I want to share with you an article “A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land” my friend and fellow book club member, Galina De Roeck, wrote for the Tikkun Daily following a trip she and other Tuscans made to Israel and Palestine. Her group spent time with Israelis and Palestinians who are affected daily by the decades of turmoil in their homeland. To learn about the conflict through the eyes and voices of ordinary people in its midst is humbling and disturbing. I urge you to click here and read Galina’s report.
The CIA’s regular cash payments to Afghanistan’s drug-lord, corrupt President Kazari didn’t surprise me, but I was surprised at the ho-hum attitude of the public and media. Wouldn’t bribes be a possible candidate for budget reduction advocates in Congress? Perhaps the dependency of government officials on major contributions from lobbyists and private interests requesting them to “consider” legislation benefiting those interests makes them less sensitive to bribery than their ordinary citizen constituents. One of the objectives of our war was to teach the Afghanis democracy. I guess bribery is a way of life in our country, too.
Of course bribery… Continue reading
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In November last year Monika Bond, Chair of the Language Arts Committee and a fifth grade teacher at Mountain Vista School in Oracle, AZ, asked me and several other writers to act as judges in the poetry contest she was organizing for students from grades four through eight. On April 2 I drove the forty miles to Oracle for the contest. What an experience the students and faculty provided us! The enthusiasm and energy of the competing poets and the students in the audience were contagious and the support of the event… Continue reading
I ran into my friend Paco the other day. Your friend too, I hope, if you’ve read Hot Times in Panamá. As I often do, I ribbed him about whether he thought he’d earned his keep on the government’s pay roll while he was a soldier in Panama. I reminded him that if he really did all the drinking and partying he talks about in the book it was more of a vacation than a duty station. He replied that he should have been awarded a purple heart for the ill effect the bad alcohol had on him.
Then… Continue reading
On a Friday afternoon in August 1967 my office phone rang. Ready to leave for the weekend, I thought about not answering it, but our firm mantra that clients come first caused me to pick up the phone. The caller was from the Council on Foreign Relations, and I detected desperation in his voice.
“A Member of Parliament just came into town. We didn’t know about it. She’s here studying the American education system. Could you and your wife have her to dinner Sunday evening? She’s staying at the Drake Hotel.”
“Hold… Continue reading
I got around to seeing Zero Dark Thirty the other day. After the initial uproar over torture and waterboarding, critics have given Kathryn Bigelow, the director, credit for producing a pretty accurate fictional dramatization of the CIA’s long and expensive search for and assassination of Osama bin Laden. I exited the theater sad and depressed.
The torture scenes were probably less physical than what may have actually occurred, but they did give viewers insight into the psychological interaction over time of the interrogator and the interrogated. They are partners in a continuing drama from which neither may ever completely recover.… Continue reading
Now that the Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to bring the nomination of John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency to the Senate floor we will soon have a decision on this controversial candidate. I applaud the Committee for insisting that the President make available the legal opinions from the Justice Department and other classified information about the justification for and operation of the drone program.
The press and other media have overwhelmed us with their opinions and thoughts regarding the legality of the drone program, complicated by the Administration’s unwillingness to release the legal opinions it relies… Continue reading
A reader of my post regarding the confirmation proceedings of John Brennan, the president’s nominee for director of the CIA, took me to task for referring to Brennan as “a conscientious, dedicated government employee.” In the reader’s mind, Brennan was aligned with “murder and torture.” He has been associated with the drone, assassination and torture sections for several years. I encourage comments that disagree with anything I say. I discovered at an early age that I was likely to learn more from people who disagreed with me than those who agreed. I want to hear from you. I personally know… Continue reading
I hope you’ve been following the confirmation hearings for John Brennan as director of the CIA. He is in my opinion a conscientious, dedicated government employee. I find it encouraging, however, that senators from both sides of the aisle are demanding information concerning torture and assassination policies and programs approved and implemented by President Obama and his predecessor and that Mr. Brennan has been involved in. We are dealing here with serious legal and constitutional issues under U S law. The U S and our government officials are also subject to the international rules of war as reflected in the… Continue reading
I’ve known Joan Didion is a respected, talented, and serious author, but I never got around to reading any of her books. In a review of The Covert Sphere: Secrecy, Fiction, and the National Security State by Timothy Melley, the reviewer mentions three novels Didion wrote about people involved in covert operations during the Cold War. “Spy thrillers” is one of the tag lines used for these books, for example, my book Hot Times in Panamá, and I try to follow this genre.
So, I checked out Didion’s The Last Thing He Wanted (1996) about a detached, unfeeling California… Continue reading