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Blogger Profile: Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren spent a year in Iraq as a State Department Foreign Service Officer serving as Team Leader for two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). Now in Washington, he writes about Iraq and the Middle East at his blog, We Meant Well. His book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books), will be published this September and can be preordered by clicking here.

Peter Van Buren's Blogs

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Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

March 6th, 2014

Silencing Whistleblowers Obama-Style: Supreme Court Edition?

Crossposted from TomDispatch The Obama administration has just opened a new front in its ongoing war on whistleblowers. It’s taking its case against one man, former Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Air Marshal Robert MacLean, all the way to the Supreme Court. So hold on, because we’re going back down the rabbit ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

August 21st, 2013

Sending a Kid Into the World

I sent off the last of the heirs to the We Meant Well fortune to college. She's a good kid, smarter than me hopefully, and she should do well at school. Though she is more embarrassed than anything about half the stuff I write, her heart's in the right place. ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

August 5th, 2013

Welcome to Post-Constitution America: What If Your Country Begins to Change and No One Notices?

Crossposted from TomDispatchOn July 30, 1778, the Continental Congress created the first whistleblower protection law, stating “that it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds, or misdemeanors committed by ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

July 1st, 2013

Edward Snowden’s Long Flight: What a Whistleblower Thinks a Fellow Whistleblower Might Have Thought

As a State Department whistleblower, I think a lot about Edward Snowden. I can’t help myself. My friendships with other whistleblowers like Tom Drake, Jesslyn Radack, Daniel Ellsberg, and John Kiriakou lead me to believe that, however different we may be as individuals, our acts have given us much in ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

May 9th, 2013

Homeland Insecurity: Seven Years, Untold Dollars to Silence One Man

Crossposted from TomDispatchWhat do words mean in a post-9/11 world? Apart from the now clichéd Orwellian twists that turn brutal torture into mere enhanced interrogation, the devil is in the details. Robert MacLean is a former air marshal fired for an act of whistleblowing.  He has continued to fight over ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

March 11th, 2013

Mission Unaccomplished: Why the Invasion of Iraq Was the Single Worst Foreign Policy Decision in American History

Crossposted from TomDispatch: I was there. And “there” was nowhere. And nowhere was the place to be if you wanted to see the signs of end times for the American Empire up close. It was the place to be if you wanted to see the madness -- and oh yes, ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

February 16th, 2013

I Am Patient Zero in Our New Economy: Raise the Minimum Wage

In his State of the Union Address, the president said that the federal minimum wage should be raised to nine dollars an hour. He said also that a person holding down a full-time job should not have to live in poverty in a country like America. I could not agree ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

December 20th, 2012

An All-American Nightmare: Why Zero Dark Thirty Won’t Settle the Torture Question or Purge Torture From the American System

Crossposted from TomDispatch If you look backward you see a nightmare. If you look forward you become the nightmare. There’s one particular nightmare that Americans need to face: in the first decade of the twenty-first century we tortured people as national policy. One day, we’re going to have to confront ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

October 11th, 2012

Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell: Six Critical Foreign Policy Questions That Won’t Be Raised in the Presidential Debates

Crossposted from TomDispatch We had a debate club back in high school. Two teams would meet in the auditorium, and Mr. Garrity would tell us the topic, something 1970s-ish like “Resolved: Women Should Get Equal Pay for Equal Work” or “World Communism Will Be Defeated in Vietnam.” Each side would ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

September 12th, 2012

The Persecution of John Kiriakou: Torture and the Myth of Never Again

Crossposted from TomDispatchHere is what military briefers like to call BLUF, the Bottom Line Up Front: no one except John Kiriakou is being held accountable for America’s torture policy. And John Kiriakou didn’t torture anyone, he just blew the whistle on it. In a Galaxy Far, Far Away A long ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

June 13th, 2012

Leaking War: How Obama’s Targeted Killings, Leaks, and the Everything-Is-Classified State Have Fused

White is black and down is up. Leaks that favor the president are shoveled out regardless of national security, while national security is twisted to pummel leaks that do not favor him. Watching their boss, bureaucrats act on their own, freelancing the punishment of whistleblowers, knowing their retaliatory actions will ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

April 9th, 2012

Left Behind: What We Lost in Iraq and Washington, 2009-2012

People ask the question in various ways, sometimes hesitantly, often via a long digression, but my answer is always the same: no regrets. In some 24 years of government service, I experienced my share of dissonance when it came to what was said in public and what the government did ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

February 9th, 2012

Silent State

Crossposted from TomDispatchOn January 23rd, the Obama administration charged former CIA officer John Kiriakou under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified information to journalists about the waterboarding of al-Qaeda suspects. His is just the latest prosecution in an unprecedented assault on government whistleblowers and leakers of every sort. Kiriakou’s plight ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

November 28th, 2011

No Free Speech at Mr. Jefferson’s Library

Here’s the First Amendment, in full: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

October 3rd, 2011

Chickening Out in Iraq

Crossposted from TomDispatchWho doesn’t like roasted chicken? Fresh, crispy with a little salt, it falls off the bone into your mouth. It’s a great thing, unless the price is $2.5 million of your tax dollars. As a Foreign Service Officer with a 20-year career in the State Department, and as ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

September 27th, 2011

Freedom Isn’t Free at the State Department

Crossposted from TomDispatchOn the same day that more than 250,000 unredacted State Department cables hemorrhaged out onto the Internet, I was interrogated for the first time in my 23-year State Department career by State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and told I was under investigation for allegedly disclosing classified information. ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

June 7th, 2011

Occupying Iraq, State Department-Style

Way out on the edge of Forward Operating Base Hammer, where I lived for much of my year in Iraq as a Provincial Reconstruction Team leader for the U.S. Department of State, there were several small hills, lumps of raised dirt on the otherwise frying-pan-flat desert. These were “tells,” ancient ... continue reading

Peter Van Buren

Author, 'We Meant Well'

May 17th, 2011

The War Lovers

Crossposted from TomDispatchObjective reporting on the SEAL team that killed bin Laden was as easy to find as a Prius at a Michele Bachmann rally. The media simply couldn’t help themselves. They couldn’t stop spooning out man-sized helpings of testosterone -- the SEALs’ phallic weapons, their frat-house, haze-worthy training, their ... continue reading

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Apr 9th
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Apr 5th
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Apr 4th
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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
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Apr 3rd
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Apr 2nd
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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
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Mar 31st
10:13 PM
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Mar 24th
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Mar 23rd
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Mar 21st
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Mar 21st
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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
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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
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Mar 17th
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Mar 14th
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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
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Mar 13th
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Mar 12th
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Mar 10th
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Mar 10th
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Mar 7th
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