William Blum, who raged towards United States international coverage in relative obscurity for many years till one in all his printed anti-imperialist broadsides acquired a surge in gross sales due to a shock public tribute from Osama bin Laden, died on Sunday in Arlington, Va. He was 85.
His son, Alexander, mentioned the trigger was kidney failure. Mr. Blum had been hospitalized after being injured in a fall in his residence in October.
Mr. Blum (pronounced “bloom”) was a pc programmer for the State Division who aspired to develop into a profession International Service officer and “participate within the nice anti-Communist campaign,” he as soon as recalled. However he grew to become disillusioned over the Vietnam Battle.
After serving to to inaugurate a short-lived biweekly underground newspaper, The Washington Free Press, and becoming a member of in antiwar protests, he mentioned he was pressured in 1967 to give up his authorities job.
Within the many years after that, he wrote largely polemical articles and columns, in print for publications like International Coverage Journal and Counterpunch and later on-line. He additionally produced, and contributed to, exposés in books and different media about what he referred to as misdeeds by the US at house and overseas that have been carried out within the identify of nationwide safety.
Faking a flat tire close to the gate to Central Intelligence Company headquarters in Virginia, he surreptitiously recorded the license plates of staff who have been coming into and leaving. He revealed the names and residential addresses of greater than 200 of them in his guide “The CIA, a Forgotten Historical past: U.S. International Interventions Since World Battle 2” (1986).
“They might have been spies,” mentioned Louis Wolf, a founder with Mr. Blum in 1978 of what’s now referred to as CovertAction Journal. “They might have been clerks.”
In an interview with The Washington Submit in 2006, Mr. Blum encapsulated his life’s mission as “ending, at the very least slowing down, the American Empire,” or “at the very least injuring the beast.”
Nonetheless, nobody was extra shocked than he when a recording emerged in 2006 on which Osama bin Laden really helpful that each one Individuals learn Mr. Blum’s guide “Rogue State: A Information to the World’s Solely Superpower,” first printed in 2000 and up to date in 2005. It vaulted virtually in a single day from about 205,000 on Amazon’s gross sales rating to the highest 50. (It stood at about 58,000 a number of days after Mr. Blum’s loss of life.)
“That is virtually pretty much as good as being an Oprah guide,” Mr. Blum mentioned on the time.
Whereas Mr. Blum denounced the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist assaults in New York and Washington and mentioned he wouldn’t need to reside below an Islamic fundamentalist regime, he didn’t disavow the advice or categorical remorse that bin Laden, the orchestrator of these assaults, shared his disdain for the insurance policies applied by the division the place he had as soon as labored.
He additionally reiterated his unpopular, however not distinctive, place that American intervention overseas had been breeding enemies and welcoming terrorism. He blamed Washington for changing secular governments in Afghanistan and different international locations with Islamic fundamentalist regimes; reflexively favoring Israel over the Palestinians; and supporting Saudi Arabian dictators.
Whereas bin Laden really helpful that Individuals learn “Rogue State,” he paraphrased a citation that was truly from the again cowl of one other guide by Mr. Blum, “Liberating the World to Dying: Essays on the American Empire” (2004).
“If I have been the president,” that citation reads, “I may cease terrorist assaults towards the US in a number of days. Completely. I might first apologize — very publicly and really sincerely — to all of the widows and orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the various hundreds of thousands of different victims of American imperialism.”
William Henry Blum was born on March 6, 1933, in Brooklyn to Jewish immigrants from Poland, Isidore Blum, a machine operator, and Ruth (Katz) Blum.
After graduating from Erasmus Corridor Excessive Faculty in Brooklyn, he earned a bachelor’s diploma in accounting from what’s now Baruch Faculty of the Metropolis College of New York.
Discovered unfit for navy service due to the kidney ailment that finally proved deadly, his son mentioned, Mr. Blum was employed as a programmer by I.B.M. and subsequently by the State Division.
He later collaborated in London with the previous C.I.A. case officer Philip Agee, who adopted his essential “Contained in the Firm: CIA Diary” (1975) with books and articles that contained different disclosures in regards to the company’s covert operations.
In 1979, Mr. Blum married Adelheid Zöfel. They later separated. She and their son survive him, together with two grandsons.
Mr. Blum repeatedly challenged the idealistic premise of American exceptionalism and argued as an alternative that world hegemony was Washington’s covert aim, for financial, nationalistic, ideological and spiritual causes.
He continued to put in writing his month-to-month on-line newspaper, The Anti-Empire Report, till September. His final public look was at a panel dialogue over the summer season sponsored by Left Discussion board and CovertAction, at which he repeated his premise that the majority Individuals have “a deeply held conviction that it doesn’t matter what the US does overseas, regardless of how dangerous it might look, it doesn’t matter what hurt outcomes, the US authorities means nicely.”
In an interview in 2016 with Richard Grove of the web site Tragedy and Hope, Mr. Blum was requested what he liked most about America. He replied, “Baseball, Jewish meals, many movies.” Politically, he added, issues may very well be worse:
“I’ve not been put in jail due to what I’ve written or spoken.”