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

The Company

Given how battles within the Bush administration have played out, liberals have found themselves embracing the CIA in recent years. CIA officers -- so the argument goes -- are hard-working professionals with a keen understanding of the world and its problems, victimized by administration officials who have distorted their analyses for political gain. In fact, it's hard to believe CIA officers are all they're cracked up to be -- especially after reading a memoir by T.J. Waters, a member of "the most talked-about spy class in CIA history," as he describes it -- "the best and the brightest the United States had to offer." The book, Class 11: Inside the CIA's First Post 9-11 Spy Class starts out on a hopeful, albeit self-congratulatory, note. After the September 11 attacks, Waters, a 37-year-old former consultant in intelligence and training, is working hard with his classmates to create a new kind of CIA that will protect Americans from future al-Qaeda attacks. As one of Waters'...

Uncivil Libertarians

Ira Glasser is a fighter. He's been defending freedom of speech, the right to privacy, and the right to due process for more than 30 years through his work with the American Civil Liberties Union, including 23 years as the head of the organization. Of late, he sounds just as combative when he talks about his successor, Anthony D. Romero -- especially when the conversation veers toward Romero's views on the Patriot Act. "Anthony said that?" Glasser, 68, asks. His voice goes up a notch. And before anybody can clarify Romero's remarks about the Patriot Act, Glasser's off on a tear about his former protege. "I feel that he's betrayed some core ACLU principles and it's a question of whether or not that's right," Glasser says. "He did stuff no executive director should ever do." In August, Glasser signed a mission statement for a Save the ACLU Web site designed to protest Romero's leadership. The site, which was launched in September, as of press time has 613 "dissidents," as Glasser puts...

Peace Movement

At first, Chris Hedges seems pretty mellow -- especially for a former New York Times war correspondent. On a recent November evening, Hedges, 50, dressed in a professorial-looking checkered jacket, was drinking seltzer water in a hotel bar during Chicago's Humanities Festival. (The theme is “War and Peace.”) But once he started talking, he sounded as angry as any anti-war protestor on the mall. Here, the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and What Every Person Should Know About War describes why war is wrong, the military misguided, and some veterans' groups fall short of their moral duty. In your introduction to a book called Afterwar , you write, “War, at least the mythic version, is wonderful entertainment.” How is the Iraq war being marketed? It's not being marketed anymore. Now that the war has gone sour, the people who sold it to us -- FOX News and CNN -- are ignoring it. They couldn't get enough of it when it was great. Now that the mythic narrative of war cannot be...

Boots (and Blogs) on the Ground

Reporters have, understandably, not been spending much time in certain parts of Iraq. It's too dangerous -- even for the most foolhardy among them. But soldiers are there. And they're often online and chatty. The result is the proliferation of what has come to be known as milblogs -- and a new book, Matthew Currier Burden's The Blog of War: Front-Line Dispatches from Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan , anthologizes some of the best of them. Milblogs exist mainly because of looser military restrictions on soldiers during the earlier stages of the conflict in Iraq, which allowed them to write more freely about their experiences. The results have been intriguing. There may be no other war that's been more photographed, reported on, filmed, and written about -- by soldiers. The Blog of War is an attempt to compile the work of these Kevlar-clad correspondents. Soldiers, officers, medics, a chaplain, and other military personnel write about camel spiders, scorpions, an Iraqi tea ceremony,...

The Unaccountables

One December night in 2003, Adel L. Nakhla, a chunky, broad-shouldered Egyptian American interpreter with a soft, almost feminine voice, went to Cell 43 in Abu Ghraib's Tier 1A. He was accompanied by Army Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr., a reservist convicted in January 2005 of abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib, to the cell where a former Baath Party member, A.A. (his attorney asked that his name not be used for safety reasons) was lying on a mattress. A.A. had been classified as a “high-value target” because of suspected terrorist activities. Officials had departed from custom when A.A. arrived at Abu Ghraib the month before and had not issued him an identification number. He was placed under the supervision of the OGA -- an acronym that stands for Other Government Agency but in practice means the CIA. Officially, A.A. was a “ghost detainee”; he did not exist. “Get up, you criminal. You're pretending to be asleep,” A.A. later recalled the man he recognized as Nakhla saying. Then he...

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