Evan Thomas

Stories by Evan Thomas

  • 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...
  • Behind The Smile

    Gary Condit learned how to project an image of purity and innocence at a very young age. As a little boy he would stand atop a tree stump at his father's tent revival meetings and sing, in a clear, sweet voice, "Amazing Grace." Then his father, Adrian, a Baptist minister, would step up and deliver a fire-and-brimstone sermon about hell and damnation. In a conversation with a NEWSWEEK reporter, the Rev. Frank (Chinker) Leach, 66, the preacher at the Free Full Gospel Church of Salina, Okla., recalled seeing the father and son perform the ancient drama of sin and redemption. The Reverend Leach reflected a moment on Gary Condit's current predicament and added, "Beware, your sins will find you out."Condit is hardly the first preacher's son to fall from grace, and his sins may not go beyond the commonplace ones of bearing false witness and adultery. Like most of the people who have known Condit, the Reverend Leach refuses to believe that the congressman had anything to do with Chandra...
  • Remembering Katharine Graham

    Katharine Graham, who died today at 84, was, for many years, arguably the most powerful woman in America. She was the first woman to be a true media mogul, running The Washington Post Company (which owns NEWSWEEK) for more than three decades. For several generations of public officials and journalists, she embodied the Washington establishment.SHE FIRST GAINED true fame during the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s, when the Post's reporting helped bring down President Nixon. In 1998, her memoir, "Personal History," was a No. 1 best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize. Born to wealth, she grew much richer. The powerful, including presidents and heads of state, sought her company, approval and advice. She was the guest of honor for the most celebrated society event in history, the 1966 Black and White Ball thrown by Truman Capote. She was endlessly honored and feted, and she will be eulogized as a giant figure, a kind of American royalty.Yet what made her interesting-and truly great...
  • Founders Chic: Live From Philadelphia

    Good thing the founders didn't rely on pollsters. At the time of the Revolution, the American colonists, John Adams recalled, were "about one third Tories"--loyal to the British crown--"and [one] third timid, and one third true blue." Adams was true blue. "Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I am with my country from this day on," he told a friend in 1774. "You may depend on it."By the summer of '76, as Adams cajoled his fellow delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia to declare independence from Great Britain, perishing was a distinct possibility. On the night of July 2, as the delegates were casting their first votes, word reached Philadelphia that a hundred British warships and troop transports had been sighted off New York.The empire was striking back. The colonists had driven British forces from Boston in March, but now a vast armada--some 400 ships, packed with regiments of crack British redcoats and highly trained Hessian mercenaries--was...
  • Battle For Bush's Soul

    If Karl Rove has his way, the GOP--the Grand Old Party--will become the POG--the Party of God. Since the early '70s, the actively religious have been migrating to the Republicans. In the 2000 election, two of three voters who regularly attended church voted for George W. Bush, while two of three voters who never attended church voted for Al Gore. Bush won overwhelmingly among Protestant evangelicals and even carried 47 percent of the traditionally Democratic Catholic vote. Rove, the president's chief political strategist, is after the other 53 percent, millions of voters who could "realign" the political parties to make the Republicans dominant for years to come--or at least in 2004.Pure politics helps explain why the White House has long been expected to ban federal funding for research on stem cells extracted from human embryos. The Roman Catholic Church hierarchy has vigorously opposed the procedure as a violation of the sanctity of life. At Rove's urging, President Bush has been...
  • Confessions From A Crash

    Gone are the double-breasted suits and the copy of the Renaissance painting on the wall. Gone, too, is most of the $10 billion fortune, as well as roughly half of the 2,400 staffers he once employed. Michael Saylor, the CEO of the Vienna, Va.-based MicroStrategy, took one of the most spectacular dives in the dot-com crash. He is still worth about $100 million on paper, but reporters rarely come around these days seeking his vision of the future, and he notes, a little sullenly, that on the charity-ball circuit he has been dumped from the A list "to the B or C list." Last week he sat down with NEWSWEEK to recount, for the first time, what he calls his "near-death experience." He wanted to come clean, to tell a cautionary tale for the age, but he may have revealed more about his pride than his fall.Saylor was having "the best week of my life," he says, when the ominous phone call came. It was mid-March 2000; the Nasdaq was peaking, and Saylor was in Houston, pitching investors on a $2...
  • See George. See George Learn Foreign Policy

    It was a private tutorial for the president, in the living room of the White House residence. Condoleezza Rice, the president's national-security adviser and chief tutor on foreign policy, had already trooped a procession of heads of state and foreign ministers through the Oval Office to contribute to the education of George W. Bush. Now, on May 31, she assembled a coterie of foreign-policy experts drawn from outside the administration, including her handpicked Russian expert, Michael McFaul of the Hoover Institution; Democratic investment banker Felix Rohatyn, who served as Bill Clinton's ambassador to France; British author and Europeanist Timothy Garton Ash, and journalist Lionel Barber, a European specialist at the Financial Times. The visitors were sworn to secrecy, in part to avoid the impression that Bush needed remedial training, but several participants described the meeting to NEWSWEEK.Over soft drinks, his visitors warned the president that the allies were complaining...
  • A James Bond Wanna-Be?

    The handshake is vicelike, the stare hard. He owns a Walther PPK pistol--the 1960s James Bond's handgun of choice--and practices martial arts. He smokes pre-Castro Cuban cigars and once, while scuba diving with some macho buddies, he says he punched a great white shark in the jaw, just to show that he could. A. B. (Buzzy) Krongard, the new executive director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is by all appearances a throwback to an earlier age, when spymasters were often Ivy Leaguers with a sense of elan and a streak of boldness--sometimes too much of it. ...
  • The Real Day Of Infamy

    James Wire, ship fitter third class, couldn't imagine that the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor. Reflecting the racial views all too typical of his time, he regarded the Japanese as incapable of such a bold affront. On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Wire had come on deck of his ship, the Tennessee, to get some sun. The eight battleships of the Pacific Fleet were preparing for morn-ing colors and church. Canvas awnings stretched across decks to provide shade. A band was playing the "Star Spangled Banner." Most of the ships' antiaircraft guns were unmanned. Coming out of the hatch, Wire noticed a plane dropping something. A sandbag? he wondered. American pilots sometimes dropped sandbags as they practiced bombing runs on nearby Ford Island. But then, on the wing of the plane, he saw a red "meatball"--the rising sun of the Japanese Empire. The plane was now only 50 feet away. "I could have hit him with a rock," Wire recalled to NEWSWEEK. ...
  • First Brush With History

    It was week one of President George W. Bush's first foreign-policy crisis. The cable-TV news networks were blaring on about "the showdown with China." Talking heads were asking when the 24 American crew members "detained" on Hainan Island were going to be called hostages. The president, meanwhile, was out on the South Lawn, pacing off 60 feet, 6 inches, the distance between the pitcher's mound and home plate. Bush was scheduled to throw out the first pitch at the Milwaukee Brewers' home opener, and he didn't want to put one into the dirt, the way his father, former president George Bush, had done once on opening day at a Houston Astros game. Bush was practicing throwing with a bulky bulletproof vest. At one point, he pretended to keel over backward from the weight of the jacket. ...
  • Coming To Terms With A Tragedy

    Sen. Bob Kerrey, Vietnam War hero, Medal of Honor winner, often came across as a brooding figure. His friends attributed Kerrey's melancholy streak to his long suffering in a veterans' hospital after part of his leg was blown off by a Viet Cong grenade in 1969. But it turns out that Kerrey was dwelling as well on a darker story. He was haunted by the night of Feb. 25, 1969, when he and his squad of six Navy commandos, on a mission to ambush a Viet Cong chieftain, killed about a score of unarmed civilians, most of them women and children, in the South Vietnamese hamlet of Thanh Phong. From time to time, and with increasing urgency as the years passed, Kerrey contemplated going public with the story. But, he told NEWSWEEK last week, "I was never able to muster the courage to do it." ...
  • A Captain's Story

    For many years, Naval Academy graduates who wanted to sail in submarines had to endure an interview with Adm. Hyman Rickover, the arbitrary, irascible father of the nuclear Navy. Rickover liked to torment his would-be charges with trick questions. Demanding total devotion to the job, Rickover once told an applicant to phone his fiancee, right there, and call off the wedding. When the man gulped and picked up the phone, Rickover snarled that he would never take a "spineless a--hole" into his program and terminated the interview. Yet if Scott Waddle, Annapolis class of '81, was intimidated when he entered the admiral's austere office for his turn, he didn't show it. After a few questions about chemistry, Rickover noted that as a cheerleader for the Academy football team, Midshipman Waddle should do something to demonstrate his enthusiasm for the submarine service. Waddle jumped up and, at full volume, began to perform an acrobatic cheer. Admiring Waddle's panache, Rickover signed him...
  • Desperate Hours

    Deborah Courtney wanted to sail on a warship after she graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1990. It took a while: Courtney had to bide her time as an admiral's aide until the rules barring women from combat duty were changed in 1994. Finally given the duty she longed for, she was steadily promoted and became the chief engineering officer aboard the USS Cole, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. Her baptism by fire began when she was blown out of her chair in her stateroom by a terrorist bomb on the morning of Oct. 12, 2000, as the ship refueled in the port of Aden, Yemen. ...
  • Prayers To Save A Spy's Soul

    Bonnie Wauck married alleged Soviet spy Bob Hanssen more than three decades ago, said her sister Liz Rahimi, because "he treated her like a queen." The parents of six children, Bob and Bonnie "were the picture of a perfect family. He was always devoted to them--completely. He was never gone." So on the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 18, Bonnie Hanssen was naturally worried when her husband failed to return from Dulles Airport, where, he had told her, he had gone to drop off a friend. Bonnie, a devout Roman Catholic, was so worried that she called another of her sisters and her mother, Fran, and asked them to begin praying for Bob. Meanwhile she drove out to Dulles and paged him. Her car was quickly surrounded by FBI agents. She was told that her husband, a 25-year veteran of the bureau, had been arrested for espionage. Along with two of her children, she was interrogated in a hotel room until 4 a.m. ...
  • Washington's Quiet Club

    "We are here to keep Catholics from living double lives," says Father C. John McCloskey, an Opus Dei priest. In the case of Robert Hanssen, the FBI agent accused of spying for the Russians, Opus Dei apparently failed spectacularly. ...
  • A Spy's Secret World

    Exclusive: To His Neighbors, Robert Hanssen Was A Devout Dad. To His Fbi Colleagues, He Could Be Controlling And Moralistic. To The Russians, He Was 'B' And 'Ramon'--A Long-Term Mole In The American Government. His Mind And Motives.