Evan Thomas

Stories by Evan Thomas

  • A Plan Under Attack

    Did We Start The War With Enough Force? As The Blame Game Begins, The Fight In Iraq Is About To Get A Lot Bloodier. The Long And Dangerous Road To Baghdad--And Beyond
  • The War Room

    It Was A Bold Move: Speed The Battle Plan With A Risky Strike. But Team Bush Had A Man On The Inside. Behind The 'Target Of Opportunity,' And What It Means For The Road To Baghdad.
  • The 12 Year Itch

    Dick Cheney likes to read history, especially military history. He disappears into his well-stocked library at the vice president's mansion for hours at a time, reading about Churchill and World War II or other war leaders in other crises down through the ages. Last fall, the vice president read "An Autumn of War" by Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist who lives on a farm in California. In his book, a collection of columns published online by National Review in the weeks after 9-11, Hanson writes that war is the natural state of mankind. Great leaders understand this, according to Hanson. They are not fooled by utopian visions about world peace; they face evil and deal with it. Cheney told his aides that Hanson's book reflected his philosophy.Before Christmas, Hanson was invited to dine with Cheney and talk to his aides, who also read his book. Cheney was his usual taciturn self, says Hanson, but his questions seemed to indicate that he was interested in statesmen who became warriors,...
  • A Man Of Laughter And Grace

    Insecurity is the natural state of journalists. Insecurity makes us edgy, curious and competitive; also, nosy and pushy. Newsrooms are hotbeds of neurosis and jealousy. Reporters often do their best reporting on the personal lives of their colleagues.In our world, Kenneth Auchincloss, NEWSWEEK's editor-at-large, who died last week at 65, should have been a misfit. He respected privacy. He loved a good story and he could be wickedly funny, but he was not very interested in the latest gossip about who was up or who was down. Working at a magazine that aims to be hip and ahead of the curve, he was a little clueless about pop stars and sometimes happily behind the times. Once, when NEWSWEEK was debating whether to do a story on Mick and Jerry, he asked, "Who are Mick and Jerry?" For an American raised in Manhattan, he was a bit of an aristocratic toff. He had gone to Groton, Harvard and Oxford, wore English tweeds and collected rare books. He wrote as easily as he breathed. He should...
  • Saddam's War

    His Survival Strategy Is Probably Hopeless. But He Has Every Reason To Believe He Can Sway World Opinion. And If That Fails, He Can Turn A Surgical U.S. Invasion Into A Bloody Nightmare
  • Out Of The Blue

    On A Picture-Perfect Texas Morning, The Shuttle Columbia Was Heading Home When Tragedy Struck, Leaving The Country And The World Wondering What Went Wrong-And Honoring The Lives Of Seven Brave Astronauts
  • Women, Wine And Weapons

    One of the tougher reviews for the new James Bond movie, "Die Another Day," came from an official-sounding organization, located in Pyongyang, North Korea, called the "Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland." The film, the villain of which is a North Korean arms dealer who develops a doomsday weapon to annihilate the West, is a "dirty and cursed burlesque aimed to slander and insult the Korean nation," railed the Secretariat. It is "a premeditated act of mocking" that proves the United States is "the headquarters that spreads abnormality, degeneration, violence and fin de siecle corrupt sex culture." Since not much emanates from North Korea without the say-so of Kim Jong Il, the pudgy, oddball strongman of Pyongyang, it's a good bet that the Secretariat was expressing the views, if not the actual words, of the "Great Leader," as Kim is known to his people.Kim Jong Il is a movie fan. He once said that if he hadn't become his country's ruler, he...
  • Bulking Up For Baghdad

    About halfway through operation Internal Look--the military's just-completed practice run for a real war in Iraq--Gen. Tommy Franks, the overall combatant commander, held a banquet for his senior officers. Some 50 flag-rank officers, generals and admirals gathered at Central Command headquarters in Qatar. Franks was supposed to preside at the head table with the other top brass, but instead he sat over at a small table in the corner, chatting with his top sergeant. An aide approached Franks and asked, a little uncertainly, "Don't you want to sit at the head table?" "Nope," said Franks. "I want to talk to the sergeant major." While the generals wined and dined, Franks went back to amiably jawing with a senior enlisted man.In the sweep of his command, General Franks is the modern equivalent of a proconsul in the Roman Empire. As the head of Centcom, he is responsible for U.S. military operations in 25 countries from Egypt to Central Asia, and he will direct any invasion of Iraq. But...
  • Race To The Exit

    The White House strategy, stealthy and swift, went off without a hitch. On Friday morning, Dec. 20, President Bush was in the White House situation room for a briefing on Iraq when policy adviser Josh Bolten entered with the news: Trent Lott, the embattled Senate majority leader, had stepped down. After a futile two-week struggle to hang on to his job, Lott made the decision to call it quits on Thursday night, after he began receiving call after call from influential Senate Republicans telling him they no longer supported him. One by one, they lined up behind Sen. Bill Frist, the rising star of the Senate and a good friend of President Bush, who had let it be known that he wanted to replace Lott as majority leader. For the record, Bush claimed it was fine with him if Lott kept his position, but no one really believed that Bush meant it, or that Lott could survive for long. Until Friday it seemed that Lott was the only one in the country who hadn't gotten the message that it was time...
  • The Quiet Power Of Condi Rice

    Born In 'Bombingham,' The Enigmatic Adviser Has Become The 'Warrior Princess'--Bush's Secret White House Weapon
  • In The War Room

    In the war in Afghanistan last fall, the United States bought off more enemy fighters than it killed. In one case, the CIA offered $50,000 to a Taliban warlord to defect. When the commander asked for time to think about it, a Special Forces A Team laser-guided a JDAM precision bomb to explode next door to his headquarters. The next day the CIA man called the commander back with a new offer. How about $40,000? This time the commander said yes.Bob Woodward's latest book, which is being excerpted in The Washington Post and was shared exclusively with NEWSWEEK, is full of such juicy tidbits from the secret war in Afghanistan. "Bush at War" is, in part, a stirring tale of how an on-the-ground force of fewer than 500 men (110 CIA case officers and 316 Special Forces personnel) exploited high tech, guile and greed to take down the Taliban and liberate Afghanistan from the grip of Al Qaeda. Less heroic, though human and convincing in its telling detail, is Woodward's insiders' account of...
  • Transition

    RICHARD HELMS, 89 Helms was "the man who kept the secrets," as his biographer Thomas Powers memorably called the former CIA director (1966-73). Urbane, handsome and shrewd, Helms was a great favorite of the old boys at the CIA, in part because of his tight-lipped professionalism and because he almost became a martyr. Charged in 1977 with lying to Congress about CIA covert operations, Helms pleaded no contest to a lesser charge and got off with a $2,000 fine, which former CIA officers paid off by passing the hat. Helms called his conviction "a badge of honor." He may finally tell some of his secrets posthumously. His memoirs, "A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the CIA," come out next spring.-Evan ThomasADOLPH GREEN, 87 Half of one of Broadway's most successful writing teams, Green and his partner, Betty Comden, wrote the words for hit musicals like "On the Town" and "Bells Are Ringing," as well as the screenplays for such Hollywood classics as "The Band Wagon" and "Singin' in the...
  • Mrs. G's Washington

    Katharine Graham's "Personal History" was a Pulitzer Prize-winning, No. 1 best seller in part because it was disarmingly honest. The legendary matriarch of The Washington Post Company (which owns NEWSWEEK) turned out to be a most unstuffy grande dame, by turns vulnerable, tough and funny. Before she died last year at the age of 84, Mrs. Graham put together a collection of more than 100 articles, essays and book excerpts about her hometown, Washington. Her fascination with the human side of the capital shines through, especially in her own comments and introductory essays. "I was always terrified of Jack Kennedy... I remember one day going to the White House for dinner and, as always, I felt terribly awkward and was sure that I was boring him--which was, of course, the first way to bore him," writes Graham, who knew or met through her parents an astonishing 17 presidents. She may have thought she was a bore in 1962, but she got over it. Her attitude toward Washington is revealed by...
  • Shadow Struggle

    Who to believe?On the one hand are the prophets of doom: the senior administration officials who have come forward, one after the other, to describe, in no uncertain terms, the threat posed by Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld swears that the Bush administration has "bulletproof" evidence that Saddam is working with Al Qaeda, while national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney declare that the Iraqis, with a little luck, could obtain nuclear weapons in a matter of months. On the other hand are the purveyors of doubt: the various unnamed intelligence officials who consistently undermine these dire predictions, telling reporters that the evidence of ties between Al Qaeda and Saddam is shaky at best, or that it will be many years before Saddam can build or buy his own bomb. Could Saddam attack America with smallpox? Absolutely, say administration spokesmen like Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge. Not likely, scoff the anonymous...
  • Rumsfeld's War

    Smart And Tough, Don Rumsfeld Wants To Take The Fight To Iraq. The Hawk Who's Battling For Bush's Soul
  • Their Faith And Fears

    Downstairs, in Lisa Beamer's spacious home in Cranbury, N.J., is a coat closet crammed with things she never wanted to own. Large plastic containers filled with thousands of letters and postcards from all over the world, some addressed to "Lisa Beamer, New Jersey, USA," or "Lisa, hero Todd's wife, New Jersey"; songs and poems from strangers; cushions and blankets emblazoned with the Lord's Prayer; enough homemade "Let's Roll" mementos to stock a gift shop. There are flags and plaques and two Purple Hearts--each sent by a veteran who thought Todd had earned his. Piled high are videotapes of Lisa's interviews with Larry and Oprah and Katie and Diane; hundreds upon hundreds of newspaper clips; news photos of President Bush saluting Lisa during his address to Congress last Sept. 20. And, tucked here and there, are more wrenching reminders, like the shattered fragments, still smelling of jet fuel, of Todd's watch, recovered from the wreckage of Flight 93. Only the date, September 11, is...
  • A Street Fight

    Parachuting supplies to CIA operatives working behind enemy lines is a tricky business, even in an age of Global Positioning Systems and spy-in-the-sky satellites. Supplies meant for the Alpha or Bravo team sometimes land on the Echo or Foxtrot team. Last fall one frustrated spook, hiding at a secret drop zone near Kandahar, sent this coded message to his handlers: "waited three hours through all possible windows: only one airplane passed and kicked off one bundle: some bags of beans and rice... and two bags of horse feed rpt horse feed. we do not have any f---ing horses."Other CIA paramilitary officers did have horses, however. And they rode them to victory, in an improbable, partly planned, partly improvised assault on the Taliban that combined high-tech and ancient modes of war. The CIA's success in Afghanistan--the agency's ability to get on the ground quickly, join up with Northern Alliance fighters and guide U.S. Special Forces teams to the enemy--came as a surprise and a...
  • IRAQ IN THE BALANCE

    President George W. Bush's description of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil" was dismissed as macho bluster in many capitals around the world. But inside Iraq, Bush's tough talk has been taken seriously by Saddam Hussein's own Army, judging from the steady stream of Iraqi Army officers who have been switching sides recently. About three weeks ago 36 officers, including a colonel in Saddam's elite special Republican Guard, showed up in neighboring Turkey, according to one former Iraqi general (a State Department source puts the Iraqi officer defection rate at about a half dozen per week). They brought two messages. One was that Saddam, fearing disloyalty, has been executing officers in his supposedly loyal Republican Guard. The second is "we are ready to revolt," says Fawzi al-Shamari, the former Iraqi Army general who has been in contact with the new emigres. Some officers fleeing Iraq may actually be spies, planted by Saddam. But most seem to be trying to get on the...
  • ENRON'S DIRTY LAUNDRY

    The U.S. Senators seemed a little taken aback by the gall of the star witness. Hauled before a congressional committee last week, former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling not only declined to take the Fifth, he seemed unrepentant, unbowed, at times defiant. He insisted he had never lied. Enron's problems were all someone else's fault. Scandal junkies, who had been looking forward to a showdown between Skilling and Enron whistle-blower Sherron Watkins, were disappointed. Even though she sat but a few feet from her old boss, Watkins did not even make eye contact with Skilling. Somehow Skilling emerged from five hours of skeptical questioning appearing just as cocky as ever. Watching the spectacle from the privacy of her palatial home in Houston, former high-ranking Enron executive Rebecca Mark felt a mix of emotions. She was amused by the theatrics of the confrontation, appreciative of Skilling's contempt for showboat politicians and miffed at his continuing criticisms of her division, Enron...
  • Bush Has Saddam In His Sights

    Sound farfetched? Finding the right man who can topple Saddam Hussein without plunging Iraq into civil war, and who can simultaneously please Washington and the anti-American Arab masses, is a tall order. The task is so difficult that, in many sophisticated circles, it is deemed to be impossible. President George W. Bush's bellicose rhetoric has provoked a rumble of disbelief and disapproval among the pundits, think-tank experts, congressional staffers and retired diplomats who form a kind of Permanent Foreign Policy Establishment. Bush can't really be serious about knocking off Saddam, they say. Can he?He can. The Bush administration has not figured out the "how" or the "when," say senior administration officials, but the president appears determined to overthrow the Iraqi strongman. The timetable, says one top official directly involved in the planning, is "not days or weeks--but not years, either." National-security adviser Condoleezza Rice has said that the president is "a...
  • Every Man For Himself

    Incredulity is a polite word to describe the reaction to former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling, who swore last week at a congressional hearing that his company's bookkeeping trickery had caught him by surprise. Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts got a laugh when he compared Skilling to Sergeant Schultz of "Hogan's Heroes" ("I hear noth-ing, I see noth-ing"). As it turns out, even Skilling's mother was skeptical. "When you are the CEO and you are on the board of directors, you are supposed to know what's going on with the rest of the company," Betty Skilling, 77, told NEWSWEEK in an interview before the hearing. "You can't get off the hook with me there... He's going to have to beat this the best way he can." ...
  • A Reporter Under The Gun

    How dangerous is Karachi? In Pakistan's teeming port city (population: 15 million), the preferred mode of hit men is the motorcycle, the better to gun down targets stuck in the city's eternal traffic jam and then make a quick getaway. When motorcycle assassins can't do the job, car bombs are always effective, or bus bombs, planted on buses full of schoolkids belonging to the wrong religious sect. Kidnappings were also routine in Karachi, at least until the authorities got together a few years ago to create an organization called the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee, whose chief function has been to persuade families to stop paying ransom money. ...
  • The Day That Changed America

    September 11 Dawned Bright And Clear, But Was Soon Darkened By Terror. The Story Of A Survivor, A Killer And The Vice President Whose Lives Collided In Hours Of Horror And Heroism.
  • A Long, Strange Trip To The Taliban

    He Was A Bright, Quiet Kid From The Heart Of Hot-Tub Country. How Did John Walker Lindh Go From Hip-Hop To Holy War? The Story Of A Spiritual Journey Gone Awry--And What Lies Ahead For The United States' Most Controversial Pow.
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    Gunning For Bin Laden

    As U.S. forces zero in on bin Laden, will the elusive terrorist run or try to die like a martyr? The possible endgame--and the future of al Qaeda.
  • Who Killed Kathy Nguyen?

    The doctors in the Intensive Care Unit at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York see a lot of very sick patients, but there was something particularly ominous about the bloody fluid that was fast filling the woman's chest cavity. She had come to the emergency room on Sunday, feverish, short of breath, complaining of aching muscles. Doctors quickly put her on a respirator. By Monday, preliminary test results had confirmed suspicions. "Holy s---, this looks like anthrax," a young surgeon was overheard to exclaim as he burst into an office on the ninth floor of the hospital, one floor above the bed where Kathy Nguyen lay dying. Scores of FBI agents and New York police detectives were soon retracing the steps of the kindly 61-year-old Vietnamese woman who lived alone in the Bronx. But when lab tests failed to find any traces of anthrax in her modest one-bedroom apartment or the hospital storeroom where she worked, top investigators in New York became increasingly uneasy. They wondered: was...
  • Cracking The Terror Code

    On the night before they went out on a suicide mission to kill someone, the Assassins, the 12th-century cult of holy-warrior hit men, were given a taste of the Paradise that awaited. They smoked hashish (the word assassin derives from hashashin, users of hashish) and read in the Quran about the sensual rewards of martyrdom:Maybe that's what Majed Moqed was dreaming about late last summer when he wandered into the Adult Lingerie Center, a grim cinder-block building next to an auto-parts store in Beltsville, Md., sometime around midnight. In addition to red thongs and crotchless panties, the Adult Lingerie Center offers pornographic videos and books. But Moqed didn't seem to be having much fun. He flipped through some magazines, looked at the titles of some videos. Then, after about 10 minutes, he left. The night manager figured him for a cop.It's hard to imagine that the dirty movie Moqed paid $3 to watch on another night inspired him to give his life for Allah. But investigators are...
  • Intelligence: Gearing Up For A Shadow Struggle

    The evidence against Lotfi Raissi seemed pretty damning. The Algerian pilot had allegedly given flying instructions to four of the suspected hijackers in the suicide attacks on New York and Washington. Raissi swore that he was totally innocent, but investigators had video pictures of the man with the hijackers, as well as correspondence and phone records. Yet a few days after Raissi's arrest at his home near London's Heathrow Airport in the wake of the Sept. 11 atrocity, Britain's Scotland Yard was about to let the man go. It seems that British law does not allow the authorities to hold a man in custody merely because American law enforcement believes he might be a material witness to a crime committed in the United States. American investigators had to scramble to contrive a charge against Raissi. The crime? On his application for a pilot's license, Raissi allegedly failed to disclose a minor arrest for theft and an old knee injury.So, with creaks and groans, do the wheels of...
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    A New Date Of Infamy

    In the skies and across the nation, the worst terrorist strike in U.S. history is a story of horror, heroes and the resolve not to give in to killers.
  • No Safe Havens

    It was a date that will live in infamy. Just as Dec. 7, 1941, was the day upon which all Americans realized that they are not free from foreign attack, Sept. 11, 2001, will live on in the collective consciousness of the American people as the day they learned they were not safe from terrorism. Not just any kind of terrorism-but efficient, cold-blooded slaughter on a mass scale.The death tolls from the coordinated attacks on Washington and New York will surely rise into the hundreds and probably thousands. The psychic injury will be equally vast.Officials have long warned that America's borders are porous and its people mobile and free-wheeling-ideal conditions for terrorists who want to penetrate and kill. But despite the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and the Oklahoma City bombing, and despite all the talk about Osama bin Laden's worldwide terror network, the message never really sunk in to ordinary Americans that they were vulnerable to attacks on a truly massive scale.Now...