans seized on the report's sharp criticism of the FBI, which suffered from "serious performance failures" as it pursued surveillance warrants against one of Trump's campaign advisers, Carter Page.

Mike Lofgren is the very definition of a civil servant. He was a congressional staffer for 28 years, with most of that time spent crunching numbers on the Senate and House budget committees.

He's moderate and mild-mannered, saying, "I was on the Republican side my whole career. I wasn't a culture wars Republican, basically a fiscal conservative in the manner of say, [President Dwight] Eisenhower."

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President Trump offered an almost cinematic description of the U.S. military raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Here's Trump yesterday explaining how all of this unfolded in the White House Situation Room.

Raid Aftermath

Oct 27, 2019

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Amaryllis Fox was about to start her senior year in college when the Sept. 11 attacks hit in 2001. The next day, she drove from Washington to New York to see the smoldering rubble. Just a few years later, she was an undercover CIA officer meeting extremists.

"One of the things I think we all forget is how incredibly young so many of the intelligence officers really are," Fox said in an interview with NPR. Her new book, Life Undercover: Coming Of Age In The CIA, was published Tuesday.

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Right now, the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is testifying before the House intelligence committee. He's had some testy back-and-forth with committee Chairman Adam Schiff. Take a listen to that.

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Updated on Oct. 2 at 11:45 a.m. ET

In a July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, President Trump asked for an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden for their activities in Ukraine several years ago.

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When Edward Snowden landed at the Moscow airport in 2013, having just divulged valuable secrets about National Security Agency surveillance programs, he was immediately stopped by Russian authorities.

A smooth-talking Russian intelligence officer sat Snowden down in an airport lounge and informed him the U.S. government had canceled his passport while Snowden had been in the air. The Russian added, "Life for a person in your situation can be very difficult without friends who can help. Is there some information, perhaps, some small thing you could share with us?"

Nearly three decades after the Cold War ended between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, a new debate is stirring: Is the U.S. heading into a new Cold War, this time with China?

"The Chinese military has undergone a substantial program of modernization to the point now where they are a near-peer military in a number of military domains," Neil Wiley, the director of analysis at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in an interview with NPR.

When former defense secretary Jim Mattis is asked about his relationship with President Trump, he has an answer ready.

"I don't discuss sitting presidents," Mattis tells NPR in an interview. "I believe that you owe a period of quiet."

The head of the National Security Agency, Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, has a catchphrase: "persistent engagement."

This covers a broad spectrum of cyber activities at the nation's largest spy agency. But at its core, it means relentlessly tracking adversaries, and increasingly, taking offensive action against them.

"That's the idea of persistent engagement. This idea of enabling and acting," Nakasone recently told NPR. When he took over the agency last year, he said that rivals didn't fear the U.S. in the cyber realm, and he intended to change that.

Nearly two decades into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. suddenly appears to be nearing an agreement with the Taliban that could bring the remaining 14,000 U.S. troops home.

That's causing unease inside the Afghan government, which has been left on the sidelines as the U.S. and the Taliban have held multiple rounds of talks this year in the Gulf nation of Qatar. The latest round wrapped up last week without a deal, but with signs of progress.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, one of the last remaining survivors of President Trump's original national security team, will leave the administration on August 15, the president said in a tweet on Sunday.

The Defense Department wants more Americans to speak Chinese, and it provides millions of dollars to train students at U.S. universities.

China's government, through language centers known as Confucius Institutes, has been doing the same thing, for the same reasons, and at some of the same U.S. universities.

But a new law has forced these American universities to choose: They can take money from the Pentagon or from the Confucius Institute — but not both.

As a young government employee in 1975, Marti Peterson was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. She loved the social scene and it earned her a nickname.

"I was known as 'Party Marti' because I was out socializing with the Marine guards, with younger secretaries, the single, social life," Peterson said. "We did drink our share of Carlsberg beer."

Updated at 10:10 a.m. ET

John Walker Lindh, known as the "American Taliban" after his capture in Afghanistan in 2001, was released from prison on Thursday after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence, the Bureau of Prisons said.

Lindh received three years off for good behavior, though his probation terms include a host of restrictions: He needs permission to go on the Internet; he'll be closely monitored; he's required to receive counseling; and he's not allowed to travel.

For 40 years, the U.S. and Iran have been locked in an almost nonstop confrontation. In the latest escalation, the U.S. is demanding that other countries stop buying Iranian oil — the one product that keeps that country's economy afloat, if just barely.

These sanctions will further weaken Iran's already fragile economy and add to tensions in the region, but to what end?

To learn more, watch the video above.

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