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."
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.
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.
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.
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.