Mark Danner

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Mark Danner is a writer and reporter who for three decades has written on politics and foreign affairs, focusing on war and conflict. He has covered, among many other stories, wars and political conflict in Central America, Haiti, the Balkans, Iraq and the Middle East, and, most recently, the story of torture during the War on Terror. Danner is Professor of Journalism and English at the University of California, Berkeley and James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and the Humanities at Bard College. Among his books are Torture and the Forever War (forthcoming, 2014), Stripping Bare the Body (2009), The Secret Way to War: The Downing Street Memo and the Iraq War's Buried History (2006), Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror (2004), The Road to Illegitimacy: One Reporter's Travels through the 2000 Florida Vote Recount (2004), and The Massacre at El Mozote: A Parable of the Cold War (1994). Danner was a longtime staff writer at The New Yorker and is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. His work has appeared in Harper's, The New York Times, Aperture, and many other newspapers and magazines. He co-wrote and helped produce two hour-long documentaries for the ABC News program Peter Jennings Reporting , and his work has received, among other honors, a National Magazine Award, three Overseas Press Awards, and an Emmy. In 1999 Danner was named a MacArthur Fellow. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Century Association, the World Affairs Council and serves as a resident curator at the Telluride Film Festival. He speaks and lectures widely on foreign policy and America's role in the world.

Published Stories & Highlights:

Cheney: 'The More Ruthless the Better'
New York Review of Books
I came upon the half-destroyed truck atop a highway overpass outside Fallujah, the cab all shot to hell, the trailer bloodstained and askew, propped at a crazy angle on its blown tires. On the highway below a great black burn scarred the concrete and over it a rust-red slash, the soot and blood marking the spot where, earlier that day in October 2003, the insurgents had used a cheap remote control to ignite barrels of concealed explosives just as the US armored patrol rumbled by, killing one paratrooper, wounding several. Insurgents, hidden in houses nearby, followed with bursts from their AK-47s...
He Remade Our World
New York Review of Books
Almost exactly a decade ago, Vice President Dick Cheney greeted President George W. Bush one morning in the Oval Office with the news that his administration was about to implode. Or not quite: Cheney let the president know that something was deeply wrong, though it would take Bush two more days of increasingly surprising revelations, and the near mass resignation of his senior Justice Department and law enforcement officials, to figure out exactly what it was. “On the morning of March 10, 2004,” as the former president recounts the story in his memoirs, Dick Cheney and Andy Card greeted me with a startling announcement: The Terrorist Surveillance Program would expire at the end of the day. “How can it possibly end?” I asked. “It’s vital to protecting the country.”
In the Darkness of Dick Cheney
New York Review of Books
In early 2007, as Iraq seemed to be slipping inexorably into chaos and President George W. Bush into inescapable political purgatory, Meir Dagan, the head of the Israeli Mossad, flew to Washington, sat down in a sunlit office of the West Wing of the White House, and spread out on the coffee table before him a series of photographs showing a strange-looking building rising out of the sands in the desert of eastern Syria. Vice President Dick Cheney did not have to be told what it was. “They tried to hide it down a wadi, a gulley,” he recalls to filmmaker R.J. Cutler...
Rumsfeld: Why we Live in His Ruins
New York Review of Books
On a lovely morning in May 2004, as occupied Iraq slipped deeper into a chaos of suicide bombings, improvised explosive attacks, and sectarian warfare, the American commander in Baghdad, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, together with his superior, General John Abizaid of Central Command, arrived at the White House for an appointment with the president. Once inside the Oval Office, General Sanchez tells us in his memoir...
Donald Rumsfeld Revealed
New York Review of Books
The second part in a three part series on Donald Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld’s War and Its Consequences Now
New York Review of Books
A bare two weeks after the attacks of September 11, at the end of a long and emotional day at the White House, a sixty-nine-year-old politician and businessman—a midwesterner, born of modest means but grown wealthy and prominent and powerful—returned to his enormous suite of offices on the seventh floor of the flood-lit and wounded Pentagon and, as was his habit, scrawled out a memorandum on his calendar: Interesting day— NSC mtg. with President— As [it] ended he asked to see me alone… After the meeting ended I went to Oval Office—He was alone He was at his desk— He talked about the meet Then he said I want you to develop a plan to invade Ir[aq]. Do it outside the normal channels. Do it creatively so we don’t have to take so much cover [?]
Syria: Is There a Solution?
New York Review of Books
Some may disagree, but I believe that America is exceptional—in part because we have shown a willingness through the sacrifice of blood and treasure to stand up not only for our own narrow self-interests, but for the interests of all. —President Barack Obama, United Nations, September 24, 2013 A decade ago, during a few exciting weeks in the spring of 2003, United States soldiers and Marines “liberated” Iraq. Americans saw the great yellow and red nighttime explosions of the “shock and awe” bombing campaign and then the columns of tanks storming headlong to Baghdad. Iraqis, their views unconstrained by the imposed inhibitions of American television executives, saw enormous carnage. During the four weeks of the American advance, more than three thousand Iraqi civilians were killed.1 How to grasp this number? An equivalent proportion of the American population would give us 36,000 American civilians killed. (During the decade of the Vietnam War, more than 58,000 US soldiers and Marines died.) Today, a decade after the triumphant fanfare of the American invasion, and two years after the last US troops departed in quiet ignominy, the war rages on: Sunnis and Shias go on killing one another at the rate of nearly a thousand a month. The collective death toll of the war Americans launched likely falls somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 Iraqis, and counting.
Six Powerful Voices: Deep Inside Israel's Shin Bet
Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence service, is branded as the “Defender that shall not be seen.” Yet Dror Moreh, director of The Gatekeepers, sat down with not one but all six of Shin Bet’s surviving directors. Professor Mark Danner asks him how he extracted the details they tell, not only about their shadow war with Palestinian terrorists but their bitter conflicts with Israeli politicians,
To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature
New York Times

Recovery [in Haiti] can come only with vital, even heroic, outside help; but such help, no matter how inspiring the generosity it embodies, will do little to restore Haiti unless it addresses, as countless prior interventions built on transports of sympathy have not, the manmade causes that lie beneath the Haitian malady.

The Paradoxes of the Torture Scandal
Washington Post

Here's a question: When was the last time American officials waterboarded a detainee? Well, that would be 2003 -- six years ago. Here's another: When did Americans first find out about it? That would be 2004 -- five years ago. Professor Mark Danner writes about the torture scandal in an article for the Washington Post.

The ICRC Torture Report: What It Means
New York Review of Books

For the New York Review of Books

Tales from Torture's Dark World
The New York Times

For The New York Times Sunday Week in Review, an exclusive report by Mark Danner on the ICRC report on The Treatment of Fourteen "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody.

US Torture: Tales from the Black Sites
The New York Review of Books

An exclusive report by Mark Danner, for The New York Review of Books, on the ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen "High-Value" Detainees in CIA Custody.

Taking Stock of the Terror War

To contemplate a prewar map of Baghdad — as I do the one before me, with sectarian neighborhoods traced out in blue and red and yellow — is to look back on a lost Baghdad, a Baghdad of our dreams...(Based on a lecture delivered by Mark Danner at the Tenth Asia Security Conference, New Delhi. March 2008)

Weapons of Mass Destruction and Other Imaginative Acts
The New York Times

For the New York Times, Mark Danner reviews Ron Suskind's "The Way of the World:
A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism"

2008: The Weight of the Past
The New York Review of Books

Mark Danner's contribution to the New York Review of Book's a symposium on the upcoming election entitled "What's at Stake." (October 6, 2008)

Obama & Sweet Potato Pie
The New York Review of Books

You would think first of all of a village fair: the entire community of Germantown, Northwest Philly, taking itself up on the brightest of bright sunny fall days and moving en masse, clumps of people—groups of young men in the obligatory hoodies and low-riding jeans, moms pushing strollers, dads lugging car seats... Professor Mark Danner writes in The New York Review of Books.

Frozen Scandal
The New York Review of Books

Scandal is our growth industry. Revelation of wrongdoing leads not to definitive investigation, punishment, and expiation but to more scandal. Permanent scandal. Frozen scandal... Professor Mark Danner writes in The New York Review of Books

Words in a Time of War (abridged)
Los Angeles Times

For the Los Angeles Times, an op-ed essay by professor Mark Danner, adapted from remarks delivered at the commencement ceremony for the UC-Berkeley Department of Rhetoric, May 15, 2007.

'The Moment Has Come to Get Rid of Saddam'
The New York Review of Books

For the The New York Review of Books, an introductory essay and commentary on the latest crucial document attesting to "the gap between what President Bush and members of his administration were saying publicly during the run-up to the [Iraq] war and what they were saying, and doing, in more private settings": the Crawford Transcript of Bush's conversation with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, February 22, 2003.

Words in a Time of War

"Taking the measure of the first Rhetoric-major president": A commencement address by Mark Danner delivered to graduates in the Department of Rhetoric, Zellerbach Hall, the University of California, Berkeley. The address is available online at tomdispatch.com.

Iraq: The War of the Imagination
The New York Review of Books

In a major 13,000 word piece for For The New York Review of Books, Professor Mark Danner dissects the Bush administration's prosecution of the Iraq War as we enter "the time of solutions".

You Can Do Anything With a Bayonet Except Sit on It

At tomdispatch.com, Professor Mark Danner was interviewed by Tom Engelhardt. The two had a conversation about Iraq, torture, and Bush's state of exception.

Taking Stock of the Forever War
The New York Times Magazine

In a cover-story for the The New York Times Magazine, published on the four-year anniversary of 9/11, Professor Mark Danner assesses the history and future of the War on Terror.

Iraq's Buried History: The Memo, the Press, and the War
The New York Review of Books

In an exchange with Michael Kinsley of the Los Angeles Times for The New York Review of Books, Mark Danner takes up the press reception of the Downing Street Memo and other documents that tell the secret story of how the Iraq war began.

The Secret Way to War
The New York Review of Books

For the For The New York Review of Books, Mark Danner introduces the Downing Street Memo and explains the Bush Administration's willful manipulation of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq War. The text accompanies the first U.S.-print publication of the notorious memo.

What Are You Going To Do With That?
The New York Review of Books

The New York Review of Books presents a commencement address by Mark Danner, given to graduating students in the English Department at UC-Berkeley, Hearst Greek Theater, May 15, 2005.

Iraq: The Real Election
The New York Review of Books

For The New York Review of Books, Professor Mark Danner reports from Baghdad on the recent Iraq election and the state of Iraqi politics two years into the year (the first of a two-part story).

Bush's Victory: Second Thoughts
The New York Review of Books

An extended exchange prompted by Mark Danner's essay "How Bush Really Won" in the The New York Review of Books, January 13, 2005. Letters by Andrew Hacker and Paul Cohen, response by Mark Danner.

Torture and Truth
The New York Times Book Review

Andrew Sulliivan in The New York Times Book Review reviews a new book, "Torture and Truth" by J-School Professor Mark Danner, which combines his reporting for The New York Review of Books with public records from both government files and the International Committee of the Red Cross that document torture of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison.

We Are All Torturers Now
The New York Times

On the New York Times Op-Ed page, Professor Mark Danner lays out the case against President Bush's nominee for attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, describing his role in legitimizing torture as U.S. policy in the "War on Terror".

How Bush Really Won
New York Review of Books

For New York Review of Books, Professor Mark Danner provides his take on the historic presidential election of 2004, through the lens of his travels in Florida over the final days of the campaign.

A Doctrine Left Behind
New York Times

For the New York Times, Professor Mark Danner writes about Colin Powell, Iraq and the "Post-Factual Age."

Abu Ghraib: The Hidden Story
The New York Review of Books

For The New York Review of Books, Professor Mark Danner writes about how deep the Abu Ghraib prison scandal really goes.

Struggles of Democracy
The New York Times

For The New York Times, Professor Mark Danner writes "The Struggles of Democracy and Empire."