Larisa Alexandrovna (born 1971) is a journalist, essayist, and poet. She has served as the Managing Editor of Investigative News of The Raw Story for the last three years, and contributes opinion and columns to online publications such as Alternet. She is also an American blogger for the Huffington Post and for her own journalism blog, at-Largely. Alexandrovna has had her work referenced in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and Newsweek among others.
Alexandrovna was born in Odessa, Ukraine to Jewish parents Aleksander Yurovich, a physicist, and Klavdia Borisovna, an accountant. In the Soviet Union, Jews were discriminated against by the state. She has written of her childhood that even as a child, she was able to understand that her family was treated differently:
"What I was given was not what one would call edible or even in a class of food-like products. Again I did not tell my parents, because again I feared something terrible would happen should they react. I was six and I knew this. But my continued weight loss had my mother so concerned that she began selling off the little she had in jewelry in order to bribe my school officials to feed me, with food, the same food, served the same way, as the other children.
Most Americans, especially white Americans, would never understand this and have no clue what racism, anti-semitism, and hate are and what damage real hate can do. They faint in public when someone makes a slur but say nothing about US prisons populated with minorities." Mirror Mirror - The Passion of Hypocrites
The family came to the United States after traveling an "entire year maneuvering our way throughout Europe in the common trajectory of Soviet refugees at the time."
Alexandrovna attended Cleveland State University where she majored in English and Creative Writing. It was during this time that she was the poetry editor for the Cleveland Review, also covering local news and culture. In addition, she worked with Russian poet Zoya Folkova to translate her work into English. She also developed a lifelong friendship with her writing mentor, Dr. Alberta Turner. In the mid 1990s, she moved to New York to work at Nasdaq, which she has said was a bad decision.
Larisa Alexandrovna initially published only poetry and short fiction. During the 2000 election, she said that she formally began to write opinion and news pieces. She first became recognized for her reporting after she wrote an investigative piece about election fraud in Ohio, which was later cited in What went wrong in Ohio, a report published by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) and later cited in several prominent articles, including in Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s controversial Rolling Stone article.
Later articles on election fraud and domestic politics, included covering the Real ID Act, did not gain much attention domestically. However, a series of articles on the pre-war intelligence on Iraq and alleged illegal activities of the US Department of Defense and reporting on the CIA leak case and Iran gained Alexandrovna respect as an investigative journalist.
On March 16, 2007, Valerie Plame Wilson told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, "But I do know the Agency did a damage assessment. They did not share it with me, but I know that certainly puts the people and the contacts I had all in jeopardy, even if they were completely innocent in nature." Alexandrovna broke the story wide open that Plame was working on Iran, damage was done by her outing, and a damage report had been done. Citing "three intelligence officials, who spoke under condition of anonymity," Alexandrovna reports that
|“||"While Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss has not submitted a formal damage assessment to Congressional oversight committees, the CIA's Directorate of Operations did conduct a serious and aggressive investigation."||”|
According to her sources,
Alexandrovna also reports that while Plame was undercover she was involved in an operation identifying and tracking weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran, suggesting that her outing "significantly hampered the CIA's ability to monitor nuclear proliferation." Her sources also stated that the outing of Plame compromised the identity of other covert operatives who had been working, like Plame, under non-official cover status. These anonymous officials said that in their judgement, the CIA's work on WMDs has been set back "ten years" as a result of the compromise.
Mainstream media initially ignored this story, but on May 1, 2006, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster reported on the political news show Hardball that MSNBC had learned "new information" about the potential consequences of the leaks:
On September 6, 2006, David Corn published an article for The Nation entitled "What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA" in which Corn reports that Plame was placed in charge of the operations group within the Joint Task Force on Iraq in the spring of 2001 and that, "when the Novak column ran," in July 2003:
In 2005, the Washington Post exposed the use of foreign black sites by the CIA in a program of extraordinary rendition, under which terrorism suspects were taken to undisclosed sites for detainment and interrogation.
Critics of the Washington Post report believe that the publication caved under pressure from the White House by not exposing the locations of these sites. According to FAIR, the Washington Post's decision to withhold the locations of these secret prisons was that since the revelations "could open the U.S. government to legal challenges, particularly in foreign courts, and increase the risk of political condemnation at home and abroad," the Post did its part to minimize these risks. Yet, according to FAIR, "the possibility that illegal, unpopular government actions might be disrupted is not a consequence to be feared, however — it's the whole point of the U.S. First Amendment." Furthermore, by not disclosing these locations it would make it impossible to have them closed and thereby the Post is enabling the rendition, secret detention, and torture of prisoners at these locations to continue. Another consequence might be that US soldiers and civilians are put at risk.
Sources who had approached the Post with the location of the Polish facility turned to Polish intelligence operative David Dastych, who in turn approached Alexandrovna. According to Raw Story, in a report authored by Alexandrovna and Dastych, the Polish black site is in Stare Kiejkuty.
"The complex at Stare Kiejkuty, a Soviet-era compound once used by German intelligence in World War II, is best known as having been the only Russian intelligence training school to operate outside the Soviet Union. Its prominence in the Soviet era suggests that it may have been the facility first identified — but never named — when the Washington Post's Dana Priest revealed the existence of the CIA's secret prison network in November 2005."
Both Alexandrovna and Dastych have stated that their sources told them that the same information and documents were provided to Washington Post in 2005. In addition, they also identified the methodology of concealing the black sites:
"Former European and US intelligence officials indicate that the secret prisons across the European Union, first identified by the Washington Post, are likely not permanent locations, making them difficult to identify.
What some believe was a network of secret prisons was most probably a series of facilities used temporarily by the United States when needed, officials say. Interim "black sites" – secret facilities used for covert activities — can be as small as a room in a government building, which only becomes a black site when a prisoner is brought in for short-term detainment and interrogation."
They go on to explain that "Such a site, sources say, would have to be near an airport." According to Alexandrovna and Dastych, the airport in question is the Szczytno-Szymany International Airport.
In response to these allegations, former Polish intelligence chief Zbigniew Siemiatkowski embarked on a media blitz and claimed that the allegations made by Alexandrovna and Dastych were "part of the domestic political battle in the US over who is to succeed current Republican President George W Bush," according to the German news agency Deutsche Presse Agentur."
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