Monika Bauerlein

Monika Bauerlein

CEO

Since taking the helm at Mother Jones in 2006, Monika and editor-in-chief Clara Jeffery have won two National Magazine Awards, launched a nine-person Washington bureau, relaunched the website, given birth, and forgotten what it’s like to sleep.

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Monika Bauerlein is CEO of Mother Jones. Previously, she served as co-editor with Clara Jeffery, who is now editor-in-chief. Together, they spearheaded an era of editorial growth and innovation, marked by two National Magazine Awards for general excellence, the addition of a 12-person Washington Bureau, and an overhaul of the organization’s digital strategy that grew MotherJones.com's traffic more than tenfold. She has also worked as Mother Jones' investigative editor, focusing on long-form projects marrying in-depth reportage, document sleuthing, and narrative appeal, and as an alternative-weekly editor, a correspondent for US and European publications in Washington, D.C. and at the United Nations, an AP stringer, corporate trainer, translator, sausage slinger and fishing-line packager. She lives in Oakland.

Who'd You Rather Read, Gary Webb or Judy Miller?

On occasion of the tenth anniversary of "Dark Alliance," the San Jose Mercury News series on CIA-contra-crack connections that set off more major-newspaper handwringing than perhaps anything this side of the Bush-Iraq-WMD fiasco, Nick Schou of the alternative OC Weekly has an op-ed in the LA Times that's worth reading. Doesn't matter whether you're still puzzling over why exactly every major paper in the country saw fit to "debunk" claims Webb had not actually made, or whether you've never heard of the guy; the point is that Webb (whose reporting, as Eric Umansky noted in this space, was in significant regards confirmed by the government itself) was guilty of hyperbole, but not of credulity or subservience. He had the facts, and he made more of them than he should have. But as Schou points out:

Contrary to the wholly discredited reporting on Iraq's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction by New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Webb was the only victim of his mistakes. Nobody else died because of his work, and no one, either at the CIA or the Mercury News, is known to have lost so much as a paycheck.

Webb shot himself in late 2004, his career and personal life having come unraveled in the wake of "Dark Alliance." We could use the likes of him right now.

Is Al Qaeda Finished? No, Really

James Fallows no doubt wishes his Atlantic piece (you can't read it here--subscription required) on why it's time to declare the war on terror over (because we won) had run, oh, just about any other time. But timing isn't everything, and Fallows--one of a vanishingly small number of big-name journalists who actually bother to go out and talk to people--impressively lays out what most people who follow Al Qaeda have been trying to say for some time (and are still saying in the wake of the London plot): Al Qaeda as the group that masterminded 9/11 hasn't existed since the war in Afghanistan, since its top operatives were killed or driven into hiding, since it lost the ability to freely communicate via cell phones or the Internet, to transfer money over international financial networks, etc. What exists now, as Peter Bergen's Mother Jones story on "The Wrong War" noted some time ago, is a loose confederation nominally inspired by the occasional Osama or al-Zawahiri tape, but mostly proceeding on the Environmental Liberation Front model (no overall comparison intended) of like-minded cells that claim affiliation with an ideological brand when it suits them. The problem is that thanks to current U.S. policy in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, that unstructured network is growing larger and stronger every day, even in spite of its own mistakes (such as killing large numbers of Muslim civilians). Which is why Fallows is right: It's time to stop. Not stop going after terrorists, which is what the Brits were doing in investigating bomb plotters, but stop the "war" (meaning what, exactly?) on "terror" (ditto), and move on to what might actually make the world more secure.

It's All About Iran

Is it starting to look like the administration has trouble focusing on more than one thing at a time? For weeks now the not-so-subtle message from the White House has been that Lebanon is all about Iran (must rein in Hezbollah in order to contain Iran's ambitions); now comes word from Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador in Iraq (and, lest we forget, the neocons' favorite Afghan long before all this war stuff started), that increased carnage in Iraq is also about Iran.

Iran is pressing Shiite militias here to step up attacks against the American-led forces in retaliation for the Israeli assault on Lebanon, the American ambassador to Iraq said Friday. Iran may foment even more violence as it faces off with the United States and United Nations over its nuclear program in the coming weeks, he added.

This could keep going for a while. Oil prices? Iran. Climate heating up? Iran. Lieberman defeated? Iran, or maybe the terrorists... Read Bob Dreyfuss' Mother Jones piece here for one take on what the Iran focus is all about.

Israel Allowing Hezbollah Attacks for PR?

Tom Ricks, the Washington Post reporter whose remarkable book, Fiasco, tells you everything you didn't want to know about the Iraq war, tells Howard Kurtz on "Reliable Sources" (via PR Watch)that in Lebanon and just about any other war today, "civilian casualties are part of the battlefield play for both sides." Now Ricks is not a shoot-from-the-hip sort of guy, so this should be taken pretty seriously:

One of the things that is going on, according to some U.S. military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they're being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.

KURTZ: Hold on, you're suggesting that Israel has deliberately allowed Hezbollah to retain some of its fire power, essentially for PR purposes, because having Israeli civilians killed helps them in the public relations war here?

RICKS: Yes, that's what military analysts have told me.

Hmm, using terror attacks to justify drastic military action that also serves other strategic objectives. Rings a bell somehow.

In the "international law is what we damn well say it is" department, the Bush administration is proposing a bill to revise the War Crimes Act, the law that essentially binds the U.S. to the Geneva Conventions. Apparently, reports the Washington Post, the administration is concerned with excessive vagueness in the Conventions' language (crafted, lest we forget, essentially by American negotiators), particularly the part about forbidding "outrages upon personal dignity." Because, you see, this administration is all about appreciating cultural differences:

"I mean, what is degrading in one society may not be degrading in another, or may be degrading in one religion, not in another religion," [Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon] England said.

Midnight Express, anyone? How long till we hear that exact same language out of a spokesman for some government, somewhere, to explain what's being done to some hapless American tourist (or CIA officer, for that matter) who's ended up in a bad, bad jail?

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