Mattathias Schwartz

Mattathias Schwartz lives in Washington DC.

One​ of the enduring mysteries of the relationship between Donald Trump and John Bolton, his third national security adviser, is how the two men ever came to terms in the first place. Bolton, an unreconstructed Cold Warrior, once canvassed for the arch-conservative Barry Goldwater and interned in the Nixon White House. He made his career talking up threats from Iran, North Korea and...

On​ the last day of 2003, Macedonian border guards arrested Khaled el-Masri at the Serbian border. He had a suspicious name, and the Macedonians didn’t like the look of his passport. After beating el-Masri, stripping him and searching him with painful and highly invasive thoroughness, the Macedonians turned him over to the CIA, which flew him to the ‘Salt Pit’, a black...

Like a Mosquito: Drones

Mattathias Schwartz, 4 July 2013

The Predator drone began its career as a spy. Its first mission was to fly over the Balkans during the late 1990s and feed live video back to the US. In 2001, it was kitted out with Hellfire missiles and promoted to assassin. The CIA reportedly had qualms about operating unmanned killing machines, but these were swept away by the attacks of 11 September. In October 2001, the Washington Post...

Not Just the Money: Cybermafia

Mattathias Schwartz, 5 July 2012

Message boards are online forums typically concerned with a single subject, whose users can post public messages in ‘threads’ to do with a particular aspect of that subject, or exchange private messages. Most message boards are small operations that barely manage to cover the cost of server space. Users are brought together by a shared (usually offline) interest and tend to number...

Amazing or Shit: Steve Jobs

Mattathias Schwartz, 15 December 2011

If you want to be loved in America, get rich and make it seem that you got rich doing exactly what you wanted to do and being exactly who you wanted to be. Invent a machine – or better, a series of machines – useful, affordable and attractive enough to be received as a fetish object by your customers. Happy customers will yield happy shareholders, jobs (in retail, if not...

When crucial pieces of our infrastructure fail, they do so gracelessly, without much warning and in ways that are difficult to anticipate. The job of sifting through the wreckage falls to official investigators, who determine the event’s ‘root causes’ and offer proposals for new safeguards. Their interventions restore our sense of security by placing what happened in a moral framework. The idea that accidents are caused by a few greedy or negligent individuals is more palatable than the alternative, that the guilty parties were doing exactly what was asked of them, blind to any consequences, like an engine that keeps pumping steam after its pipes break.

From The Blog
28 October 2011

The Obama administration has agreed to let BP resume dipping its beak in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The prospect is called Kaskida, situated a few hundred miles off the coast of Louisiana, at a depth of 6034 feet. In the event of another Macondo-style blowout, BP has a contract with the Marine Well Containment Company, a joint nonprofit established by BP’s competitors ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. MWCC say they can quickly staunch the flow of oil with a 100-ton capping stack. They say this containment system can handle spills of up to 100,000 barrels per day at a maximum depth of 10,000 feet.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences