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A Libertarian by any other name... | Main | Arkin (?) Pulls Blog Response Off Front Page Of WaPo Blog Site
February 01, 2007

The Arkin Files

He's not a journalist, he insists-- he's an activist. (He really says this.) His "career," such that it is, seems to consist exclusively of taking leaks from embittered leftties in the espionage/military communities and publishing these national security secrets.

J.M. just shot me these articles written about Arkin. I'll do a little editing and bolding.


SECTION: STYLE; Pg. C01

LENGTH: 1312 words

HEADLINE: Explosive Analyst;
William Arkin, Giving Opinions Left and Right

BYLINE: Howard Kurtz, Washington Post Staff Writer

BODY:


He broke the story that the Bush administration has ordered contingency plans for using nuclear weapons against seven countries and in certain battlefield situations.

He broke the story of a classified defense report outlining the obstacles to an American attack on Iraq.

He insists he's not a journalist.

In fact, he's an activist who works for the liberal group Human Rights Watch. He also does work for the Air Force. He's also an academic, an author, a newspaper columnist and a talking head.

From his home in the mountains of Vermont, William Arkin seems to have mastered one of the great juggling acts of the multimedia age -- persuading news organizations, advocacy groups and the Pentagon, through sheer smarts and a bulldog personality, to take him on his own terms.

"Sometimes I even write a story and get all of them mad at me at the same time," says Arkin, 46. "Any institution is uncomfortable with someone they don't control."

"The hydra-headed Arkin," as Doyle McManus, Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, calls him, "is an interesting example of this new species of the crossover analyst. He can plausibly claim to be the country's leading civilian authority on aerial bombing, especially civilian casualties."

Arkin is a columnist for the Times, which initially used him in the news pages before moving him to the Sunday opinion section. He also writes a biweekly column for washingtonpost.com and is an NBC News analyst, making frequent appearances on MSNBC's "Hardball."

"He's the single best source I've had in my 18 years covering national security," says Robert Windrem, senior investigative producer for "NBC Nightly News." "He knows more than anybody else I've ever dealt with. He's never steered me wrong."

The dogged investigator, who was wary about being interviewed, is accustomed to taking flak.

"Someone yelled at me in the Defense Department about how I could possibly write a detailed article about our war plans against Iraq," Arkin says. "Because it's stupid, and people need to know it's stupid. And the only way to change it is if it's exposed."
...

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who once employed Arkin as a researcher, describes him as "a guy who can tick you off like no one else. He's very blunt and straightforward and very sure of himself."

...

The success of Arkin's foray into journalism was evident in March, when he wrote a Sunday column for the L.A. Times about the government's super-secret Nuclear Posture Review. When McManus learned that the New York Times was pursuing the same story, he had a reporter write a Saturday news story on Arkin's column to beat the rival paper by a day.

The piece set off alarm bells at the Pentagon. General Counsel William Haynes II wrote the L.A. Times that "the person who provided this information to you very likely broke the law. . . . The Department of Defense opposes in the strongest terms any further release of this information."
...

Noting that he criticized the bombing of power lines in Iraq as hurting the civilian population, Arkin boasts: "The U.S. has never done it again. I actually had an influence over changing the entire air warfare doctrine"

January 23, 2005 Sunday Final Edition


SECTION: A Section; A07

LENGTH: 975 words

HEADLINE: Book of U.S. Code Names Challenges Secrecy;
Author Hopes to Undermine Agencies' Ability to Make Decisions in the Dark

BYLINE: Dana Priest, Washington Post Staff Writer

BODY:


If you think of a hit television series when you read the words "West Wing," then you probably do not have to worry about your next security clearance polygraph.

But if it brings to mind secret U.S. bases in Jordan, you might have a problem if you have read William M. Arkin's new book, which amounts to the sort of unauthorized dump of classified information you would have to report to protect your clearance.

In "Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs, and Operations in the 9/11 World," Arkin discloses and briefly defines 3,000 military code names.

Some of them are still classified. Each one represents a discrete dot in the ever-growing clandestine world of Delta Force and SEAL commandos, of spy satellites and electronic worldwide eavesdropping. Once fleshed out and connected, Arkin hopes, the dots will reveal the invisible world where billions of dollars have been spent to fight terrorism after Sept. 11, 2001, without the scantest of public debates.

This is Arkin's effort to challenge the wisdom of letting the government make so many crucial decisions in the dark.

"You either believe in democracy or you don't," said Arkin, the author of 10 other books and a columnist, military analyst and former Army intelligence officer who now works out of an office in Vermont . "There's no question that the fundamental problem that led to 9/11 was compartmentalization and secrecy -- government agencies hoarding information as power and not communicating with one another, even at the highest level."

Question: Does believing in democracy include a respect for legislative acts making certain information secret on pain of criminal punishment if divulged?

Or are we only interested in the "theory" of democracy?

...

Asked to comment on the book and on the code names cited in this article, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman replied: "At any given time, there are a number of classified programs across the government that, for national security reasons, it would be inappropriate to discuss. With respect to your specific questions, it would be irresponsible for me to comment on any classified program that may or may not exist. Disclosing classified information places the nation and its citizens at risk."

Arkin gleaned his list of code names from Pentagon and intelligence agency documents he has obtained, and from similar briefings he has read and copied, or discussed with longtime sources whom he said he trusts "100 percent." In consultation with a few former military and intelligence officials, he said, he has "fuzzed up" some of the most sensitive.

Among the code names the book discloses are:

* West Wing, which refers to two remote air bases in Jordan that the U.S. military has used extensively for Special Operations aircraft, including A-10s, and for the 1,400 Special Operations personnel who poured into the country before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. The bases have become the hubs for clandestine U.S. military counterterrorism operations in the Middle East, Arkin's book says.

A spokesman for the Jordanian Embassy said she could not comment on the matter.

* Titrant Ranger, which refers to a special access program -- among the most highly guarded types of programs -- for a counterterrorism unit operating on the clandestine side of the Special Operations Command. It was assigned in July 2002, Arkin writes, replacing Capacity Gear, which had replaced Grey Fox, which is known to have engaged in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

* Toolchest, the code name for the secret technical agreement between the United States and Germany regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons. Toy Chest is the name for the agreement with the Netherlands, Stone Ax for the one with Italy and Pine Cone for the one with Belgium.

* Power Geyser, the code name for a "continuity of government" plan that would be activated in the United States to keep the government functioning in a crisis.

...

His campaign of disclosure has attracted more than one government leak investigation. Most recently, the Defense Department launched a massive probe after he published a top-secret code word in a column he wrote for the Los Angeles Times in June 2002. Polo Step, he revealed, was used by the Pentagon to control access to contingency planning for Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even his leak investigation had a code name, and Arkin reveals that, too: Seven Seekers.

Anyone else clueing in to this guy's basic agenda, or is it just me?

digg this
posted by Ace at 01:00 PM

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