Karen Kwiatkowski: Discreet Whistleblower, Tried to Head Off Attack on Iraq

By Ray McGovern, Dec. 8, 2021

By publishing https://israelpalestinenews.org/pentagon-officer-described-how-israelists-manufactured-anti-iraq-disinfo-that-led-to-war/, the israel-palestinenews.org (a project of If Americans Knew) has provided a very valuable service. Included are many of the articles that USAF Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski wrote for American Conservative, Salon, and Antiwar.com, in 2003-2004.

While still on active duty, Karen had a catbird seat at the Pentagon watching U.S. and Israeli officials manufacture the fraudulent case for invading and occupying Iraq. That disinformation was fed to the White House, Congress, media, and American public and greased the skids for war on Iraq, the rise of ISIS, and widespread chaos in the Middle East. For her part, Karen took considerable risk in helping Knight Ridder journalists Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel get this sordid story straight before the attack on Iraq.

This remarkable pre-Iraq-war period is accurately depicted in Rob Reiner’s film, Shock and Awe, in which professional actors, including Reiner, play the roles of Karen, Landay, Strobel, et al.. Since Karen’s friends, including us, her close VIPS colleagues, had no need to know, we did NOT know — until several of us saw a special showing of the film together, and we were shocked and awed, so to speak, by what our VIPS colleague Karen’s had dared to do (including her tradecraft in doing it). Only at the end of the film did she come forward to identify herself. She was nominated and selected for the Sam Adams award for that year (2018).

A Sam Adams Laureate

Exactly three years ago, on December 8, 2018, Karen was formally given the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence (samadamsaward.ch). Karen’s award ceremony, at the Festival Center in Washington, DC, was a particularly warm affair. Paul Williams ( paul@shootfirstpictures.com ) did a particularly good job filming it.

For the instructive, often entertaining, video of the ceremony, including Larry Wilkerson’s introductory remarks, please see:  https://samadamsaward.ch/karen-kwiatkowski/.

NOTE: Please skip down past the amateur hand-held video bearing the title “17th annual Sam Adams Award”. Rather scroll down to the video under: “RELATED ARTICLES Karen Kwiatkowski Receives 2018 Sam Adams Award” to see the complete professional video by Paul Williams of that uplifting celebration three years ago.

Below is the citation accompanying the Sam Adams award to Karen:

Karen Kwiatkowski

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.

“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.

Ed Snowden, Sam Adams awardee in 2013, noted that we tend to ignore some degree of evil in our daily life, but, as Ed put it, “We also have a breaking point and when people find that, they act.” As did Karen. As did 16 of Karen’s predecessors honored with this award.

With all the gloom and doom enveloping us, we tend to wonder whether people with the conscience and courage of Ed 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.

Karen Kwiatkowski has made her own unique contribution to this company of conscience and courage, and Sam Adams Associates are pleased to honor her.

Presented this 8th day of December 2018 in Washington by admirers of the example set by the late CIA analyst, Sam Adams.


The video includes Karen’s acceptance speech, but the written text is also available at https://samadamsaward.ch/karen-kwiatkowski/.