Journalist who broke CIA prison story speaks March 6 at UC Santa Cruz

Dana Priest, the award-winning Washington Post reporter who broke the story about the CIA's secret overseas prisons, will give a free public lecture March 6 at UC Santa Cruz. Her talk, titled "The CIA's Secret War," will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Colleges Nine and Ten Multipurpose Room.

Priest, who earned a bachelor's degree in politics from UCSC in 1981, will be in town to accept the campus's first Distinguished Social Sciences Alumni Award. She covers national security for the Post and is the author of the 2003 book The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military, which documents the U.S. government's growing reliance on military solutions to diplomatic problems. She is also an analyst for NBC News.

"Dana Priest's crusading work brings enduring honor to UC Santa Cruz, and we are proud to claim her as a Social Sciences alumna," said Michael Hutchison, interim dean of the Division of Social Sciences and a professor of economics at UCSC. Priest was the unanimous choice of the committee of four UCSC faculty members and four alumni who reviewed nominations submitted by faculty, staff, and alumni.

Priest's November story about the CIA's clandestine interrogation sites generated worldwide debate about the legality and morality of such facilities. In her story, she reported that the CIA has operated a secret network of detention and interrogation sites in up to eight countries, including a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe. More than 100 suspected terrorists, including 30 al Qaeda leaders, have been held in the covert prisons, which only a handful of officials in the United States and each host country knew about, she wrote.

Priest was the Washington Post's Pentagon correspondent for seven years and has won numerous awards, including the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the National Defense and a research and writing grant from the MacArthur Foundation. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children.