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Spencer Ackerman is an American national security reporter and blogger. He began his career at The New Republic and wrote for Wired magazine's national security blog, Danger Room. From 2013 to 2017, Ackerman held the role of national security editor at the Guardian US. In 2017, Ackerman became the senior national security correspondent for The Daily Beast.
Life and career
Ackerman was born to a Jewish family and graduated from Rutgers University where he was an editor for the Daily Targum student paper. In 2002, he moved to Washington, D.C. to become an intern and later an associate editor at The New Republic magazine. He initially supported the Iraq War, but became disillusioned. In 2004 he started Iraq'd, a blog on The New Republic website, which chronicled the dilemma of pro-war liberals. He also wrote, with John B. Judis, an article that started the chain of events that led to the Plame affair.
In 2006 Ackerman was fired from TNR for "insubordination" (in TNR editor Franklin Foer's account) or "irreconcilable ideological differences" (in Ackerman's). He next wrote for The American Prospect (which offered him a job within a day of his firing) and Talking Points Memo.
Ackerman also maintains a personal blog, Attackerman, which was hosted at Firedoglake from June 2008 through December 2010. On December 29, 2010, he reported that he had to move his blog, saying, "the congressional press galleries are wary of giving me permanent credentials while I’m affiliated here." In September 2011, Ackerman reported a series of articles for Wired, alleging anti-Islamic bias in FBI training materials. As a result, the FBI launched "a comprehensive review of all training and reference materials that relate in any way to religion or culture."
Ackerman was a member of the private Google Groups forum JournoList. Several JournoList comments by Ackerman on topics such as the Jeremiah Wright controversy were revealed by the Daily Caller. Ackerman, then of the Washington Independent, wrote, "I do not endorse a Popular Front, nor do I think you need to. It’s not necessary to jump to Wright-qua-Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically." James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal took issue with a particularly controversial e-mail from Ackerman: "If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they've put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares – and call them racists". A spokesman for Wired said that Ackerman would keep his job, saying "We hired Spencer Ackerman for his well-informed national security reporting and fully support it. Anyone with access to Google can discover his political leanings."
Claims of North Korean "propaganda video"
In 2013, Ackerman was forced to take down one of his Wired stories on what he claimed was a "North Korean propaganda video", after it was revealed the film was a satire video by British travel writer Alun Hill.
CIA keeps photos of abused detainees
On March 28, 2016, writing in The Guardian, Ackerman reported that during the early 2000s, the CIA had taken photos of captives and detainees who were naked, before transporting them through extraordinary rendition to foreign countries for interrogation, often under torture. These photos are classified and are retained by the CIA. The CIA had illegally destroyed its extensive library of video tapes documenting the torture of the men and boys it had apprehended and detained through its covert "snatch teams". But it has retained these photos of naked, bruised and beaten detainees. Observers have seen some, which they describe as "gruesome". One commentator suggested it was part of a pattern of sexual abuse of prisoners. Another said that the photos were taken to show the condition of the prisoners before rendition.
- Nance, Malcolm; Ackerman, Spencer (foreword) (October 10, 2016), The Plot to Hack America: How Putin's Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election, Skyhorse Publishing, pp. 216, ISBN 978-1510723320
- Marx, Greg (June 23, 2010). "Spencer Ackerman to Join Wired’s Danger Room". Columbia Journalism Review.
- Guardian US Press Office (May 8, 2013). "Spencer Ackerman joins the Guardian as National Security Editor". The Guardian.
- Hebbard, D. B. (June 19, 2017). "Sam Stein to leave HuffPost, will join The Daily Beast as the site’s new Politics Editor". Talking New Media. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- The Tablet: "Sounding Off - Note to some of my fellow progressives: If we can’t argue about Israel without using anti-Semitic tropes, then the debate is lost before it even begins" By Spencer Ackerman January 27, 2012
- Beaudette, Marie (September 12, 2007). "D.C.'s New Young Blogging Elite". The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB118945161322222870. Retrieved September 12, 2007.
- Calderone, Michael. "Off the Record". New York Observer. http://www.observer.com/node/39607#. Retrieved October 29, 2006.
- Aaron, Weiner (June 23, 2010). "A Bittersweet Farewell to a TWI Icon, Spencer Ackerman". Washington Independent. http://washingtonindependent.com/88123/a-bittersweet-farewell-to-a-twi-icon-spencer-ackerman.
- Ackerman, Spencer (December 29, 2010). "A Bittersweet Goodbye Post".
- Ackerman, Spencer (September 14, 2011). "FBI Teaches Agents: 'Mainstream' Muslims Are 'Violent, Radical'", Wired, September 2011.
- FBI National Press Office (September 20, 2011) "FBI Launches Comprehensive Review of Training Program", Press Release, FBI website
- "The Radical Mind of Dick Cheney: An In-Depth Look at the Vice President". Democracy Now!. November 26, 2003. http://www.democracynow.org/2003/11/26/the_radical_mind_of_dick_cheney.
- Ackerman, Spencer (July 23, 2009). "How to succeed in Hollywood without really trying". The Guardian (London). https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/jul/23/armando-iannucci-in-the-loop-washington. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- James Taranto, 'Call Them Racists', Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2010.
- Hagey, Keach (July 20, 2010). "Unlike David Weigel, Spencer Ackerman keeps job". Politico. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/39974.html. Retrieved July 20, 2010.
- "'How Americans Live Today': Fake North Korean Propaganda Video Punks The Internet". March 13, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/how-americans-live-today-north-korea-fake-video_n_2868121.html. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
- Spencer Ackerman (March 28, 2016). "CIA photographed detainees naked before sending them to be tortured". The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/mar/28/cia-photographed-naked-detainees. Retrieved March 30, 2016. "Iacopino has not seen the nude photographs but raised grave concerns. “It’s cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment at a minimum and may constitute torture,” he said."
- Andrew Blake (March 28, 2016). "CIA reportedly used nude photos to sexually humiliate terror suspects". Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/mar/28/cia-used-nude-photos-as-sexual-humiliation-on-post/. Retrieved March 30, 2016. "One former U.S. official familiar with the photographs described them to The Guardian as “very gruesome,” and others went as far as to suggest the practice of photographing naked detainees may constitute a violation of international law."
- "CIA took naked photos of detainees before sending them for torture: Report". Press TV. March 29, 2016. http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/03/29/458042/CIA-torture-detainees-captives. Retrieved March 30, 2016. "Also, a medical and human rights expert called the practice “sexual humiliation,” while some other human rights campaigners regard it as a potential war crime."
- Trace William Cowen (March 28, 2016). "CIA Reportedly Took "Gruesome" Nude Photos of Detainees Before They Were Tortured". Complex. http://ca.complex.com/life/2016/03/central-intelligence-agency-photographed-nude-detainees-torture. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
- Danger Room – Ackerman's national security blog at Wired
- Attackerman – Ackerman's personal blog
- Attackerman – Ackerman's personal blog, at Firedoglake, from 2008 to 2010
- Too Hot For TNR – Ackerman's personal blog from 2006 to 2008
- List of video conversations with Ackerman on BloggingHeads.tv
- Articles by Ackerman at The New Republic
- Articles by Ackerman at The American Prospect
- Killing the Messenger by Ackerman in Salon, November 16, 2004
- Q&A: Spencer Ackerman 2009 interview with Ackerman at Columbia Journalism Review