Jason Vest

Jason Vest is a Senior Correspondent for The American Prospect and a
contributor to the Boston Phoenix and The Nation, specializing in intelligence
national security affairs. He also holds an Ochberg Fellowship with the
University of Washington's Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. Recognized by
American Journalism Review in 2002 as an "Unsung Hero of Washington
Vest has previously done staff stints at the Washington Post, US News & World
and Village Voice. He covered the Eritrea-Ethiopia border war
(1999-2000), as a correspondent for The Scotsman, and was awarded a 1999 Fund
Investigative Journalism grant to examine both the war and media coverage.

Originally a reporter for alternative weeklies in Indiana, Vest has also
written for The Atlantic Monthly, Columbia Journalism Review, Mother Jones,
AlterNet and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, among others. His
work for
the Prospect in 2004 has been supported by grant awards from the Foundation
for Constitutional Goverment and the Ettinger Foundation. His book on national
security during the current Bush Administration will be published by Wiley &
Sons in 2005.

Recent Articles

Red State Army

In the context of the democratic primary, retired Gen. Wesley Clark's campaign seems less like Sherman's quick and decisive March to the Sea and more like Grant's shaky, protracted offensive against Vicksburg. Initially some were heralding the general's candidacy as the beginning of the end for an already-peaked former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) and an underwhelming Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). But Clark has proven less than prepared, leaving the media -- not Clark -- to define the candidate. He seems increasingly disingenuous, if not outright schizoid: a Democratic contender who had not been a registered as a Democrat; a self-proclaimed outsider with that quintessential token of insiderdom, a Washington lobbying contract; an acerbic critic of the Bush administration who, just over two years ago, lauded the architects of the new Pax Americana at, of all places, a Republican fund raiser; and a self-styled reformer who apparently violated campaign-finance laws by taking money for speeches (...

Plame Throwers

I can recall more than a few moments prior to George W. Bush's presidency that, though seemingly trivial at the time, have since taken on a certain prophetic quality. One such moment came during a July 2000 conversation I had in a European capital with a senior U.S. diplomat of some standing. Like many veterans of the U.S. Foreign Service, this diplomat had spent most of his career engaged in a delicate dance with CIA personnel, sometimes quite happy to be working with them, other times resenting their actions -- if not their mere presence. But he was, on the whole, favorably disposed toward the agency, having done a few things with its employees that he felt had actually contributed to making the world a better, safer place. While he wasn't sure whether the Clinton administration really understood how to use the CIA in the post-Cold War era, he was sure that the Bill Clinton and Co. had unnecessarily alienated many members of the intelligence community. And this, he said, was one of...

Shifting Sands

As images of the bombed United Nations headquarters in Baghdad appeared on television last week, my thoughts turned to a conversation I had with a very senior national-security official (a political appointee with no military experience, not a career bureaucrat) prior to the invasion of Iraq. He earnestly told me that after Saddam Hussein's fall, Americans would be welcomed in Iraq, and not with a fleeting shower of goodwill but with a "deluge" of "rose water and flowers" that would last in perpetuity. Ahmad Chalabi and American advisers would set up shop to oversee a transition spearheaded by scores of returning Iraqi exiles, who would transform Iraq into a profitable, oil-pumping society. After all, the official said, this wasn't Afghanistan, where there were lots of religious and tribal differences among the local populations. We wouldn't need to stay long, and we certainly wouldn't need the United Nations -- which, as far as this official and his compatriots were concerned, could...

Mitch Daniels: Due Diligence?

I n his 29 years as a maintenance worker for the Indianapolis Power and Light Company (IPALCO), James C. Gilmore had never been asked to do anything like it. But in late 2000 and early 2001, according to an affidavit filed with the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, he was ordered to remove "many carts full of accounting records, minutes of the Board of Directors of IPALCO, and other documents" to a large truck-borne shredder, which was rented from a company called Shred-Tech and parked in the alley behind IPALCO headquarters. IPALCO at the time was getting ready to merge with the AES Corporation, a Virginia-based global-utility behemoth, in a deal that IPALCO's managers and board of directors were touting to shareholders -- while rushing to dump their own stock before the merger took effect. In fact, the merger quickly turned into a financial disaster for IPALCO stockholders and for the company's workers, whose 401(k) plans were locked into a heavy investment in...

Help from the Hill

A s a rule, both the joint Chiefs of Staff and the Central Intelligence Agency's leadership prefer that Congress stay out of their affairs. Indeed, an ideal Congress for many denizens of this realm would be one that simply holds open the cash spigots while Langley and the Pentagon set their own agendas. That makes it particularly alarming to see that as the Bush administration lays its plans for Iraq, career military and intelligence officers are increasingly -- and desperately -- looking to Congress to help stave off what they fear will be a disaster. A number of military and intelligence hands worry that the administration's proactive strategy against Iraq will prove fatally shortsighted. Not only is Congress the body with the constitutional mandate to declare war, say advocates of congressional intervention, but the complexity and volatility of the region fully warrants a serious debate in the Capitol. "Congress ought to be having a wide-ranging policy debate," says one veteran CIA...