Upon Leaving NBC News in January 2019

  • “William Arkin has created articles and reports for NBC News and The Los Angeles Times, among other media venues. But he may be remembered for something he wrote for himself. In a mammoth 2000-word-plus farewell letter, Arkin, a veteran NBC News staffer and analyst who has also written books and for newspapers, warned that “In our day-to-day whirlwind and hostage status as prisoners of Donald Trump, I think – like everyone else does – that we miss so much…. Arkin, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer and a human-rights advocacy worker, has a distinguished resume. He is co-author of Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State,” based on a three-year Washington Post investigation he took part in that examined military, intelligence and corporate interests in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11. 2001. He is also known for being contrarian. He penned a similar farewell letter when he left Gawker in 2015.” (Variety)
  • “This author of ground-breaking work on secret CIA ‘black sites’ has a respectful audience at both Harvard and Maxwell US Air Force Base. So when he quits, I take notice.” (Robert Fisk, The Independent (UK))

Upon the publication of Top Secret America 2010

  • “A former Army intelligence analyst in West Berlin in the 1970s, Arkin, according to his Post biography, later did stints at Greenpeace International and Human Rights Watch — activist associations that might not pass the classic standard of journalistic objectivity that has been much debated in the wake of Post blogger David Weigel’s resignation from the Post. Arkin’s background was almost immediately cited by right-leaning blogs Monday as undermining the credibility of the series. … The digital part of it could not have been done without him and without his kind of brain,” [Dana Priest] said. “That’s not necessarily a blogger brain. That’s the research phenomenon that he is.” (Dana Priest’s controversial co-author, Politico, July 2010)
  • is a hard-left email address. If the guy’s a real Washington Post reporter, can’t the Washington Post manage to give him a Washington Post email address? And if he’s a real Washington Post reporter (since 1998?), what’s he doing advising the U.N.? Hugh Hewitt had more at the Weekly Standard back in 2003, including: “Arkin’s own speech to an audience at the U.S. Naval War College on September 25, 2002. In this lengthy and vitriolic attack on the Bush administration, Arkin admitted to feeling “cynical about the fact that we are going to war to enhance the economic interests of the Enron class,” and declared that “the war against terrorism is overstated.” Oh, and Mr. Arkin also writes for the Nation … I’ve always believed you judge the journalism by the words not by the biography of the author, but this is really something. (“Who is William Arkin?”, News Transparency and Future of, July 2010.)
  • William Arkin has just dropped a stellar entry in the biggest asshole in America contest. I was stunned by the incredible amount of disgusting, deranged, disrespectful drivel the wanker was able to cobble together in one hearty F U to the troops. (A hearty F*** You to William Arkin, BlackFive blog, 2005.)

Hugh Hewitt Opines, 2005

A profile in the Washington Post “Style” Section, 2003

  • “From his home in the mountains of Vermont, William Arkin seems to have mastered one of the great juggling acts of the multimedia age — persuading news organizations, advocacy groups and the Pentagon, through sheer smarts and a bulldog personality, to take him on his own terms.” (Washington Post profile by Howard Kurtz, May 2003)

A complement and a slam in Foreign Affairs, 1997

  • “The author is well known (and in some government quarters, cordially detested) as an indefatigable researcher in military affairs, whose cunning and persistence have uncovered many secrets (notably in the area of nuclear weapons). …” (Foreign Affairs by Eliot Cohen, November-December 1997)

What they said about Unmanned (2015)

7 editions published between 1999 and 2015 in English and Undetermined and held by 630 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

William Arkin talks about Unmanned on BookTV (C-Span), 21 October 2015

  • “a personal meditation … This well-informed but quirky analysis of the development of drone warfare and its ongoing effect on the nation’s military strategy is the latest lament for the disappearance of personal honor and valor from warfare that began in 1914.” (Kirkus Reviews)
  • “Arkin insists that we must contemplates the “cost to society and humanity for even operating in this seemingly near-perfect way.” Readers will have to navigate a minefield of technical details, acronyms, and political and military infighting, but Arkin makes worthwhile the effort of understanding both the extensive transformations modern militaries are experiencing and their far-from-perfect consequences.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred review, PW Picks)
  • “Unmanned attempts to explain these views in a first-person narrative that is alternatively informative and quirky. The quirkiness derives from Arkin’s insistence that “to understand drones you have to understand Gilgamesh,” the main character in The Epic of Gilgamesh, a 5,000-year-old literary work. Arkin devotes a chapter to the topic and then returns to it from time to time throughout the book. The connections remain obscure, however, and the story he tells of the life of the drone program is not enhanced by his references to Gilgamesh. … Whether Unmanned’s forecast of an excessively automated future, as implied in the final chapter of the science fiction example, is a dilemma left to the reader. The facts of the drone program presented, however, are worth attention.” (Studies in Intelligence (CIA), December 2015)
  • “Arkin makes clear that the sheer amount of data being collected ‘masks the intelligence’ … Drones – and the ‘Data Machine’ – give the illusion of being able to know, understand and control what is happening on the ground thousands of miles away via remote armed systems.  The reality, as we shall no doubt continue to see, is just the opposite.” (Dronewars.Net)

What they said about American Coup (2013)

4 editions published in 2013 in English and held by 327 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

  • “A systematic discussion that provides a well-documented basis for assessing future developments.” (Kirkus Reviews)
  • “Bill Arkin has a knack for stirring our national pot on uncomfortable issues that must be addressed. Today’s world demands unconventional views on unconventional security challenges facing the United States. Bill asks tough questions of our security institutions, and the right answers demand a delicate balance between national-security preparedness and constitutional protections afforded to our citizens.” (General Victor E. Renuart, Jr., USAF (Ret), commander of US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command. 2007-2010)
  • “If anybody else had written this book, I would urge caution. But Bill Arkin has explored every nook and cranny of American national-security policy for decades, from nuclear-weapons targeting to war plans for the invasion of Iraq, and his reputation for sober accuracy is rock solid. (Thomas Powers, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to Al-Qaeda)
  • “If Bill Arkin doesn’t know it, it isn’t worth knowing.” (Thomas E. Ricks, author of The Generals)

What they said about Priest and Arkin’s Top Secret America (2011)

14 editions published between 2011 and 2013 in English and held by 1,315 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

PBS featured Top Secret America in a September 6, 2011 broadcast of the news documentary series Frontline.

The Director of National Intelligence issued a notice to “industry partners” prior to the publication of the report reminding “cleared employees” of their “responsibility to protect classified information and relationships, and to abide by contractual agreements regarding non-publicity.” The notice also states that: “Employees should be reminded that they must neither confirm nor deny information contained in this, or any, media publication, and that the publication of this website does not constitute a change in any current ODNI classifications. They should also be reminded that if approached and asked to discuss their work by media or unauthorized people, they should report the interactions to their appropriate security officer.”

  • “… a breathtaking investigative account of America’s vast new secret world. … An invaluable book.” (Bob Drogin, Los Angeles Times)
  • “One of the many strengths of Top Secret America is that Priest and Arkin take nothing for granted. They ask basic, even faux- naïve questions about the purpose, accountability, and effectiveness of the acronym soup of covert programs, companies, and Pentagon commands created or expanded after September 11. Their analysis is neither naïve about the threat posed by al-Qaeda and similar groups, nor credulous about the generals, spies, and bureaucrats who have so dramatically expanded the country’s defenses in response to September 11.” (Steve Coll in New York Review of Books)
  • “Ambitious…Top Secret America makes the team’s investigation available in detail to those of us who live beyond the Beltway….Since Priest and Arkin themselves lack security clearances, part of the interest of their book is how they acquired so much secret information.” (        Richard Rhodes, The Washington Post)
  • “Priest and Arkin, columnists for the Washington Post and other media outlets, won the 2010 George Polk Award for their exposé of the surveillance state. Here, they blow the whistle on how, since 9/11 and the adoption of the Patriot Act, the government and its contractors use classification and security screens to conceal expenditures that have failed to enhance national security. … Overall, this is an important book that should receive greater attention.” (Publisher’s Weekly)
  • “A mixture of investigative reporting and advocacy journalism that shines light in dark corners but is ultimately depressing because the authors seem convinced that the paranoia and its dangerous offshoots will never dissipate.” (Kirkus Reviews)
  • “Essential.” (Library Journal)
  • “Priest and Arkin fully flesh out how the Byzantine security maze actually works, breaking down its components …. The authors’ arguments are compelling.” (Lydia DePillis in Washington City Paper)
  • “Despite the sobering subject matter, Top Secret America makes for lively reading … [and is] full of the authors’ remarkable insights, anecdotes and encounters.” (Secrecy Blog of the Federation of American Scientists Stephen Aftergood)
  • “Essential reading” (Cryptome)
  • “Mind-boggling” (Washington Lawyer)
  • “This is an extremely important piece of non-fiction, written by highly respected journalists following two years of intense investigations. Especially given the budget debate, in which both parties talk of reigning in spending, Priest and Arkin explain the vast waste expended on a war that exists completely in the shadows, free from oversight. Couple with voluminous evidence of rampant civil liberties abuses, the picture that emerges is one of a government severely out of control.” (Bill of Rights Defense Committee)

What they said about Arkin’s Divining Victory (2007)

12 editions published between 2007 and 2011 in English and Undetermined and held by 1,819 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

“The 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War may well be a paradigm for twenty-first century warfare. The technically sophisticated Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were confronted by a much smaller but well-armed and highly unconventional “state within a state” opponent. Israel launched an intensive 34-minute air assault designed to essentially disarm Hezbollah; it did not. Hezbollah’s interspersion within the civilian population presented major targeting problems for the IDF, setting up condemnation of Israel’s “over-reaction” in the international press. Airpower became the big loser in the press and after-action reports. Divining Victory examines the decisions, the effects, and the lessons learned for those who must confront similar enemies.”

  • “William Arkin, the well-known independent military analyst, explodes both myths in his new book… meticulous documentation” (Air and Space Power Journal (U.S. Air Force))
  • “William Arkin’s book has an extremely valuable role to play.  It has certainly succeeded inasmuch as it is one of the few recent books on air power to rate a review – and a positive one at that – from the pages of The New York Times.” (RAF Journal (UK))
  • Recommended on the 2008 Royal Air Force Chief of the Air Staffs’ reading list.
  • “We’re trying to disseminate timely analysis and strong ideas that can help strategic thinking in the Air Force today,” said Dr. Dan Mortensen, the institute’s chief of research. “We think it’s a great benefit to have someone outside our service look at something so relevant to our own Air Force operations fighting terrorism.” Dr. Mortensen said the new book is part of an effort to have outside scholars comment on strategic Air Force concerns and help develop strategic thinkers in the service, a priority noted by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley during congressional testimony in October. General Moseley told the House Armed Services Committee that Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and he have charged Air University with ensuring its education, training and outreach programs are relevant to today’s fight against terrorism and encourage Airmen to consider the future. “I … want to be able to stress on future officers the ability to see the horizon better,” General Moseley said. “I want bigger thinkers. I want broader thinkers.” (Air Force News)

What they said about Arkin’s Code Names (2005)

Mentioned on the Front Page of The New York Times and featured on NBC Nightly News

8 editions published in 2005 in English and held by 358 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

  • “Arkin’s solution: Fight fire with fire. A secret held, a secret disclosed.  He offers many bomblets, each of which could make up a chapter of the 600-plus-page book.” (The Washington Post, January 23, 2005)
  • “Full of useful information not only for scholars and practitioners of intelligence, but for any serious newspaper reader.” (Patrick Radden Keefe, author of Chatter, in the New York Review of Books)
  • “remarkable book…” ( The Independent (UK), 24 January 2005)
  • “William Arkin, who successfully challenged a number of Air Force claims about its bombing results during the 1991 Persian Gulf war, is continuing his role of informed critic and irritant with the book Code Names.  It is a gold mine…” (Aviation Week and Space Technology, January 31, 2005)
  • “Arkin, a military analyst with NBC News and an independent journalist with impressive credentials, has taken on this massive subject with a solitary vengeance stretched out over years … dedicated readers, including students of national security policies, will look for specific topics in small doses or cover sections of interest in a measured, incremental approach.” (Air and Space Power Journal (U.S. Air Force))
  • “a detailed and comprehensive exposure of the American security system” … whether or not one agreed with Arkin’s logic and motivation for writing this book, “the information contained inside Code Names makes for a fascinating read for any national security specialist.” (Robert B. Killebrew, Parameters (journal of the U.S. Army War College))

  • “Arkin lays out his version of patriotism, explains what “”special access programs”” (SAPs) are, the differing levels of information security generate and how they get their names. Four sections follow: a “”cast of characters,”” describing U.S. and foreign agencies, commands and other organizations involved in sensitive operations; a list of their “activities by country”; the “code names dictionary” … and a glossary of acronyms (“”MIO: maritime interdiction operation””) and other terms. Taken together, they offer a prismatic array of activities that come under the aegis of the war on terror, and provide a concrete means for further research and debate.” (Publisher’s Weekly, starred review and PW Picks)
  • “His activities have made Arkin unpopular in certain quarters: earlier this year a reporter at the Washington Times received what appeared to be a Department of Defense intelligence report claiming that Arkin received a ‘monthly stipend’ from the Iraqi government during the mid-1990s.  The Pentagon has confirmed that the document is a forgery.” (London Review of Books, 23 June 2005)
  • “William Arkin’s Code Names will rock the National Security Community. We do not agree on any issue, my problem when we argue is that unlike most of his ilk, he researches the facts thoroughly and has impeccable integrity. Code Names scares the hell out of me because Arkin dredged up so many secrets and turned them into a comprehensive tour of our national security efforts around the globe. This book lays out for the reader what China, Israel, France and Russia probably spent billions trying to find out. It will become the basic reference book for those who study our foreign affairs, unfortunately that includes every spy agency around the world. This book shows the dysfunctional aspects of our all too frequent over-classification process that blocks our agencies from working together, hides waste and stifles debate of important issues. Most of all it proves we need to rethink how we protect our secrets in the information
    age.” (Gen. Charles A. Horner, General,  USAF; commander of coalition air forces in Operation Desert Storm, and former commander, U.S. Space Command)
  • Code Names “lays bare for the first time much of the secret infrastructure of defense and intelligence today.” (Steven Aftergood in Secrecy News)
  • “William Arkin makes amateurs of all of us who think we know something about America’s constantly expanding hidden world. Code Names is quite simply a stunning array of secrets and super-secrets that Arkin has put together in a way that makes it easy for any citizen to comprehend – and decide for himself or herself whether such activities are consistent with democracy and good government.” (Seymour Hersh)

What they said about Arkin’s The U.S. Military Online

2 editions published between 1997 and 1998 in English and held by 321 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

  • “Having spent years exploring the nether reaches of military cyberspace, I was dazzled by the number of precious gems unearthed by Arkin.” (John Pike, Federation of American Scientists)
  • “Indispensable for any serious researcher in contemporary national security issues.” (Foreign Affairs)
  • “An excellent work that will reward users needing access to the military on the Internet.”
  • (American Reference Book Annual, 1997)
  • “As a hot intelligence source, Arkin’s book is indispensable.” (The Netley News)
  • “The U.S. Military Online is probably better described as a ‘decoding’ of the official web sites of the various bases, commands, and activities … presented in easily accessible form. (Seapower (Navy League of the United States))
  • “One of the most comprehensive sources available.” (Booklist)
  • “… Explanation of the military’s complex structure and functions is one of its strong features.  Conscientiously used, the directory permits researchers the kind of access to materials that in the past could only be had in Washington.” (Choice)
  • “The first book to decipher the enormous ‘.mil’ domain of the Internet … an indispensable reference.” (Link-Up: The Newsmagazine for Online Services, CD-ROM and the Internet)
  • “An excellent work that will reward users needing access to the military on the Internet.” (American Reference Book Annual, 1997)

What they said about Arkin’s Nuclear Battlefields (1985)

12 editions published in 1985 in English and held by 735 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Mentioned in a Johnny Carson monologue on NBC

What they said about SIOP: The Secret U.S. Plan for Nuclear War (1983)

11 editions published between 1983 and 1984 in English and Japanese and held by 743 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

  • “The sensationalist title masks an otherwise informative and lively investigation of American nuclear weapons and their hypothetical mode of use. … This is one version of the nuclear tightrope that provides both substance and color.” (Kirkus Reviews)

What they said about Arkin’s first book Research Guide to Current Military and Strategic Affairs

14 editions published between 1981 and 1984 in English and held by 480 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.

  • “Only specialists will agree with the author’s caution that the work is not exhaustive … No single volume takes its place.” (Library Journal, 15 October 1981)
  • “The complexity of uncovering military information has been made easier by the publication of this book … one will not be disappointed.” (Survival (International Institute for Strategic Studies, September/October 1982)
  • “This book is clearly a product of accumulated research experience.” (Disarmament (United Nations), May 1982)
  • “Arkin’s work is a veritable mine of information on military organization, infrastructure, and operations.  All of the sources — official or oppositional — are clearly identified …. Rarely is a research tool so complete or useful.” (Le Monde Diplomatique, November 1981)
  • “There are several bibliographies which deal with US military affairs, but William M. Arkin’s Research Guide to Current Military and Strategic Affairs is most useful … it holds a mine of useful information.” (Peace and Change, Spring 1982)
  • “… remarkable guide … Far more information is available on military affairs than most of us realize, though not in the mass media.  Arkin’s work should be useful to many researchers and activists, and is an essential library acquisition.” (MERIP Reports, January 1983)
  • “In short, Arkin has done us all a service.” (Arms Control Today, Arms Control Association, November 1981)
  • “Students, researchers, journalists, activists, government workers, and librarians will all appreciate the meticulous effort that produced this outstanding guide.” (College and Research Libraries (American Libraries Association), July 1982)
  • “His background has given him insight into the needs of the researcher in strategic studies.” (Booklist, 15 October 1982)
  • “… the author really shines.  He seems to have found everything that reports, in whatever fashion, on military affairs.  He is obviously writing as an experienced user of government information sources.” (American Reference Books Annual 1983)