Dr. Mahdi Obeidi was in charge of the experimental program of the French built Material Testing Reactor in Iraq. He later led the Uranium Centrifuge Enrichment program, which is the pinnacle in the ongoing attempts to covertly obtain nuclear weapons capability. His work tells the story about the quest for nuclear weapons. It is about the intimidation, paranoia, and impossible deadlines of a rogue regime. It also tells how easy it is to get a nuclear capability through illicit efforts, as exemplified by his actual experience of entering the United States with a different name, designing the centrifuge in New York, getting materials and know how through the diplomatic pouch, and setting up fictitious front companies, which culminated in realizing one of the fastest and most efficient covert centrifuge programs in history.
In 2003, when the United States was looking for a suspected centrifuge program, he had ethical concerns that the information at his possession would fall in the wrong hands, which prompted him to cooperate with the Americans. While in the United States, Dr. Obeidi authored a bestselling book, The Bomb in my Garden, the Secrets of Saddam’s Mastermind, which was optioned by Johnny Depp for film rights. He has been active in his quest to stop nuclear proliferation, with lecture circuit throughout the nation including universities, such as Harvard and his Alma mater, the Colorado School of Mines, most DOE laboratories, NSA, numerous lectures for the FBI, along with many lectures at libraries, and conferences. He conducted scenario based training for HLS, the army, the air force, and DOE.
Dr. Obeidi experience is an eye opener showing how a rogue state or a non-state actor can circumvent the rules and pose a nuclear or radiological threat on the American soil. It can show, for example, how an intelligence officer in an American embassy can assess the threat of someone asking to attend a scientific conference in the United States through understanding the true motivation, be it personal, national, or ideological. The interplay between these factors can be instrumental in securing the homeland. Dr. Obeidi obtained his masters from the Colorado School of Mines in Chemical Engineering, and obtained his PhD from the University of Swansea in the United Kingdom in materials science and engineering. He supervised numerous masters and doctoral thesis.
Seth Rosenfeld is an award-winning investigative journalist, book author and expert on public access to government records. His first book, SUBVERSIVES: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power, was published in hardback in 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and in paperback in 2013 by Picador, and became a New York Times best-seller.
SUBVERSIVES traces the FBI’s secret involvement with three iconic figures who clashed at Berkeley during the 1960s: the ambitious neophyte politician Ronald Reagan, the fierce but fragile student radical Mario Savio, and the liberal University of California president Clark Kerr. Through these converging narratives, Rosenfeld tells a dramatic and disturbing story of FBI surveillance, illegal break-ins, infiltration, planted news stories, poison-pen letters and secret detention lists. He reveals how the FBI’s covert operations — led by Reagan’s friend J. Edgar Hoover — helped ignite an era of student protest, undermine the Democrats, and benefit Reagan personally and politically. SUBVERSIVES provides a fresh look at the legacy of the sixties, sheds new light on one of America’s most popular presidents, and tells a timely cautionary tale about the dangers of secrecy and unchecked power.
Rosenfeld began the research that would lead to SUBVERSIVES in 1981, while a journalism student at UC Berkeley writing for the campus newspaper. Little did he know he was embarking on what would become a three-decade legal odyssey into the FBI’s covert campus activities; that he would bring five lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act in a precedent-setting legal fight; and that seven federal judges would order the FBI to release more than 300,000 pages of once-secret files and pay his pro-bono attorney’s fees of more than $1 million. These cases revealed the bureau’s covert operations at one of the nation’s preeminent public universities and strengthened the public’s right to know. The New York Times Book Review called SUBVERSIVES “electrifying.” NPR’s On the Media cited its “stunning revelations,” and Bookforum described it as “a masterpiece of historical reconstruction and narrative propulsion.”
Rosenfeld was a staff reporter for the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 25 years, focusing on legal affairs and law enforcement. His stories exposing Dow Corning Corporation’s cover-up of manufacturing defects in silicone gel breast implants that caused women to undergo avoidable surgery led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to restrict the use of implants, and won a George Polk Award for Health Reporting. Rosenfeld’s articles have also won honors from the Society of Professional Journalists; Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.; the American Association of University Professors; and Harvard University’s Goldsmith Award for Investigative Reporting.
Rosenfeld has been featured on National Public Radio and other national and local broadcasts, and has given many talks. His topics include the conflicts between civil liberties and national security; the Freedom of Information Act, excessive government secrecy and the role of the press in democracy; Ronald Reagan’s hidden relationship with the FBI in the years before he became president; and the secret history of the FBI’s activities during the sixties and how they affected individuals, institutions, and politics.
James B. Conroy is the author of OUR ONE COMMON COUNTRY: Abraham Lincoln and the Hampton Roads Peace Conference of 1865, published by Lyons Press in 2014. In a starred review, Kirkus called Our One Common Country “a brilliant account of the doomed effort to end the Civil War through diplomacy.” Publisher’s Weekly praised its “fascinating insight into the war’s major players.” The leading Lincoln historian Harold Holzer said “Conroy shows that it is possible to write exciting prose with scholarly integrity intact.” Bob Schieffer of CBS News called him “a terrific writer.” The book resulted in Conroy’s election as a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and he is now at work on a second book, Lincoln’s White House. Enhanced by a striking collection of computer-colorized Civil War photography that brings the past to life, Conroy has made presentations on OUR ONE COMMON COUNTRY at the Museum of the Confederacy, Harvard Law School, the Boston Athenaeum, and many other venues.
In addition to his historical research and writing, Conroy has practiced law as a commercial litigator in Boston for 33 years. He earned his law degree, magna cum laude, at Georgetown after receiving a B.A. degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University. He has taught at the Suffolk University School of Law as an adjunct faculty member and has been named a “Massachusetts Super Lawyer,” a peer-generated designation, for many consecutive years.
Before joining the bar, Conroy served as Press Secretary for the United States Senate Committee on the Budget and wrote speeches delivered by its successive Chairmen, Senator Edmund S. Muskie (D. Me.) and Senator Ernest F. Hollings (D. S. C.) to the Senate, the National Press Club, and many other distinguished audiences. Conroy subsequently served as Administrative Assistant (chief of staff) to Congressman James Scheuer (D. N. Y.).
From 1971 to 1977, Conroy served in the United States Navy Reserve in antisubmarine aviation units as a Navy photographer and journalist. He lives in Hingham, Massachusetts, where he has coached youth sports teams and has chaired the Town’s Advisory Committee, its Government Study Committee, and its Task Force on Affordability and has served as Assistant Moderator of the Hingham Town Meeting, a New England institution through which the Town has governed itself since 1635, well before Conroy’s time.
Joan DeJean has been Trustee Professor at the University of Pennsylvania since 1988. Before then, she taught at Princeton and Yale. She grew up in Louisiana in a French-speaking family and was educated at Newcomb College/Tulane and then at Yale.
She has written extensively about France and the French and about the city of Paris. Her most recent books include How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City (Bloomsbury, 2014), The Age of Comfort – When Paris Discovered Casual, and the Modern Home Began (Bloomsbury, 2009), and The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour (Simon and Schuster/The Free Press, 2005).
Carlos was born in Havana in 1950. He is now the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale, where he has served as chairman of the Department of Religious Studies and the Renaissance Studies Program. Before joining the Yale faculty in 1996, he taught at St. John’s University in Minnesota and the University of Virginia, and spent two years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, one of them in an office directly across from Einstein’s. In 1962 he fled to the United States as one of the 14,000 unaccompanied children airlifted out of Cuba through Operation Pedro Pan. After living in several foster homes in the United States – including one for juvenile delinquents — he was reunited with his mother in 1965, but his father was never able to leave the island. Working full-time jobs as he attended high school and college, he eventually earned entrance to the Graduate School at Yale University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1979.
Eire is the author of Waiting for Snow in Havana (Free Press/Simon&Schuster, 2003), a memoir of the Cuban Revolution, which won the nonfiction National Book Award in 2003 and has been translated into thirteen languages. He is also the author of several highly-acclaimed scholarly books on early modern European religious history, including War Against the Idols (Cambridge, 1986), From Madrid to Purgatory(Cambridge, 1995), and A Very Brief History of Eternity(Princeton, 2009). In addition to serving on the publications committee of Yale University Press, he is an associate editor of the journal Church History, and was elected President of the American Society for Reformation Research in 2010. All of his books are banned in Cuba, where he has been proclaimed an enemy of the state: a distinction he regards as the highest honor of all. A second memoir, Learning to Die in Miami, was published in 2010 (Free Press/ Simon & Schuster), and is currently being turned into a major feature film. He is currently working on a biography of St. Teresa of Avila, to be published by Princeton University Press.
Carlos Eire can speak about five different areas, and has several talks ready to deliver within each area.
In 2001 Gail Collins became the first woman appointed editor of the New York Times‘ editorial page, and she resumed her twice weekly syndicated opinion column for the New York Times in 2007. Collins also writes for “The Conversation,” a Times blog in which she discusses political issues with David Brooks.
In her recent books, America’s Women and When Everything Changed, Collins offers insightful research and historical perspective, with characteristic wit and humanity. In the New York Times Book Review, Amy Bloom praised When Everything Changed as a “smart, thorough, often droll and extremely readable account of women’s recent history” that provides the “best summary of American women’s social and political history that I’ve read.” Of her columns, New York Magazine finds that “in an age of outbursts, Collins has subverted the pundit’s rude role, performing what amounts to a sly soft-shoe over a rising wave of ideological bombast.”
A native of Cincinnati, Collins earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Marquette and a master’s in government at University of Massachusetts. Before joining The Times, Collins was a columnist at New York Newsday and the New York Daily News, and a reporter for United Press International. Her first jobs in journalism were in Connecticut, where she founded the Connecticut State News Bureau (CSNB), which provided coverage of the state capitol and Connecticut politics.
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