Jeff Stein

Intelligence Columnist

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Bronze Star recipient, author, and investigative reporter, specializing in U.S. intelligence, defense, and foreign policy, Jeff Stein.

Stein was born in Philadelphia but grew up in New England, moving with his family to Maine in 1954. After attending school in Providence, Rhode Island, he moved to Hingham, Massachusetts, where he graduated from high school in 1962. Following high school, he attended Boston University, earning a bachelor's degree in American history. Stein then attended the University of California, Berkeley, for a master's degree in China studies. He entered the U.S. Army in 1968 and served with U.S. Army Intelligence as a case officer from 1968 to 1969. While stationed in Vietnam, he was awarded a Bronze Star.

Stein began his journalism career at a suburban Washington, D.C. weekly. He reported for NPR during its early years, while freelancing for major newspapers and magazines. In 1981, he briefly edited the Washington City Paper before founding his own paper, The Washington Weekly, which folded in 1984, after a year of publication. He then joined United Press International (UPI), rising to deputy foreign editor. During this period he also wrote his first book, The Vietnam Factbook, published in 1987. In 1992, Stein followed up with A Murder in Wartime, a book which detailed a Green Beret murder case that occurred during the Vietnam War. Time magazine lauded the book, calling it "...the best military morality tale since The Caine Mutiny... an exhaustively researched and heavily documented history of the Green Beret murder case."

In the 1990s, Stein began writing for eventually becoming a national security correspondent and breaking one of its biggest stories, an expose of the secret ties between the Ringling Bros. Circus and a former CIA official, Clair George. In 2000, Stein teamed with Khidhir Hamza, a scientist who worked on Saddam Hussein's nuclear program before defecting in 1994, to write Saddam's Bombmaker. The book garnered widespread and enthusiastic reviews, including one from former chief of the National Security Agency, Gen. William E. Odom, who, in The Washington Post, called it, "Not only stranger but frequently bloodier than fiction. The book should attract a wide range of readers, from foreign policy and security specialists to bored airplane passengers looking for a thriller." In 2002, Congressional Quarterly hired Stein to launch and edit CQ/Homeland Security which was nominated for an award in its first year of existence.

In 2005, Stein began writing a weekly column for CQ, entitled "SpyTalk", which evolved into a daily blog featuring original reporting and regular exclusives. In October 2006, Stein sparked an uproar when he reported in The New York Times that many top counter-terrorism officials and members of the House Intelligence Committee did not know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. Two months later in his column, Stein got the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to reveal the he knew little about Al Qaeda and the Middle East. In April 2009, Stein, writing for CQ Politics, broke the story that Representative Jane Harman had been wiretapped discussing aid for AIPAC defendants. The scandal brought additional attention to the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy and implicated a number of other figures.

In addition to his SpyTalk work, Stein continues to write op-ed pieces and book reviews for The New York Times and The Washington Post. Through the years, he has also written for a wide range of other publications, including Esquire, Vanity Fair, GQ, Playboy, The New Republic, The Nation and The Christian Science Monitor. He also appears on CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NPR and BBC, among others, to comment on U.S. national security issues.

Bullet-point history:

The Washington Post (2010- 2011): Intelligence reporter/blogger ("SpyTalk"), covering CIA, FBI, NSA, military and foreign policy activities for the web site and paper.
Congressional Quarterly (2002-2009), Homeland and National Security
: Hired in 2002 to launch the new CQ/Homeland Security online daily. Managed 5-7 reporters and sub-editors.  Won Online News Association award for best new small publication. In 2005, in conjunction with the launch of the SpyTalk blog, was named national security editor. Also contributed investigative stories to CQ Weekly Magazine.
Independent reporter/writer, 2011-present: The Washington Post: Sunday Magazine, Style section and BookWorld; Washingtonian magazine; Foreign; Wired/Danger
(Previously, over the years, investigative stories, features, reviews and Op-ed pieces in the New York Times, Newsday, Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, Nation, New Republic, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, New York magazine, Village Voice, GQ, Mother Jones, Playboy, Christian Science Monitor, Far Eastern Economic Review.
Salon, 1996-2001: National security correspondent.
Saddam's Bombmaker (with Khidhir Hamza) Simon & Schuster, 2000)
A Murder in Wartime: The Untold Spy Story that Changed the Course of the Vietnam War (St. Martin's Press, 1992) TIME: "best military morality tale since the Caine Mutiny." Chicago Tribune: "Better than 'All the President's Men.'"
The Vietnam Fact Book (Dell, 1987)
United Press International  (1984-1989)
Assistant Foreign Editor 1984-1986: Deputy Foreign Editor, Features and Investigations, 1986-1989
The Veteran (1983-1984): Founding publisher and editor of monthly magazine
for the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, Washington, DC.
The Washington Weekly, founding editor-in-chief 1982-84. (Folded)
Washington City Paper, 1981-82. Editor

As of July 13, 2018, Jeff's 32 articles like "CIA Vetting Rebels" have totaled 3.8M views and shares.

Jeff's 32 most recent articles:

APR 24 2016
AND Magazine

Chile Murder Mystery

'CIA double agent' unlikely hit man in Pablo Neruda's Death
"Future Chilean assassin Michael Townley was in Florida when leftist poet mysteriously died in 1973."

NOV 25 2014
Undefined Title
Undefined Category

CIA Vetting Rebels

Inside the CIA: Syria is a vetting nightmare
"The deadly serious responsibility of the CIA and Defense Department to vet Syrians..."

JAN 05 2014
AND Magazine

Rogue Agent

Ex-head of CIA's Bin Laden Unit Cashing In .
"The 'Manhunt' star has now popped up in the FBI probe of who smeared Sen Robet Menendez."

JUL 20 2013
AND Magazine

CIA Fugitive Flees Panama

No doubt Bob Lady got help from Washington--as it should be
"As tough calls go, this one is a no-brainer: Obama should rebuff Italy--but renounce CIA kidnapping."

JUL 18 2013
AND Magazine

Lady in Distress

Ex-CIA Agent Wanted in Italy Rendition Arrested in Panama
"Italy's Justice minister Anna Maria Cancellieri formally asked Panamanian authorities to detain Lady"

JUL 16 2013
AND Magazine

Watergate Bugging-Again

Newly released wiretap list raises questions on '72 break-in
"Forty years later, we still asking, Why did the burglary take place? Who ordered it and why?"

JUL 12 2013
AND Magazine

Snowden's Run

It's a high stakes poker game, and Putin has all the cards.
"Ironically, Snowden's worst fate could be Putin's allowing him to stay in Russia, a gilded cage."

JUL 11 2013
AND Magazine

Blackwater Book Flap

Former Navy SEAL Erik Prince faces ghost writer's lawsuit
"That $2 million book belongs to me, says Robert Pelton, who spent two years on a manuscript."

JUN 24 2013
AND Magazine

Ecuador: Mouse That Roars

The tiny Andean nation stands up to the US with impunity.
"Any US retaliation for giving Snowden asylum will be unpopular there and throughout Latin America."

JUN 20 2013
AND Magazine

Journo, Junkie, Hero, Pal

DC writer David Morrison's star burned bright and fast.
""Me & My Monkey: Confessions of a White-Collar Dope Fiend," caused an immediate sensation in 1995."

JUN 17 2013
AND Magazine

G20 Bugging Non-shocker

Snowden's Latest Leak Joins Long List of Bugging Revelations
"Of course bugs are illegal. Thus come the howls of high dudgeon when they surface."

JUN 17 2013
AND Magazine

Mary Louise Kelly

The NPR intell journalist pens a gripping debut thriller
"Spies, terrorists, stolen nukes, a beautiful reporter and murder: What else does Kelly need?"

JUN 13 2013
AND Magazine

CIA Commando Hits Agency

Says spy agency pursuing false war crimes probe against him
"'They have used the allegations of war crimes to ruin his career,' lawyer Mark S. Zaid says."

JUN 12 2013
AND Magazine

Snepp on Snowden

The ex-CIA spy dishes on witch hunts and whistleblowers
"The only thing separating Snowden from legal immolation is staying outside the U.S."

JUN 11 2013
AND Magazine

Man on the Run

Former CIA spies on what they'd do If they were Snowden
"The NSA uber-leaker has a few resources for eluding capture, former spooks say, but not for long."

JUN 10 2013
AND Magazine

China's Snowden Dilemma

Bejing could well leave Snowden's fate in Hong Kong's hands
"I can hear China's leaders singing, 'One country, two systems,' with a new cynical lilt."

JUN 07 2013
AND Magazine

UK to Brit Hacks: Shut Up

Defence Ministry Warns Against Leaks on Joint US-Brit Spying
"Warning follows exposé of UK cooperation in massive warrantless US government electronic spying"

MAY 31 2013
AND Magazine


Seven Questions for the author of "Dirty Wars"
"The next president, whether Democratic or Republic, is going to be handed a legacy of perpetual war."

MAY 23 2013
AND Magazine

Wild Things

Self-proclaimed jihadis are eclipsing al-Qaeda
"Like alcoholics who return to church, distrssed young Muslims in the West can find succor in jihad."

MAY 21 2013
AND Magazine

Wire Tap You

Reporters Should Learn from FBI Spying on Fox's James Rosen
"Don't write down anything you don't want the FBI to have. In security cases, they can get it all."

MAY 14 2013
AND Magazine

Moscow Slights

Ted Danson wouldn't be caught dead in one of those wigs.
""I can't imagine that the agency has dumbed down so much," said a retired CIA Russian specialist."

MAY 10 2013
AND Magazine

Useless Big Brother

What Good Are DHS Intelligence Fusion Centers?
"In Boston, the number of people in terrorism task forces could fill TD Garden. What good are they?"

MAY 08 2013
AND Magazine

CIA: No Woman No Cry

Spy Agency Chooses a Safe Male to Run Clandestine Service
"Frank Archibald, a former Pakistan station chief, most recently Latin America chief, gets the job."

MAY 06 2013
AND Magazine

Who Are the Spies?

Terms like "agent" are commonly misused, even by CIA people
""We're case officers, alright?" Martin says. "We're the jet fighters, we're the gangsters, doers.""

MAY 03 2013
AND Magazine

Bin Laden at the Movies

In HBO's "Manhunt" the CIA's Women are the Stars
"At the center of the film, as in any faithful documentary on the hunt for Bin Laden, is torture."

APR 30 2013
AND Magazine

Famed CIA Widow Dies

Lorraine Copeland was a daring WW-2 operative herself
"She met famed future CIA operative Miles Copeland while serving with Britain's SOE."

APR 30 2013
AND Magazine

Qaeda's Hobbyist Bombers

Why go to Pakistan when you can learn in your own home?
"No one's talking about al Qaeda's master bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri."

APR 29 2013
AND Magazine

New Twist in Old Spy Case

The 1993 murder of the CIA's man in Georgia Is Reopened
"Two decades after his murder outside Tbilisi, Georgia, CIA officer Fred Woodruff Is Getting Justice"

APR 26 2013
AND Magazine


From Bug Spray to Seldom-Used Killer Weapon
"For a long time, the U.S. got rid of chemical weapons by dumping them at sea."

APR 25 2013
AND Magazine

Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Why Didn't Russia Arrest Tamerlan Tsarnaev?
"Squabbling over whether the FBI and CIA let the Tsarnaev brothers slip through their fingers."

APR 23 2013
AND Magazine

FBI Reboots Ricin Case

The ongoing investigation has revealed new information
"tFBI agents had failed to find any presence of ricin or evidence that Curtis had been preparing..."

APR 04 2013
AND Magazine

SpyTalk 1.0

The previous SpyTalk archives
"From Jeff Stein"