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Jeff Stein (author)

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Jeff Stein (author)

Jeff Stein
Born (1944-02-13)February 13, 1944
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Occupation Investigative reporter, columnist, non-fiction author
Nationality American
Period 1973–present
Genre U.S. intelligence, defense and foreign policy issues

Jeff Stein (born February 13, 1944) is the SpyTalk[1] columnist and blogger at The Washington Post. Previously, he was the SpyTalk columnist and National Security Editor for Congressional Quarterlys website, CQ Politics, from 2002–2009. He specializes in U.S. intelligence, military and foreign policy issues. In addition to his work for CQ, he has written three books and hundreds of news articles, opinion pieces and book reviews. He has also made numerous television and radio appearances.[2]


Stein was born in Philadelphia but grew up in New England, moving with his family to Maine in 1954. After attending school in Providence, Rhode Island, he moved to Hingham, Massachusetts, where he graduated from high school in 1962. Following high school, he attended Boston University, earning a bachelor's degree in American history. Stein then attended the University of California, Berkeley, for a master's degree in China studies. He entered the U.S. Army in 1968 and served with U.S. Army Intelligence as a case officer from 1968 to 1969.[3] While stationed in Vietnam, he was awarded a Bronze Star.

Stein began his journalism career at a suburban Washington, D.C. weekly. He reported for NPR during its early years, while freelancing for major newspapers and magazines. In 1981, he briefly edited the Washington City Paper before founding his own paper, The Washington Weekly, which folded in 1984, after a year of publication. He then joined United Press International (UPI), rising to deputy foreign editor.[2] During this period he also wrote his first book, The Vietnam Factbook, published in 1987.[4] In 1992, Stein followed up with A Murder in Wartime, a book which detailed a Green Beret murder case that occurred during the Vietnam War.[2] Time magazine lauded the book, calling it "...the best military morality tale since The Caine Mutiny... an exhaustively researched and heavily documented history of the Green Beret murder case."[2]

In the 1990s, Stein began writing for Khidhir Hamza, a scientist who worked on Saddam Hussein's nuclear program before defecting in 1994, to write Saddam's Bombmaker. The book garnered widespread and enthusiastic reviews, including one from former chief of the National Security Agency, Gen. William E. Odom, who, in The Washington Post, called it, "Not only stranger but frequently bloodier than fiction. The book should attract a wide range of readers, from foreign policy and security specialists to bored airplane passengers looking for a thriller."[3] In 2002, Congressional Quarterly hired Stein to launch and edit CQ/Homeland Security which was nominated for an award in its first year of existence.[3]

In 2005, Stein began writing a weekly column for CQ, entitled "SpyTalk", which evolved into a daily blog featuring original reporting and regular exclusives. In October 2006, Stein sparked an uproar when he reported in The New York Times that many top counter-terrorism officials and members of the House Intelligence Committee did not know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.[5] Two months later in his column, Stein got the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to reveal that he knew little about Al Qaeda and the Middle East.[6] In April 2009, Stein, writing for CQ Politics, broke the story that Representative Jane Harman had been wiretapped discussing aid for AIPAC defendants.[7] The scandal brought additional attention to the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy and implicated a number of other figures.

In addition to his SpyTalk work, Stein continues to write op-ed pieces and book reviews for The New York Times and The Washington Post. Through the years, he has also written for a wide range of other publications, including Esquire, Vanity Fair, GQ, Playboy, The New Republic, The Nation and the Christian Science Monitor.[8] He also appears on CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NPR and BBC, among others, to comment on U.S. national security issues.[8]

Personal life

Stein resides in Northwest Washington, DC, in a restored Victorian era farmhouse. He is a member of both the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and Investigative Reporters and Editors.



  • Saddam's Bombmaker:The Daring Escape of the Man Who Built Iraq's Secret Weapon — 2000 (with Khidhir Hamza) ISBN 0-7432-1135-9
  • A Murder in Wartime: The Untold Spy Story That Changed the Course of the Vietnam War — 1992 ISBN 0-312-92919-6
  • The Vietnam Factbook — 1987 ISBN 0-440-19336-2

Selected articles

  • (2009) Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Discussing Aid for AIPAC Defendants CQ SpyTalk
  • (2007) FBI Hoped to Follow Falafel Trail to Iranian Terrorists Here CQ Spytalk
  • (2006) Democrats' New Intelligence Chairman Needs a Crash Course on al Qaeda CQ SpyTalk
  • (2006) Can You Tell a Sunni From a Shiite? New York Times
  • (2001) The Greatest Vendetta on Earth: Why would the head of Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey hire a former top CIA honcho to torment a hapless freelance writer for eight years? Salon


  1. ^ "SpyTalk Homepage". The Washington Post. May 6, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Huffington Post biography of Jeff Stein". 
  3. ^ a b c "CQ Politics about Jeff Stein". 
  4. ^ " listing for book". 
  5. ^ Stein, Jeff (October 17, 2006). "Can You Tell a Sunni From a Shiite?". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  6. ^ "CQ interview with Chair of House Intelligence Committee". 
  7. ^ "Jeff Stein discusses the Harman case". 
  8. ^ a b "Jeff Stein Biography". 

External links

  • SpyTalk homepage
  • Huffington Post archive and biography
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