Dave Gilson

Dave Gilson

Senior editor

Senior editor at Mother Jones. Obsessive generalist, word wrangler, data cruncher, pun maker.

Full Bio | Get my RSS |

Dave Gilson is a senior editor at Mother Jones. Read more of his stories, follow him on Twitter, or contact him.

WikiLeaks' Afghanistan Bombshell

| Mon Jul. 26, 2010 7:15 AM EDT

[For more on the WikiLeaks Afghan document dump, read posts by Kevin Drum here and Adam Weinstein here.]

WikiLeaks is making headlines again with the release of an enormous trove of secret US military documents from Afghanistan. The Afghan War Diary, as WikiLeaks has dubbed it, was first given to the New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel, which have vetted, analyzed, and packaged the 92,000 documents into what amounts to the biggest story about the war since Osama bin Laden slipped away. As Kevin Drum explains, the stories don't seem to have many major surprises (besides the Taliban's use of Stinger missiles) for anyone who's been paying attention: "the basic picture is basically the one we've known for a long time: a difficult, chaotic battlefield that's shown little progress since the very beginning of the war." But considering that most Americans—and most American lawmakers—haven't really been paying attention to Afghanistan, this could prove to be the watershed moment after which no one can honestly claim ignorance of what's really happening over there.

If the Afghan leaks become the next Pentagon Papers, it would be a much sought-after feather in the hat of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, its shadowy, image-conscious mastermind. And it could mark the beginning of a new chapter for the organization, which has gone through some strange growing pains since it leaked its "Collateral Murder" video in April. That leak marked the first time that WikiLeaks, and Assange in particular, had assumed an active role in analyzing and promoting its own material—a decision that brought it more attention while opening it up to criticism that it had strayed from its original "just the leaks, ma'am" approach. The subsequent arrest of the alleged leaker of that video spawned a series of hyperbolic rumors about Assange being on the run from American intelligence and claims that WikiLeaks was sitting on thousands of leaked State Department cables, spawning competing volleys of mis- and disinformation that mostly served to burnish WikiLeaks' mystique. In the meantime, WikiLeaks seemed busier tweeting its own horn and swatting down foes than keeping the leaks coming.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Barton Plans Gulf Fishing Fundraiser

| Thu Jun. 17, 2010 5:00 PM EDT

In the wake of Rep. Joe Barton's public apology to BP (since walked back), the Sunlight Foundation notes that the Texas Republican is gearing up for his 7th Annual Barton Family Fishing Trip & Florida Flats Fishing Tournament in the Flordia Keys in October. Don't be fooled by the name—the event is a $5,000-a-head fundraiser for Barton's political action committee. The oil spill may or may not ruin the party—it hasn't hit the Keys yet, though the Gulf of Mexico's Loop Current appears to be carrying it that way. But the BP disaster is already having an impact on the islands' economy—impacts that the $20 billion BP fund Barton decried as a "slush fund" are supposed to help offset.

For some perspective from the Keys, MoJo's Josh Harkinson called up Brett Greco, a fishing guide who works there for the first half of the year. "It just seems like a matter of time before [the oil] does get here," he said, adding that the hotel and fishing-trip cancellations are adding up. "We're talking about a tough business to begin with in a really weak economy, and then they get the oil on top of that. You're talking about a lot of captains about to lose their livelihood." Asked about Rep. Barton's comments this morning, he said, "It sounds like an oil man just backing another oil man." And what if Barton and his extended "family" show up in October and want to hire his colleagues for a day on the water? "In their heart, they may want to tell this guy to disappear or take a walk," Greco said. "But when it comes down to dollars and cents, if it’s two or three days of fishing, that’s money they can’t say no to, unfortunately."

Harry Reid vs. the Oath Keeper Wanna-Be

| Wed Jun. 9, 2010 2:51 AM EDT

Sharron Angle won yesterday's primary to become Nevada's Republican candidate for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's seat. She may have never advocated bartering for health care with chickens, as her opponent Sue Lowden did, but Angle already has some issues. Beyond embracing the Tea Party, she's also reached out to the Oath Keepers, the fringe patriot group whose core membership of cops and soldiers are gearing up to resist the Obama administration's anticipated slide toward outright tyranny.

Back in April, Angle told TPM's Evan McMorris-Santoro that she was a member of the Oath Keepers. This Monday, Angle's husband Ted told TPM's McMorris-Santoro and Justin Elliott that "We support what the organization stands for" and that he and his wife "desire" to join it. Oath Keeper founder Steward Rhodes said that candidate Angle had paid a visit to the group's Southern Nevada chapter last fall. 

For the full scoop on the Oath Keepers and what they stand for, check out the in-depth investigation MoJo published about them this spring. In it, Justine Sharrock profiles Pvt. 1st Class Lee Pray, a young soldier who joined the group to prepare for the day when he might have to turn against his commander-in-chief to resist martial law and the mass detention of American citizens. Pray told Sharrock that he'd been recruiting buddies, running drills, and stashing weapons—just in case. Like all Oath Keepers, he's sworn to disobey any orders he considers unconstiutional or illegal.

Alleged WikiLeaks Video Leaker Arrested

| Sun Jun. 6, 2010 11:21 PM EDT

Wired has an exclusive on the arrest of a young G.I. for allegedly being the source of WikiLeaks' Collateral Murder video, which depicted an American Army helicopter mowing down two Reuters journalists on a Baghdad street in 2007. US Army SPC Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq, is reportedly in military custody awaiting charges. According to Wired, Manning was turned in by an online contact to whom he'd bragged about his leaking. Ex-hacker Adrian Lamo says that Manning told him that in addition to sending WikiLeaks the Iraq video, he had also supplied an Army Counterintelligence Center report on the whistleblower site (which it published here), a video of an American missile attack in Afghanistan (which the site has said it will publish), and 260,000 State Department cables.

Lamo told Wired he felt that Manning's actions had jeopardized national security. "I wouldn't have done this if lives weren't in danger," he said. "He was in a war zone and basically trying to vacuum up as much classified information as he could, and just throwing it up into the air."

BP's Favorite Politicians, By the Numbers

| Fri Jun. 4, 2010 3:50 PM EDT

Who's BP's favorite politician ever? If you're just going by the numbers, it's none other than President Barack Obama, who leads BP's lifetime campaign donation list with $77,051. That puts him just ahead of reliable oilmen such as Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young, his retired colleague Sen. Ted Stevens, and George W. Bush. According to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, BP and its employees have given more than $3.4 million to federal candidates since 1990, with much of their largesse going to these 20:

Candidate
Amount Received from BP
President Barack Obama
$77,051
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)
$73,300
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska, ret.)
$53,200
President George W Bush $47,388
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) $44,899
Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) $41,400
Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio, ret.) $37,550
Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) $31,000
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) $28,200
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) $27,350
Sen. Daniel Coats (R-Ind., ret.) $25,000
Rep. Lynn Martin (R-Ill., ret.) $24,450
Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) $24,000
Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) $23,800
Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla., ret.) $23,750
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) $22,300
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) $22,000
Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) $21,100
Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) $20,950
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) $20,800

 

Mon Aug. 25, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Tue Feb. 25, 2014 7:00 AM EST
Thu Jul. 18, 2013 3:05 AM EDT
Wed Apr. 17, 2013 6:30 AM EDT
Wed Mar. 27, 2013 3:16 PM EDT
Thu Mar. 14, 2013 5:04 PM EDT
Thu Feb. 21, 2013 7:01 AM EST
Sat Dec. 22, 2012 7:11 AM EST
Mon Dec. 3, 2012 7:03 AM EST
Tue Nov. 20, 2012 7:03 AM EST
Wed Nov. 7, 2012 2:31 PM EST
Thu Oct. 25, 2012 6:13 AM EDT
Tue Sep. 18, 2012 7:01 AM EDT
Mon Aug. 13, 2012 4:41 PM EDT
Mon Jul. 9, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Wed May. 16, 2012 8:16 PM EDT
Wed May. 2, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Tue May. 1, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Fri Apr. 20, 2012 6:01 AM EDT
Thu Feb. 16, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Wed Feb. 8, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Fri Feb. 3, 2012 4:44 PM EST
Mon Jan. 23, 2012 8:48 PM EST
Mon Jan. 23, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Wed Jan. 11, 2012 1:59 PM EST