Tara McKelvey

Tara McKelvey, a senior editor at the Prospect, is a research fellow at NYU School of Law's Center on Law and Security and the author of Monstering: Inside America’s Policy on Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War.

Recent Articles

A Polaroid of War

The new HBO miniseries Generation Kill perfectly captures the mundane details of military life, but it lacks the emotional depth that any truly accurate depiction of war should have.

Rolling Stone writer Evan Wright walks into a Marines' tent in Camp Mathilda, Kuwait, in March 2003 and is introduced as an embedded journalist. The Marines look at Wright, a sandy-haired man with a knapsack, with a mixture of suspicion and disgust. Then he mentions he used to write for Hustler . One Marine gives him a friendly slap on the back, while another reaches out to carry his knapsack. "He wrote 'Beaver Hunt?'" asks a Marine, admiringly. "Oh, shit, he must have those Polaroids of your mom," says another. Welcome to the Iraq War -- or at least the one lived by Marines of the First Reconnaissance Battalion and Wright, a journalist who spent seven weeks in the Middle East with them during the initial phase of the war. The new HBO miniseries Generation Kill is based on Wright's best-selling book of the same title and is produced by David Simon and Ed Burns, the team behind the The Wire . It features James Ransone ( The Wire ); Jonah Lotan ( 24 ); among others, and it was filmed in...

The Men Behind Generation Kill

TAP talks with David Simon, executive producer of Generation Kill, the new HBO series about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and Evan Wright, author of the book on which it is based.

The real men behind Generation Kill , HBO's new miniseries about the 2003 Iraq invasion, are, of course, U.S. Marines. The show follows forty-some sergeants, corporals, majors, and other members of the First Reconnaissance Battalion who plan attacks, face enemy fire and search for homemade bombs. But there are also men behind the scenes: Generation Kill is based on the best-selling book of the same title by Evan Wright of Rolling Stone and produced by David Simon, creator of another HBO show, The Wire . At a screening hosted by Campus Progress in Washington, D.C., Monday night, Simon seemed worn down by discussions of politics and war, saying that his goal with Generation Kill , his first HBO project since The Wire , is to show what life is like for Marines -- no more, no less. Separating politics from war seems, well, unrealistic, but he has a point. Generation Kill is about the experience of one particular group of Marines in a particular combat zone, rather than The War Experience...

Combat Fatigue

Barry Roma, a postal worker and a disabled Vietnam veteran, tells people not to be afraid of him. He is joking, sort of. He knows how veterans -- and postal workers -- are seen by many people, and luckily he has a sense of humor. By night, he works as a mail handler in Chicago and by day, as national coordinator for Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He helps to put out a biannual publication, The Veteran , and works closely with members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. His achievements are hard-earned. More than 40 years ago, as an officer in Vietnam, he witnessed wartime atrocities that could easily be classified as war crimes. The events occurred decades ago, but they continue to haunt and nearly overwhelm him with remorse. He watched American soldiers demolish villages, burn houses, and shoot civilians. After seeing friends blown up by landmines, he enlisted the help of local farmers, asking them to walk ahead of U.S. troops to look for hidden bombs. No one was hurt during these...

The Officers' War

The case of Iraq War opponent Lt. Ehren Watada reveals the toll the war has taken on career military personnel. Though his refusal to serve in Iraq is unusual, his disenchantment with the war is not.

For a junior Army officer named Ehren Watada, the road to Damascus was a two-lane street called Firing Center Road, which cuts through cow pastures in Yakima County, Washington. The air is bone dry, heavy with the smell of sagebrush, and the climate is similar to parts of Iraq. In the fall of 2005, Watada spent 30 days here, training on the Army's 306-acre stretch of desert. In his free time, he sat in the back of a Stryker vehicle and paged through books borrowed from the library in Fort Lewis, Washington. Watada was hardly an ambitious learner when he was in college, but during officer training his commander taught him that "you should know everything there is to know about your mission, not just where you're shooting the missiles but why you're shooting the missiles." And so, knowing he was bound for Iraq or Afghanistan, Watada began to read voraciously. Among the books he collected for his time in the Yakima desert was James Bamford's A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse...

Problem Gamblers, in Their Own Words

Former gambling addicts talk about the power of the casinos, hitting bottom, and putting their lives together again.

See related articles from the March 2008 issue, Black Hawk's Gamble and Politicians Bet the Farm . YOU DON'T LEAVE 'TIL YOU LOSE EVERYTHING Bobby Marchetti, 72, a Brooklyn native in shiny cowboy boots, orders a salad and a BLT at Fitzgerald's casino in Black Hawk, Colorado. He is the leader of a big-band orchestra that, he says, opens with the song "Celebration" ("We've never left anybody unhappy"), and he is sitting a few yards from where he scored his biggest win ever -- $10,500 -- in five-dollar poker. "I was happy. Absolutely," he recalls. "But when you're a gambler, a compulsive gambler, you don't get excited. No. I thought, 'Well, I'm going to put this money away.' I had a little strong box. Pretty quick, in a month or so, the money was gone." He says he has been gambling since he was 6 years old, pitching pennies in Bay Ridge, and became a regular at the Black Hawk casinos after they opened in the early 1990s. While he was there, he saw players like himself -- people who cannot...

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