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Looking for Firedoglake

Firedoglake and I spent several years looking for each other.

In my final months at the State Department, just before getting pushed out because of my whistleblowing, Firedoglake was one of the web sites firewalled from our desktop computers because of its Wikileaks content. Despite sites like FDL being available everywhere (it is called the world wide web after all), State pretended the Chelsea Manning-disclosed material was still protected and thus while I could see it on my government classified computer without turning into a pumpkin, I could not view it on sites like FDL. Odd.

After my first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, FDL’s Book Salon was one of the first places to interview me in depth. Hmm.

That started me as a regular FDL reader, having seen that I could find stuff on FDL that simply was not published anywhere else. FDL was, for example, the only place anywhere with daily coverage of the Manning trial. Even places like the New York Times, who benefited from the Manning documents, could not be bothered. Noted.

I started writing more and more, and found a few outlets to publish what I had to say; FDL reprinted some things of mine, but we had no direct contact. Until, that is, one piece I wrote, about the holes in the security clearance issuance process, could not find a home. A contractor had just shot several people at the Washington DC Naval Yard. There was much uninformed, hysterical speculation in the MSM about how “someone with a clearance” could have done such a thing, and I thought I might know better. One large site turned the piece down as “too sensitive,” while another worried what I wrote might violate some security law. I turned to FDL, who not only published a piece you would have literally otherwise not seen anywhere else, but also gave me a new home.

FDL is unique in that it is unafraid. FDL does not control what I write, neither directly through the editorial process, nor indirectly via “suggestions,” or with the nuclear option of not printing my stuff at all. To a writer– and hopefully you as a reader– that is very special. I spent a year as a whistleblower fighting the government for the right to speak freely, and never intend to give that up.

I was looking for Firedoglake without knowing it. I do not get paid for my work here, just as you do not pay to read the site. But if we both want this resource to keep on going, we need to step up. I’ll keep on writing at no cost to FDL. Won’t you consider a small donation to keep us online? This stuff really matters, never more than now.

Please donate today to help Firedoglake stay online 


Peter Van Buren writes about current events at blog. His book,Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percent, is available now from Amazon

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Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren

Peter Van Buren has served with the Foreign Service for over 23 years. He received a Meritorious Honor Award for assistance to Americans following the Hanshin earthquake in Kobe, a Superior Honor Award for helping an American rape victim in Japan, and another award for work in the tsunami relief efforts in Thailand. Previous assignments include Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the UK and Hong Kong. He volunteered for Iraq service and was assigned to ePRT duty 2009-10. His tour extended past the withdrawal of the last combat troops.

Van Buren worked extensively with the military while overseeing evacuation planning in Japan and Korea. This experience included multiple field exercises, plus civil-military work in Seoul, Tokyo, Hawaii, and Sydney with allies from the UK, Australia, and elsewhere. The Marine Corps selected Van Buren to travel to Camp Lejeune in 2006 to participate in a field exercise that included simulated Iraqi conditions. Van Buren spent a year on the Hill in the Department of State’s Congressional Liaison Office.

Van Buren speaks Japanese, Chinese Mandarin, and some Korean (the book’s all in English, don’t worry). Born in New York City, he lives in Virginia with his spouse, two daughters, and a docile Rottweiler.

Though this is his first book, Peter’s commentary has been featured on TomDispatch, Salon, Huffington Post, The Nation, American Conservative Magazine, Mother Jones, Michael, Le Monde, Daily Kos, Middle East Online, Guernica and others.