Background Briefing - Sunday September 5, 2010

Colonel Lawence Wilkerson was Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff at the Department of State from August 2002 to January 2005. He began working with Powell as his Deputy Executive Officer starting in 1989, Upon Powell's retirement from active service in 1993, Colonel Wilkerson served as the Deputy Director and Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia. Wilkerson rejoined Powell’s staff as a civilian in the State Department. In October of 2005, Colonel Wilkerson, after considerable soul searching, went public with his knowledge that Vice President Cheney had provided the "guidance" that led to America's torture disgrace in Guantanamo, Abu Ghriab and elsewhere. He currently teaches courses at the College of William & Mary and George Washington University.

Dr. Paul Pillar is the Director of Graduate Studies at the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University. He retired in 2005 from a 28-year career in the U.S. intelligence community, in which his last position was National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia. He is the author of the books Terrorism and US Foreign Policy and Negotiating Peace: War Termination as a Bargaining Process. He will be part of the New America Foundation’s “Team B” Group that will be taking part in a forum called, “A New Way Forward?: Rethinking US Strategy in Afghanistan.”

Dr. Lawrence Mishel is an economist, author and analyst who is president of the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan economic research institution in Washington, D.C., that focuses primarily on economic trends that affect the lives and living standards of working people. He is principal author of a research volume published every two years that is widely considered the authoritative text on the American workforce, The State of Working America. His latest report is titled, “Recession Hits Workers’ Paychecks: Wage growth Has Collapsed.”

Daily Briefing - Thursday September 2, 2010

C. Christine Fair is a professor in the Center for Peace and Security Studies within Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. Previously, she has served as a senior political scientist with the RAND Corporation, a political officer to the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan in Kabul, and as a senior research associate in USIP’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention. She is also a senior fellow with the Counter Terrorism Center at West Point. She has authored, co-authored and co-edited several books including Treading Softly on Sacred Ground: Counterinsurgency Operations on Sacred Space, The Madrassah Challenge: Militancy and Religious Education in Pakistan, and Fortifying Pakistan: The Role of U.S. Internal Security Assistance.

Amy Myers Jaffe is the Wallace S. Wilson Fellow in Energy Studies at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and is the associate director of the Rice University Energy Program. She has researched and written extensively on the issues of oil geopolitics and strategic energy policy. Her publications include the books Natural Gas and Geopolitics: From 1970 to 2040, Energy in the Caspian Region: Present and Future, and Energy and Security: Toward a New Foreign Policy Strategy. Prior to joining Rice University, Jaffe was the senior editor and Middle East analyst for Petroleum Intelligence Weekly. 

Chris Hedges is a journalist, author, and social critic who spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans. In 2002 he was part of the team at the New York Times that won the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism, and he also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights. Now he writes primarily about American and Middle Eastern politics and society. His books include War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, and most recently, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

Daily Briefing - Wednesday September 1, 2010

M.J. Rosenberg is Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. Previously he served as the Director of Policy Analysis for the Israel Policy Forum, and prior to that, he served as Chief of Staff to the head of the Eastern Europe/NIS Bureau of USAID. In addition, he spent eighteen years within the United States government, fourteen on Capitol Hill as a congressional aide to Representatives Jonathan Bingham, Edward Feighan, Nita Lowey and Senator Carl Levin. From 1982 to 1986, he was editor of Near East Report, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC's) biweekly publication on Middle East Policy.

William Cohan is a contributing editor at Fortune and a writer for Vanity Fair and The New York Times who covers a variety of financial issues. His acclaimed book, House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, details the last days of Bear Stearns & Co. He began his career as a journalist, winning awards as an investigative reporter in Raleigh, North Carolina. He then went on to work on Wall Street for over a decade and a half, both at Lazard Frères and JP Morgan Chase. In 2007 he published, The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co. He is currently working on a book about Goldman Sachs.

Naomi Oreskes is a history professor at the University of California, San Diego, where she focuses on the history of science. She started her career as a field geologist before getting her doctorate in history. She received the Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, served as a consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and sat on the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. Her books include Plate Tectonics: An Insider’s History of the Modern Theory of the Earth and The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science. This year she and her co-writer, Erik M. Conway, came out with a new book called Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. 

Daily Briefing - Tuesday August 31, 2010

Raed Jarrar is an Iraq-born architect, blogger, and political advocate. He currently lives in Washington, DC where he is the Iraq consultant for the American Friends Service Committee and a Senior Fellow at Peace Action. He first gain international prominence as the person referenced in the blog, “Where is Raed?” which was written from Baghdad by the pseudonymous author Salam Pax while the US invaded Iraq. Jarrar and his family compiled their own posts in the book, The Iraq War Blog, An Iraqi Family’s Inside View of the First Year of the Occupation. In 2003, he worked as the country director of CIVIC Worldwise, the only door-to-door civilian casualties survey in Iraq. He also founded Emaar, a non-governmental organization that carried out humanitarian and reconstruction work in Baghdad and southern Iraq. He has an article today on truthout.org titled, “Obama’s Iraq Speech: Don’t Expect Him to Say the War is Over.

Amjad Atallah Co-Directs the Middle East Task Force at the New America Foundation. Previously, Mr. Atallah headed Strategic Assessments Initiative, a not-for-profit organization committed to providing legal and policy assistance to parties involved in negotiations in conflict and post-conflict situations, where he worked on international policy and advocacy efforts of the Save Darfur Coalition, advised the Kosovar constitutional process, and prepared scenario planning exercises for the Palestinians and Israelis. Prior to that, Mr. Atallah advised the Palestinian negotiating team in peace negotiations with Israel on the issues of international borders, security, and constitutional issues, and served as their liaison to U.S. government officials in Washington, D.C.

Daniel Levy is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Policy Initiative of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. He was the lead Israeli drafter of the Geneva Initiative and directed policy planning and international efforts at the Geneva Campaign Headquarters in Tel Aviv. Previously, Mr. Levy served as senior policy adviser to former Israeli Minister of Justice, Yossi Beilin, and under the Barak government he worked in the prime minister’s office as a special adviser and head of the Jerusalem Affairs unit. He was a member of the Israeli delegation to the Taba negotiations with the Palestinians in January 2001, and of the negotiating team for the “Oslo B” Agreement from May to September 1995, under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Daily Briefing - Monday August 30, 2010

Adele Stan is the Washington Bureau Chief of Alternet.org where she covers beltway politics. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, the Village Voice, The Nation, The Advocate, Salon.com, the Washington Blade and Mother Jones magazine, as well as on the op-ed pages of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Daily News. She began her media career at Ms. magazine, where she served both on staff and as a contributing editor. She has been covering the religious right for over a decade. Many consider her Mother Jones cover story, “Power Preying,” to be a definitive primer on the movement; a special 10,000-copy reprint sold out its print run. 

Stephen Braun is the National Security Editor for the Associated Press. He formerly was a national correspondent based in Washington for the Los Angeles Times. He shared in the Times' 1991 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Los Angeles riots and a 2002 Overseas Press Club international reporting award for "Inside al Qaeda," a series of stories about that group’s rise. His has covered many landmark American news stories of the past two decades, including the Sept. 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and five presidential elections. He is the co-author, along with Douglas Farah, of a book about Viktor Bout titled, Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible.

Joe Mathews is the Irvine Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. A fourth-generation Californian, he writes about his home state and its politics, media, labor, and real estate. He is the author of The People’s Machine: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Rise of Blockbuster Democracy, gave an account of Governor Schwarzenegger’s first term and his use of ballot measures as governing tools. Before joining the New America Foundation he was a reporter for eight years at the Los Angeles Times. Previously, he covered the Justice Department for The Wall Street Journal. He began his career in 1994 at the Baltimore Sun, where he wrote about urban issues and the environment. His coverage of a down-on-its-luck neighborhood of former slaughterhouses earned him the incomparable title, “Bard of Pigtown.”

Mark Paul is a senior scholar and deputy director of the California program at the New America Foundation. He was formerly national editor and editorial page editor of the Oakland Tribune, and deputy editorial page editor and columnist at the Sacramento Bee. In 2004 Mr. Paul was appointed deputy treasurer of the state of California. He served as policy director for the treasurer’s office and executive secretary of the state’s Pooled Money Investment Board, which manages the cash reserves of state and local governments.

He also oversaw the operations of the state’s financing authorities for health and pollution control facilities. He left the treasurer’s office in 2006 to become policy director for Angelides 2006, the California gubernatorial campaign of Phil Angelides. Since 2007, he has been at the New America Foundation, where he consults with elected officials and citizen groups and writes and speaks widely around the state on budget policy, tax reform, infrastructure finance, asset building, and the need for fundamental revisions in the state constitution. He and Micah Weinberg wrote a chapter called “Remapping the California Electorate,” in R. Jeffrey Lustig’s new book, Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good. Joe Mathews and Mark Paul are co-authors of the new book, California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How It Can Be Fixed.