William H. Blum 1933 – 2018

William Blum died in Virginia early this morning on December 9, 2018. He was surrounded by friends and family after falling in his Washtington D.C. apartment and sustaining serious wounds 65 days ago. He was 85 years old.

Bill was born March 6, 1933 at Beth Moses Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. and became an American author, historian, and critic of United States foreign policy. He worked in a computer-related position at the United States Department of State in the mid-1960s. Initially an anti-communist with dreams of becoming a foreign service officer, he became disillusioned by the Vietnam War. 

Blum left the State Department in 1967 and became a founder and editor of the Washington Free Press, the first “alternative” newspaper in the capital. In 1969, he wrote and published an exposé of the CIA in which were revealed the names and addresses of more than 200 CIA employees. He worked as freelance journalist in the United States, Europe and South America. In 1972–1973 Blum worked as a journalist in Chile where he reported on the Allende government’s “socialist experiment.” Its overthrow in a CIA designed coup instilled in him a personal involvement and an even more heightened interest in what his government was doing in various corners of the world.

In London in the mid-1970s, Blum collaborated with ex-CIA officer Philip Agee and his associates “on their project of exposing CIA personnel and their misdeeds.” The late 1980s found Mr. Blum living in Los Angeles pursuing a career as a screenwriter. Unfortunately, his screenplays all had two (if not three) strikes against them because they dealt with those things which makes grown men run away screaming in Hollywood: ideas and issues.

For the rest of his long life, Bill lived in Washington, D.C. ineligible to renew his lapsed security clearance because of his political views. Instead, he accepted many speaking engagements on college campuses around the world. Bill was a distinguished member of CovertAction Magazine and the Advisory Board, and worked on staff for many years with CovertAction Quarterly and CovertAction Information Bulletin. His articles can be found in our archives; See issues numbers 33, 46, 47, 51, 53, 66, and 77. Blum went on to write numerous books on U.S. foreign policy and became the go-to source on U.S. intervention.

His book Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II–first published in 1995 and updated in 2004–has received international acclaim.  Noam Chomsky called it “far and away the best book on the topic.”

In 1999, he was a recipient of Project Censored’s awards for “exemplary journalism” for writing one of the top ten censored stories of 1998–an article on how, in the 1980s, the United States gave Iraq the material to develop a chemical and biological warfare capability.

Blum is also the author of America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy – The Truth About U.S. Foreign Policy and Everything Else (2013), Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (updated edition 2005), West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir (2002), and Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire (2004).  His books have been translated into more than 15 languages.

During 2002-2003, Blum was a regular columnist for the magazine The Ecologist, which is published in London and distributed globally. In January 2006, a tape from Osama bin Laden stated that “it would be useful” for Americans to read Rogue State, apparently to gain a better understanding of the enemy. Blum found his public speaking engagements abruptly ending.

Bill is also well-known for his highly popular and well-researched blog called “The Anti-Empire Report” published from April 1 2003 to September 20, 2018. 

Following his 65-day fight to live after his devastating fall in his apartment on October 4th, Bill died this morning at 2:20 a.m. When his condition worsened several days ago, he was transferred from the Virginia Hospital Center to the Caring Care Hospice about one mile from the hospital. His son, Alexander S. Blum, flew in from Germany to be alongside friends and family. His immediate cause of death was kidney failure—combined with the various wounds on his body.

His last speaking engagement was this past summer as the keynote speaker at the Left Forum panel entitled “CovertAction: Persistent U.S. Attacks Against ‘Democracy and Freedom,’ Past and Present.” Hosted by CovertAction Magazine, Bill–speaking with Louis Wolf and others–entitled his presentation “American Exceptionalism: The Naked Truth.” He started his talk by acknowledging that…

“We can all agree I think that US foreign policy must be changed and that to achieve that the mind – not to mention the heart and soul – of the American public must be changed.”

And in his iconic, wry humor—coupled with chuckles in the audience—Bill stated: 

“Consciously or unconsciously, [the American people] have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy…The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the US does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well.” 

See the full video of the panel here. His talk starts at 44 min and 48 seconds into the video.

Bill spent his life documenting the atrocities of the U.S. government and his contributions are deeply enlightening; without a doubt Bill has offered us ever lasting resources that will continue to inform generations to come.



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About the Author

69 COMMENTS

  1. Bill’s passing has as time goes by, created a massive gap for his Anti Empire Reports and other work that most likely will never be filled!

  2. I wished I would have came across the works of William Blum and Howard Zinn just a few years sooner.
    Myself along with many other like-minded individuals are actively continuing what you and yours have started.
    Thank you to the estate for maintaining williamblum.org. Whenever I have a question about foreign affairs and U.S. foreign policy, I add “William Blum” to the search, and there is almost always an answer.

    -Jamie.

  3. I really like what you guys are usually up too. This type of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve added you guys to
    my own blogroll.

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  6. Hello! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me
    of my good old room mate! He always kept chatting about this.
    I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a
    good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  7. In the last couple of years as Bill was struggling with health issues, I sent him an occasional email to let him know I missed his reports. He never failed to answer my emails. I let him know how much I appreciated all the work he had done. I’m so glad I was able to tell him how I felt. I truly miss him.

  8. A late convert to Bill’s insight on American interference in democratic elections all over the globe since World War 2. He will be sorely missed by all his followers. John Greene.

  9. Bill, I learnt the truth, because of your wonderful books and your anti- empire reports. Thank you for answering my e-mails. You were a very special man. You changed my views forever.

    • Despite getting older and attending more funerals each year we never think about the likes of stalwarts like Bill passing away. Obviously this is because he was always there with his wonderful reports and words of wisdom. Then bang! Reality of mortality hits you between the eyes. Bills life was one spent well. His writings and in-depth research brought it home to a great many people the evil and corruption within the American Administrations for decades. I will miss his writing terribly. But the respect I have for him will never fade. RIP Bill. Bless you.

      • Bill’s Anti-Empire Reports were inspiring, often shocking, however, the truth must land where it must.
        I’m committed to spreading his words far & wide to raise the conscienceness of as many people as possible, that will listen!

  10. It’s a sad day to humanity today. With Mr. Blum’s death, the world has lost the spokesman of truth, duty and honor. May he rest in peace.

  11. People who consider themselves socialists and oppose the status quo often go through periods where we feel alone; where we feel atomised, as if our views are not shared by anyone else. In Australia where I live this is especially so. This is of course what the political elites want us to think. During one of these periods I remember sending an email to Bill after reading one of his missives on the Anti-Empire report. I got a shock when Bill replied. His reply put me back on track to remember that there are in fact many of us around the world who think the way we do. Thanks to Bill I continue to believe. Vale Bill Blum.

  12. Grateful for William’s courage to speak out about what he had learned over the years. He inspired me to to think more deeply and question mainstream information. Sad to see him go, although he left so much of himself behind. Fortunate we are. I wish him peace and love.

  13. I completely agree with your comments. Bills passing is a great loss to the world & he will be sorely missed by many.

    I’ve disseminated much of his work, especially his Anti-Empire work to those interested in Cape Town, South Africa & the UK.

    Rest easy William.

  14. Most of my feelings have been said above.
    I can only add my name to those who still appreciate the truth, as difficult as it is to find in this world.
    And yes, I feel even lonelier knowing he is not here with us.
    That he wrote what he did, and lived a long and fruitful life, should give the rest of us the strength to help carry on his work. It is needed more now, than at any other time in history.
    Peace.

  15. Yes, the world has lost an important truth teller. Thank you, William Blum, for your ongoing dedication and generosity in sharing your knowledge and insight into American intelligence and its disastrous effects on the rest of the world. ‘Killing Hope’ was a significant revelation to me and has very much informed my understanding of American hegemony. Your writing will stand as a lasting legacy to an important life’s work … may we all disseminate it at every opportunity! From an appreciative Australian reader …

  16. Oh, Bill, I’m so saddened to hear of your passing. You were and will always be a great inspiration to me. You helped me fully understand the US government’s foreign policy and the CIA. After 9/11, I was confused how that could happen to the US, but after reading your books and those of your colleagues, Chomsky, Vidal, and Chalmers Johnson, I had the knowledge to inform others and help them understand. Thank you for everything you’ve written. You will be missed, my friend. Much love.

  17. Bill writings in the monthly reports were a continual and inspiring source for my feeble attempts to try and correct the UK’s popular press’s view of the world. Whether they were the reasons behind the bombing of Libya or the CIA plots in Central America, Bill was always on hand to unpick complex political scenarios and lay the bones out clear to see. Year upon year I discovered what terrible things had been inflicted on so many countries by the US and it’s supine poodles in London and elsewhere and horrified that there was a general acceptance that they still were regarded as ‘the good guys’. I would moot that the best epitaph we can make for Bill’s long and courageous battle with the evils facing the world is make his writings as public as possible.

  18. Everyone has said so well what I feel. I am greatly saddened by Bill’s passing. Selfish of me I think, because he gave so much. His books, his blog, his many years of active resistance to the horrible and lethal policies of the U.S. Yes, he was moved by love, no doubt.
    Michael Rissler

  19. Bill wrote the very best books on the CIA and on U.S. foreign policy. He spoke at our house in Culver City years ago and he stayed with us. I also hosted him at a talk he gave at a church in Venice and at another event in Orange County – all in Southern California.

    I’ll never forget one thing he said on a talk I have on cassette tape. He said “When it comes to U.S. foreign policy, most Americans are in a land of clouds”.

    I kept in touch with Bill over the years and considered him to be one of the most important voices in the anti-war movement in this country. He endorsed the book I publish titled: “ADDICTED To WAR: Why The U.S. Can’t Kick Militarism”
    written by Joel Andreas.

    PRESENTE William Blum – Thanks for all you did in your life.

  20. I would get Bill’s Anti-Empire Report regularly. We agreed on most things, fought over a few others. In between those times we sometimes exchanged personal notes, like about a young one’s schooling and career prospects, and getting accepted and rejected by internet publishers (this was crucial for him as he depended on such exposure for his income). His book “Killing Hope” is magisterial, the best on the subject of U.S. Government sabotage of socialism and national independence around the globe, and since the end of WWII. I was sad to think of his precarious economic situation since the 60’s, as a forthright U.S. anti-war and pro-fairness dissident, and sad about his difficult and painful last years as regards his health, and obviously limited healthcare. I’m glad to read in the obituary that he had good friends physically nearby for years, and that can make all the difference in the experience of life. I admired his doggedness about getting his Anti-Empire Reports out every month, and his lifelong doggedness in pursuing the research that factually underpinned his assertions about the misdeeds and official propaganda he skewered, in hopes of inspiring a widespread awakening in the hearts and minds of the all-too-inert mass of the American people. Before going to sleep last night, and before receiving the news of Bill’s death, I had thought: “My world has depopulated to nearly empty, a void of all I know, it is overcrowded with a cacophony of frenzied pointless blind ambition, despairing hopes and incurably ridiculous science-fallacy fantasies.” Bill suffers no more, that at least is a mercy. MG,Jr.       

  21. Ricardo2000: William Blum’s courage and truthfulness will have more lasting impact than the bullets and bombs of the lying corporate whores.
    Unlike Bush41, Blum never dealt cocaine, subverted the constitution of the US and the Bill of Rights, never lied to the US public, engaged in crimes against humanity, or slaughtered children for political advancement.
    He merely spoke the anguished truth, and called for mercy, justice, and truthful reason.

  22. I will never forget bringing him to UNC, Chapel Hill to deliver the keynote at the first teach-in in the USA after 9/11. Because of his amazing speech, I and the other female organizers received death threats. He spoke truth to power and was a funny man. Long Live William Blum!

  23. Bill Blum put the words to what I sensed was happening and did reply to non-actors like me even after he started failing. I will be forever grateful that he cared for all living when the world is in such dire need of conversations/ Someone called him bull-headed. How about committed.

  24. He will be missed terribly. A unique man who was able to get to the heart of his subject, exposing the reality of American foreign policy for those able to learn and to change their hearts and minds in response to that reality. An exceptionally decent human being.

  25. We in general were on the same wavelength, and I looked forward to reading his writing, so crisp and so sensible, among the most insightful about American foreign affairs. Informative and a pleasure to read. Yes, as with others, I’ll really miss what he had to say. A great loss.

  26. Unfortunately, there are not enough people of William Blum’s character in America today. Mr. Blum’s death is truly a loss for the nation.

  27. I must agree with all the above. Sad news – but his writing and his work will continue. His books have a prominent place not so much on my bookshelf, but on my desk where they act as a steady reference.

  28. I’ve followed Mr. Blum for decades and am a longtime subscriber to the Anti-Empire Report. The one thing that resonated within was his justifiable excoriation of the US foreign policy and endless wars. When “America First” came to the fore, I discovered he shared company with President Trump, whose policy is similar. (I suspect this is about the only idea shared!)

    Mr. Blum has made a huge contribution to an understanding of our American history. His thoughts will be treasured.

  29. Terribly saddened by news of his death. I have many of his books and we have had several email conversations, consider Bill a ‘soul’ brother in our common beliefs. We were/are same age, bill born months earlier in 1933.
    I’ll sorely miss him as do so many others.

    • Hi John,
      I too am incredibly saddened by this news. As a 22 year old confused young woman, Bill was kind enough to also respond to my queries in an e-mail.

      You should share with us those e-mails if you ever feel comfortable doing so. Perhaps we can all find some comfort in his words again.

      Regards,
      Sarah

  30. I’m saddened by Bill’s death. i’m Paris-based independent researcher in International relations and geopolitics. Bill’s writings inspired my works and gave me the key to understand American foreign policy. I was avidly reading his Anti-Empire report and I wrote many times for interview to be published don my own website
    His”Killing hope”, and “Rogue state” became the best references for those(students, researchers, freelance journalist, non conformist academics etc) who are seeking a rational explanation of the American foreign policy from the end of the WWII up to the present
    Thank you Bill for all
    I’m sure that your works will be a source of inspiration for the coming generations.

  31. I am saddened by Bill Blum’s death. I sent him a positive comment on one of his Reports a couple of years back and we corresponded occasionally. He did me the courtesy of sending me his monthly Report regularly, a tonic to read, if often depressing.
    We really need more people like him, in the US and, especially, here in Europe which is in a far worse state than most people know.

  32. I first came across Bill’s work when I read his book, Rogue State; an impressive indictment of the malign nature of US foreign policy. I followed his Anti-Empire project up to the last email post which he made quite recently. As is acknowledged in one of the other tributes, Bill always replied to my comments and queries and I was aware of the difficulties he had in relation to his health and of his recent fall. He was a fearless and uncompromising critic of US imperialism and a stalwart campaigner for justice. I shall miss his contribution.

  33. Very sad to hear that this wonderful man has died. His books enlightened me regarding US foreign policy and should be read by all. i thank him for his valuable work.

  34. `It is with great sadness that I read of Bill’s death. Bill and I met in 1987 and collaborated on Plausible Denial (one of the Hollywood screenplays). He was cantankerous , bull-headed, and we must have fought over every word of that screenplay but when it was over, our experience “in the ring” created a life long bond that both of us held dear. I looked forward to Bill’s “Anti-Empire Report” in my email inbox and know your 85 years on this planet were meaningful ones.

  35. I want to thank Bill for his research, his conclusions and him putting it together in a way that un-informed people could read, understand, and speak like they were also experts

  36. Another one bites the dust. Loved his books for their readability and always looked forward to his alerts. It was Bill who provided me with Louis Wolf’s email address so I could purchase all the CAQ (free of charge with the exception of postage to Australia!!!). Fuck!!! Another part of my life takes a knock.

  37. From the time of my trial and through the years of my imprisonment, Bill was very supportive of me and wrote the first article about what took place that truly got to the underlying issues. His books and his Anti-Empire report were invaluable in bringing what was hidden to the light of day, Bill was a truth-teller in an era of lies; he will be missed.

    • Kurt, I look forward to reading Bill’s article about you in CAQ. I’m sitting here with Lou Wolf and we both are grateful for your comment.

  38. Bill will be missed. I looked foreword to his Anti-Empire Reports and the truth and integrity that came with them. The mainstream media and politicians could learn much from them and him. Bill did not give up the fight and so we shall not stop fighting the evils of the world and harbingers of terror, which is our own nation.

  39. I cannot tell how much William Blum and his writings meant to me and my knowledge,insights and understanding of US´ cruel foreign policy. I go back to his books Killing Hope and Rogue State again and again. I am glad that I told him this when he still was among us.
    He gives me strengths and courage even if he is not here. Agneta in Sweden

    • I could say the same things. I relied on him for accurate and reliable information. I am also glad that I told him that, and I bought most of his books. Thereafter I found the Anti Empire Reports in my emails, and I never even thought of donating some, shame on me!

  40. Heartbroken but not surprised. I knew Bill had not been well for quite a while, although you would not think so, the way he was carrying on. Always so full of fire and zest.
    I feel like I’ve lost a dear, personal friend. Also a wee bit bit orphaned.
    Good bye, Bill. May your subatomic particles find a corner of the universe to give hell to whatsoever needs giving hell to.
    We thank you for your company all these years.
    You legacy will endure.
    No pasarán!

  41. So sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. He was not only a brilliant critic of U.S. foreign policy, but he was kind enough to reply to emails from readers–something quite unusual for internationally acclaimed writers these days. Bill Blum was a great human being, and we all owe much gratitude to him for his outstanding writings exposing US government, especially CIA crimes. Thank you for all Bill! God Bless, you’ve left us with big shoes to fill.

  42. Blum´s name will be on the same page of History as other modern heros and fighters, such as Pilger, Chomsky, Assange, McGovern, Snowden, Galloway, etc. May he rest in peace in God´s mercy.

  43. Bill Blum died 12/9/18 Sunday 3 am

    David Schwartzman and I visited him on November 17th and after talking about the latest events in the world we helped him with dinner and left him his favorite chocolate cupcakes for dessert.

    Later we spoke with his dear friend Lou Wolf about ways we might be helpful. We are saddened that he couldn’t be helped more.

    Walter Teague

  44. Bill Blum may have faltered from illness but he never stopped. This was a remarkable human being, he revealed much substantively about our world and how it’s run, year after year, and we remark on the irreplaceable as we see him off.

  45. So saddened to hear this. Bill was one of the greats! I sent him an email a few years ago: “I love you. You give me nightmares.”

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