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Ken Silverstein
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Ken Silverstein

Ken Silverstein
Independent writer focusing on arms trafficking, strip clubs/titty bars (book coming in 2016), the international oil industry, corruption, money laundering and related topics.
I’m a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and currently a staff writer for VICE and columnist ("Washington Babylon") for the New York Observer. My stories have landed people in prison, launched U.S. congressional investigations, led to FBI raids, and brought down one of the most “prestigious” banks in Washington — Riggs, which was laundering money for dictators like Augusto Pinochet of Chile and Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea.

I’ve reported from dozens of countries and speak Spanish and Portuguese fluently. My favorite topic, broadly speaking, is the grey world -- where governments and criminals secretly collaborate.

In 1993, I founded the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch (Motto: “Tells the facts and names the names”) and the following year was joined by the legendary writer Alexander Cockburn. His great-grandfather, the British rear admiral George Cockburn, burned Washington to the ground in 1812. (And, curiously, that’s my chief goal now as a journalist.)

I left CounterPunch in 1999 and since then I’ve written for countless magazines and newspapers. I’ve worked on staff as an investigative reporter with the Los Angeles Times’s Washington office and as the Washington correspondent for Harper’s magazine. I’ve also written a number of books, including The Radioactive Boy Scout and The Secret World of Oil.

During my career I've written more than 1,000 stories. Some of my favorites are a profile of a right-wing German arms dealer who for 40 years supplied the CIA with weapons for its covert operations; an exposé of the son of the dictator of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, who was spending hundreds of millions of dollars in looted money in the United States; a story titled “S.E.X. and the C.I.A.," about the use of "honeypots" by intelligence agencies and another one called “A Brief Tour of the Cambodian Sex Industry,” which isn't quite as scandalous as it may sound.

As a journalist I have no loyalties to anyone except the readers, which is why I attack all sides, right, center and left. I'm a writer, not an activist. I pursue great stories even if they're about a person or a cause I admire, though it’s always more fun to go after the world’s sleaziest politicians and mobsters.

Oh yeah, I’ve got a short-term cash flow problem, especially after resigning from a cushy job at The Intercept. I wrote about that disaster for Politico just a few months ago, in an article titled “Where Journalism Goes to Die.” I could have improved by financial situation recently by taking $12,500 from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to help him cover up his cousin’s murder of a 15-year-old girl, but instead I told him to fuck himself and wrote a column about it in the New York Observer.

Also, my favorite comedian is Sarah Silverman, my favorite political figure is Angela Davis, my favorite artist is Frida Kahlo, my favorite musician is Marisa Monte, my favorite fictional character is Evey Hammond (of V for Vendetta) and my favorite non-fiction writer is Janet Malcolm. I also love Elvis Costello, especially Black & White World, Riot Act, and Tramp the Dirt Down. And I also love Muhammed Ali, Neymar, LeBron James and the Seattle Seahawks.
arms trafficking;, strip clubs/titty bars, international oil, corruption, black markets, moneylaundering