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Open Mike

Blogger Profile: Barry Eisler

Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. Eisler's bestselling thrillers have won the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, have been included in numerous "Best Of" lists, and have been translated into nearly twenty languages. Eisler lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and, when he's not writing novels, blogs about torture, civil liberties, and the rule of law.

Barry Eisler's Blogs

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Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

March 25th, 2013

That Power of Accurate Observation Is Called Political By Those Who Have Not Got It

I'm glad to say that most of the Amazon customer reviews for my new short novel, London Twist, have been positive. Among the negative ones, there's an interesting theme: that the story is either disturbingly pro-gay or disturbingly anti-drone, and in all events too liberal. I think it's worth examining ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

December 13th, 2012

David Ignatius, Civics Expert

There really ought to be some sort of remedial civics licensing course for the David Ignatiuses of the world. Here's the pundit's latest in the Washington Post. It's about Katheryn Bigelow's new film Zero Dark Thirty, her "almost journalistic" account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Note that in ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

April 30th, 2012

Interrogators Speak Out: Why Not a Torture Turing Test?

I'm proud to be part of a series of articles by intelligence and military interrogators denouncing torture this week at the Huff Post.  Here's my entry. When I wrote my eighth thriller, Inside Out, in 2009, the villains were a group of CIA and other government officials who colluded to destroy a ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

December 6th, 2011

Leon Panetta is Full of Sh*t

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants you to be scared. In a letter to Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, Panetta warned that after possible cuts in the military budget, "we would have the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

April 12th, 2011

2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake

Even as the aftershocks of the March 11 Touhoku quake continued to rock Japan, a group of people came together and determined to do something in response. The Wall Street Journal chronicled their efforts, and the result is a remarkable book, called "2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake." Recorded, ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

February 1st, 2011

Donald Rumsfeld, Defender of the Constitution (Really)

Cross-posted at the American Constitution Society.Here's what I thought when I heard the Conservative Political Action Conference has decided to honor former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with something CPAC calls the "Defender of the Constitution Award."As I imagine CPAC is aware, Rumsfeld is the man who signed the very ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

November 15th, 2010

How to Argue

The strangest thing about the low quality of Internet argument is that effective argument isn't really so difficult. Sure, not everyone can be Clarence Darrow, but anyone who wants to be at least competent at argument can do it. Here are a few guidelines.I'll start with a hint: note the ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

November 1st, 2010

The Definition of Insanity

Earlier this month, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Jack Devine, former CIA deputy director of operations and chief of the CIA Afghan Task Force. When I read it, I thought it was perhaps the most insane op-ed I'd ever come across. But leave it to David Broder, "Dean ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

October 29th, 2010

Fictional Politics

Though it's replete with action, sex, badass characters, and exotic locations, I'm gratified that my latest novel, Inside Out, has also garnered attention for its politics. Generally speaking, anything that gets people talking about your books is good, but the reaction to Inside Out is also interesting because of what ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

October 20th, 2010

The Overton Window: More Poodle Than Panther

I'm pleased to announce that At the Tea Party: The Wing Nuts, Whack Jobs and Whitey-Whiteness of the New Republican Right... and Why We Should Take It Seriously is available today! Edited by GritTV's Laura Flanders, it includes essays from an amazing lineup of writers: Max Blumenthal, Alexander Cockburn, Lisa ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

October 2nd, 2010

This is Your Brain On War

Andrew Sullivan's defense of President Obama's claimed power to have American citizens assassinated nicely reveals much of the illogic behind, and many of the dangers inherent in, America's Forever War. Let's examine it point by point. 1. Assassination of American citizens, even if arguably extreme, has only been ordered applied, ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

August 4th, 2010

Militarization and the Authoritarian Right

Yes, former Bush administration speechwriter and current Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen's demand that "WikiLeaks Must Be Stopped" is, as his colleague Eva Rodriguez notes, "more than a little whacky." But it's useful, too, because an infatuation with the notion of using the military in non-military operations, particularly domestic ones, ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

July 20th, 2010

The Ministry of Truth

Recently, I had the good fortune to be invited by NPR to submit an essay on a favorite thriller of mine. I decided to write about George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is both an excellent thriller and an increasingly powerful and relevant political warning -- a combination readers of my ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

July 5th, 2010

It's Just a Leak

One of the great things about being a novelist is that the form enables me to dramatize the way the government and establishment media collude to manipulate public opinion. The phenomenon of the mainstream media laundering government talking points into news in exchange for access to even more such talking ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

June 24th, 2010

Torture Talisman, Torture Taboo

Recently an otherwise seemingly thoughtful person said to me, "I know torture ordinarily doesn't work because you can't coerce someone into giving you trustworthy information. But don't you think there are times when the government has to step over the line to save lives? You know, if terrorists have a ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

May 14th, 2010

Death-Defying Institutional Brands

I'm increasingly intrigued by the ability of certain brands to outlast the loss of their underlying substance. Facts are stubborn things, John Adams said, but sometimes, it seems, not as stubborn as brands. Let me offer a few examples, and then let's see if we can identify any principles at ... continue reading

Barry Eisler

Author and former CIA agent

May 12th, 2010

Torture Tales

There are a number of factors behind America's growing embrace of torture, but among them, largely overlooked, is a brilliant campaign of cross-promotion between right-wing ideologues and right-wing entertainment.First, the right reduced the entirety of torture to a simple talking point: "Can you really say torture never works?" And then ... continue reading

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George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... www.theonion.com President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
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Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
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FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States www.theonion.com WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
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Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract pando.com As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
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I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
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Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors pando.com If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
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Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
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ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
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I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
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I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
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How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
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Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
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Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
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When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
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Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
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This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
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The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
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Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa ...by Nick Turse www.michaelmoore.com Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
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"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
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RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 www.theguardian.com Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
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Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? www.huffingtonpost.com I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
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Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
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Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
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Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch ...by Donna Smith www.michaelmoore.com The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
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Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
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Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | RootsAction.org act.rootsaction.org The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
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Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
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More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
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Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many? ...by Ray McGovern www.michaelmoore.com Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative...

Mar 2nd
9:25 PM
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Open Mike

  • November 15th, 2010

    How to Argue

    The strangest thing about the low quality of Internet argument is that effective argument isn't really so difficult. Sure, not everyone can be Clarence Darrow, ...

  • March 25th, 2013

    That Power of Accurate Observation Is Called Political By Those Who Have Not Got It

    I'm glad to say that most of the Amazon customer reviews for my new short novel, London Twist, have been positive. Among the negative ones, ...

  • October 2nd, 2010

    This is Your Brain On War

    Andrew Sullivan's defense of President Obama's claimed power to have American citizens assassinated nicely reveals much of the illogic behind, and many of the dangers ...

  • October 20th, 2010

    The Overton Window: More Poodle Than Panther

    I'm pleased to announce that At the Tea Party: The Wing Nuts, Whack Jobs and Whitey-Whiteness of the New Republican Right... and Why We Should ...

  • October 29th, 2010

    Fictional Politics

    Though it's replete with action, sex, badass characters, and exotic locations, I'm gratified that my latest novel, Inside Out, has also garnered attention for its ...

  • November 1st, 2010

    The Definition of Insanity

    Earlier this month, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Jack Devine, former CIA deputy director of operations and chief of the CIA Afghan Task ...

  • February 1st, 2011

    Donald Rumsfeld, Defender of the Constitution (Really)

    Cross-posted at the American Constitution Society.Here's what I thought when I heard the Conservative Political Action Conference has decided to honor former Secretary of Defense ...

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