The presidential campaign is already heating up, and so is Salon. I'm excited to announce that beginning this week Salon is rolling out a series of new editorial initiatives that will propel our political and news coverage to a new level. First of all, Salon is opening a Washington bureau under the direction of veteran political journalist Sidney Blumenthal, whose bestselling account of his days as a senior aide to President Clinton, "The Clinton Wars," was serialized by Salon last year.
"The country wants and needs unintimidated news," says Blumenthal. "The Bush administration has put enormous political pressure on the press not to probe its radical policies and their consequences. Salon intends to be fearless." Under Blumenthal's leadership, Salon's new Washington bureau will produce a flow of revealing stories about the Bush administration and the election.
On Wednesday Salon is running "The New Pentagon Papers," an exclusive, eyewitness account of how Bush officials inside the Defense Department twisted intelligence in the rush to the Iraq war. The author of the article, Karen Kwiatkowski, is a retired lieutenant colonel formerly assigned to the Pentagon's Near East South Asia directorate. The NESA was headed by Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Bill Luti, who also led the Pentagon's secret intelligence unit, the Office of Special Plans. In her extraordinary 5,500-word account, Kwiatkowski writes: "I saw a narrow and deeply flawed policy favored by some executive appointees in the Pentagon used to manipulate and pressurize the traditional relationship between policymakers in the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies. 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 the Congress. I observed how the distorted intelligence and sharpened political talking points were funneled to the Office of Vice President Cheney."
On Thursday, Salon will publish the first of several advance excerpts from "House of Bush, House of Saud," a new book by Craig Unger that explores the relationship between the two dynasties, whose explosive contents have been embargoed. In the first installment, Unger, who has written for Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, will expose shocking new details on the flights approved by the Bush White House that carried members of the bin Laden family and other prominent Saudis out of the U.S. to Saudi Arabia after Sept. 11. Salon will publish for the first time the manifest of the passenger list and identify one passenger as a suspected al-Qaida funder who was aware ahead of time of the Sept. 11 attack.
And on Friday, Salon will publish an exclusive report on the Texas investigation of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his political operatives that reporter Lou Dubose (co-author of "Shrub" and "Boy Genius") believes may send some of them to prison, shaking up Texas and national politics.
Salon is also adding distinguished writers for its political coverage. Edward Jay Epstein, author of numerous books, from "Inquest: The Warren Commission and the Establishment of Truth" to "Dossier: The Secret History of Armand Hammer," will be writing on the September 11 Commission. James K. Galbraith, the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in government-business relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, will become Salon's economics correspondent.
Salon is also joining hands with Air America, the new radio network featuring personalities like Al Franken that aims to balance the far-right tilt of talk radio. Each day, Salon's leading story will be featured on Air America's stations.
Finally, Salon is partnering with the Guardian, the great British newspaper that so many Americans have turned to for a different perspective on world news, the Bush presidency and the war in Iraq. Salon and the Guardian will swap stories every day, adding an international angle to our daily menu of articles.
All this follows the announcement in January of an editorial partnership between Salon and Rolling Stone. The two publications' first collaboration, "Bush's War on Gay Marriage," appears in the current issue of Rolling Stone.
We're investing so heavily in such editorial initiatives because we feel that the stakes of this election season are too high for us not to step forward -- particularly at a moment when so much of the rest of the news media, large corporations with far more resources at their disposal than Salon, are failing to do their job. But we're depending on readers like you to do your part, too. When you subscribe to Salon Premium, you directly underwrite our ability to finance our groundbreaking investigative reporting. If you've been sitting on the fence, there's never been a better time to subscribe and support fearless, independent journalism. Please click here to subscribe now.
We couldn't have opened this new D.C. bureau without the financial support of our current Salon Premium subscribers. To our 74,000 subscribers, we thank you -- and encourage you to continue your support by giving Salon Premium as a gift for just $20. Just click here.
-- David Talbot
Editor's note: This letter has been corrected since its original publication.