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Karen Kwiatkowski

retired military officer and author
Karen Kwiatkowski

Karen Kwiatkowski (born September 24, 1960) is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel as well as a writer and political activist.

QuotesEdit

  • I came to share with many NSA colleagues a kind of unease, a sense that something was awry. What seemed out of place was the strong and open pro-Israel and anti-Arab orientation in an ostensibly apolitical policy-generation staff within the Pentagon.
  • It wasn't intelligence — it was propaganda. They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together.
    • Interview by Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest, "The Lie Factory", Mother Jones, January/February 2004.
  • Interestingly, the Downing Street memo is actually being reported by CNN and FOX News. It is being discussed in the major papers. Congress intends to examine it. Hearing it mentioned on the half hour by CNN Headline News has not dispossessed me of the belief that a state suicide is impossible. Thus, my gentle thoughts are increasingly turning to murder. Murder of the state. In self-defense, of course!

Her Acceptance Speech for Winning the 2018 Sam Adams Award: [Excerpt]Edit

Citation and Her Acceptance Speech, Consortium News, Full text online (9 December 2018)

  • I am honored beyond belief to be the 2018 recipient of the Sam Adams Award, and I thank Ray McGovern and the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity... There have been many American patriots and truth tellers who have received the honor you have given me tonight – and I am going to name them here because I stand in awe of all of them...
  • My backstory is pretty well-known to most people here, and to anyone who was interested in understanding US war policy in the early 2000s. I had a small role to play, in concert with a number of other truth tellers in media and in the national security bureaucracy. For every one of us, there were probably 20 to 50 people working beside us and around us, who understood a lot about what was happening, and who probably got a funny feeling about being in an organization where we all swore to uphold the Constitution, but in fact were engaged in promulgating lies of both omission and commission, mistruths and misdirection, aimed not at our enemies abroad but against the American people. We were lying, with the help of a compliant and war-supportive media, to patriots young and old. Millions of Americans were eager to enlist, to fight, to sacrifice their life and health – for a made-up government fairy tale.
  • ...It is in our country’s interest — as security professionals, as intelligence professionals, as soldiers and citizens, as writers and newsmakers – to be sensitive to the lawlessness, the immorality, and the wrongdoing of the bureaucracies and the leaders of the organizations we are a part of. That is the first thing we must cultivate and encourage – a sensitivity to and an awareness of something as simple as right and wrong. This is fundamental. From knowing right and wrong, we move to the factor that motivates so many whistleblowers, something that we all share as human beings, and that is an idea of justice.
  • When you look at the experiences of people who made the dangerous and difficult decision to act, like Daniel Ellsberg, and Sam Adams, and Sibel Edwards, Jesselyn Raddick, Colleen Rowley, Thomas Drake, Ed Snowden, Julian Assange, and many others, you realize that speaking up and doing the right thing had a primary impact. That impact wasn’t improved transparency, a more informed democracy, a more aware and alert citizenry and better government decisions by our elected leaders. Those were all secondary impacts, and in many cases tenuous, as the improved level of national understanding seems to last for less than a single generation. No, the primary impact was the unimaginable wrath of the state aimed at the life, livelihood, reputation, family, character and credibility of the truth teller. In several cases, this included physical and psychological abuse, prison time, gag orders, and even more devious programs. The rage of the state against these truth tellers is not impulsive and short-lived – it is a forever project funded by tax dollars, and fueled by very profitable agendas....
  • There is something remarkably childlike and simple in being honest, in observing without fear what is happening around you, and reporting this to the person who pays the bills. In the case of the national security arena, the bill payer is the American people. To tell the truth is simple, honorable, and good for the health of the Republic. The fact that it drives the security apparatus and the government crazy is just icing on the cake. Granted, we all need jobs, and our mental health, and we don’t want to be imprisoned, tortured or killed. But the more of us – specifically those working with and inside the US government today – who tell the truth, the less likely that government embarrassment will result in harm to a whistleblower, and the less likely in the long run that we will see whistleblowers as we tend to see them today. In a world of that values honesty, they would be receiving the public commendation of a proud Congress, a grateful media and President, and a contented population...
  • I’m worried about the role the US government is playing at home and abroad. The kind of devastation that the US tolerates, supports and initiates around the world – Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, of course Yemen comes to mind, the horrendous situation that Julian Assange is still facing as we speak – is not limited to “overseas.” The industrial warfare state is as dangerous to Americans as it is to Iraqis, Syrians, and Yemenis. The arts of the warfare state are already being practiced here, against Americans. We – average Americans – are increasingly controlled, spied on, monitored, tracked, threatened, boxed in, and shut down by tools that were first used and tested on some contrived wartime enemy.
  • You don’t need me to tell you this, it’s in every newspaper every day, on every page. It is our modern reality. Truth and transparency are its only antidote, and truth and transparency needs all of us. To live in a society, to be a citizen, to love your country — you cannot sleepwalk through it.
  • People who value wisdom, people who value common sense, people who value justice and people who believe that being woke is a good thing – congratulations! You are the majority! You are alive, you are in charge of this country, and you can choose. America is worth preserving, healing, and saving – and if she is to be saved we will do it by first learning the difference between the truth and a lie, and then speaking the truth loudly, boldly, to anyone who will listen, over and over and over again.

2018 Sam Adams Award: Citation ExcerptEdit

  • If you see something, say something,” we so often hear. Karen Kwiatkowski took that saying to heart. She saw her Pentagon superiors acting as eager accomplices to the Cheney/Bush administration’s deceit in launching a war of aggression on Iraq. And she said something — and helped Knight Ridder reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay see beneath the official lies and get the sordid story right before the war.
  • Karen’s courage brings to mind the clarion call of Rabbi Abraham Heschel against the perpetrators of an earlier war — Vietnam. “Few are guilty,” he said, “but all are responsible. Indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself.” Karen would not be indifferent to evil... With all the gloom and doom enveloping us, we tend to wonder whether people with the conscience and courage of Ed [Snowden] or Karen still exist in and outside our national security establishment.
  • Our country is in dire need of new patriots of this kind... Meanwhile, we call to mind the courageous example not only of Karen and Ed, but also of Coleen Rowley and Elizabeth Gun, our first two awardees, who took great risks in trying to head off the attack on Iraq. And we again honor Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange who is now isolated in what the UN has called “arbitrary detention,” for exposing the war crimes resulting from that war.
  • Presented this 8th day of December 2018 in Washington by admirers of the example set by the late CIA analyst, Sam Adams. Know all ye by these presents that Karen Kwiatkowski is hereby honored with the traditional Sam Adams Corner-Brightener Candlestick Holder, in symbolic recognition of her courage in shining light into dark places.

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