Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Closing Guantanamo?

Author: Jonathan Masters

President Obama vowed in January 2009 to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Two years later, the White House continues to face challenges to that promise, leaving critics to suggest the facility will remain open for the foreseeable future.

See more in Terrorism; United States; International Law

Author: Toni Johnson

A decade after 9/11, U.S. Muslims grapple with their place in American society in the face of concerns about homegrown terrorism and questions by non-Muslims over the threat they might pose.

See more in Religion; United States

The Debate Over Generic-Drug Trade

Author: Toni Johnson

The global drug industry has fought to prevent developing nations from making low-cost, generic versions of drugs under patent, but the demand for such alternatives is could rise with increasing healthcare costs and growing incidence of chronic disease.

See more in Drug Trafficking and Control; United States

Confronting the Cyber Threat

Author: Jonathan Masters

Foreign governments, non-state actors, and criminal networks are targeting the digital networks of the United States with increasing frequency and sophistication. U.S. cybersecurity has made progress, but relies heavily on the private sector to secure infrastructure critical to national security.

See more in United States; Cybersecurity; Infrastructure

Author: Toni Johnson

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill spotlights the growth of deepwater drilling and the challenges of balancing strong environmental regulation with efforts to expand U.S. domestic oil production.

See more in United States; Oil

The Debate Over Airport Security

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

New screening measures at U.S. airports are being called overly intrusive by some passengers and civil rights groups. National security experts advise using a system that relies more on intelligence, behavioral profiling, and empowering passengers.

See more in United States; Border and Port Security