About Jack

Jack is really a storyteller and everything else rolls out from there. As a writer, its what he does.  As a trial lawyer, its his most important tool.  As a former CIA officer, the only way to truly motivate people is to connect and to tell them a story that they can feel viscerally.  As a media analyst, what better way to make a point.  In the end, he tries to captivate his audience about the world as much as he himself is captivated. 

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Saturday
Oct032009

I'm Speaking at ACLU/PEN Event About American Torture.

The U.S. Government has done some pretty extraordinary things since 9/11.  Sadly, some of them have been illegal.  Torture is one of those things.  It is very easy to use the "few bad apples" excuse and we roll it out at every opportunity.  Or, on the other hand, we will use the excuse that we had a legal justification.  Every country that has tortured has used the same justification.  Those arguments failed too!

I'm very pleased to be involved with the ACLU and PEN American Center in the Great Hall at Cooper Union in Manhattan on October 13, 2009, to talk about torture and what has happened in this country.  I feel truly honored to play a role!

Saturday
Oct032009

I Appear on MSNBC Next Week.

Just learned that I'm scheduled to appear on MSNBC this next week to talk about the big stories of the day.  I won't know the schedule until early this next week but check back for more information.  always promises to be a lot of fun.

Hope you can watch.

Friday
Oct022009

I Appear on WCCO Radio in Minneapolis This Sunday.

This should be interesting this weekend.  I'm appearing on WCCO Radio in Minneapolis at 7:30 p.m. central time to talk about the Mexican Drug wars and how these drug cartels are reaching into the U.S. and extending their operations here. 

There is an additional element to this interview that should be fun.  I used to work for WCCO Radio for more than five years and many of these people are my friends.  In addition, I have a very warm spot in my heart for the people of the Twin Cities.   I graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School, I met my wife there, and all of my children were bon there.  I'm really looking forward to this conversation.

Hope you can listen.

Friday
Oct022009

March in D.C. For Human Rights on Oct 10-11.

Some argue that The Equality March is an event for the GLBT community, and it is.  After all, there some in this country that would just as soon push them back into the closet.  I have heard the arguments while working in California during the Proposition 8 debacle.  However, this is about more than just GLBT people.  

In my mind, this march is about the broader question of whether or not Americans should stand for equal rights for all of us or whether we should target and discriminate against a certain group of us.  So it will be interesting to see who shows up here in Washington.  If it is the GLBT community, and they show up in mass, that is good.  On the other hand, if the broader community shows up, that will be even better.

I will be covering The National Equality March starting at the end of the week and throughout the weekend.  Check back for still photos, video, and more.  Certainly promises to be interesting. 

Friday
Oct022009

Congressman Adam Smith Joins The Program.

Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) joins the program to talk Guantanamo Bay.  He has an interesting take and certainly will cut against the Democratic Party when he thinks others are wrong.  I like the independence even if I occasionally disagree with him on issues.  

Hope you can listen.

Friday
Oct022009

Detainees Praying to Allah - Gitmo, 2009.

Friday
Oct022009

Note The American Flag Behind the Razor Wire! Gitmo - 2009.

Friday
Oct022009

Jack Reports from Inside Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 2009. 

Tuesday
Sep292009

Che Guevara Invites Me To Take a Seat.

I start my trip to Cuba in the airport in Ft. Lauderdale looking for Air Sunshine. This is the airline that is supposed to get me to Cuba.  I ask one of the TSA guys for directions and he has never heard of it.  Not a good sign.  But I have time so I keep looking.  I finally find it.  Stuck in a corner, by itself.  It is a small charter service with a plastic sign, advertising trips to Florida, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands.  I note no reference to where I’m going, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

The man at the counter is speaking Spanish to somebody on the phone which in itself is not surprising.  It's Florida after all.  What is “interesting” is how he looks.  Sunglasses and a black beret.  Che Guevera comes to mind.  I start to laugh.  Wild. 

I find that I am at the right place and Che tells me to come back earlier than the scheduled flight time.  We may leave early.   Hey, I’m game.  Whatever  . . .

A few minutes before our departure, I’m waiting along with my producer, Dan Pashman.  Strange because there are very few of us, in fact six total.  I’m not even sure what kind of a plane we are talking about.  But I have a hint.  It takes about 3 1/2 hours to get from Ft. Lauderdale to Cuba.  Speed may not be this plane's strong point.  I hope reliability is!

Che opens the door which leads directly out onto the tarmac.  And there is our baby.  She is an Ambraer E-110P, a double prop. plane.  It holds all six of us and no more.  And as the co-pilot lines us up, he picks out one of us at a time and places us in specific seats - he’s distributing weight.   I’m last.  I don’t know whether to be offended or not but swear to myself that I better ease up on the bagels with real butter.  The co-pilot pulls the hatch shut behind me and Che waves goodbye! 

As I sit and look behind the six of us, our gear is pushed into the rear of the plane.  There is very little space although I laugh because the co-pilot, literally, four feet from me, lets us know there is a cooler that holds drinks.  I look down at my feet and there is the blue and white device.  I will keep it in mind. 

And then they start up the engines.  The sound is deafening and I immediately feel like an idiot.  I should have thought about this and thrown some earplugs in my backpack.  Too late now.  And we are off. 

As we quickly enter airspace over the the Carribean, the water quickly turns from a dark blue to almost turquoise.  I have to say that it is lovely.  But strange.  I’m conflicted because I keep noticing how the beauty contrasts so strongly with what also is here, Gitmo. 

As I look around at the others also on this flight, I’m find them . . .  interesting.  Besides the two pilots, the six us of are spread in three rows with a small aisle between us. There is me in the front row behind the pilot.  And next to me, there is a man across from me in his early fifties in jeans and a short sleeve dress.  He looks like he could be an electrician or engineer.   

Behind me is my producer, Dan Pashman.  Beside him, and across this small aisle is another man in his late fifties who works for a communications company.  He mentioned while we were waiting in the airport that he is based in Cincinnati and that this is his first trip to Gitmo.  Very strange. 

In the last row, again, two more guys.  One is a smaller man with rough hands.  He looks like a worker.  Again, fifties, but somebody how know how to work.  Construction maybe . . . .  The last guy is a whole other game.  He is big.  6’3”, 6’4”, maybe more.  250 lbs.  Harley Davidson t-shirt, goatee, thinning hair, mostly grey now.  But there is an edge to this guy.  Something different.  He reminds me of my days at CIA.  Just a feeling.  He mentioned while we wait to board the plane that he makes this trip a lot.  I wonder what brings him to Gitmo? 

So, besides the pilots, both, again, in their 50’s, in their grey slacks and white white and short haircuts, this is our happy little band of merry men.  We travel to this little corner of the work, 45 miles total of Cuban land leased to the Americans.

Presumably, we all go for different reasons.  My goal is a simple one.  I was on the island the day Khalid Sheikh Mohammad arrived at Gitmo in 2006.  Since that time, revelations have come out that he was waterboarded, tortured, 183 times.  And three days after President Obama was inaugurated, he promised to close this base within one year.  And this last week he started to backtrack.  I want to understand why.

I will broadcast live shows radio shows this week at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for Air America Radio and I will do at least one live hit for MSNBC using a Department of Defense satellite communications system called DVIDS.  Heaven knows what that stands for.  

All I know is I’m traveling at donkey speed around the Caribbean and hope to make Gitmo sometime before the next millenium. 

As we approach the Island, I see the fence.  The guard towers.  The runway.  We hit the ground.  I step to the tarmac and feel the heat on my face.  Cuba!

Stay tuned.

 

 

Monday
Sep282009

This is Cuba.

Guantanamo Bay is a strange place.  It has been controlled exclusively and completely by the Americans since 1898.  And they have leased it for more than one hundred years despite arguments from the Cubans.  The Americans contend that it is a lease, not sovereign American territory.  And this is important.  In fact, one of the reasons President Bush chose Guantanamo Bay is for that very reason.  If detainees were brought to American soil, they would have rights per the Consitution.  If they were brought to this place, they would be in no-man's-land.  They would have no rights.  They would . . . disappear!

That is why this place, despite the American flag, is Cuba!