Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery

Editor in Chief

Since taking the editorial helm at Mother Jones in late 2006, Clara and her co-editor, Monika Bauerlein, have won two National Magazine Awards for general excellence, relaunched MotherJones.com, founded a now 13-person Washington bureau, won a PEN award for editing, given birth, and forgotten what it's like to sleep. It probably doesn't help she's on Twitter so much.

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Clara Jeffery is co-editor of Mother Jones, where, together with Monika Bauerlein, she has spearheaded an era of editorial growth and innovation, marked by the addition of now 13-person Washington bureau, an overhaul of the organization's digital strategy and a corresponding 15-fold growth in traffic, and the winning of two National Magazine Awards for general excellence. When Jeffery and Bauerlein received a PEN award for editing in 2012, the judges noted: “With its sharp, compelling blend of investigative long-form journalism, eye-catching infographics and unapologetically confident voice, Mother Jones under Jeffery and Bauerlein has been transformed from what was a respected—if under-the-radar—indie publication to an internationally recognized, powerhouse general-interest periodical influencing everything from the gun-control debate to presidential campaigns. In addition to their success on the print side, Jeffery and Bauerlein’s relentless attention to detail, boundless curiosity and embrace of complex subjects are also reflected on the magazine’s increasingly influential website, whose writers and reporters often put more well-known and deep-pocketed news divisions to shame. Before joining the staff of Mother Jones, Jeffery was a senior editor of Harper's magazine. Fourteen pieces that she personally edited have been finalists for National Magazine Awards, in the categories of essay, profile, reporting, public interest, feature, and fiction. Works she edited have also been selected to appear in various editions of Best American Essays, Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing, and Best American Science Writing. Clara cut her journalistic teeth at Washington City Paper, where she wrote and edited political, investigative, and narrative features, and was a columnist. Jeffery is a graduate of Carleton College and Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. She resides in the Mission District of San Francisco with her partner Chris Baum and their son, Milo. Their burrito joint of choice is El Metate.

 

Innocent Man Rendered to Syria, Held and Tortured for One Year (Blame Canada?)

| Tue Sep. 19, 2006 11:12 AM EDT

Closing (well, except for the well-deserved lawsuits I presume) another dark chapter in the war on terror, Canadian citizen Maher Arar has been completely cleared by a Canadian judicial commission. In a 822-page report, the commission, lead by Justice Dennis O'Connor, ripped the Mounties apart for giving U.S. authorities erroneous and inflammatory "evidence" against Arar, which led to his being detained during a stopover in JFK airport, rendered to Syria, where he was held and tortured for one year.

And let's be clear what we mean by torture here. This isn't just sleep deprivation. This is a Canadian computer consultant returning from a family vacation who, with no ability to access the "evidence" against him, gets bundled off to Syria and beaten with electrical cables.

Arar, a 31-year-old computer consultant and Canadian citizen, was en route from Zurich to Montreal to attend to business following a family vacation in Tunisia, according to a lawsuit he filed against U.S. officials in 2004. He was standing in line waiting to pass immigration inspection when an immigration officer asked him to step aside to answer some questions.
As FBI agents, immigration officials and NYPD officers questioned Arar, he asked to consult an attorney. U.S. officials told Arar that only U.S. citizens had the right to a lawyer and locked him up in the Metropolitan Detention Center in New York City, where he endured more interrogation about his friends, the mosques he attended, his letters and e-mails. U.S. officials then demanded that he "voluntarily" agree to be sent to Syria, where he was born, instead of home to Canada (Arar holds dual citizenship). Arar refused, according to Amnesty International, explaining that he was afraid he would be tortured in Syria for not completing his military service. After more than a week in detention, U.S. authorities determined that Arar was "inadmissible" to the United States based on secret evidence and notified him that he would be deported to Syria.
They took him to New Jersey in the middle of the night and loaded him onto a small plane that stopped in Washington, D.C., and then Rome before proceeding to Jordan. Local authorities in Jordan chained and beat Arar, bundled him in a van and drove him across the border to Syria, where Arar was beaten with electrical cables, interrogated about his acquaintances and beliefs, and kept in a tiny cell for months at a time.

The full O'Connor report is not available (due to, you guessed it, security concerns), but news reports indicate that basically after 9/11 the RCMP not only saw terrorists behind every tree but then passed on raw intelligence that had not been analyzed for accuracy to the even more hot-headed U.S. intelligence forces. Via the Globe and Mail:
"The Mounties, the report continues, should have flagged the material as being from unproven sources and should have taken precautions to make sure it was not used in U.S. deportation proceedings…
U.S. officials refused to testify at the Canadian inquiry. But the report says it "is very likely" they relied on the faulty RCMP intelligence when they decided to send Mr. Arar to Syria, the country of his birth, rather than home to Canada.
"The RCMP provided American authorities with information about Mr. Arar which was inaccurate, portrayed him in an unfair fashion and overstated his importance to the investigation," the report says. "The RCMP had no basis for this description, which had the potential to create serious consequences for Mr. Arar in light of American attitudes and practices" at that time, the report says.
The Mounties also erroneously told the Americans Mr. Arar was in the Washington area on Sept. 11, 2001, when, in fact, he was in San Diego.

When Arar got back, the Mounties mounted a smear campaign against him…Boy, this all sounds so familiar.

The O'Connor report also calls for the further independent investigation of the cases of three other Canadian Muslim men—Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muyyed Nurredin —who were likewise rendered and claim to have been tortured.

These are just some of the cases we know about. God knows how many we don't. McCain, Graham, Warner, and Powell (and now George Shultz!) are all absolutely correct, when we indulge in barbarous behavoir, we can expect more of the same. We may be on the receiving end of some no matter how well we act, but that's not the point. The point is what kind of example do we want to set? To other nations and peoples, and to our own children.

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Jim Webb's 2002 Op-Ed Against Invading Iraq

| Mon Sep. 18, 2006 2:58 AM EDT

Jim Webb isn't by any means perfect, as Tim Russert revealed in his interview with Webb and George "Macaca" Allen reveals.

For one thing, Webb, like Allen, didn't want to alienate Virginia tobacco growers by saying his or Allen's habit of chewing tobacco was part of a greater health problem. And though the outcry was orchestrated by the Allen campaign, the complaints that women veterans have over Webb's 1979 article decrying women being admitted to the Naval Academy (which Webb also attended) was, certainly, wrongheaded and counterproductive, as he has now admitted.

Still, Webb was right on in his 2002 Washington Post op-ed questioning the Pollyannaish views of the Bushies as to what the long-term consequences of invading Iraq would be:

American military leaders have been trying to bring a wider focus to the band of neoconservatives that began beating the war drums on Iraq before the dust had even settled on the World Trade Center. Despite the efforts of the neocons to shut them up or to dismiss them as unqualified to deal in policy issues, these leaders, both active-duty and retired, have been nearly unanimous in their concerns. Is there an absolutely vital national interest that should lead us from containment to unilateral war and a long-term occupation of Iraq? And would such a war and its aftermath actually increase our ability to win the war against international terrorism?...
The first reality is that wars often have unintended consequences -- ask the Germans, who in World War I were convinced that they would defeat the French in exactly 42 days. The second is that a long-term occupation of Iraq would beyond doubt require an adjustment of force levels elsewhere, and could eventually diminish American influence in other parts of the world....
Other than the flippant criticisms of our "failure" to take Baghdad during the Persian Gulf War, one sees little discussion of an occupation of Iraq, but it is the key element of the current debate. The issue before us is not simply whether the United States should end the regime of Saddam Hussein, but whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years.

Also, as a Virginian, I must point out that Webb really is one, whereas Allen is (gasp!) a Californian—which is why he's raised more "Hollywood money" than Webb. You can read the rest of Webb's 2002 op-ed after the jump.

Barack Running for Prez?

| Mon Sep. 18, 2006 2:09 AM EDT

That's the speculation.

One thing is for sure, 2008 is heating up to be the most interesting political season in a long time. Sure, the early money is on (and most of the political money is with) McCain and Hillary. But when wild cards include Gore, Rudy, Biden, Obama, and a host of others—it should be fun.

Now political operative friends tell me that they don't see Obama getting on the DNC ticket because Bill C. is as good as getting out the black vote as anybody—up to and including a black man. That may be true, though I think it underestimates Obama's larger draw.

What I would like to know is what to make of the McCain, Lindsey Graham, Colin Powell anti-torture alliance. Somewhere in that trokia is the perfect GOP ticket...

One that, it must be said, gets them around the McCain age/melanoma issue.

Iraq's Police Force: Murderers' Row

| Sun Sep. 17, 2006 10:22 PM EDT

The NYT's Edward Wong and Paul von Zielbauer report that the efforts of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior to purge the police and internal security forces of Shiite militiamen and criminals is not going well.

The ministry recently discovered that more than 1,200 policemen and other employees had been convicted years ago of murder, rape and other violent crimes, said a Western diplomat who has close contact with the ministry. Some were even on death row. Few have been fired…
There is little accountability. The government has stopped allowing joint Iraqi and American teams to inspect Iraqi prisons. No senior ministry officials have been prosecuted on charges of detainee mistreatment, in spite of fresh discoveries of abuse and torture, including a little-reported case involving children packed into a prison of more than 1,400 inmates. Internal investigations into secret prisons, corruption and other potential criminal activity are often blocked.

The report does contain some good news—"Death squads in police uniforms no longer kidnap and kill with absolute impunity in parts of Sunni-dominated western Baghdad, many Iraqis say. The American military estimates there was a 52 percent drop in the daily rate of execution-style killings from July to August."*—but on the whole the details are most disturbing.

*Update (or rather backdate, from Wong's story the previous day):


There has been a surge in the number of Iraqis killed execution-style in the last few days, with scores of bodies found across the city despite an aggressive security plan begun last month. The Baghdad morgue has reported that at least 1,535 Iraqi civilians died violently in the capital in August, a 17 percent drop from July but still much higher than virtually all other months.
American military officials have disputed the morgue's numbers, saying military data shows that what they refer to as the murder rate dropped by 52 percent from July to August. But American officials have acknowledged that that count does not include deaths from bombings and rocket or mortar attacks.

And don't even get me started about the trenches around Baghdad plan.

California's Solar Babies

| Fri Sep. 15, 2006 11:59 AM EDT

There are many things not to like about California, and top of my list, right after the state's self-satisfaction, is its political dysfunction—recalls, referendums, propositions, and the perennial standoff between the governor and the state legislature.

However, as this great NYT story (with a lot of multimedia bells and whistles) demonstrates, California's politicians have put their differences aside to create a bold new carrot-and-stick approach to cut carbon dioxide emissions and energy usage.

That's the kind of leadership we wish could come from Congress or the Bush Administration. But if Arnold, democratic assemblywomen, greens, and even anti-regulatory entrepreneur T. J. Rodgers can get together to save the planet (and turn a profit in the process), maybe there's hope.

Points of interest:

California's per-person electricity usage has remained flat since the 1970s, while the national average has risen by 50%.

A quarter of new hybrids are registered in California, where car dealers report that SUVs are no longer selling well.

Car makers and even dealerships have sued the state, saying that its new law requiring them to reduce the average CO2 emissions in cars sold in California by 30 percent by 2009 (light trucks and SUVs have until 2016) amounts to a backdoor way to legislate fuel efficiency—which is, alas, a federal domain.

The Supreme Court will soon hear a case brought by Massachusetts and a dozen other states arguing that the EPA should declare CO2 a pollutant and regulate it, which, but of course, the Bush Administration claims it has no authority to do. (But you're The Decider!)

And Rudy Giuliani's firm is in the business of defending utilities from all this evil regulation:

Scott Segal, a lawyer for Bracewell & Giuliani who represents electric utilities, summarized California's policy as: "All electrons are not created equal. We're going to discriminate against some of them, and create artificial barriers in the marketplace for electricity." California consumers could end up paying more for their energy and struggling to find enough, Mr. Segal said.
Discriminating against electrons! Start the meme watch.

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