Jason Vest

Jason Vest is a Senior Correspondent for The American Prospect and a
contributor to the Boston Phoenix and The Nation, specializing in intelligence
national security affairs. He also holds an Ochberg Fellowship with the
University of Washington's Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. Recognized by
American Journalism Review in 2002 as an "Unsung Hero of Washington
Vest has previously done staff stints at the Washington Post, US News & World
and Village Voice. He covered the Eritrea-Ethiopia border war
(1999-2000), as a correspondent for The Scotsman, and was awarded a 1999 Fund
Investigative Journalism grant to examine both the war and media coverage.

Originally a reporter for alternative weeklies in Indiana, Vest has also
written for The Atlantic Monthly, Columbia Journalism Review, Mother Jones,
AlterNet and the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, among others. His
work for
the Prospect in 2004 has been supported by grant awards from the Foundation
for Constitutional Goverment and the Ettinger Foundation. His book on national
security during the current Bush Administration will be published by Wiley &
Sons in 2005.

Recent Articles

Costs a Bundle and Can't Fly

F or the past decade, numerous career military officers and defense analysts--whose politics run the gamut from left to right--have held that U.S. combat in the twenty-first century probably won't mean grand, conventional battles with large standing armies. And September 11 suggests that these experts are right: Rather than a "rogue state" raining down ballistic missiles on us, or hordes of Red Chinese flexing regionally hegemonic muscle, low-tech operatives of an unorthodox army turned airplanes into bombs. For its part, the United States, in taking the fight to the parastatal entity behind the terrorist attacks, won the first round with a combination of highly mobile special-operations forces and the venerable B-52. So what does the Bush administration do? Ask for a jacked-up defense budget: an increase of $120 billion over the next five years (an extra $48 billion for fiscal year 2003 alone). The increase exceeds any other nation's entire war chest. It includes tens of billions of...

Speaking for the Dead:

It was early May when the Ethiopian kid was murdered. There's no other word for it; isn't it a homicide when a guy with a gun turns it on a helpless, frightened boy and takes his life? That's the way I would have called it when I worked the police beat in Indiana. The Eritrean soldiers who witnessed it were reluctant to talk to me, but even they were hard-pressed to see this as a legitimate act of war. Because it was as if, in the midst of a terrifying and dehumanizing maelstrom, they had somehow managed, if only for a moment, to reclaim a bit of the humanity that years of battle had eroded. But that moment was dispatched with the same contemptuous impunity as the kid. It happened on the Assab front, a flat, godforsaken expanse of ground that more closely resembles a lunar hell then anything terrestrial. It was a place where the broiling hatred directed across the no-man's-land was trumped only by the mercury's rapid midday rise, a spike of heat so pronounced it forced the Weyanne and...

Congressman Corruption?

When the Feds announced last week that they were indicting Democratic Representative James Traficant from Ohio on a slew of racketeering, bribery and corruption charges, the acerbic, polyester-clad legislator and former sheriff of Mahoning County let fly one of his usual anti-federal rants: "You'd best beat me," he said of the U.S. Attorneys prosecuting his case, "because if I beat you, you'll be working in Mingo Junction . And when he pled innocent at his arraignment today, he couldn't help but rail against the "undefeated bureaucrats" of the U.S. government, lamenting that "even Congress doesn't control America anymore." While Traficant seems thrilled at staging a repeat performance of his successful pro se defense 18 years after the Feds first charged him with being mobbed up, his bravado belies the reality that he's in a political no-man's land. His own party has shunned him as an embarrassment: "We may not be out there supporting a particular candidate [in Ohio's 17th District...

Ridge's Troubled Waters:

E very new administration begets its share of policy buzzwords. At the moment, "homeland security" is very much in vogue. An important concept saddled with an ill-chosen moniker (it's hard not to detect a whiff of the worst kind of retro-nationalism), the fundamental notion is finally incarnate in the form of the newly created Office of Homeland Security. Its chief, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, has an office mere steps away from his boss and close friend, George W. Bush. For Ridge and the whole Homeland Security initiative, this is about as ideal as it gets. If true power and success are defined by proximity to the president, Ridge's position is hard to beat. For those intrinsically opposed to government, it's also hard to attack--no sprawling new bureaucracy, just Ridge and a staff of about 100. In theory, Ridge's office will coordinate the efforts of dozens of agencies spread through multiple departments, somehow finding a way to craft a comprehensive national strategy...