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Conor Friedersdorf

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.
Results 1-10 of 67

Must Every Federal Bureaucrat Speak Off the Record?

March 26, 2014 Deep in a Pennsylvania cavern, federal employees are using an antiquated, inefficient method to process 100,000 yearly applications for retirement benefits. They're doing it by hand. The Washington Post tells the whole jaw-dropping story in "Sinkhole of Bureaucracy." It involves a multi-step process that includes hours or even days spent ...

Opinion: The Feud Between the CIA and the Senate Is Not a Problem -- It's a Glimmer of Hope

March 24, 2014 Political reporters are often unaware of the assumptions baked into the stories they write. Take the dispute between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA. Politico's latest on the subject: "Dianne Feinstein-CIA feud enters uncharted territory." Here is the lede: Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s battle with the CIA has entered dangerous, ...

Nancy Pelosi: When Legislators Take on the CIA, 'They Come After You'

March 20, 2014 House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's remarks in support of fellow legislator Dianne Feinstein, who is embroiled in a dispute with the CIA, ought to be the sort of thing that alarms everyone. After all, another powerful member of Congress claims that the spy agency she is charged with overseeing illegitimately ...

How Can the U.S. Know Its Secrets Are Safe?

March 19, 2014 Edward Snowden's critics, inside and outside the U.S. government, regularly claim that his theft of classified documents is damaging to national security in part because officials must assume a worst-case scenario: that he took a couple million documents, and that China, Russia, or others gained access to all of them. ...

Crumbling Guantanamo Buildings Pose Risks to Troops, Detainees

March 18, 2014 General John F. Kelly's testimony before the Senate didn't just focus on drug trafficking. The head of the U.S. Southern Command talked about Guantanamo Bay too. Per usual, he praised the military personnel there, downplayed the hunger strike undertaken by inmates, and avowed that they are treated humanely. But he ...

5 Ways the War on Drugs Makes Us Less Safe

March 17, 2014 General John F. Kelly, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, testified last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he argued, as generals tend to do, that he has inadequate resources to fulfill the missions assigned to him. Here's how the Associated Press summed up his statement: The ...

The Decline of the American War Hawk

March 11, 2014 Citing polling data that shows a majority of Americans want the U.S. to be less engaged in world affairs, believe our influence on those affairs is declining, and feel we're doing too much to help solve the world’s problems, New York Times columnist David Brooks argues that while "at first ...

UN Drone Investigator: U.S. Must Explain Civilian Deaths

March 11, 2014 After a year long study of the use of drones to kill people, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Ben Emmerson has released his final report. It's a manageable read at 22 pages. The summary by NYU's Sarah Knuckey is the next best thing. The report documents 30 instances where ...

Analysis: Why Does Congress Lack the Backbone to Oversee the CIA?

March 10, 2014 Ongoing efforts to make public a report on torture perpetrated by the CIA has the spy agency "nearly at war" with its Senate overseers, Eli Lake reports in The Daily Beast. In theory, that would mean that the CIA is in deep trouble. Congress has the power to destroy the ...

Stray Dogs: How ATF Agents Lose Their Guns

February 28, 2014 Several months ago, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published the results of an expansive investigation into a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms sting program. The widespread misbehavior on display was both alarming and comical, a characterization that applies equally well to the newspaper's latest revelation: For unexplained reasons, ATF agents ...