Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect, is a senior reporter for The Washington Independent.

Recent Articles

Five Years Later

According to interviews with detained members of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the most powerful recruitment tool for Islamic extremists is ... the war itself.

The Pentagon sponsored a conference call Monday with a Air Force colonel named Donald Bacon in Baghdad, who presented what he characterized as the findings of a major effort to understand al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the United State's most implacable enemy in the war. These are the irreconcilables, the extremists, the bloodthirsty, the relentless; the ones who the president has promised will follow us home if they aren't defeated. The U.S. military command and the Bush administration have explained away AQI's tiny percentage within the Sunni insurgency by saying it is disproportionately dangerous, accounting for most of the suicide bombings and high-profile catastrophic attacks. And it's explained away the tiny proportion of foreigners within the mostly-Iraqi AQI by saying that the foreigners are both the organization's leadership and its suicide-bomber cadre. So now the U.S. military command in Iraq has put together a new profile of the foreign cohort within AQI. It's based on...

WireTAP: A Dialogue about <em>The Wire</em> (Episode 10)

Prospect writers discuss the final episode of the critically acclaimed HBO series.

Throughout the fifth and final season of HBO's groundbreaking drama, The Wire , we've featured an ongoing discussion of the series with TAP Online writers. This week, we chat about episode ten -- the final episode of the season and the series. (If you haven't been reading, you can catch up on our discussions of episodes one, two and three , episodes four, five and six , and episodes seven, eight and nine .) --The Editors Ann Friedman: Well, now that it's all wrapped up with a neat little bow, I have to say that the series finale was a bit of a letdown -- especially after those phenomenal episodes eight and nine. We all know how jaded David Simon is about the state of journalism, but it seemed completely unrealistic that, presented with the evidence, the higher-ups at the paper would turn their heads and ignore Templeton's plagiarism. Their defense of Templeton made sense up until this last episode -- until Gus presumably laid out all the evidence. But even with a Pulitzer on the line...

Iraq, Intelligence Failures, and Kelly Clarkson

TAP Online talks with A.J. Rossmiller, author of Still Broken, the new book about his experiences as an intelligence officer in Iraq.

When A.J. Rossmiller came home from Iraq, word spread across the liberal precincts of the blogosphere about a young intelligence officer who saw the illogic of the Iraq war from deep inside, who spent his time in Baghdad chuckling with disgust as he heard Donald Rumsfeld lie to the country about U.S. intelligence collecting. I admit to being a little skeptical at the time. But in e-mails, in posts at AMERICAblog , and over beers, Rossmiller has shared his effortless insight about Iraq with me. Like many who know him, I came away from every encounter thinking, "What an amazing book he’ll write." Lots of books have been written about the Iraq misadventure, and more still are on the way. None, I’ll wager, will offer what Still Broken does: a masterful writer’s voice; a raw, personal tour of the trauma of waging a distasteful war; an insider's view of the wreckage of the U.S. intelligence community; and Kelly Clarkson worship. TAP Online asked me to interview Rossmiller...

WireTAP: A Dialogue About <em>The Wire</em> (Episodes 4-6)

Prospect writers discuss the fifth season of the critically acclaimed HBO series.

The fifth and final season of HBO's groundbreaking drama, The Wire , is upon us. Every three episodes, we'll bring you a discussion of the series between TAP Online writers. This week, Kriston Capps kicks off our dialogue about episodes four, five, and six. In addition to the crew from our last discussion , we're joined this time around by former TAP Online editor Sam Rosenfeld. --The Editors Kriston Capps: Prop Joe is dead, Omar is still alive, and McNulty is still tailing a serial killer -- all improbable outcomes in a season that, if possible, is only getting worse. At the risk of pointing out the obvious -- David Simon betrayed Prop Joe. Joe was incomparably careful and even nervous when he gave Marlo's poker game to Omar in season four: Joe was worried, and rightly so, that it would fall back on him one day. Knowing full well that he is caught between Omar and Marlo's lines of fire, indeed, knowing full well that he placed himself there, he finds reason to suspect his own blood...

The Counter-Narrative Candidate

Never mind the rampant VP speculation. Just by speaking at the Democratic Convention, Sen. Jim Webb has a chance to undercut one of the most enduring--and corrosive--GOP narratives of the last 25 years.

There is a lot of speculation that Virginia Senator Jim Webb would make an appealing vice-presidential nominee for the Democrats. Some of it emanates from this magazine. It's not hard to see why. Webb is a tough-as-nails Marine veteran of Vietnam who served as a Navy secretary under Ronald Reagan, a vociferous enemy of the Iraq War, and an extremely improbable progressive. He's also from the capitol of the Old Confederacy as its 13 electoral votes trend Democratic. What's more, if the nominee is Barack Obama, having a war veteran who also writes paeans to the Scots-Irish cultural tradition round out the ticket creates a juggernaut not seen since Spider-Man joined the New Avengers. But there's actually a more important way Jim Webb can help elect the Democratic nominee. It has everything to do with the story he can tell at the convention this summer—a story about how the Republican Party abandoned him, and through him, the U.S. military, at a time of war. Call it the Reverse...