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 FBI GONE AMOK.

As Eric Schmitt reports in today’s New York Times , FBI agents have been rushing after thousands of terrorism leads, ranging from a missing 55-gallon drum of radioactive material (it was later found on a loading dock) to threats to shopping malls. They are now key players in America’s counterterrorism effort, and the agents themselves do not seem to mind: “It’s better to do that than find out later you let something get by,” one of them told Schmitt. Yet running after so many leads may actually be counterproductive, said Amy Zegart , a UCLA professor who specializes in intelligence matters. She explains in the article that this strategy burns through resources at the agency. Besides that, where are the cops in all this? In the U.K., police play a significant role in fighting terrorism: They know who the suspects are in their neighborhoods, and where they hang out, and when they might be planning an actual attack. In the U.S., this job is often done by the FBI, and the results have...

MAKING SOLDIERS FIT FOR BATTLE.

Army officials have announced plans to train soldiers in a new form of psychological warfare, hoping to steel them against the emotional and mental fallout from war. The training is based partly on a body of “recent research suggesting that people can manage stress by thinking in terms of their psychological strengths,” according to The New York Times . At first glance, it seems like a noble idea. It is certainly timely: Approximately 300,000 people who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are currently suffering form some form of mental illness, given the overwhelming demands on the VA health care system. As Larry Scott recently wrote , psychiatrists at a VA hospital in Spokane, Washington, are in “revolt”: We have an ethical obligation to be available to our patients for timely appointments and communications. We are no longer able to fulfill these obligations to our huge caseload. Soldiers clearly need help. The problem, however, is that the program is unlikely to succeed. In...

OBAMA AND VETERANS.

President Obama reached out to members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars at their annual convention in Phoenix, telling them that their access to health care would be expanded and joking with them about “the ‘billions of dollars’ for a fleet of new presidential helicopters,” which he said, would allow him to “cook a meal while under nuclear attack,” according to Politico . It was an endearing, funny speech in which he also expressed admiration for the veterans “who’ve done their duty.” Yet, as many of the veterans in the audience could attest, many of them are still not getting the care they need. Certainly, there are signs of progress. A new staff has taken over the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is now headed up by Eric K. Shinseki and by others such as former IBM executive Scott Gould , who is the deputy secretary, and Tammy Duckworth , who is now an assistant secretary. Interestingly, Gould is co-author of a book titled The People Factor , with Harvard's Linda Bilmes , an...

WILL THE LAST EMBED TURN OUT THE LIGHTS?

There are 130,000 men and women deployed in Iraq, down from the 160,000 troops who were there two years ago. By the end of the year, there will be 68,000 troops in Afghanistan. (Last year, there were about 34,000 in Afghanistan.) However, the number that's changed most dramatically is the count of embedded reporters. In 2003, more than 700 journalists signed up for the military’s first official embedding program. Today, there are about 50 reporters embedded at any one time, says Carl Prine , a board member of Military Reporters and Editors. The program has been controversial: "Often, American journalists seem embedded with the military not only physically, but mentally," wrote Michael Massing in his book Now They Tell Us: The American Press Corps and Iraq . “People say that DOD intended to co-opt reporters so that they would somehow get Stockholm syndrome,” Col. David Lapan of the Defense Department’s press office says. “We’re not looking for reporters to be co-opted...

THE GLOBAL COUNTERINSURGENCY CAMPAIGN.

As Adam mentioned earlier, two New York Times reporters revealed some new information today about the construction of secret prisons for detainees, one of the most controversial aspects of Bush 's global war on terrorism. Back then, the U.S. was trying to eradicate terrorism in all parts of the globe. The strategy was misguided, to say the least, given the nature of the enemy, which constantly formed different alliances and cells in various countries. This was all compounded by the fact that even the designation of who was an enemy was steadily shifting, according to whether the U.S. government considered a particular group to be a terrorist organization. But now the bar may be higher. The global goodness campaign is underway, with American soldiers, particularly those in special operations, trying to make the world a better place -- “Peace Corps workers with guns,” as they are sometimes called. “Our foreseeable future will be one of persistent conflict involving Third World countries...

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