Latest read: The Emperor’s New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate to 9/11

Richard Ben-Veniste’s book The Emperor’s New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate to 9/11 is a unique look at the political coverups that have engulfed Washington and the country. I find his approach to understanding the facts of highly publicized events to be a lesson in approaching internal reporting.
The Emperor's New Clothes: Exposing the Truth from Watergate to 9/11Ben-Veniste proves in The Emperor’s New Clothes that time will not and cannot alter Washington’s presidential change of power and the implications when tragic mistakes lead to institutional change.

It is clear to Ben-Veniste that established, solid governance can actually alter the accepted, institutional approaches in seeking important answers to events that bring organizations to the edge of collapse.

Clearly lessons from Watergate still ring true today. Since The Emperor’s New Clothes was published in 2009 Ben-Veniste‘s experiences as a commissioner on the 9/11 Commission have been given time to understand his successful, seasoned approach in dealing with the Nixon Administration and the conflict over Archibald Cox and the Saturday Night Massacre provide lessons in dealing with Condoleezza Rice and Attorney Generals (John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales) under W. Bush regarding executive privilege, another throwback position to Nixon and his defense of the White House taping system.

It would not be pressing to understand how Ben-Veniste is an accomplished lawyer, Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District service from 1968 to 1973. And then from 1973-1975 serving as the lead prosecutor on the Watergate Task Force. He was also a presidential appointment to the US Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group in 2000.

9/11 blunder by Alverno College President

A humiliating 9/11 blunder tonight by Alverno’s College President. Dr. Mary Meehan was the featured speaker at Alverno’s 9/11 Remembrance Service marking the ten year anniversary.

Sponsored by Alverno’s Civility Project her address was publicized as “An opportunity to hear her compelling, first-hand experience of the day that touched us all.”  Milwaukee Fox6 Television taped her address. Fox6 interviewed Dr. Meehan and several parents. The segment was broadcast on Fox6’s nightly newscast.

Shockingly Dr. Meehan was not even in New York City. She “watched” events unfold more than 15 miles away. She was in South Orange New Jersey on the campus of Seton Hall University.

9/11 blunder by Alverno College President
From Seton Hall University to Ground Zero

GoogleMap: 17 mile distance from Seton Hall to Ground Zero.

Dr. Meehan: Your attempt to share a “compelling, first-hand experience” is a humiliation to Alverno College and damages your reputation. Choose your words carefully:

Your address could have described fuselage debris from United #175 scattered on the grounds of the World Trade Center Complex. But you could not see debris from Seton Hall. Your address could have described how seemingly within seconds of United #175 impacting the South Tower a severed human leg fell onto 130 Liberty Street in-front of the Deutsche Bank Building. But you could not hear the screams from those passing by the limb from Seton Hall. You could have described how the impact of United #175 physically shook the entrance to the Deutsche Bank Building. But you could not feel that from Seton Hall.

If only you were actually standing on Liberty Street across the street from the South Tower on the day that touched us all. You would have stood next to my wife.

Latest read: Cognitive Surplus

Remember the last time you read a great story that you caught yourself peaking at the remaining unread pages because you didn’t want the story to end?  That’s how I can best describe Clay Shirky‘s book Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.  His stories were coming to a close before I was ready to put the book down.

cognitive surplusThis is a great follow-up to his first book Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.  Shirky is right on target with engaging, connecting stories to share his ideas about our new ability today to share collective knowledge.

Over 1 trillion hours of TV is watched per year. Imagine what can happen when people turn TV off and begin contributing.  And Shirky elegantly shares the shifting nature of professionals vs. amateurs in the age of the internet.  Pretty amazing reading.

I believe there have been attempts to move in the direction he outlines but a tipping point has been the mass availability of consumer devices at very affordable price points.  I recall Peter Gabriel‘s interview on the Today Show in 1988 talking about the efforts of Amnesty International and their attempts to videotape human rights abuses with large, analog cameras.
Today we know all to well from the murder of Oscar Grant that cameraphones have made their efforts real.

The Napster thing
IMHO Clay’s single oversight in the book surrounds Napster.  I think he was trying to communicate a holistic answer to why people (not just Gen Xers) were stealing music.  He called it sharing — it was stealing plain and simple.
Continue reading “Latest read: Cognitive Surplus”

Latest read: The Cell

I finished reading The Cell: Inside The 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It and was a bit disappointed. Not due to the writing, but rather I also read Triple Cross: How bin Laden’s Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI–and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him just a couple of months ago and felt it was much more in depth.

the cell

Triple Cross critiques issues addressed as errors in the reporting by the authors John Miller and Michael Stone.  Miller is a noted former investigative journalist with ABC News.
There was much attention drawn to The Cell for two reasons: The ABC movie The Path to 9/11 which was America’s first network movie behind the attack on 9/11 was based upon the book.  Second, it was Miller’s famous 1998 interview with Osama bin Laden.

At that interview Miller learned bin Laden was well on his way to leading al-Qaeda‘s war on America.  The only problem was it was too early for most law enforcement agencies to act upon.

The interview was interesting enough to see how Al was protecting bin Laden and Miller’s recollection of how 15 years old boys were shooting AK-47s next to his ears (as a way to intimidate him) repeatedly as bin Laden arrived for his interview.

Miller shared how he even initially met with bin Laden’s right hand man Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri.  It was quite an interview for Miller and helped establish him as a strong source on terrorism for ABC even before the 9/11 attack.

Continue reading “Latest read: The Cell”

Latest read: Our Endangered Values

Jimmy Carter has been an amazing writer since leaving the White House.  He has written 23 books and I have just finished Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis and found his writing a calming voice in today’s ridiculous world of news bites and aggressive internal rhetoric our “mainstream” news reporting.

our endangered values

I found Carter’s book similar in nature to Al Gore’s The Assault on Reason (review here) in finding a calming, rational leader who is looking to re-establish America’s global leadership through the core values our country was founded upon.

Carter simply lays out his personal, Christian and Presidential arguments for positive leadership reaching from Washington to a global audience.

The opening chapters focus on America’s traditional beliefs, Carter’s own traditional Christian faith, the rise of religious fundamentalism and the growing conflicts among religious people.  He accurately addressed the entwining of Church and State from 1970 to 9/11.

Carter also challenges traditional religious organizations in the South.  The issues of divorce, homosexuality, abortion and the death penalty.  These are emotional issues that reinforce many voters’ shift to the GOP and the Southern Baptist Convention.

An issue that continues to restrain Baptist and GOP leaders is the role of Subservient women in their church. This issue eventually lead to Carter’s exit from the Southern Baptist Convention.

It was interesting to see how his religious upbringing and service to our country as a navy submarine officer shaped his military, global and Presidential views.  Stories of positions on nuclear weapons, the aggressive Soviet Union and China along with the early movement in our country toward a safe environment are all reviewed with great detail.  He remains our country’s elder statesman with good reason stitched into the binding of his book.

Tags: Jimmy Carter, Our Endangered Values, reason, politics, reading, moral crisis, values, America, , religious fundamentalism, southern baptist convention, traditional beliefs, traditional christian faith, trends