TRANSCRIPT: Kos Interview, June 2, 2006

by Richard Poe
Sunday, January 27, 2008

7:50 pm Eastern Time

Interview with Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga

Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots and the Rise of People-Powered Politics

Commonwealth Club of California

June 2, 2006
Aired on KQED:
June 16, 2006
Markos Moulitsas ZuñigaLeftwing blogger Markos “Kos” Moulitsas Zúñiga, who founded, claimed in a June 2, 2006 interview that he applied for work with the CIA’s Clandestine Service in 2001, but decided against joining, even after successfully completing a six-month screening process. A blog called The Truth About Kos now denounces Moulitsas as a CIA infiltrator. Moulitsas enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17 and served from 1989-92.

Gregory Dalton: Good evening and welcome to tonight’s meeting of the Commonwealth Clubs and Forum. Tonight our guest is Daily Kos blogger Markos Moulitsas. Mr. Moulitsas served in the U.S. Army for three years and later earned two bachelor degrees from Northern Illinois University and a law degree from Boston University. After moving to California to work in the tech industry, he started in 2002. That is now one of the top political Web sites, indeed overall Web sites, in the country and he’s a celebrity among bloggers and netroots political activists.

Markos Moulitsas: Or nerds. Nerds.

Dalton: Celebrity nerds. While he actively supports Democratic candidates, he has plenty of harsh words for the Democratic Party establishment, so please welcome Markos Moulitsas. […]

Interview continues below.


Dalton: Not long ago, liberals loathed the Central Intelligence Agency as the enemy of democratic governments and they install dictators around the world, and these days you read the papers and people on the left are rallying to the defense of the CIA and indignant when the CIA is politicized. How did this come about, that suddenly liberals are championing the CIA?

Moulitsas: I don’t know. You know, I…

Dalton: Do you find it strange or ironic that there’s all of a sudden love for the CIA?

Moulitsas: You know, I think a lot of the people that did have problems with the CIA, I mean, it was a very vocal minority. I think most people didn’t really think about it that much, right? It wasn’t really on their radar screens in the way that now it is because now we’re in this huge war and it was the CIA that was warning the Administration against invading because there were no weapons of mass destruction.

Here’s a little secret I don’t think I’ve ever written about, but in 2001 I was underemployed, unemployed, underemployed, you know, I was in that, you know, y’all have been there, right? Dot-com people? Kind of like between jobs and you do a little contract work and kind of, so, that’s where I was, in this really horrible netherworld of will I make rent next month? And so I applied to the CIA and I went all the way to the end, I mean, it was to the point where I was going to sign papers to become Clandestine Services, and it was at that point that the Howard Dean campaign took off and I had to make a decision whether I was going to kind of join the Dean campaign, that whole process, or I was going to become a spy.

[laughter from audience]

And it was going to be a tough decision at first, but then the CIA insisted that if I join that they’d want me to do the first duty assignment in Washington, DC and I hate Washington, DC. That was six years in Washington, DC before they’d post me overseas, I was like, yeah! That made the decision a lot easier.

But what was really amazing about that experience is that every single person I talked to in the CIA, and I must have talked to dozens of people, you know, psychologists and, you know, people in the leadership, and you go through this whole, like, six month process, really in depth. Every single one of them was liberal. Every single one of them, and, to the point where I was talking to somebody, we were talking about my Web site, because they came by my Web site, and she was agreeing with me on everything and this was before the war, right? And she kept saying, man, they’re going to take us to war and, you know, it’s, the evidence isn’t there and this is crazy, and I was like, is this just you or what? And she’s like, no, we’re all like this here. We’re all, this is a very liberal institution.

And, in a lot of ways, it does attract people who want to make a better, you know, want to make the world a better place. I mean, people who are internationalist, in general. Rarely are people who say I want to go bomb the f–k out of some other country, right? That’s not, do you have to bleep that out on the radio?

[laughter from audience]

Dalton: Yeah, why don’t you try to say it again? [laughs]

Moulitsas: Uh, you can, I’ll let you bleep it out. And so it’s, I mean, and when you think of it in a more logical sense, I mean, that makes a lot of sense. Of course, they’ve got their dirty ops and this and that, right? But, as an institution itself, the CIA is actually really interested in a stable world. That’s what they’re interested in. And stable worlds aren’t created by destabilizing regimes and by starting wars. They’re done so by other methods. You know, assassinating labor leaders, and, no, I’m kidding.

But that was really surprising to me. So coming from the, and of course, I think a lot of conservatives would kind of take that as evidence that the CIA was out to undermine Bush or something because they are a bunch of liberals, and they are, they were a bunch of liberals. But ultimately that was an eye-opening experience for me, and at least ultimately I don’t think it’s a very partisan thing to want a calm, stable world, and even if you’re protecting American interests, I mean, you know, that can get ugly at times, but generally speaking, I think, as an organization, their heart’s in the right place and, if liberals before had a [inaudible], you know, this is before my time.

I’ve never had a problem with the CIA, and, which is why I’d have no problem working for them. But I don’t know. I mean, also keep in mind I came to this country in 1980, so I don’t, you know, a lot of this more historical hostility towards the CIA by the left is before my time, so I may be missing nuances or something that, but, from a modern perspective, you know, obviously things are a little different.


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