Karen Kwiatkowski

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Karen Kwiatkowski, a specialist on the Middle East and retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel who "spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon," worked "from May 2002 through February 2003 in the office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Near East/South Asia and Special Plans" at the Department of Defense. Since retiring, she has become a noted critic of the U.S. government's involvement in Iraq. [1] [2]


Colonel Kwiatkowski has an MA in Government from Harvard University and a MS in Science Management from the University of Alaska. She is currently candidate for a PhD in World Politics at Catholic University; her thesis is on overt and covert war in Angola, titled A Case Study of the Implementation of the Reagan Doctrine.

She began her military career in 1978. As a second lieutenant, she served at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, providing logistical support to missions along the Chinese and Russian coasts. She served in Spain and Italy, and was then assigned to the National Security Agency, eventually becoming a speechwriter for the agency's director. After leaving the NSA, she became an an analyst on sub-Saharan Africa policy for the Pentagon. From May, 2002 to February 2003, she served in the Pentagon's Near East and South Asia directorate (NESA).[3] While at NESA, she wrote a series of anonymous articles, "Insider Notes from the Pentagon", that appeared on the website of David Hackworth.[4]

Kwiatkowski left NESA in February, 2003 and retired from the Air Force the following month. In April 2003, she began writing a series of articles for the libertarian website LewRockwell.com. In June of that year, she published an article in the Ohio Beacon Journal, "Career Officer Does Eye-Opening Stint Inside Pentagon" which attracted additional notice. Since February, 2004, she has written a biweekly column, "Without Reservations", for the website Military Week.

Colonel Kwiatkowski is primarily noted for openly and publicly denouncing what she sees as a corrupting political influence on the course of military intelligence leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Her most comprehensive writings on this subject appeared in a series of articles in The American Conservative magazine in December 2003 and in a March 2004 article on Salon.com. In the latter piece, titled "The New Pentagon Papers", she wrote:

I witnessed neoconservative agenda bearers within OSP usurp measured and carefully considered assessments, and through suppression and distortion of intelligence analysis promulgate what were in fact falsehoods to both Congress and the executive office of the president.

Kwiatkowski exposed how a clique of officers led by retired Navy Captain Bill Luti, assistant secretary of defense for NESA, and former aide of Dick Cheney when the latter was Secretary of Defense, took control of the military intelligence, and how the Office of Special Plans (OSP) grew and eventually turned into a censorship and disinformation organism controlling the NESA. [5]

Following the American Conservative and Salon articles, Kwiatkowski began to receive criticism from several conservative sources that supported President Bush's policies. Michael Rubin of the National Review argued that she had exaggerated her knowledge of the OSP's workings and that she had ties to Lyndon LaRouche. U.S. Senator Jon Kyl criticized her in a speech on the Senate floor. On a Fox News program, host John Gibson and former Republican National Committee communications director Clifford D. May described her as an anarchist. Kwiatkowski responded, saying, among other points, that she had never supported or dealt with LaRouche. In addition to her writings, Colonel Kwiatkowski has appeared as a commentator in the documentaries Hijacking Catastrophe and Honor Betrayed. She has been a registered member of the U.S. Libertarian Party since 1994 and spoke at the party's national convention in 2004. She currently lives with her family in the Shenandoah Valley and works part-time as a farmer.

  • Kwiatkowski, "said she and her colleagues were allowed little contact with the Office of Special Plans and were often told by the officials who ran it to ignore the State Department's concerns and views." [6]
  • In the March 10, 2004, online edition of Salon, Karen Kwiatkowski's 4-page article The new Pentagon papers ... reveals how Defense Department extremists suppressed information and twisted the truth to drive the country to war." [7]


  • "I came to share with many NESA 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." [8]
  • At the end of the summer of 2002, new space had been found upstairs on the fifth floor for an "expanded Iraq desk." It would be called the Office of Special Plans. We were instructed at a staff meeting that this office was not to be discussed or explained, and if people in the Joint Staff, among others, asked, we were to offer no comment. We were also told that one of the products of this office would be talking points that all desk officers would use verbatim in the preparation of their background documents.
  • By August, only the Pollyannas at the Pentagon felt that the decision to invade Iraq, storm Baghdad, and take over the place (or give it to Ahmad Chalabi) was reversible.
  • On the Office of Special Plans:
"It's a propaganda office."

Published Works

  • African Crisis Response Initiative: Past Present and Future (US Army Peacekeeping Institute, 2000)
  • Expeditionary Air Operations in Africa: Challenges and Solutions (Air University Press, 2001)

Anonymous essays 2002-2003

SourceWatch Resources


By Karen Kwiatkowski

External links

  1. About, Lewrockwell.com, accessed June 24, 2009.