Inside Gitmo researcher Avery Johnson: Hugs Bunnies, Thumps Authors
by Gordon Cucullu
"If I can't document it, I'm taking it out of the book."
That was my introduction to research team leader Avery Johnson. She runs a research program with the similar tact and poise that Patton ran his Third Army across France and Germany. From a fact-finding, open source perspective there isn't anyone better in the business.
Spending countless hours digging through Internet-based sources, Avery was able to unearth previously unknown (to me) documents as a comprehensive FBI report on Guantanamo's early period, trial depositions from notorious terror mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammad, John Walker Lindh's personal account of the prison uprising inside Qala-i-Jangi, and thousands of related articles from print and electronic sources.
More than a single-minded researcher, Avery keeps her eye constantly on the larger picture, understands the author's mission, and contributes editorially. "Look at this," she would frequently say. "This is important. You need to put it in the book." She brings an editor's mindset to the finished product, and is continually advising on positioning of particular passages and insists on a balanced, non-partisan approach to the final product.
The website you are reading was strictly Avery's brainchild. Naturally I had an amateur's view of a website, but it was Avery who conceived the unique concept of a companion site to the book that would become, in effect, a "living book" complete with all references cited in the printed version, up-to-date information in the form of news articles and blogs, an e-mail based discussion group, inclusion of supplementary material such as podcasts and videos impossible to put in print, and many other innovations that you see here.
A Portland, Oregon resident, Avery is proud of her adopted city and accepts its famous eccentricities with humor and aplomb. She likes her walk-about neighborhood, knows everyone out on the streets, and befriends those who have difficulty taking care of themselves because of illness or unfortunate situations.
She is a great fan of rabbits, and speaks of those she has befriended as companions to be remembered fondly even though they have gone to the predator-free meadows beyond the Rainbow Bridge. She has also been known to adopt (and name) local squirrels and insists that food be placed conveniently for them when the weather turns inclement. Make no mistake though, she is an avid outdoorswoman, long-time commercial fisherman, and vehement opponent of animal rights activists. "The first thing I ever hunted and ate because I was hungry was a rabbit. Of course I love rabbits and squirrels and deer and bears and bison and chickens forever now. We are co-dependants; animals are wonderful companions and sometimes life-saving providers too. I am thankful."
Avery cut her research teeth with non-profit international organizations and government agencies. She was a long-time analyst on domestic terrorism trends and cases, and had hoped for an opportunity to move into the international terror arena. Her excellent work on Inside Gitmo and this website have ideally positioned her for that move.
Her final pronouncement on the completed work summed up her splendid efforts: "Gordon, readers may not agree with your conclusions, but they will not be able to dispute the facts."
Avery is available for other authors and serious research projects. You may contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Chapter Summaries & Source Documents
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The Inside Gitmo email-based discussion group on Guantanamo's detention facility is intended to encourage rational, civil discussion of the myriad issues and problems associated with the facility, the detainees, and the staff.
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"I've also been 'inside GITMO,' and Cucullu's riveting account shows why we've been safer with it — and why we may soon regret being without it."— Monica Crowley, host of the Monica Crowley Show and author of Nixon in Winter
"Our new president should read it — twice — and take its truth-telling to heart." — Ralph Peters, columnist and author of Looking For Trouble
"Every relevant military and civilian official should give Cucullu's analysis a fair hearing." — Victor Davis Hanson, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of An Autumn of War
"An explosive expos of what's really been happening - 'inside the wire' at Guantanamo. Gordon Cucullu - with his Special Forces background, thorough research and extensive visits to Gitmo - knows more about the now-infamous detention facility than any 'outsider.' This book is a must-read for all who care about how we protect ourselves from those who are dying to kill us." — Oliver North, LtCol USMC (Ret.), host of War Stories on FOX News Channel & NYT bestselling author of American Heroes in the Fight Against Radical Islam
"Inside Gitmo is a book of incalculable importance. It lays bare the myths and the stakes involved in the campaign to shut down a facility that any objective reader must conclude is vital to our national security. Every policy-maker in Washington and every citizen across America should study this books brilliant first-hand reporting and its alarming findings." — Frank Gaffney, Jr, President, Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing
"Gordon Cucullu has written a lively work of history that fulfills its promise to explode 'the myths of Guantanamo Bay.' Anyone who wants to speak authoritatively about the Bush administration's detainee policies has to read this book." — Douglas J. Feith, senior fellow, Hudson Institute, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and author of War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism
The "Living Book" Concept
The "Living Book" Concept
This companion web site to Inside Gitmo was conceived and executed by Avery Johnson in collaboration with Chuck Martin. As a highly skilled, experienced researcher, Avery imposes strict demands on her work and that of author's with whom she works. Every stated fact must be backed by hard documentation. Hence readers find 524 citations in Inside Gitmo from a multiplicity of sources. Avery took that as "a good start."
Her concept - that you can interact with on these pages - is that with an issue as dynamic and multi-faceted as Guantanamo is too large to be captured only in a work of print. In order to complement and supplement the final work so that readers may continue to be apprised of developments on this critical subject and dig deeper into subjects that interest them, it is necessary and valuable to take advantage of technology.
Illustrative of this concept is that this site functions as a repository for all original documents used in the book as well as providing additional sources for continued research into the subject. For readers seeking context for specific passages referenced in the book, the site provides access to the original report, news article, book, or other source quoted. By so doing we are able to circumvent necessary space limitations in print by augmenting the book with electronic back-up.
Additionally, the site goes where print cannot: it provides an email based discussion group, videos, updated news articles, a blog, podcasts, and other resources. It highlights new developments, steers readers to newly published works, and offers visitors the opportunity to purchase relevant works from the site.
I think that this concept - a continually updated, vibrant companion website for a published book with complete references included - ought to be the new gold standard in publishing and strongly urge new and proven writers and authors to advantage themselves of these services.
Avery Johnson and her team can be contacted at email@example.com.
I'm a retired Green Beret lieutenant colonel, Vietnam War veteran and career officer, and now a writer. After serving more than thirteen years in East Asia I was sent on assignments in El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, and eventually worked Korea and East Asian affairs at both the Pentagon and Department of State.
My many adventures since then have included raising llamas and alpacas in upstate New York, serving as the Executive Director of the Korea Society in Manhattan, working as an international marketing VP for General Electric in Asia, and traveling within corners of the world that few have had the privilege of experiencing.
In April-May 2008 I spent a month embedded with Military Police units in Iraq. Stories from my trip are posted at supportamericansoldiers.com — a book about what I saw and learned is also in the making.
My first book Separated at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin was published in September 2004.
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