Here, Right Matters (Still)


Truth-telling. Photo by AFP/Getty. Front photo by Carol Kitman

On the day of his latest spite sacking of someone for doing his job - Chris Krebs, the cybersecurity head at the Department of Homeland Security, who had the temerity to say there's "no evidence" of voter fraud - it's especially gratifying to see another truth-teller, Lt. Col Alexander Vindman, back from the gulag and doing well, thanks. The 45-year-old National Security Council aide and Ukraine expert who blew the whistle on Trump’s "perfect" shakedown of Ukraine's president subsequently testified in impeachment hearings, for which Trump ousted him after an ugly campaign of "bullying, intimidation, and retaliation"; he even attacked Vindman's twin brother and fellow mensch Lt. Col Yevgeny Vindman, also a former national security aide, who filed a federal complaint against the Bully-In-Chief. Still, Vindman continues to speak up. He and his brother made a Veterans' Day video recounting their journey here at the age of 3 as Jewish refugees fleeing anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union; re-settled by longtime non-profit HIAS, they say today, "We live in service to our nation." Yevgeny also posted a blistering response to Trump's infamous "losers and suckers" smear, complete with proudly beaming photos in uniform: "I’m a loser, my wife is a loser, my twin brother is a loser. We are a family of public servant suckers." And in an interview with The Atlantic, an unbowed Alexander insisted, "I did my duty as an American citizen and Army officer." He also memorably called Trump not exactly a Russian agent but Putin's "useful idiot." “In the Army we call this ‘free chicken,’" he said. "It just comes to you."

Now, in a welcome reminder that all vindictive Trumpian things shall pass, Vindman has a shiny new job. The Pritzker Military Foundation just named Vindnam the inaugural Pritzker Military Fellow through the Lawfare Institute, a non-profit that runs the prestigious Lawfarewebsite exploring intelligence, legal and national security issues. During his two-year fellowship, Vindman will complete his dissertation and join Lawfare's team of law professors and former Bush and Obama officials in researching, writing and public speaking about national security and public service. Announcing the new position, Lawfare cited "competition amongst great powers, managing a confrontational relationship with Russia, and effective Europe-EurAsia policy (as) among the most significant national security challenges this country will face in the coming years," adding, "Few people in the United States government have risked more to tell the truth on these subjects than has Lt. Col. Vindman." They said Vindman will also do several Lawfare Podcasts to discuss questions of Russia and Eastern Europe policy, and authoritarian regimes in general, facing Biden's administration. Finally, Vindman has a new book deal for a memoir scheduled to come out in the spring. He took its title from one of the most piercing moments during his impeachment testimony: Assuring his worried father he'd made the right decision to come here, he declared, "Here, right matters." In “Here, Right Matters: An American Story,” he says, "My hope is to offer my story as an affirmation that the American dream is alive, and worth continuing to fight for." We, in turn, hope against hope he's right.


The brothers with their mom. Family photos by Carol Kitman


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