Ken Silverstein

Ken Silverstein is the Washington Editor for Harper's Magazine and a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of Private Warriors, and most recently, The Radioactive Boy Scout: The Frightening True Story of a Whiz Kid and His Homemade Nuclear Reactor.

Recent Articles

No War for Oil!

T he war in Afghanistan is a sham. The Bush administration had advance knowledge of the September 11 attacks but took no action, using the assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as an excuse to topple the Taliban regime and legitimize the takeover of Afghanistan. Well-placed government insiders, knowing of the impending attacks, made fortunes by betting on a huge fall in airline stocks. The war is not about terrorism but about America's desire to control energy in Central Asia and promote corporate plans to plunder the region's reserves. The chief U.S. concern all along has been to help Unocal Corporation build a pipeline across Afghanistan, which would carry natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan. By now all of this is obvious -- that is, it's obvious if you get your information from the Internet or from certain far-right or left-wing circles, where conspiracy theories about the war run rampant. A classic example was a story by Patrick Martin on Rense.com, a Web site...

Despots R Us

I n 1934 the German Dye Trust retained public-relations pioneer Ivy Lee for $25,000 a year, ostensibly to promote the company's image in the United States. Lee's true client, though, was Adolf Hitler's regime, and his aim was to favorably influence American public opinion of the Third Reich. As part of his work, Lee produced a report suggesting that German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop "undertake a definitive campaign to clarify the American mind" via newspaper op-eds and radio addresses to the U.S. public. Lee's arrangement was ultimately exposed, and the incident helped lead Congress to pass the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in 1938. FARA required that representatives of foreign governments disclose their client list, the thinking apparently being that lobbyists would find it too embarrassing to work for dictatorial regimes if they knew that their activities would be made public. It was a strategy of name and shame, and in some places it could have worked...

Stop the Press:

A s Argentina sank into its worst economic crisis ever, a January 9, Associated Press story blamed "the greed of international investors and bad timing by the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Treasury." The New York Times was equally scathing: "The Argentine economic miracle of the 1990s was a mirage created by foreign creditors enamored of the country's monetary policy," a December 21 editorial pronounced. "This allowed Argentina to go on a $130-billion borrowing binge without addressing longstanding shortcomings. . . . Predictably, the time has now come when Argentina can no longer make its debt payments, and foreign investors have lost confidence in the country." Too bad the U.S. press wasn't as critical 10 years ago, when then-President Carlos Menem initiated Argentina's free-market reforms amid great journalistic fanfare. Touting Argentina's economic "miracle" in 1991, The New York Times called Menem's program "the envy of other Latin governments" and proclaimed Argentina...

Afghan Assessment

W hen American warplanes began bombing Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, the Pentagon and the press cautioned that victory would not come quickly. The fabled Taliban warriors were battle-tested, schooled in guerrilla warfare, and uniquely familiar with Afghanistan's rugged terrain. They also fielded some 45,000 troops, versus the Northern Alliance's 12,000--a sure recipe for a Vietnam-style quagmire, claimed pundits, noting that no foreign army had successfully conquered Afghanistan since Alexander the Great. Fast-forward 10 weeks. The forces opposing the United States have been routed, from Mazar-i-Sharif to Kabul, from Kandahar to Tora Bora. Milton Bearden, a former Central Intelligence Agency station chief in Pakistan, predicts that the Taliban is politically and militarily finished and that its remaining elements will fold back into Afghanistan's tribal structure. "They had their turn and they squandered it," says Bearden. "They're like those dot-com kids who became millionaires and...

Homegrown Horror:

W hen the first post- September 11 anthrax cases were revealed, speculation about who was responsible focused immediately on associates of Osama bin Laden or the government of Iraq. Now, though, it's widely believed that the anthrax attacks are homegrown, the result of an individual or a small domestic terrorist group. It also seems that the source of the anthrax is a U.S. government lab, since recent reports have said that the powder used in the attacks is virtually indistinguishable from anthrax produced by the military before it shut down its biowarfare program. In a strange way, all of this is good news. "The worst-case scenario is if there's a biological Unabomber out there who's making anthrax by himself," says Elisa Harris of the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland University, who previously has worked for the National Security Council. "That would suggest that the possibility of [using biological weapons] is much easier than previously thought." Yet...

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